We have a saying here, that literally translates as “Fag off”, which we use in the same manner and has the same meaning as telling someone to F… off. Then there is the referring to some guy you do not like as a faggot or a homo. These two examples are very different to me.
The former is so ingrained in everyday language, and is no more or less offensive than just using the F word. I use the expression myself sometimes, and I have never thought anything of it. However, I do take offense to someone calling someone else a homo. Not in general, but when it is supposed to be a bad thing, like calling someone an asshole.
Still, even in that case, it matters to me what someone’s intentions are. Often people just do not realize what they are saying, or how it might be offensive to others. I find it hard to get up in arms about it, when basically intentions are good.
For example, one of my straight friends recently referred to some jerk she works with as a homo, meaning asshole. She realized it was wrong as soon as she had said it, and ended up apologizing to me extensively.
I had not said anything about taking offense, and I was not really offended. I did appreciate her realizing she should not have said that. However, it made me wonder what it really means, because she is the most gay friendly person I know.
Should we always be aware of how we express ourselves? Yes, to a certain extend we should, but these are just two examples of many many ways in which we use words and expressions that might be offensive to others. So sometimes, it cannot be avoided we say the wrong thing.
I do wish we did not have all these derogatory gay terms in our language, just as I wish for a lot of things.