Friday, February 05, 2016

Huffington Post Gay Voices Goes Queer

In a recent edition of Friday's ‘I Didn’t Say It,’ I posted a quote from Ricky Martin saying he’d like to have sex with a woman:
“I know that I like both men and women. I’m against sexual labels, we are simply human beings with emotional and sexual needs. I am gay, men fascinate me, but I like to enjoy sex in total freedom, so I’m open to having sex with a woman if I feel desire [but] men are my thing.”
And I put in my Two Cents, as I am apt to …
“Oh Ricky. You’re open to schtupping a woman but men are your thing? Then you are not open to schtupping a woman. You’re queer, dear, through and through.”
Well, this riled up Anonymous, who tried to take me to task:
“Calling Ricky Martin a "Queer" is vicious and mean. That is the word that most of us were called when we were growing up. Many of us still bear the emotional scars.
In the past, you have used that term before as an insult to people gay and straight. I can only conclude that you do not like yourself or other gay men.
After I finished laughing at the idea I replied:
“@Anonymous [if that's your real name]
Yes, you're right! I am a self-loathing gay man.
Have you READ my blog and focused on anything other than that word? Ever heard of taking the word back?
You don't like it, don't use it.
You don't like to read it, don't come back here.
I'm here, I'm queer, get used to it.”
Well, now it seems like our friend Anonymous might have to stay away from the Huffington Post because this week they changed the name of one section from ‘Gay Voices’ to ‘Queer voices.’

Queer. And here’s why they did it …
“Our name change comes four-and-a-half years after we originally debuted as HuffPost Gay Voices — and after countless conversations with countless people, both inside and outside of the HuffPost newsroom.
Though I've had my own love affair with the word "queer" for as long as I can remember (more on that in a minute), at the time of our launch in 2011 some people felt that the term was too controversial, too divisive and, because of its history as a slur, perhaps just too painful to use. 
Instead, we settled on HuffPost Gay Voices … Though it wasn't my first choice, I have to admit, at the time, there was something radical about seeing that instantly recognizable three-letter word proudly emblazoned on one of the most-read websites in the world.
A lot has changed since then … and we believe that this is an especially critical time for queer people and the queer movement to regroup and redefine its mission in the wake of these incredible, once unimaginable changes to the political and cultural landscape. We hope that HuffPost Queer Voices can be a place where discussions about where we're headed, what matters to us and how we can become the best possible, most authentic versions of ourselves as queer people -- and as a community -- can take place on a daily basis.
We, like many others before us, have chosen to reclaim "queer" and to rename the section HuffPost Queer Voices because we believe that word is the most inclusive and empowering one available to us to speak to and about the community — and because we are inspired by all of the profound possibilities it holds for self-discovery, self-realization and self-affirmation. We also revere its emphasis on intersectionality, which aids in creating, building and sustaining community while striving to bring about the liberation of all marginalized people, queer or not.
"Queer" functions as an umbrella term that includes not only the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people of "LGBT," but also those whose identities fall in between, outside of or stretch beyond those categories, including genderqueer people, intersex people, asexual people, pansexual people, polyamorous people and those questioning their sexuality or gender, to name just a few. These groups have been and will continue to be featured on The Huffington Post, however now the section dedicated to these identities will be inclusive not only in scope but also in name.
We will also continue to present, cover and provide opportunities for conversations about topics that we believe to be patently queer and that we feel do not receive enough attention from mainstream or queer media including: non-traditional gender expressions and experiences, non-traditional sexualities, sex positivity, queer homeless youth, HIV/AIDS, the fight for global queer rights and expression, sex work and sex workers, romantic and non-romantic relationships, non-traditional families, the intersections of race, gender, class and sexualities and more.
As ecstatic as we are about our new name, we understand and respect that for some people, "queer" conjures up incredibly intimate and wholly negative associations and memories. We have no intention of telling anyone what words they should or shouldn't use to define themselves or their community. That's a personal, powerful and important choice. Our hope, however, is that those who have been hurt by this word or believe it to be solely derogatory can understand how we are employing it and why (for some useful resources related to the word "queer," look below).
My own first encounter with the word was being called "a queer" by my hunky neighborhood garbage man (he was all muscles and mustache -- totally my type at the time) when I was just five years old after I snuck outside to perform (what I guess I then imagined to be) a seductive dance for him in my underwear. Too innocent to understand that he was using the word against me, I ran inside and proudly told my dad what had happened. Before my dad, visibly upset, could make his way more than a few feet toward the front door, he stopped and turned back to face me, stunned, when he heard me say, "It's OK. I like being a queer."
Of course I had no idea what was really going on -- I simply thought "queer" referred to someone who was magnificently, extraordinarily different and that sounded like a pretty magical way to live my life.
As we at HuffPost Queer Voices see it, the end goal of the queer movement has never been about assimilation or becoming just like everyone else. We're proud of our queerness -- our glittering otherness -- and we want to be treated with the same dignity and afforded the same rights and humanity as everyone else while our magnificent, extraordinary differences remain intact to be honored and celebrated.
We hope you feel the same way and that no matter who you are or how you identify, you'll help us celebrate this new beginning. And we want to say thank you for joining us on this journey. We wouldn't be who we are or have gotten this far without our incredibly passionate readers. We hope you'll stick around because we can't wait to show you -- and to see for ourselves -- what happens next. 
We're here! We're queer! Get into it! 
The HuffPost Queer Voices Team
Noah Michelson, Editorial Director
Curtis M. Wong, Senior Editor
JamesMichael Nichols, Deputy Editor
Michelangelo Signorile, Editor-at-Large”
Queer. That’s me, in every sense of the word. So have a queer weekend; I know I will.

9 comments:

Bea said...

I remember the first time I heard the word 'dyke'. It was the 70s and I was seven years old and just getting out of a VW Beetle with my Mom and her friend--yes, really just a friend, Jean. Jean had long, flowing white hair and wore Birkenstocks. Mom was probably wearing a cotton frock and denim. A car-load of dickhead teens/men drove by and all yelled DYKE at the top of their voices right at us. Their collective sound of their yelling shook me up; I had no idea what 'dyke' meant. By the time I did find out, the word was already being claimed as a term to be proud of by many-a lesbian.

Ricky could be a bi-curious queer, no?

"Tommy" said...

Yep .. its all about US down here.. The Big Party.... weekend before Fat Tuesday.. I agree totally We Queer, We're Here.. Laissez les bon temps roulez!!!! Suga!!!! Ricky Should Join In..

the dogs' mother said...

Interesting. I have other words for you - smart, kind, good writer, funny, cat lover (Abby does not approve), happy, lucky, handsome, patient (with Carlos) honorary Washingtonian (since you got married here)...

Bob Slatten said...

@Bea
Ricky could be a bi-curious queer, I suppose, but he seems to be saying he finds women attractive,and isn't opposed to having sex with them, but that he's only attracted to men so ... I'll stick with queer?!?

@TDM
I'll claim those too!
xoxo

Master Markus said...

Really, I don't care what you say, I still think "queer" SOUNDS like an insult and I wouldn't want to be called it. It still means "odd" or "unusual" and maybe I AM those things, but I still don't want to be called "queer" because of it. You know how some people hate words like "moist"? "Queer" is like that for me.

Raybeard said...

If an 'out' gay person, M or F, calls me a queer, a queen, a c*cksucker - or even a faggot (though that's very unlikely in England) - I don't mind in the least because I know that it comes from within the 'family' (in the same way that African-Americans can call each other 'niggas' without consequence) and the chances are that it's not only NOT intended as an insult but it's a sort of inverse term of affection and, indeed, of solidarity. However, if that same word came from a person who is emphatically not a 'family member', that person being in vehement denial that s/he could ever be such, then that clearly IS intended to be a put-down, the subtext of which is "You're inferior to me!" - and for that I would indeed take offence, and with every good reason to do so.

As for Ricky M., sounds like he's doing the mirror image of the "I'm bi-sexual" game, probably in order to hold onto what remains of his fan-base. I think he might now do us and himself a favour by keeping shtumm for a while.

Helen Lashbrook said...

The idea that queer can mean someone who is "magnificently, extraordinarily different" not to mention "magical" seems pretty great to me; go for it

Bob Slatten said...

@Raybeard
Exactly! Take the word back for ourselves and it loses it's power.

@Helen
I like your definitions!

Mitchell is Moving said...

Years ago, I felt uncomfortable when I heard the word queer used to describe us but I've gotten used to it ad have even grown to embrace it. At my cousin's wedding last summer, I was a last-minute guest and there was sadly no room left at the queer table, so I was at a family table. The queer table was a table of 12 gays and lesbians, trans-gender, and gender-fluid people -- friends of the grooms. Someone called it the gay table and was corrected and I completely got it. So, call me queer... as long as you say it with love.