Remember the Don Imus firing over his despicable description of the Rutgers women's basketball team? The one that was going to redeem the nation by provoking a long delayed serious dialogue about racism and sexism? The story that suddenly and tragically got replaced by the shootings at Virginia Tech....the one that is going to redeem the nation by provoking a long delayed serious dialogue about gun control, violence and what prompts people to go over the edge?
If that suggests bit of cynicism on my part concerning our national attention span, let me confirm it fully by adding that the Imus firing cleared away our prior preoccupation with the Anna Nichole Smith episode that was going to redeem the nation by provoking a long serious dialogue about ......hmmm, don't even remember.
The Imus happenings, with their attendant discussion over when and why the use of a particular word is awful when used by Group A about Group B but is a nice reaffirming gesture when used between members within Group B, prompt me to venture into something likely to brand me with a scarlet letter on this LGBT-identified website: I DON'T MUCH CARE FOR LGBT FOLKS USING THE WORD "QUEER" TO REFER TO THEMSELVES, AT LEAST IN A PUBLIC FORUM.
There, I said it. And I'm glad.
Do I put the "q-word" in the same category as the racial one beginning with "n" or the one beginning with an "f" and ending with a "t?" Not at all. In fact, for some curious reason, I find I cringe much less or not at all when I see terms like "Q-Bomb"; I think it's kind of clever.
But the full word "queer" itself? Particularly when I see it multiple times within the same couple of paragraphs? I've got to say it makes me uneasy. And while I haven't taken anything approaching the Zogby poll, my sampling of friends in my general age group (Mezo Paleolithic: 55 to 75) indicates that I'm not alone in my reaction. But I realize that many, if not most of my much younger brothers and sisters likely don't share my feelings.
I'm not sure why they don't and I do. I believe I understand the theory that one way to deal with an oppressive word is to embrace it and turn it around. I also understand that my malady may be diagnosed as a senior form of lingering, deep-seated, internalized homophobia. (And here I thought I was an out, openly proud gay man!)
In any event, have at me. Tell me why, when non-LGBT readers come onto this and other sites (as we know they do) I shouldn't feel a little squeamish about their seeing the q-adjective/noun. In glancing at the dictionary I see definitions that include "odd", "suspicious", and "strange". That just doesn't feel very uplifting and affirming to me, and brings back some flashes of having been called that word by folks who weren't exactly trying to cheer me up. But I'm open minded on the subject, and perhaps we need to have a long, overdue, and serious national dialogue about this.
At least for the next 36 hours or until John McCain "starts bomb-bomb-Q-bombing Iran".