Alex Blaze

Alex gets mail too

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 01, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Site News
Tags: queer

I got an email this morning:

Since I am an active gay male since I was 15 years old, which is now 30 years ago I find the word that starts with a Q very offensive towards the gay community and wish red-nacks like you wouls stop using that word.

What do you all think about the word that starts with a Q?

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I'm abivalent about "Queen" - it has so many possible inflections and subtle shades of praise and/or insult.

If, he's talking about Queer, however, he ought to take it up with the "red-nacks" behind Queer as Folk, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Queer Lounge at Sundance, and the queer studies programs at City College of San Francisco, Yale University, the University of Maryland, University of California Berkeley, UCLA, California State University Northridge, and DePaul University. Cripes what a bunch of hicks those Hollywood and progressive coastal folks are!

Stephanie M | July 1, 2008 12:37 PM

Based on the times indicated in the email the individual in question would be 45 years old which I would say makes them more or less my generation (I'll be 40 in October).

I used to have huge issues with the word in question. Growing up it was definately a negative term, and one which held much stigma for myself.

It took me quite a while and alot of personal work to get past my own issues with the term. While I don't generally use the term myself, I no longer bristle with anger when I hear someone else use it. I've come to realize its a very easy way to include all the various communities which often get left out when we tend to shorten things to Gay or Gay and Lesbian, or even GLBT.

As with any reclaimed term, it can be used positively or negatively, its all about reading between the lines.

... and are we really still having this debate? I mean, it's sorta spilled milk at this point. Complaining that some people prefer the term queer as an all-inclusive umbrella label for the greater LGBT and ally community is sort of like complaining that George Lucas screwed up the Star Wars franchise by releasing the prequel trilogy, you might get a lot of people to kinda sorta agree with you, but it accomplishes nothing.

I'm pretty sure he meant "queer," because I almost never use "queen." Don't really know why.

And, yeah, I agree about the debate kinda being over. But I thought I'd publish the email anyway, since obviously there are still people on the other side of the fence.

chandler in lasvegas | July 1, 2008 1:01 PM

People this stupid should pay the $18 a year and restrict their posting to DataLounge.

OP, you are OVAH!

(and I can't believe that my Captcha code is:BD VADG)

Let's see. There's "quarter, quiet, quit and quack." Maybe he's a doctor and objects to the word "quack?" Seems we're in a bit of a quandry.

Personally, i object to the term redneck way more than i object to the use of queer.

I cannot think of a single word that describes me better than a word that means "unusual", since my orientation, identity, even my appearance put me at the fringes of gay and straight society. Furthermore, i never feel a need to correct someone who calls me queer. If they call me "gay" or "faggot" i have to explain a dynamic spectrum of attraction, point out that they are promoting bi-erasure even in their homophobia... it just leaves me winded.

From a historical perspective, the use of the word to mean "peculiar" is 500 years old- the homophobic use of the word dates back only about 80 years. Queer has pretty well been reclaimed in the last 15-20 years, as far as i can tell.

I want to know how he knew you were an inactive queer... I mean, while he's out driving motorboats and racing motorcycles, you're sitting in front of the computer eating bon-bons and drinking bourbon...

Although - you "red nack," I have to point out that your picture is you in front of a corn field. Welcome to life from Indiana...

Wilson46201 | July 1, 2008 1:48 PM

Since I am an active gay male since I was 13 years old, which is now 53 years ago I find it Quaint whatever you young cocksuckers want to call yourselves... it don't bother me none!

I use it in debate occasionally, when I want to cover the entire LGBT(etc) spectrum.

I use it with the crowd that I call conserva-queers in debate as well, to remind them that priviledged position does not buy them a special license to be gay and "just as good a Republican" as Mike Huckabee.

Down in Miami, with the more urban Hispanic and African American hip-hop/reggaeton culture, "queer" is still a term you hear used negatively by most people. I cringe whenever I hear the term; but as time passes by-- and I interact with more LGBT groups that use the word "queer"-- I've become more tolerant of it. What really tears me apart is the potential hypocrisy behind it, similar to the "nigger" term usage dichotomy.

Then again, I'm a weak-willed coward, and thus I'm in the process of transition into Massachusetts. I've been there for projects several times, and the difference is night and day. While you may get your steel-pumping third generation Irish American whom might ruin your day with some bout of homophobia, they are a fairly small number. "Queer" is used without intent to insult over there much more frequently.

Another thing to keep in mind is the ever evolving nature of language. Previously "Uranian" and "homophile", then proceeding to "homosexual", "gay", and "queer". However, with this change, keep in mind that very few civil rights organizations chose to preserve "colored" and "negro" on their names; there are simply terms that you can't "take the sting out of".

Personally? I prefer gay. If we're going beyond sexual orientation, we might as well say LGBT/GLBT. The more important question, however, is, "Do I care to be mindful of the sensibilities of others?".

I find it bizarre a man of his age is still concerned by petty things like words. Surely he is mature enough to understand the meanings of words change. Once queer was a very offensive term, but now it's offensiveness is measured not by the word, but the context.

I don't use it very often myself, but that's personal preference.

I suppose he proves a British saying... there's nowt as queer as folk!

I call myself "queer" because it's a more accurate descriptor of my identity and lifestyle. After all, my boyfriend is straight. What do you call *that*?

Tiny boxes start cramping after awhile, and eventually, you need to make your own.

Most of the terms that we use have a history, and have the potential to be used as a derogatory term. This doesn't mean that we don't have the power to reclaim and redefine othe language we want. If we embrace the history and deny the word its power, we can rise above a simple insult.

I use queer as my primary personal identity term. I am a women attracted to women--but not just ciswomen. Since the lesbian movement has a history of the separatists, who were (and are still, in some cases) quite transphobic, I have a problem with using the term lesbian, and don't think it applies to me.

This doesn't mean that I have a problem with other women who do identify as lesbian, and I find it somewhat problematic that someone else, no matter how much "older" or "wiser" than I, gets to take issue with my term, or my inclusion in the community. If this man isn't comfortable with the term, he doesn't need to refer to himself as queer.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | July 1, 2008 6:01 PM

Alex, as you know from our past conversations, I am completely agnostic when it comes to an opinion on "the q word". I tend to use "quixotic" as often as I can.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | July 1, 2008 8:19 PM

I've got more than 10 years on the guy, and "queer" identified folks are my community.

Like many African-American GLBT people I absolutely hate the term 'queer'.

It's why some African-American gay folks use the term 'same gender loving' or SGL instead of 'queer'.

To learn why, download the NGLTF 2002 report 'Say It Loud I'm Black and I'm Proud'.

It discusses the results of a 2000 survey done at several Black pride events across the US.

SGL is an atrocious term that happens to also be a misnomer for the concept it attempts to define. Get sex and gender straight, people. Same for "MSM"; drop the machismo, will you (general "you", not targeting Monica)?

But, as Monica reveals, this term still possesses scathing connotations in Urban African American/Latino culture. The theories of some well-off university elite/white men concerning the usage of the word are not representative of the view of LGBT society as a whole, nor are these ideals practical.

Again, it's a whole different matter when you leave the comfort of Northeastern culture and try to "de-sting" the term in Western/Southern/Midwestern/Non-anglocentric cultures.

Curtis Morton | July 2, 2008 6:29 PM

I don't think there is anything wrong or offensive with the world queer, generally. Really, it's all in how someone uses the word. If a contributor on Bilerico says "it's a great day for the queer community in California allowing same-sex marriage," then there is nothing offensive associated with the word. However, if a redneck says that "all queers should die because they are heathens," then I would be insulted (I also think they'd use the word fag instead of queer - think wannabe-Rev. Phelps).

Brianna Harris | July 2, 2008 8:33 PM

As a 40 something transwoman I can understand where this guy is coming from. I'm sure that anyone else from our generation has been called queer in much less favorable ways. I grew up hating that name/term because I heard it way more often than I cared to. I still have a little trouble accepting that it has been reclaimed even though I'm on the advisory board of the "Queer Community Project" in my local community. Personally, due to my disdain for the term I don't use it but I respect the right of those who do to define themselves however they wish.

At first it bothered me because I am in that over 40 window that experienced the word as a slur when very young. It was my daughter that really got me over it. My limit is two drinks. So she calls me her "two beer queer" which is cute coming from her.
One day this teenager was walking out into the store that I was coming out of and some punks called him that. He was terrified, but since I was going right past him I pretended that they had called me that and I started yelling back at them. They panicked because they were expecting a scared teenager to run and instead they got a full grown model. Ever since then, I don't mind being called that. The reaction of the phobes was one thing, but the reaction of that kid being defended by one of his own was worth it.