Bil Browning

A straight contributor to TBP?

Filed By Bil Browning | July 14, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Site News
Tags: safe space, straight people

So as we're planning our new look and expansion, question-mark3a.jpgI've been hunting for new contributors that I think would help expand the discussions we have here on TBP.

Which leads me to this question: What would ya'll think about a straight contributor? While cartoonist Storm Bear is straight, he doesn't often write "real" posts for us and we don't feature guest posts from straight people that often either.

Any objections? Would the addition of an ally as a front page contributor make this less of a "safe space" for anyone? (Not that the internet can ever be a truly safe space, but you know what I mean.)

Your thoughts?

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

I think a straight contributor or two is a great idea.

I like the idea of including an ally. Go for it!

I've been advocating this for a while, although I've never found a straight person so....

But seriously, the last thing I want is for TBP to turn into a safe space. It isn't supposed to be safe - too many people disagree here. From everything I've seen, "safe space" means "Cloistered," which is the opposite of the point of this site.

Yeah, we shouldn't take on anyone who isn't willing/able to be a part of a productive discussion of LGBT issues, but they don't have to be LGBT. But they just usually are.

If they are, as you say, an "ally" and can add color and insight to the community the heck yeah, bring 'em on.

Mo Rage

I think it's a good idea. I don't think there are enough spaces out there that really welcome in our straight allies. We use them well as spokespeople for our organizations, but in day-to-day life we tend to compartmentalize them out. I'm not sure this helps us in the long run.

Also, this site is T inclusive, and a lot of transgender people are straight (doesn't Bilerico already have straight transgender contributors?). Having straight people around could make the site feel more welcoming to straight transgender people.

Just my 2c. Interested to hear what others think.

You and I posed the same question at the same time.

There are many straight trans people out there. Would they qualify? Polar is straight. Out of the 8 trans people you have as contributors (about 12%) you don't have any self identified straight crossdressers. And, you haven't added a trans person in a very long time. People are starting to talk. (grin)

I know of a straight ally here in Atlanta who has been at several NCTE lobby days and goes to many LGBT events here in Atlanta, including TDOR. Her name is Julianna Illari.

I think having a straight ally contributing would add a new perspective that would be helpful.

I think as someone who has been out and gay for over 30 years now, I really don't know what straight people think. I know what I think they think, but honestly, I am just as bigoted about the straight world as they are about the gay community.

Dialog is always a good thing and I think that we need a bit of a wake up call that there are now a lot of straight people who really do care about equality and helping us insure our civil rights

Rick Sours | July 14, 2009 9:24 PM

agree....very good response

I'll put aside any ruminations on the meaning of "straight" in a world that's queerer than it wants to acknowledge ;-)

But here's my question: is this person, who seems to already be set up as a "straight ally" by most people here (excluding Alex, who rightly points out that this isn't supposed to be a "safe" space) really going to be that interesting to read? Will they ever write anything than the standard "I'm straight but I love my gay friends and support them" blogs? And will their posts ever be anything more than a giant yawn?

I guess my issue is less with this person's sexual orientation/gender identity/gender/sexual configuration but with the quality of their writing, and by that I don't, obviously, mean grammar. Will this be just a token straight person who pops up every now and then to "affirm" us or will they actually be interesting?

For instance: A straight person who will actually dare to be critical of the standard holy trinity of gay marriage, hate crimes legislation, and DADT, and who actually comes from the left and not with the usual wishy-washy liberal/progressive perspective - *that* would be interesting.

Hopefully, if you do pick such a person, he/she will be more than an "ally." I find our straight allies insufferably boring and even pompous as they strut around with their standard gay-affirming lines. In a blogosphere that already teems with blah writing, a boring person is the last thing we need around here.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | July 14, 2009 7:29 PM

I'm with Yasmin, Bil. My first thought when I read your question was, "Some of my best friends have been "queer straight" other words, people who took nothing for granted but questioned all assumptions/conventional wisdom when they looked at gender, sex, class, race, and the other important issues of our times.

Honestly, I have MUCH more in common with folks like that than I do with most lesbians and gay men in my so-called community.

Brynn and Yasmin,
You know that Bil is afraid to take chances when it comes to taking on new contributors. Hell, if any person even shows a tiny sign of standing up for themselves with a hateful commenter, they are put in the Bilerico's version of the "no-fly zone." A straight ally would have to be sanitized and pasteurized before they would qualify for this blog. Boring.

I suggest that you get someone from PFLAG, straight.

A. J. Lopp | July 14, 2009 2:26 PM

I think you shouldn't pretend, Bil, that this question hasn't already been dealt with, implicitly if not explicitly. (There is nothing wrong with re-visiting a question, but let's not pretend it's a new issue.)

Sheila Kennedy was a TPB contributor for quite some time (maybe back when TBP was just "Bilerico"), and I always enjoyed her posts. They were well-written, and often took an interesting perspective. (Yes, Yasmin, some straight do come up with interesting POV's. But you're right, it can't be just anybody.)

Anthony in Nashville | July 14, 2009 3:01 PM

Call me names but I don't go to LGBT spaces to hear from straights.

I can see straight people posting on an occasional basis, like every two weeks, but not as regular contributors.

Go for it! If they're a good writer who focuses on GLBTQ issues that's trustworthy then who cares if they're straight!

Plus it would be interesting to me :3

It wouldn't bother me. I would sill like to see a regular bi contributor who present s a bi perspective on things.

I think it would be somewhat hypocritical of us to ask the "straight" world to be inclusive of LGBTs and our opinions but exclude them from our discussions here. In the true spirit of acceptance I think we should absolutely welcome non-LGBT contributors.

David Castillo David Castillo | July 14, 2009 5:40 PM

Seems like a fine idea to me, with the caveats that Yasmin and Alex posed.

I think that's a fine idea and helps add more viewpoints to the mix. Of course it really depends on the person rather than the sexuality, so it's not like I'd just accept anybody. It depends on the quality of their writing and thinking, clearly.

Yes to a straight writer.

Yes to a writer who is a straight crossdresser.

Yes to a bi/pansexual writer.

May I suggest that Bilerico also include a writer who is intersex?

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | July 14, 2009 10:13 PM

"I would hope that a wise heterosexual with the richness of his or her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion on an LGBT blogsite than a queer one who hasn’t lived that life, at least not openly." I think I heard that quoted by somebody at today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. No?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 15, 2009 6:28 AM

Don, you and Allen are spot on. I think we need a hetero contributor who will box heads when needed. Granted this is like herding cats, but I would hope for an individual who emotes little and researches a lot. An individual who uses quality resources and not "research" forced to reach a desired conclusion.

Let's see, someone straight with all those smart fact checking abilities...

I have it! Anderson Cooper! ;-)

I think it would be good to have a straight ally. I did the same thing on my blog.

I've seen spirited comments on Bilerico where gays and lesbians can't get along with transgender persons. In fact, gays can't get along with lesbians in many parts of the country, and heck. Transpersons can't agree with other transpersons concerning everything we say.

If we are afraid of getting boring with a straight ally, why not have someone with opposing views as a guest blogger? Our friend, Sally Kern, comes to mind.

Bil and Alex: Get out the moderating pen! There would be some very choice comments. I don't think Sally would ever learn much about us, but there are good, sincere people out there with lots of questions. If you invited someone like that to write a column, I'm sure you would get some interesting replies.

With a valid exchange of ideas, perhaps we could do some educating. I think that would be a good thing.

I seem to be out of sink with people here but why have a token straight person? I mean I know that there are wonderful straight people who write wonderfully, but don't we read them anyway? I mean if I want to know what the straight world thinks all I have to do is open a newspaper or turn on the TV/Radio. Everywhere I look I see what straight people think, I come here because I want to know what GLBT people think. We as a community have so few places where we have a voice and its so hard for us to be heard I would far rather hear from more of the GLBT community. Why give a voice to someone who is already on the top of a mountain with a loud-haler deafening us all.

Rick Sours | July 15, 2009 5:48 PM


You added a point of view which I had not taken
into account; when everything is said and done
members of the LGBT community are still Second
Class citizens. I have previously said I am in
favor of a straight contributor. I said this with the feeling that this straight individual would truly be an ally. Remember straight individual have full equality, we don't.

Anthony in Nashville | July 15, 2009 9:43 AM

You did a better job articulating my feelings than my previous post.

I believe the drive for "inclusion" of straights into LGBT spaces may be well-intentioned, but like you said, they already have platforms for expressing themselves.

Frankly, I was surprised to hear that there aren't any straight folks already contributing to Bilerico. (OK, so I'm slow sometimes.)

For me, it's essential to remember that many integral members of queer communities happen to be straight. Think about folks who have grown up with gay parents, and other family members. And, clergy who have risked their livelihoods to support the gay folks in their midst. Don't forget supportive straight spouses of bisexuals, as well as straight spouses of those who came out as gay or trans in mid-marriage. And, teachers who have helped to make GSAs possible.

I think of these folks more as members of the community than as allies or supporters. To think of them as different or separate would feel artificial.

Afterthoughts: Judy Shepard. Carol Boltz. Colage.

John Shelby Spong. Desmond Tutu. Coretta Scott King isn't with us any longer, but others must be speaking to her legacy.

I wasn't completely clueless... here's an essay posted to Bilerico from a family member whose orientation never comes up.

Jonni P.

I second John Shelby Spong and Desmond Tutu!

I've been a straight contributor here at bilerico on-and-off. No one seemed to mind. I know PFLAG values our "straight allies." I don't see anything wrong with it - it all depends on what they're writing about and what their points of view are.

Erich Riesenberg | July 19, 2009 8:46 AM

I think Yasmin is one of the most annoying people I have never met. Queer she rants about being boring and predicatble...

I respectfully object. I am not interested in fighting a new infection nor fighting to maintain the rights of an open minded pariah.

It would be great to have another viewpoint.

Three strikes they're OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

battybattybats battybattybats | July 23, 2009 11:30 PM

It was reccomended to me that as a crossdresser/bigender that I raise my hand as a contributer.

Where do i sign?


Bil is not at all afraid of letting people mix it up. When I guested as a Ro poster, Bil let me say what I wanted to say, even though he knew I was going to get smacked on a few things. That's what dialogue is all about. If I think people are wrong, I point it out. If they think I'm wrong, they do the same. Hopefully, we can both do this constructively and come out more thoughtful. Anybody who doesn't think this is Bilerico's m.o., well, I'm not sure what website you've been reading.

I have no objections to straight contributions to Bilerico, though I wonder if that would be better served by running any particularly good guest posts that are sent in than having a regular straight contributor, particularly given that there's a cap on the number of people the site gives a voice to as regular contributors. I'm willing to be proven wrong on that by a brilliant, fascinating straight contributor, though.

As far as I've been able to tell, what Bilerico is really lacking is bisexual bloggers. I don't think I've ever seen a blogger here identify as bisexual or talk about the way being bi colors their experience in the world, and a quick glance through the contributor bios fails to turn up that particular word (oops, except in Mercedes Allen's but a) in the months I've been reading I don't recall seeing her blog about bisexuality, and b) out of fifty, one is hardly enough). I think it's wonderful that you have pansexual- and nonmonosexual queer-identified bloggers, and to a great extent those are similar perspectives, but it still seems like not having any active bi-identified bloggers is a huge oversight for an LGBT blog. I'd love to see that addressed before serious efforts to recruit straight bloggers are underway.

Now that I've said that, though, I should really stop procrastinating and get around to applying.