We have never been silent about our distain for the word qu##r. We refuse to write this slur in its entirety. Not just to keep from offending our readers, but also to refrain from traumatizing our own staff. This is a word of hate, not of love or solidarity. It has been on the lips of our bashers, as they attempted to cause us as much physical and psychological pain as possible. It was shouted at us as we walked school halls and city streets. For far too many of us, it was one of the last words we heard when being thrown out of our homes and disowned by our parents.
It was even codified in mainstream media as an acceptable term to call those of us who were not straight, and thus undeserving of dignity or respect.
Qu##r, as a word, has always meant strange, bizarre, odd and unusual. It has never been a compliment. If you, as an individual, choose to call yourself this word, that is a YOU issue. Our major concern is the alleged “reclamation” of it as an umbrella term for the entire homosexual community, as well as the trans, non-binary, questioning, etc. communitines.
Of course, gay males were not consulted before creating this new umbrella term. To the contrary, our objections were not only ignored, but dismissed as not being “inclusive” of others.
When, Noah Michelson, the Editorial Director of Huffpost Gay Voices, an admitted LOVER of the slur qu##r, made the announcement about their change to Qu##r Voices, this was his rational:
“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.”
This all sounds well and good until you remember that homosexuals are against this term on the grounds of it being hate speech and triggering horrific memories of our most traumatic and violent experiences.
As expected, the backlash from gay males was swift and severe. But Michelson, refused to budge. Huffpost comments section was overrun with homosexuals expressing outrage, anger, hurt and betrayal. A CHANGE.org petition was even started. Most notably, James Peron, a long time contributor to Gay Voices, pinned his final contribution to the site because of this change. Mr. Peron stated:
“Queer” is a traumatic, painful word for many of us. To have it inflicted on us by our allies is no less traumatic and painful. If anything, it is worse. I don’t expect human decency or understanding from the bigots. But, here I feel as if I’m again being told I’m not welcome, I’m an outsider. I’m not one of the “in-kids” that everyone had to make happy. My pain, my experience—they don’t matter. Once again, thanks to the “queer” term, I’m being locked out and excluded.”
Contrary to what the original objective was for this slur, our community has become even more fractured under it. Those of us who hate hearing or reading the word, verses those who enjoy using it and against us. Further more, not only are the straights who have always called us this name, continuing to do so with abandon, but a new generation of bigots have joined them.
Most troubling is the normalization of this word to address our entire community. News media outlets, YOUTUBERS and even social media sites are all known to call us this slur because they were told by “US” that it is what we want.
The fact is, there is no “qu##r community”. There are homosexuals (gays/lesbian) and bi-sexuals. And then there are those facing various forms of gender identity issues. The desire to conflate these distinct communities is at the core of the usage of this word. Same sex attraction is not odd, bizarre or strange, and we do not want to have any association or connection with such a homophobic and abusive term. Most of us would rather stand in the pouring rain, than under this pejorative umbrella.
This issue is important, because names are important. They tell others not just who we are, but what we support and believe in. Homosexuals have fought hard to be seen as regular humans with the same rights and responsibility as everyone else. We also are fighting to distance ourselves from outdated and homophobic stereotypes and depictions. Having others reclaim a slur, that was NEVER ours or THEIRS, to begin with, is contrary to our efforts.
But, there is one saving grace. We may not have a say in what others call us, but we do have a say in what name we answer to.
Oc course, we are far from the only organization or individuals who feel this way. So, we approached our friend, legal commentator and barrister (non-practising), Dennis Kavanagh, for permission to reprint his thought provoking, and descriptive article on this topic.
We thank Mr. Kavanagh (@Jebadoo2) and the Lesbian and gay news, where the article first appeared.
In the game of thrones of gay politics we have our own seat forged of weapons with many pretenders to it, the iron throne that is the word “queer” from which those with dubious claims to real homosexual lives can rule the seven kingdoms of victimhood and identity politics.
For many of us, the word “queer” was an integral part of the soundscape of real hatred that got us beaten up, sacked and bullied – for years we were “dirty/filthy queers” who had “queerboy” shouted at us as we anxiously left pubs in groups for safety. As words go, it’s a sharp blade, the wounds it leaves are messy lacerations that don’t heal neatly rather than clean surgical cuts. Strange it is then, that a word which was an essential piece of architecture of social hate is now contorted like an Escher staircase to nowhere where up is down, left is right and being “queer” is now desirable.
Us run of the mill gay people weren’t consulted about this of course. We don’t have the leisure time for “queer activism”, nor do we have the desire to mentally self-harm required to read even 10 minutes of “queer theory”, the not-fit-for-human-consumption reconstituted meat of the academic abattoir. We don’t attend seminars on “queering particle physics” or the like, because for us unenlightened troglodytes particles have always pretty much been particles. We also don’t just accept without question self-declarations of “queerness”, but then again and we’re used to treating anything associated with the Q word with a high degree of scepticism, forgive our cynicism, but 20 odd years of “queer bashing” will do that to you.
When we look to our new blue haired overlords in gay culture, we see scheming nobles meaning to win the throne of “queer”, ferocious puritans who have less sex than the generation before but do nothing but talk about sex. They wear “identity” and anime avatars online like a monk wears a habit, only they require that it us lowly congregants who take a vow of silence regarding our objections to this word.
Most gay people are far too polite to say it, but what we really see here are classic denizens of subcultures with little to do with real gay lives, noisy young people who 15 years ago would have been goths. We see straight men with a careful calculus of just enough makeup to perform difference but not enough to scare the girls away, (we’re gay after all and can spot that sort of thing a mile off). We see men who experienced an arresting but ultimately futile erection at the Olympic diving now passing themselves off as spokesmen for our movement. We see noisy demagogues who fall strangely silent at our rude and heretical questions about precisely what they mean when they tell us they are “queer”.
According to part of the Stonewall definition of the word “queer”, “It can also be a way of rejecting the perceived norms of the LGBT community (racism, sizeism, ableism etc.)”, think of this as our Jurassic Park moment of “life always finds a way” because “queer” still manages to be offensive; we may not be filthy/dirty queers now, no us mere gay people are now apparently racists who hate disabled and overweight people. Goodness only knows what other sins the “etc.” covers, no doubt our spiritual masters will pronounce upon it one day and instruct as to the required atonement. What we can see here is that queer was never going to be a word that could ever stray too far away from the gravitational pull of wounding and insulting gay people, so much as we bemoan words uncoupling from meaning these days, at least here we can see an essentially nasty word is incapable of crossing the event horizon out of the pull of this nasty black hole of a word.
“Queer” was reclaimed by the activists and academics in just the same way the European Union was agreed to be an unquestioned utopia by the remain movement. Sniffy elites deployed Eddie Izzard to patronise the great unwashed then, just as they do now when he speaks on behalf of the “Queer community”. But there is a Brexit afoot in gay politics, and the elites have yet to learn the lesson that it is seldom wise to insult and silence the constituency you are meant to serve. You will probably accomplish a muted and resentful compliance, but do watch out for that 52% on the day of the vote.
To be “queer” is to be odd. It is to be the other. It is to permanently stand outside society and be a vehicle for “queering” things. It is to be bauble of interest to tourists. It is to be something other than LGBT, but something that won’t tell you what it is. It is to be that most useless and paradoxical of things, a label you say you have reclaimed, but you wouldn’t dream of shouting at someone on a street.”