Little Kiwi and Bauhaus

Little Kiwi and Bauhaus
A Boy and His Dog

Friday, 5 February 2016

Why I Self-Identify as Queer

The first time I ever learned the word "Queer", as a pejorative slur, I was 11 years old. In French class in elementary school a classmate asked me if I was queer. My answer, which I gave instantly, was "Very".
Then he ran to his buddies and said "OMG Raymond admitted he was gay!"
That confused me. I wasn't aware of that connotation. Being an actually-smart 11 year old who knew what words meant, I knew queer meant different from the norm. Unusual. Unique.
I was more than ready to embrace being different from my classmates and peer groups, I wasn't yet ready to accept that I was gay.
Being born in 1982, "queer" wasn't a slur my generation heard or used too often. As a matter of fact "GAY" was the slur. That was the words used "against" me.  Before that, as a young boy, it was "GIRL".  Followed by "Fag".
I understand that we all find acceptance and peace in life in different ways. Mine, however, have never been couched on trying to convince people that i was just like them, that I was "Still a Normal Guy".
 I'm not. I'm anything but ordinary.

One of the things I love most about my elective Queer Identity is that it binds me forever with any and everyone else who has found empowerment in being different from what society and culture may expect from them.
As the heroine of one of my favourite films of last year said, "In this world there's an invisible magic circle. There's an inside, and an outside. And I'm outside"
And I love being outside. And I love the people i've met on the outside. 

Huffington Post has changed the name of their "Gay Voices" section to "Queer Voices", and boy has that angered a lot of mostly-gay mostly-white mostly-cisgender men.  Queer, being inclusive of the greater LGBTQ communities, addressing our intersectionality. 

QUEER - From a different point of view.  Unique. Unusual. Not Common. A Deviation from the expected-norm. 

And yet, the people who are angry about this change seem to have two arguments they're relying on.
1. They were called a "queer" as a slur back in 1970 and have never gotten over it
2. They continue to choose to view the word "Queer" solely as a word that means "different" (pejoratively different), or only has negative connotations.  They refuse to see the word as anything other than a negative slur.

The number of men who've said to me "You don't understand! OUR generation were called QUEERS as we were beaten up!"
Ok.  And my generation was largely called 'GAY' as we were beaten up, but you don't see us running around in a hissy-fit of trigger-warnings crying about it.

Well, some do.  Some gay men still have a negative association with the word "Gay" and prefer to say that they are, uh, "Men who happen to be into other men", or more commonly "a guy who happens to be into other dudes" - in other words, how they feel about gay is still defined by the anti-gay attitudes of the non-gay people in their lives.

There are even a stranger and sadder subset who refer to themselves as "g0y" (with a big fat zero in the middle, ironically) because they don't want people to think that they're into Anal Sex or doing "stereotypical effeminate things".  I'm not making this up, Google "g0y" and you'll see a whole lot of internalized homophobia with a side-helping of crazy.

My elective queer identity has given me more courage and empowerment than I could have ever imagined. I'm a proud gay man, and a proud queer one too. My strength comes from embracing that I am different. I make no bones about it. I have no desire to be seen as 'normal', and I stand proudly alongside any and everyone who exists outside the perceived cultural norm. Queer - from a different point of view. Unique. Not common. A deviation from the expected. That's me.

One of the reasons I've always loved the chant "We're Here, We're Queer, Get Used to It" is that it's defiant. It's not "we're here, we're gay, please tolerate us on a set of conditions"

When I hear men saying that Queer will "only be a negative word" what they're saying is that they will never work to overcome their first learned feelings for that word as a negative.

When they say that the word was used as an insult about them decades ago, they're saying that they've spent decades allowing the use of that word, as pejorative, to affect them for decades. 

It's a tremendous waste of one's energy and through process to continue to give excuses to cling to negativity.

Bravo, Huffington Post. BRAVO Queer Voices.  And THANK YOU to all the self-identifying Queer people who helped me find my voice and courage, and the beauty and community that does indeed exist On The Outside.

*EDIT - I've also heard people say "what about if they called it FAGGOT VOICES?!?" Well, for one, that would be exclusive as it would pertain, again, solely to gay men. But, um...this was the birthday stuff I got from my best friend this year.  Note the card. So yeah. Faggots rock :D


Michael Rowe said...

Never mind the fact that "gay voices" also precludes lesbians, bisexuals, transfolk, and pretty much everyone else. These people need to learn to share the damn umbrella.

gaydude65 said...

I see now that the word "gay" has completely vanished from the Huffington Queer Voices page as a subsection. Lesbians get a section of their own. Transgender folks do too, as well as bisexuals. But gays (specifically gay men) get lumped together in the whole generic "queer" section. Huffington could have gone the easier (and fairer) route by saying LGBTQ Voices, which would have included the "Q" and would have made queer-identified folks like you content. But instead, you pushed the queer thing despite the protests of countless people who don't wish to self-identify as such, regardless of their reasons.

But let's face it: The real issue here isn't about a word. It's about control. And it's also about a (mostly) younger generation of people like you who don't give a shit about the experiences of an older generation. You respond with, "Get over it!" instead of actually taking the time to listen and, heaven forbid, try to put yourself in someone else's shoes. After all, it's not YOUR experience, so why should you care? Gay men are basically of no value after age 40 anyway. The fact that the "G" in "LGBT" doesn't even deserve an honorary distinction on Huffington speaks volumes.

Anyway, congratulations on getting your way...again. I do have to wonder though: When will Black Voices on Huffington change their name to Nigger Voices? Hey, tons of black folks, especially younger ones, have claimed that word and frequently use it. Rappers have been using it for years in their songs. So what if the word still hurts a lot of black folks out there? I guess they all need to "get over it."

For what it's worth, the word "queer" doesn't cause a negative reaction from me like it does in others. I'm not crazy about it and don't self-identify as such, but if others do, it doesn't bother me at all. But if someone is actually going to remove my preferred way of self-identifying and say, "Now you're queer," then yeah...I have a major problem with that. And that's exactly what's happened on Huffington. Disappointing...but heck, who cares what I think? I know you don't.

Little Kiwi said...

Well, Thank You Gaydude65 for taking time out of your tremendous and important blog focusing on images of other men's penises and the sounds they make whilst having orgasms to share your upset over the Huffington Post changing the name from Gay Voices, to Queer Voices; an effort to address intersectionality and a broader focus on the issues that relate to all of us who don't fit the current societal norms of gender-identity and sexual orientation.

I've heard countless stories about your experiences. Read them over and over again. Talked to people about them. Listened. And I've shared, in many places as well as here, the reality that "GAY" is the "slur" used against younger generations. It's the word we had to get over hating. And we did. But hey, it's nor YOUR experience, so why should you care?
Not to mention that I have countless queer-identifying friends who are 50+ years in age.

If one continues to feel nothing but hurt whenever they go over to HuffPo and see the word "Queer" on the banner, I'd strongly suggest that it's not a case of "get over it", but consider the energy you're using to remain upset about it - rather than the energy expounded to defend being upset by it. After all, I don't think there's a therapist on earth that would encourage anyone to continue to cling defiantly to pains of decades ago.
"You better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changing"
Being adaptable is vital.

While I may be mistaken, I don't know of any universities that offer a "Ni***r Studies" course; but I know countless universities that offer classes in Queer Studies.

I'm not sure what "gay men have no value after age 40" means - it's certainly not the case for the gay men over 40 who've been a part of my life for many years.

Huffington Post's Queer Voices section continues to run stories and articles by, and about, gay men. And bisexual people. Queer people with disabilities. Transgender people. Gender-queer and gender-fluid people. We've not been erased, at all. We gay men simply now share our room with others. And it's a beautiful thing.

We gay men tend to get all the attention when it comes to "LGBT" issues and discussion. White men, most predominantly. We gay white men do indeed have the privilege of nearly every discussion being about US.
What's that thing they say? "When you're used to privilege, equality for others feels like oppression?"

If you feel you no longer feel represented by the HuffingtonPost because of their use of the word "Queer" as the term on the banner, you're in luck - pretty much every gay blog and site out there caters nearly-exclusively to (white) gay-identifying men. So you won't run out of things to read.

Thank you again for your message. Continue your fine work reposting images of other men's penises.

Michael Rowe said...

Gaydude65, speaking as someone much closer to your age who self-identifies as "queer" not "gay male," I do feel somewhat qualified to remind you of two things: first, the movement of history is forward, not backward, and, secondly, y/our generation wasn't particularly preoccupied with the concerns of the previous generation either. Y/our generation introduced not only the hypermasculine "clone" culture into the world (in no small part in defiance of the previous generation's commitment to traditional "camp" and the acceptability of butch-femme relationships between gay men) and intense political activism.

The first was a bit ridiculous, the second was essential to you even having a forum to complain about this post by LittleKiwi. The process of both of these things were looked askance at by y/our older generation.

My advice to you, dearest, is to relax and stop trying to micromanage the younger generation. They don't want it any more than we did. If you truly feel as old and whiny as you appear, best think in terms of taking up a hobby, like shuffleboard.

If you have any energy of youth left in you at all, instead of constantly complaining about how the world no longer prioritizes your every utterance and feeling, you might want to get involved in moving the goals of queer liberation forward by being embracing and nurturing, instead of acting like the disagreeable old aunt who always smells of violet perfume and piss, and who never has a kind word or anyone, and who no one wants to sit next to because everyone is tired of her stories about how much better everything was in her day.

Lee Williams said...

Thanks for this post. It was a great read, and really helped me address some of the issues I had with my queer identity. It feels odd to call myself that, but odd in a good way.

Little Kiwi Loves Bauhaus

Little Kiwi Loves Bauhaus
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