Well, lucky you, the first rant of the blog is a double whammy. Two issues crammed together into one epic first post.
First of all, I find it so hard to believe how the most oppressed groups in a society can still be some of the most exclusive. I just created an account on PinkPaper.com, a gay news website for the UK. When registering for my account, I was asked to provide a title: Mr, Miss, Mrs, Ms, Dr, Rev, or Prof. At the top of the drop-down box was a blank space; I selected that, then continued on to fill out the rest of the form. When I clicked the "Register" button, the page reloaded. I didn't understand why. My internet wasn't on the fritz, I'd clearly pressed the right button... Then I saw it: A little red asterisk next to my "Title" (or, lack there of).
Yes, a website devoted to spreading the good word about gay issues was requiring me to choose a gendered title in order to register for their site. Which seems, to me, to be counterproductive. So, in my bitter angry wiseass genderqueer rage, I selected "Rev" and hit "Register" again. The page loaded without a hitch.
It just didn't seem right to me that a site priding itself on delivering the news of the GLBT community would reject the membership of somebody who didn't feel comfortable choosing a title that implies not only gender but emphasis on married or unmarried status. My good friend Wikipedia tells me that no country in the UK allowed same-sex marriage, though "civil partnerships" are allowed. So, what's the deal, PinkPaper.com?
Then, after calming down, I began to think more clearly, and I did a little exploring. I was stamping the label of "GLBT" on PinkPaper.com, but upon reading the About Us section of the website, I found that PinkPaper.com does not consider itself a GLBT news source--only the G, L, and B. Naturally, then, I cannot hold them responsible for being sympathetic to the T in the equation.
But scattered throughout this article about PinkPaper.com and its purpose is the word "queer." PinkPaper.com considers itself "one of the oldest queer titles." It publishes articles on "modern queer culture." Apparently, the "funniest gay cartoon strip" is entitled "Up Queer Street" and can be found within the folds of the Pink Paper.
Queer is a subjective term, as is, really, any definition you find for an "alternative lifestyle." Does "gay" mean just men who like men, or can a woman who likes women be "gay?" If so, then is "lesbian" also a legitimately interchangeable word for both homosexual men and women? And what about those tricky transgendered people? So, when PinkPaper.com calls itself a queer publication, are they marketing to just G, L, and B? Or is T automatically included? And if the former is true, is PinkPaper.com truly "queer?"
This is beginning to sound like an SAT question: If a G is not an L, but an L is a G, and a B is neither a G nor an L, then where the hell does T fit in and how do we stop this madness?
To me, "queer" includes anyone who does not believe in societally normative heterosexuality on a two-gender binary. This would include a straight male-identified man who likes to wear evening gowns, as well as a gay male-identified man who won't even set foot in a nail salon let alone even know where the nearest one is. Hell, if a straight woman wants to call herself "queer" because her best friend is gay and she stands right next to him at the Anti-Prop 8 rally, she can go right ahead as far as I'm concerned. We are in no position to be picky.
And nobody who fits under the "definition" of "queer" needs to identify as such. Some people are really uncomfortable with reclaiming words with negative connotations. I used to be one of them, and I wish I could get over my fear of the word "dyke." Male-identified woman who loves female-identified men but hates the word "queer?" That's fine. You're still welcome at my dinner table, and I'll call you whatever you like.
However, I feel like if you're going to call yourself a "queer" publication, don't ignore the part of your community that doesn't fit into your standard. The reason the transgender movement is lumped with the gay movement is because many transgendered people are also gay--or, for most, are considered gay/lesbian/bisexual because of other people's closed-mindedness. We didn't just leech onto your movement for lack of anywhere else to go; many of us were already marching in your parades before, during, and after we discovered we were our own not entirely separate entity. We're here, we're QUEER, get used to it.
In summation, PinkPaper.com, I'm hoping that sometime in the near future, when I inevitably forget my password and have to create a new account in order to access your site, I will be able to choose that blank space as my "Title" and never again come face-to-face with that wretched red asterisk.