It makes me a bit uncomfortable to have to write about this topic, but it is needed. I praise the Huffington Post for realizing that we all need our voices heard, but I take issue with how they went about it. How can such a noble thing end up being so incredibly offensive and oppressive?
The Huffington Post is the largest liberal blog on the planet so when they put everyone in the lesbian, bisexual and trans communities under the “Gay Umbrella”, they are disregarding our own needs and telling the world that it is okay to do so. It is okay to ignore using the proper labels to describe us.
Editor, HuffPost Gay Voices
Posted: 09/28/11 01:00 AM ET
In this article, Noah discusses naming the new LGBT section. He addresses the question ”Why did you decide to call it Gay Voices (and why not LGBT Voices or Queer Voices or…)?”
What’s more, with a specific vertical dedicated to the queer “community” (I use the term “community” loosely and for lack of a better one, as I don’t want to ignore the diversity of those who identify and/or empathize within and without the boundaries and barriers implied by terms like “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual” and “transgender,” nor do I want to gloss over the internal struggles, disputes and different ways of seeing and approaching problems and solutions that we as individuals and coalitions have)
“I don’t want to ignore the diversity of those who identify and/or empathize within and without the boundaries and barriers implied by terms like “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual” and “transgender” and then goes on to ignore this diversity because it doesn’t taste right.
When it came time to name the vertical, we considered a bunch of possibilities, including HuffPost Pride, HuffPost LGBT Voices and HuffPost Queer Voices. “Pride” felt wrong to me, as I want the vertical to be capable of critical (and I mean that in every sense of the word) as well as celebratory discourse (and if I’m being totally honest, it also felt just a tad too early-’90s). “LGBT Voices” is a little clinical and, to me, still not as instantly recognizable or evocative as Gay Voices (especially in mainstream circles).
As we can see here, the T is once again erased because it just tastes bad. It is too clinical to include us as one of the voices. Let us sweep you under this gay rug. Instead of helping the world understand LGBT, lets just call it Gay, okay? It is easier for us Gay Males.
When you visit Gay Voices, you will see the links below, just underneath the main menu.
Do you notice that there is not a sub-section called Gay? You know, men who are gay? They have Lesbian there but no mention of gay men. This is because Gay Voices = Gay Men section. And the rest is the Other sub-categories. Noah, please tell me I shouldn’t feel oppressed and offended by this. And then explain to me why. This erasure can cause real harm to us as we try to tell the world why we need certain rights that you don’t need. Transgender and Transsexual people have to educate people on a daily basis that trans has nothing to do with homosexuality. The Huffington Post is making it more difficult for our communities.
I fully concede the term may not be one everyone feels comfortable claiming or wants to be associated with (especially when it comes to issues of gender rather than sexuality), but after realizing that there was never going to be the perfect term for us to use, we felt that “gay” packs the most instantaneous punch and immediately identifies the content on this vertical as dealing with these types of issues and events. I also feel that there is still — even in 2011 — something inherently radical about saying the words “I’m gay” out loud, whether for the very first time or any time (as most of “us” know that coming out doesn’t happen once — “we” are forced to do it over and over and over again). With so many people still in the closet (especially in the media and other places offering prominent visibility), I like seeing that defiant, unnerving little word blazing so happily on The Huffington Post.
Noah, I am a transsexual woman. Are you saying that I should be screaming “I’m gay”? While you may not accept it, this is very transphobic.
Whether intentional or not, transphobia can have severe consequences for the target of the negative attitude. Many trans people also experience homophobia from people who associate their gender identity with homosexuality. Attacking someone on the basis of a perception of their gender identity rather the perception of their sexual orientation is known as “trans bashing“, as opposed to “gay bashing“.
I know it wasn’t the intention of Noah and the Huffington Post to offend the trans community but that is exactly what the end result was.
Reclaiming offensive words
That being said, while you’re reading Gay Voices, you might come across other terms that you find uncomfortable, shocking or offensive. Words like “fag,” “dyke” and “tranny” will appear from time to time in blog postings, as many people see the value in “reclaiming” language that has been and/or continues to be used against queer people.
Noah, if you want to reclaim “fag”, go right ahead but can you please leave it to lesbians and trans people to reclaim or reject dyke or tranny? You have proven to me that having control of my own voice isn’t beneficial to my liberation. Gay men should not be telling trans people or lesbians what they should reclaim or not. The general consensus is that the word tranny is offensive and should never be reclaimed.
The only reason I should be considered Gay is because I am bisexual, not that I am transsexual. Again, your cause is noble but the way it is presented is offensive and oppressive.