Date: Sun, 5 Jan 1997 19:26:50 -0500

From: Ron Butters RonButters[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: Re: the use of "Queer" -Reply

Mark A. Mandel writes:

I wouldn't feel comfortable at all using the word "queer". I learned it, in

the 50s, as a derogatory word, parallel to "spic", "kike", and "nigger". I

know that many homosexual (etc.) people use the word now, but as a

non-member of the group(s) referred to I feel very intensely that coming

from me it would be heard as insulting, just as the

(affectionate?) use of "nigger" by some Black people among themselves

doesn't license me, a white person, to use it.

My experience from the 1950s is exactly the same as Mark's. However, the use

of "queer" as a term of self-reference today is not, I believe, parallel to

the ironic use of "nigger" by African-Americans. The use of "queer" by

"queers" is not ironic but rather a serious attempt to strip the word of its

derogatory connotations, rather the way "black" was stripped of possibly

offensive connotations when it replaced "Negro." As I understand it, "queer"

parallels "persons of color" as a term encompassing a large number of

subgroups (chiefly if not exclusively bisexuals, gay men, lesbians,

transexuals, transgendered persons).

This doesn't mean that I think that Mark must be required to use the term

"queer" if he is uncomfortable with it! But I (and an increasing number of

others) use it as a convenient cover term to which a decreasing number of

persons will take offense. As is the case with almost all such labels, people

in qeneral do not take offense if it is clear that the speaker does not

intend to give offense by using the term. Even the term "professor" can be

offensive in the right context (recall Spiro Agnew and George Wallace on the

subject of "pointy-headed intellectuals")!

Mark writes also:

In fact, I was startled by the beginning of Ron's response, until I

inferred that he identifies himself as "queer."

Perhaps ADS-L will be considered by some to be an inappropriate medium for

one to make an official, public declaration of one's view of one's place on

the psychosociosexual spectrum (though anybody who has ever referred to "my

husband" or "my wife" on this e.b.b. has implicitly come out as "bisexual" or

"str8," recent rulings in the courts of Hawaii notwithstanding to the

contrary). But if it will lend my musings on this topic greater authority, I

hereby declare myself a happy, contented, middle-aged male

queer--stereotypically so at least to the extent that I love cats, adore

lesbians, use words like "adore" in conversation, and loathe football,

shotguns, and bad interior design. However, real life is complicated: I also

hate opera and Christmas decorations, and my appetite for quiche is severely

limited. And I don't believe that I have a large discretionary income (alas).