Don’t Tar & Feather Me!

Well, on second thought, why don’t you sequin and feather me instead? In further discussion of RuPaul and gender pronouns . . .

I hear your words and support your struggle, though I disagree with your position in a couple of key ways. I also think that perhaps you misunderstand my particular usage of pronouns as perhaps ignorant and intentionally hurtful.

I’m listening hard. You too?

I hope that you will take what I express below in the spirit of respectful disagreement in which it is written.

You are correct to point out that many people, “face much discrimination and hate and live with the ongoing and daily threat of violence.”

However, I feel that you are way off the mark if you posit that transgendered folks are the only slice of Queer folks who live with these fears or who have a say in how we choose to use and expect our shared language to evolve.

Gender battles, the last generation.

We have come a long way, and have a great deal further to go.

I’m unconvinced that staking-out ownership of our language’s already problematic pronouns is going to win transgendered folks anything but animosity and alienation from their Queer brethren.

My pronoun usage is an educated one, informed by generations of Queer history. This usage is based in classic and Standard Gay Camp, a modern evolution of Polari:

“He” and “She” as ironic substitutions are a part of Gay Male History and Identity.

As a gay male I reserve the right to use masculine and feminine pronouns to refer to myself and any other gay males of my generation as I see fit, though I am fully aware of the responsibilities and consequences this usage entails.

I further acknowledge YOUR right to be referred to with whichever names and pronouns you prefer and will happily and respectfully do so.

She is welcome to her opinions as much as I am welcome to hold her in disdain for having them.

You will note that I did not refer to Caitlyn Jenner as “he”, nor refer to her as “Bruce.” That would be wrong. I recognize that doing so in that particular instance would be an insult not just to Jenner, but to all transgendered folks. In this situation, the irony implicit in camp would be inappropriate. On the other hand, I fully reserve the right to ridicule Jenner, a very public and voluntarily visible spokesperson, for her vapid and self-serving words and actions.

While it is not my intention to be offensive, it is absolutely my intention to call the very foundation of gendered speech into question.

I hope.

There is a very fundamental way that these words are used differently by gay men, lesbians, and transgendered men and women . . . and everybody else.

You should no more expect me to use the word “she” according to your precepts than you could reasonably expect that I would give up using the word “queen” and use it only to refer to Her Royal Majesty, the head of the House of Windsor.

On the other hand, it IS reasonable for you to expect me as a friend and ally to be careful in my usage of gendered words insofar as they refer to both yourself and our transgendered brothers and sisters.

RuPaul, a Queer Drag Queen pioneer, fully embraces whatever monikers come his/her way realizing that the intention behind those words is paramount:

I feel precisely the same way the Ru does.

I don’t care what words you choose as long as I feel those words are coming at me from a place of respect and love.

I have intentionally chosen the tar baby reference as an ironic and problematic indicator of a troublesome cultural touchstone — exactly the same kind of difficult subject as gender-based language differences among some gay men and transgendered women. This subject is potentially a quagmire, but it important enough to address, even as we are aware of the difficulties involved.

Again, you’re well within your rights to expect me to respectfully refer to you as “she” but cross the line, in my opinion, when you venture to indicate how I should refer to Ru, myself, or any other Uppity Faggot™.

Again though, I applaud your engaging me in a dialogue because it is only through mutual dialogue that we can learn about each other, especially if we hope to edge the world towards a less bigoted happy existence.

I welcome your response and invite any others to agree or to take issue with me.

I’ll avoid directly inviting anyone into fray this time, however, as I know what a tar-baby this sensitive topic seems to some.

I care enough to respectfully and openly disagree with you and will continue to fight by your side despite this bone of contention.

None of this is funny without the camp stylings underneath. It would be insensitive for me to suggest or say something like, “Good grief, get a sense of humor!” On the other hand, I think I can gently and respectfully indicate that a self-protective and humorous point-of-view is precisely the honey with which the fly-trap of Drag Race is baited and which has led to its mainstream success. That success has been, in my opinion, rather beneficial to transgendered folks even while it might not have arisen in the best possible manner. We all have a ways still to go, hopefully together.

This one is pretty awesome too:

Juxtaposeur, technical analyst, process engineer, poet wordsmith, INTJ, Anansi, MBTI certified practitioner & team-builder, certifiable fabulist & Uppity Queer™

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