I’m lucky to work for a corporation that embraces diversity. Our company has an active LGBT+ ERG, or Employee Resource Group. It’s great to have this representation and it reminds me of when I worked for Digital (DEC) back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Back then we had a couple of similar organizations and it helped make me feel comfortable with my sexuality back in the day.
As part of Pride month, there have been some articles and videos on the company website about the topic, particularly from allies of the gay community. Like some mainstream news outlets, various literature from the LGBT+ groups across the country, and the language of the younger ones, these folks have embraced the word “queer”. I often hear the likes of “we are reclaiming this word!” and people running around calling themselves queer.
I still very much cringe when I hear that word. As a gay man in my mid 50s, I’ve heard that word from too many people and when that word was used it wasn’t used in a festive, celebratory context. Occasionally it was punctuated with a continued verbal assault and once in a great while a physical interaction.
I know the younger ones like to run around doing their own thing, expressing themselves freely and openly and I think that’s great. Good for them. Everyone has the right to be themselves as long as it’s not hurting other people. And personally, for me, the word “queer” has a lot of sting and psychologically still packs a punch. I will not embrace the word. I tried a few years ago but it just didn’t fit. I won’t use the word in a jolly context. I’m not discouraging others from doing the same, again, you be you, but don’t expect me to run around like Rip Taylor, shooting off sparkler cannons and throwing my toupee around screaming about being happily queer. Because I’m not.
I’m happy as a gay man.
Years ago my Twitter profile stated, “More guy than gay” and I caught quite a bit of cruft from the gay “community” around that statement. Today my social media profiles usually say something like “Just a guy with a husband” because that’s how I see myself. I’m just a guy with a husband. To me being gay is just a part of who I am, “part” being the keyword. Loyal, honest, loving, caring, determined, funny, patient, portly, nuts and eccentric are also all words that could probably be used to describe me, but that would make for an out-of-control alphabet soup of character traits and I don’t enjoy all those letters either.
I joke this makes me a bad gay man in the 21st century.
Perhaps I should be compared to the Chevrolet Impala that came out the same year I was born: big, available in manual or automatic, and complete with a choice of sedan, sport coupe, or fastback.