To the Editor:
As a queer black individual, I was insulted by James Kirchick’s complete misrepresentation of the word “queer” and its uses (“Reclaiming ‘queer’ is not a worthy cause,” 2/14). Queer has been reclaimed not, as he argues, to force individuals like him to redefine themselves, but rather to include individuals like myself who do not fit into the conventional lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community’s structure. The LGBT community with which Kirchick identifies has historically been subjected to prejudice and discrimination because of a narrow framework of sexuality that has undervalued them. Whether intentionally or not, Kirchick argues for the further marginalization of other sexual minorities.
Further, his comparison of “queer” and the N-word is illogical. As Kirchick points out, “queer” is defined as something out of the ordinary, while the N-word is simply a racial epithet. Whereas one carries inextricable racial undertones, the other can easily be returned to its true meaning — non-heterosexuals are different, but that difference should be recognized and respected. The queer activists and academics he refers to seek to promote a complete revaluation of sexual norms to prevent the progress the LGBT has made from excluding other sexual minorities. While Kirchick may be content with the social position “gay” grants him, there are others within and outside the LGBT community who seek to dismantle discrimination at its core.
Andrew Dowe ’08
Feb. 14, 2006