Thanks for picking up the Portland Mercury's Official Guide to Pride! Not only is it jam-packed with everything you need to enjoy Pride festivities this weekend (well, everything but a rainbow temporary tattoo), but we've also crammed in essays from some of your favorite gay writers, from Marc Acito to Dan Savage.
Perhaps you've seen bumper stickers for this year's Pride Festival—they're a riff on the ubiquitous "Keep Portland Weird!" slogan. The Pride theme, "Keep Portland Queer!" seems like the perfect adopted motto for the city's annual homo fest. However—like just about anything having to do with the gay community—the word "queer" is a bit controversial.
Despite efforts to reclaim the word—especially in the last few years, with widespread pop culture references like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Queer as Folk—it's still got a bad vibe for plenty of gays (not to mention corporate sponsors, one of whom reportedly declined to back this year's celebration because of the word "queer").
On the other end of the spectrum, most efforts to bring the queer community together under a tamer umbrella moniker fall flat: "Gay Community" ignores those in the gender-diverse part of the family, while the ever-evolving alphabet soup of LGBTQIA (there might be another letter in there since I wrote this) is so painfully inclusive it's become a joke—plus, it's impossible to make a noun out of it, as in "hey LGBTQIAers!"
Those polarizing words are just the tip of the homo iceberg when it comes to language and labels relating to sexuality, gender, and our relationships. Don't believe me? Ask a dozen queers what their favorite word to describe themselves is, and you'll get a dozen highly personalized answers (in fact, the Mercury did just that—you'll see what I mean).
So, in honor of keeping Portland queer, we're exploring the gamut of queer language, from "faggot" and "dyke" to "marriage" and "genderqueer." Enjoy, all you queer homo gaywads!