Today, for the very first time, we're thrilled to welcome you to HuffPost Queer Voices.
Our name change comes four-and-a-half years after we originally debuted as HuffPost Gay Voices -- and after countless conversations with countless people, both inside and outside of the HuffPost newsroom.
Though I've had my own love affair with the word "queer" for as long as I can remember (more on that in a minute), at the time of our launch in 2011 some people felt that the term was too controversial, too divisive and, because of its history as a slur, perhaps just too painful to use.
Instead, we settled on HuffPost Gay Voices (you can read more about how that decision was reached here). Though it wasn't my first choice, I have to admit, at the time, there was something radical about seeing that instantly recognizable three-letter word proudly emblazoned on one of the most-read websites in the world.
A lot has changed since then -- from marriage equality sweeping the nation and parts of the world to Laverne Cox gracing the cover of Time magazine to Miley Cyrus coming out as pansexual -- and we believe that this is an especially critical time for queer people and the queer movement to regroup and redefine its mission in the wake of these incredible, once unimaginable changes to the political and cultural landscape. We hope that HuffPost Queer Voices can be a place where discussions about where we're headed, what matters to us and how we can become the best possible, most authentic versions of ourselves as queer people -- and as a community -- can take place on a daily basis.
We, like many others before us, have chosen to reclaim "queer" and to rename the section HuffPost Queer Voices because we believe that word is the most inclusive and empowering one available to us to speak to and about the community -- and because we are inspired by all of the profound possibilities it holds for self-discovery, self-realization and self-affirmation. We also revere its emphasis on intersectionality, which aids in creating, building and sustaining community while striving to bring about the liberation of all marginalized people, queer or not.
"Queer" functions as an umbrella term that includes not only the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people of "LGBT," but also those whose identities fall in between, outside of or stretch beyond those categories, including genderqueer people, intersex people, asexual people, pansexual people, polyamorous people and those questioning their sexuality or gender, to name just a few. These groups have been and will continue to be featured on The Huffington Post, however now the section dedicated to these identities will be inclusive not only in scope but also in name.
We will also continue to present, cover and provide opportunities for conversations about topics that we believe to be patently queer and that we feel do not receive enough attention from mainstream or queer media including: non-traditional gender expressions and experiences, non-traditional sexualities, sex positivity, queer homeless youth, HIV/AIDS, the fight for global queer rights and expression, sex work and sex workers, romantic and non-romantic relationships, non-traditional families, the intersections of race, gender, class and sexualities and more.
As ecstatic as we are about our new name, we understand and respect that for some people, "queer" conjures up incredibly intimate and wholly negative associations and memories. We have no intention of telling anyone what words they should or shouldn't use to define themselves or their community. That's a personal, powerful and important choice. Our hope, however, is that those who have been hurt by this word or believe it to be solely derogatory can understand how we are employing it and why (for some useful resources related to the word "queer," look below).
My own first encounter with the word was being called "a queer" by my hunky neighborhood garbage man (he was all muscles and mustache -- totally my type at the time) when I was just five years old after I snuck outside to perform (what I guess I then imagined to be) a seductive dance for him in my underwear. Too innocent to understand that he was using the word against me, I ran inside and proudly told my dad what had happened. Before my dad, visibly upset, could make his way more than a few feet toward the front door, he stopped and turned back to face me, stunned, when he heard me say, "It's OK. I like being a queer."
Of course I had no idea what was really going on -- I simply thought "queer" referred to someone who was magnificently, extraordinarily different and that sounded like a pretty magical way to live my life.
As we at HuffPost Queer Voices see it, the end goal of the queer movement has never been about assimilation or becoming just like everyone else. We're proud of our queerness -- our glittering otherness -- and we want to be treated with the same dignity and afforded the same rights and humanity as everyone else while our magnificent, extraordinary differences remain intact to be honored and celebrated.
We hope you feel the same way and that no matter who you are or how you identify, you'll help us celebrate this new beginning. And we want to say thank you for joining us on this journey. We wouldn't be who we are or have gotten this far without our incredibly passionate readers. We hope you'll stick around because we can't wait to show you -- and to see for ourselves -- what happens next.
We're here! We're queer! Get into it!
The HuffPost Queer Voices Team
Noah Michelson, Editorial Director
Curtis M. Wong, Senior Editor
JamesMichael Nichols, Deputy Editor
Michelangelo Signorile, Editor-at-Large
For more on the word "queer" and queerness check out:
MTV's "So What's Up With The Word Queer?"
PFLAG's "A Definition Of Queer"
Pride.com's "6 Reasons You Need To Use The Word Queer"
Gender Equity Resource Center's "What Does Queer Mean?"
Jenny Block's "Here's Why I Use The World Queer"
A History Of Queer Nation
Also on HuffPost: