Paula Deen the N-Word; The Q-word; Supreme Court/Gay Marriage

(Update: It doesn’t seem to be ending for Paula Deen. More sponsors may terminate their relationship with her, and Smithfield Foods has terminated their relationship with her and issued a striking statement.)

(Update 2: And now there are more allegations of racism surfacing about Deen and her family. An attorney for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition said current and former Paula Deen employees told him the famous cook and her brother discriminated against black employees, one of whom was consistently referred to as “my little monkey.”)

According to one article I read this morning, Paula Deen’s employees will now be affected by the category five shitstorm that happened when she admitted to using the N-word.

Paula Deen’s TV career is toast after the Food Network announced Friday that it would not be renewing the popular shows “Paula’s Best Dishes” and “Paula’s Home Cooking” after her contract expires at the end of June.

But is she really “toast?”

Tons of fans, of all races, have swamped her facebook page with support. I read another article this weekend that said fans and supporters lined up in the hundreds outside her restaurant in Savannah. Fellow chefs have come to her defense. There are far too many to link to or mention. But here’s one I found that’s less slanted than most.

“I was shocked. I thought she’d get a fair trial,” Wilson, a nurse from Jacksonville, Fla., said Saturday after stopping to buy souvenirs at the gift shop Deen owns next to her Savannah restaurant. “I think the Food Network jumped the gun.”

Here’s a link to Deen’s facebook page. I don’t follow her.

Of course I can’t help thinking about how all this is related to the Q-word…Queer. I’ve been open about how I find the word Queer cringe-worthy at best. It brings to mind negative images from my past and present, and I know for a fact there are still people calling gays “queers” in a very negative way. There are bad jokes about queers, and offensive metaphors and similes about queers. I know many other gay men and women who agree with me (a lot e-mail me in private because they are afraid to talk about it openly). However, I’ve learned to live with the Q-word because I don’t seem to have any choice in the matter. I don’t hold it against anyone who uses the queer word the “right” way. There are people who use the word because they claim it will take the negative stigma away. I get that. On a certain level I agree with it, but I’m a realist, too, and words are strong.

In the same respect, there’s been this very same debate over the N-word. I remember Oprah Winfrey devoting an entire show to it once a while back. Frankly, when I first heard that Paula Deen admittedly used the N-word I started to wonder about how often she used the Q-word, too. It stands to reason. Then I started to wonder how she would use the Q-word…in what context. Clearly, from what I’ve read, Deen was not using the N-word in a positive way.

Evidently, there’s a double standard, though. It’s okay to offend me and thousands of other gay people by using the Q-word because it’s politically correct to do this, but it’s not okay to use the N-word at any time, or in any context. Because in spite of all the lobbying I’ve seen to take the negative stigma away from the N-word by using it openly, no one has yet to remove the hideous racist images that the N-word is associated with. It’s still offensive in any context, especially if you use it and you’re not of African descent. And I think what happened to Paula Deen is a good example of this, and how strongly so many of us feel about the racist implications associated with the N-word. But there are some who can get away with calling me a queer and I’m supposed to smile and take it because they don’t mean any harm. But they are also the same people who would never use the N-word. If that’s not a double standard I don’t know what is.

I’m starting to think that maybe it is time to remove the stigma and negative associations to both words…queer and the N-word. Unfortunately, I just can’t bring myself to type the N-word out no matter how hard I try.

Supreme Court/Gay Marriage

This is the day many of us have been waiting for. The Supreme Court will be ruling on gay marriage, and we’ll find out whether or not the massive fight for equality continues on.

As the term draws to a close at the end of this week, the nine justices still have not released decisions in two highly anticipated gay marriage cases—Perry v. Hollingsworth and Windsor v. United States—as well as two key cases involving race, Shelby County v. Holder and Fisher v. University of Texas.

At 9:15 a.m., the experts at SCOTUSblog—SCOTUS stands for Supreme Court of the United States—will begin analyzing what the Court might do in the liveblog below, and when a decision is handed down, this liveblog will likely be the first place to break the news.

I have no idea how to predict this one. When you’ve been kicked around and disappointed so many times, you learn to anticipate with caution, and never to assume anything. You are also prepared to stand up fast, and keep on fighting if that’s what you have to do.


Please Don’t Call Me Queer!!

Last week there was a slight kerfuffle between LGBT YA authors and a literary agent. I’m not going to link to that because it has nothing to do with this post.

But that misunderstanding brought something to my attention that I hadn’t seen before. Evidently, it’s becoming popular to add a “Q” to the end of LGBT…making it LGBTQ.

I’m gay. I write gay fiction and have been for twenty years. No one told me about the “Q.”

The “Q” means “queer,” or “questioning.” At least that’s what I’ve been told. I’m fine with the “questioning” part. But I’m not so sure about the “queer” part.

Of course I know there are gay people who want to refer to themselves as “queer.” And they want to be referred to as “queer” by other people. And that’s fine for them. Have fun. I just want to make it clear that I’d prefer not to be called “queer” by anyone at any time.

The “Q” word to me is what the “N” word is to some African Americans. It’s degrading, denigrating, and insulting. It’s hateful at best and hurtful at its worst. It causes pain no matter how you look at it. It makes young gay people living in small towns cringe and recoil. And being a writer, I know how strong words can be.

What prompted me to write this post is that I saw a status update on facebook written by someone of African descent who was stuck in traffic and someone viciously shouted the “N” word to him/her. I’m posting this anonymously, verbatim. But it was posted in a public forum, on facebook, so the person in question must have wanted it known.

This was the status update: “Small town life: Someone just called me a nig!?$ in traffic. I feel racism is a form of mental degeneration. Breath, and onward! #Life”

It killed me to see this. I’m a huge fan of this person and I wanted to scream and punch something. But more than that, I felt this person’s pain because I know how it feels to be called “fag” or “queer.”

So if they want to add a “Q” to the end of LGBT, have a blast. Personally, I’d rather think of the “Q” as “questioning.” There’s nothing wrong with the word “questioning.”

But for those who want to be called “queer,” don’t call me a “queer.” That’s already been done before and I’d rather not revisit my reactions.