We're Here. We're Queer. What's Next?

By: Ari Bendersky
6.24.2009

There was a time when as a collective group, gay people needed to band together to have our voices heard. We were persecuted, had our bars raided, had our homes taken when our long-term partners passed away and their families didn't approve of our relationships or lifestyles. Our government turned a blind eye when thousands of us started dying from a mysterious disease, so heroic people within our community formed advocacy groups. These groups supported our "families" and gave us a place to turn for help when we needed it since it didn't seem that many others cared. We had medical groups, social groups and, of course, activists. It was this last category that showed America what it had turned its gay community into: angry, frustrated people who weren't going to sit back and be ignored anymore.

One of these groups, Queer Nation, eventually adopted a slogan that many of us have embraced over the last 20 years. "We're here. We're queer. Get used to it" became a rallying cry, a line chanted at parades, outside government buildings, at events. But over time, as gay people became more and more accepted into mainstream society through TV, movies and everyday regular people feeling more comfortable to come out at work, "We're here" became something people used to toss off a joke or just say, "Hey, pay attention to me. I'm talking and I'm gay!"

The line still has an impact but is it necessary today? Yes, we still aren't fully integrated into American culture and, yes, we are fighting for the basic civil right to marry our loved ones. But is telling people that we're gay and around and to basically, well, get used to it, a little aggressive?
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/1999/06/30/pride/
An article written by Christopher Ott on Salon in 1999 had a headline "We're here, we're queer, I'm sick of it," which talked about how the gay "agenda" morphed its focus from a political activist viewpoint to one of partying, when in reality we should've been focusing on obtaining equal rights. It's interesting that we're still talking about this last point today.

That said, maybe it's time to come up with a new slogan that we can all embrace and get behind. Someone jokingly said to me that we should say, "We're gay, we're pretty, please don't beat us up," at which time I told him to shut the hell up. We don't want people to think of us as weak or meager, but as equals. Not every straight man is butch and into sports. Not every straight woman is soft and feminine. Just in the same way that not every gay man or woman can be pigeonholed into stereotypically categories.

So yes, we're here and we are queer and yes, people need to get used to it. But do we need to throw it into their faces? Can't we just live our lives and let people get to know us as people and not as gay people? Of course we need people to know who we are otherwise we will never get our rights. But we've advanced tremendously in the last few decades. So is it time for a new slogan? What do you think? Throw us your ideas. We want to hear from you.

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