There are few things that get me as riled up as being asked, "If there's a HuffPost Gay Voices, why is there no HuffPost Straight Voices?"
If the question comes from a straight person, I explain that every other section on The Huffington Post other than Gay Voices is filled with (mostly) "straight voices." It's an admittedly prickish answer delivered with a healthy helping of eye rolling, because I have no patience for the notion that straight and/or cisgender people are marginalized or unheard or invisible in the media and mainstream society. We know that just isn't true. Unless otherwise stated, or unless there's some obvious identifying characteristics (and even then, looks can be deceiving), the assumption is always that a person and his or her viewpoint, or "voice," is straight and/or cisgender, and therefore there's no need to collect or highlight those views; they exist everywhere and happily reign supreme.
Queer people, on the other hand, are still struggling to be accepted and acknowledged and to achieve equal rights, so it makes sense to have a place where we can rally, regroup, discuss, get angry, give support, tell our stories, mourn our losses and celebrate our victories.
But I also hear that question, usually asked slightly differently, from queer people. They want to know if it's a smart move to "segregate" ourselves from the rest of society and argue that we should be moving away from ghettoizing ourselves if we ever want to be accepted and ushered into the (mythical) promised land of "Hey! We're just like everyone else!"
While I empathize with the urge to want to -- finally! -- be "just like everyone else" (at least in terms of being granted equal rights and opportunities, being safe from physical and mental harm based on our sexual and/or gender identities and erasing untrue or damaging portrayals in the media), I have no interest in being exactly like non-queer people.
Furthermore, I believe that even if we someday win and/or are granted fair, accurate and widespread visibility, equal legal rights and protections and a place at the table with our non-queer comrades, we will still have much to share, dispute, honor and mull over amongst ourselves. Queer culture -- our joys and struggles and stories -- does not exist simply in opposition to non-queer culture, and for all these reasons, HuffPost Gay Voices endeavors to provide a place for anyone who identifies with any aspect of queerness, as well as our friends, families, allies and those seeking to learn more about who we are and what we are about. And, thankfully, we're by no means the only site out there working to highlight the achievements and efforts of queer people.
This weekend I'll be heading to Philadelphia for the 2013 LGBT Media Journalists Convening, sponsored by the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association and funded by the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund. I'll spend a few days with a "who's who" of the queer media community -- editors, journalists, bloggers and activists who are coming together to discuss important topics like immigration reform, the labor movement, transgender progress and more.
Speaking about the conference, Matt Foreman, Director of Gay and Immigrant Rights Programs for the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund, says:
LGBT newspapers and blogs are not only critical sources of information for our community, they also drive public opinion and action. The annual convening for LGBT editors and bloggers gives these thought leaders the chance to get in-depth information about leading issues of the day ... and to get to know one another.
And getting to know one another is in many ways just as critical as debating policy or sharing strategies. HuffPost Gay Voices relies on the incredible journalism of all the other LGBT media outlets who are in the trenches alongside us. We learn from each other, share each other's stories and direct our readers to each other's sites, and because of this, our reporting is stronger, more diverse and more nuanced and offers our readers a more complete picture of what is going on in the queer community at any given moment.
I'll be tweeting from my personal account, @NoahMichelson, as well as the @HuffPostGay account, and I invite all of you to follow the #LGBTmedia13 hashtag this weekend to get tweets from all the incredible participants in this year's conference.
And if you're in Philly this weekend, many of the journalists, editors and activists from the conference will be meeting up on Saturday night at 9 p.m. at Tavern on Camac (243 S. Camac Street). Come out, have a drink, say hello and get to know everyone a little better.
And for all you straight people who are still upset that you don't have your own section on The Huffington Post or your own "Straight History Month," take another look around you. Every billboard with a straight couple embracing on it is your billboard. Every television commercial with a "traditional" family gathered around a dinner table happily munching Hamburger Helper is your commercial. Every day is your holiday.