(Editor’s note: The Blogoweet is a social media column where commentary will focus on the blogosphere and twitterscape as topics within in it may interest, apply to, or affect, the LGBT community.)
In my last column, I focused on a blog post by a straight, married, father of three in North Carolina.
Blogger Eric Shepherd (@eshep) was upset enough about the new anti-LGBT measures his home state’s legislators had passed and were preparing for inclusion on next spring’s ballot, that he took to his "def shepherd" blog to school the less educated on why support of gay marriage is so necessary.
That column has now been shared over 1,000 times on Facebook alone, and has had well over 2,800 unique reads, according to Google Analytics.
Since writing his blog, Eric has been contacted by @NC4Equality and he has offered to do whatever he can to help fight the anti-gay Proposition 1 in March. Eric is the epitome of what an ally to the LGBT community looks like.
This week, however, I turn my focus on a local San Diegan, a self-professed "ally" who has written several pro-gay articles in the past and says he "loves homosexuals." My focus is on Edwin Decker, aka @edwindecker on Twitter.
Decker is a freelance writer who contributes to various media, and is a regular contributor to the local alternative weekly, San Diego CityBeat (@SDCityBeat).
A freelance writer differs from a blogger like Eric, in that one would consider a freelance writer a "professional" writer, since they generally get paid for their words, where bloggers are often motivated purely by the hot topic of the moment stuck to the tip of their fingers.
In today’s social media engrossed world, however, there is a fine line between what truly constitutes a professional writer and a blogger. These lines are even more blurred, due to the fact that some bloggers make a pretty good living at what they do and some freelance writers unfortunately work for peanuts.
But I digress.
This past Wednesday, one of my biker friends (we both belong to WomenMoto) shared a column on Facebook that she took issue with. The column was called Scorned by the Sons of Lame-archy, so I gave it a look.
Let me first say that I have been an avid reader of CityBeat since its inception – long before we launched San Diego Gay & Lesbian News almost two years ago. I’ve always enjoyed it as a fun, shorter, sometimes edgier version of The Reader. And I've remained a big fan of theirs, in spite of the fact that in the last six months or so, they’ve been riding SDGLN hard.
Apparently they aren’t a big fan of our publisher’s high profile partner and have established what appears to be a personal vendetta against anyone who works at SDGLN. For anyone who follows @sdgln or @SDCityBeat on Twitter, you are already well aware of this.
That being said, when I clicked on my friend’s post, I was reading it solely as a citizen; a fellow "biker" who happens to also ride a Harley Davidson. In fact, I wasn't even aware it was from CityBeat until I clicked.
Decker spent the first three-quarters of his rant making fun of the “biker” genre, apparently after being humiliated at a stop light by one, recently. Fine. I understood he needed a vehicle to vent his frustrations on said "biker dude" and to process this obviously painful and devastating episode.
For the record, I would like to say that as menacing as "biker gangs" (his term) may appear, they have some of the biggest hearts around.
Case in point, when local lesbian biker Erin Laird experienced a horrific crash in early July requiring over 30 pints of blood to save her life, it was the Lakeside “Saddle Tramps” (a "biker gang" if you follow Decker's logic) who came to her rescue. The Saddle Tramps donated ALL of the leftover blood from the many blood drives held in response to their own horrific crash, that claimed five of their own last November.
But again, I digress. The point of my column is to focus on how things affect the LGBT community, and here we go. You might want to put your seat belt on.
As I continued to read his degradation of the biker community and a list he compiled of “biker gang” names, the column suddenly took a total -- and quite unexpected -- left turn.
Speaking of homosexual bikers, I absolutely had to Google “gay motorcycle clubs” when researching this column. Alas, all that came up were totally inoffensive, non-hilarious monikers like The LGBT Motorcycle Club, The Golden Gate Guards and The Spartan Motorcycle Club. What a disappointment!
His disappointment caused him to put matters into his own hands, and what follows is specifically what I take issue with.
I was hoping for some totally awesome, totally faggy, gay-biker-gang names, like The Sodomites, or The Truck Stop Cruisers, or the queer chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle Club—The Mangols. Or how about The Fag Hags, for a motorcycle gang composed of meth-addled straight chicks who follow The Mangols. Or, my all-time favorite gay-biker-gang name I just made up: Hell’s Anals.
I swear to God, I am seriously thinking about going gay just so I can wear that patch on the back of my sawed-off leather jacket. At least then, when I encounter one of these holier-than-thou Harley enthusiasts on my little zip-zip, putt-putt motor scooter, he’d have a reasonto object to my presence: Because my iron-on biker-gang patch isn’t making fun of gay people; it’s making fun of him and his amusing fraternity, preposterous costume and obnoxiously loud tail pipes that he intentionally modified for no other reason than to be obnoxious and loud.
My jaw dropped in horror. I scrolled up to see his name, and didn’t recognize it. I sat at my computer, speechless.
“Faggy”? “Sodomite”? “Hell’s anals”? "Going gay"?
Not only was it just one day after the repeal of DADT, one of the single most historic days in the LGBT community, it also came on the heels of yet another high profile teen suicide due to bullying.
How could the editors of CityBeat publish this? As a reader, a citizen, a biker who rides a Harley, a lesbian, AND as an editor, myself, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.
Here was a weekly, with offices in the Hillcrest-lite enclave of North Park, that has always professed to be so pro-LGBT and LGBT-friendly, allowing something with these words to be published under its banner head.
I immediately took to my personal Twitter account @morganSDGLN on Wednesday evening and shared my shock. It wasn’t long before others picked up on it and @SDCityBeat, their staff and the author also chimed in to defend the piece.
Yes, defend. They have done nothing BUT defend it for three straight days. Not one lick of apology.
In fact, they have repeatedly brushed away any ill will with a wide swash, calling the piece "satire" and claiming that the terminology is not offensive.
Ironically, Wikipedia says this about satire: "In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement." Nice. Even deadlier.
For three very long days, in which even Decker has commented on how tired he is from defending it, and despite the numerous calls for wisdom on the subject, there has been nothing even close to an apology or a recognition of wrong doing from the author or his editors.
Some of @edwindecker’s many words in defense.
My column was PRO gay. How U not see this? It said, I wish these biker gangs did exist as an "in your face" to homophobes.
Because I dont believe I have anything to apologize for, Stephen. I stand by column and don't believe my feelings are wrong
Well I don't believe that at all - many gays use those terms. Regardless, they are words I would use about myself if i were gay
You didn't "read" satire cuz you reacted to the buzzwords. Context never had a chance after that
Thats not at all what I meant. I was saying those gang names would be badass! That I would join those gangs if gay
Really? He just doesn’t understand that it IS the “buzzwords” that are the problem.
It is sad that in this day and age that anyone has to explain to a “real, alternative” news organization, or a writer who says he “LOVES” the LGBT community (and sent me half a dozen article links to prove this love) that using terms like Sodomite, Faggy and Fag Hag, among the rest of it -- in a paper that has a high number of LGBT readers – is blasphemous.
The "F" word is our "N" word -- and these words kill our kids every day.
Decker went so far as to say to me, "It does tell me a lot about your ability to navigate 'context' though."
My reply: "Is that what those who took issue with Tracy Morgan’s rant failed at, too?"
Because after all, Tracy Morgan initially tried for days to defend his hate-filled rant as comedy. Decker was not happy I made this comparison, and granted, Tracy Morgan spoke of performing acts of violence if he found out his son was gay, but the complete and utter ignorance to LGBT sensitivity here, is the same.
Bottom line … the CityBeat column was not satirical, nor was it funny and they should apologize.
Local journalist and community leader Stephen Whitburn said it best when he chimed into the Twitter conversation:
@stephenwhitburn: CB is of course progressive. But if I didn't read satire here, I doubt some young LGBT person will.
I became frustrated with my continued engagement, but their arguments were so shallow, if not completely ignorant, that I just couldn’t help myself. Feel free to review any and all of the conversation between these and others: @morganSDGLN @citybeatkelly @drolland @edwindecker
After a while, I began to feel it was now more about the online publication I worked for, than the inappropriateness of the piece itself, and I was right. CityBeat staff began to accuse those taking issue with the column for doing so only because we work for or were associated with SDGLN.
They even tried to devalue Whitburn’s own concern over the column by tweeting a link proving SDGLN endorsed Whitburn in his board of supervisors run last year.
Really!? Heartless. Still no apology, just finger-pointing and nastiness.
Clearly, despite the popularity and visibility of the It Gets Better Project, The NOH8 Campaign and others, we as a community still have so far to go – especially when folks who profess to be our allies can’t even get it right and then get angry at you for offending you when they don’t get it right.
All these days later, I am just damn surprised my original concern over the hateful words in a column has now spiraled into political baiting. I expected more from CityBeat. I really did.
Maybe they just need to hear from all of you.
Please read the column in its entirety and let CityBeat know how you feel.
Is this satire? Are these words offensive to you? Why or why not?
Morgan M. Hurley is the Assistant Editor at SDGLN. She can be reached at (877) 727-5446, ext 710 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .