Letter to the Editor: A Question of Queer

Henry Giardina’s article “What Can We Learn from Our Gay Elders?” was very interesting to read as I am one. In NYC in the 60s, I frequented the Stonewall (although not there for the riots). I went to and supported The Firehouse which was established by the Gay Activists Alliance. I participated in the first Gay Pride event in NYC in 1970. I became very involved in the battle against AIDS. That said, the hair on the back of my neck rose every time I read the word “queer.” This is and remains an epithet hurled at gay men (and women). I understand that a new generation has attempted to remove the negativity of this word by trying to turn it into a positive. But for those of us of a very different generation, this word still disturbs is. It’s akin to calling a black person a nigger. That’s how hurtful this word remains to us. I know this word will continue to be used by generations now and in the future who may have no idea of how we suffered to hear that word uttered.