by Joe Siegel
Many, but not all, LGBT publications have embraced the term “queer” and added the “Q” in “LGBTQ” when describing the community in their news coverage.
In an August 2017 editorial, OutSmart Magazine in Houston explained its use of the new terminology.
“The ‘Q’ stands for ‘queer’ or ‘questioning,’ and the change reflects our effort to be more inclusive of the entire community,” wrote editor John Wright.
As Wright points out, according to Community Marketing’s 11th annual LGBTQ Survey released in July of last year, 24 percent of millennials now identify as “queer,” as do 37 percent of “gender expansive” people. The survey also found that “LGBTQ” is now preferred over “LGBT” among millennials, and that, for the first time, the expanded abbreviation has an approval rating among baby boomers of more than 50 percent.
Based on its findings, Community Marketing concluded that “LGBTQ” is “a positive word for corporations to use today, with little negative downside.”
“Indeed, even some mainstream publications, including the Los Angeles Times, have switched from ‘LGBT’ to ‘LGBTQ,’” Wright noted.
Ryan Howe, editor of Out Front Colorado in Denver, wrote a letter from the editor last month explaining “why we use ‘queer’ alongside ‘LGBTQ.’”
“Out Front’s staff spent many meeting and arguments on whether to use the word in our magazine,” he wrote. “… Ultimately, we settled on using ‘queer’ when both the writer and the subject of the story agree with it. … For us, ‘queer’ is used as an umbrella term for anyone who identifies as LGBTQ or something other than the worldview that promotes heterosexuality as the norm.”
Troy Masters, editor of the Los Angeles Blade, said he’s “always been a fan of the word ‘queer’ because of its breadth of meaning. Today it refers to the increasing visibility of gender queer and gender fluid people or fluid sexual identity.”
Masters said the use of “LGBTQ” is a reflection of changing times.
“As we embrace diversity it just makes sense that we become inclusive about the term we adopt to describe ourselves collectively.”
“We use ‘LGBTQ’ and the word ‘queer’ regularly in our content and have done that for several years,” added Cynthia Laird, news editor for the Bay Area Reporter in San Francisco. “The main reason is that’s how more people we talk to identify. LGBTQ has also been embraced by various nonprofit organizations, so we honor that as well.”
“We use ‘LGBTQ,’ and we will use ‘queer’ when subjects identify that way,” noted Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade.
Some publications choose not to use LGBTQ in their reporting.
“Our style is not to include the ‘Q’ as a general rule,” said Tammye Nash, managing editor of the Dallas Voice. “We certainly include the ‘Q’ when we are quoting someone, when it is part of the actual name of an organization or event, and there are some occasions when one of our writers includes the ‘Q’ for some other specific reason.”
Nash cited another reason for the publication’s decision.
“We have no particular objection to the ‘Q,’ and we do understand the element of inclusion. It’s just that the use of the initials ‘LGBT’ is intended to save space and time, and as more and more letters are added, it becomes increasingly clunky and, at least in my mind, a bit pretentious.”