HuffPost Gay Voices Debuts

The Huffington Post has launched Gay Voices, another “vertical” (their term for a specific section of the site) in their seemingly ever-growing list (Black Voices, Latino Voices, etc.) serving content by user demographics.

In his inaugural post welcoming readers, Gay Voices editor Noah Michelson addresses the rationale for the site and its name:

While the Huffington Post has done an incredible job of covering queer stories in the past, Gay Voices will provide a place for all of those stories to “live” together, thereby making it much easier for readers to find, share and discuss queer topics … The Huffington Post will be able to delve deeper into the issues that matter to queer people and that can’t be addressed by other verticals due to time or the specificity of the issue …

When it came time to name the vertical, we considered a bunch of possibilities, including HuffPost Pride, HuffPost LGBT Voices and HuffPost Queer Voices … I personally prefer the word “queer” … However, it’s still a controversial term and many people (including those with marginalized sexual identities) find it problematic and/or offensive, and so we didn’t think it was appropriate for use as the vertical’s primary identifying term …

Which brings us to the term “gay” and why we chose the name Gay Voices … While it most often describes a “male homosexual,” “gay” has been and can be used by (and to refer to) those with other marginalized sexual identities.

I fully concede the term may not be one everyone feels comfortable claiming or wants to be associated with (especially when it comes to issues of gender rather than sexuality), but after realizing that there was never going to be the perfect term for us to use, we felt that “gay” packs the most instantaneous punch and immediately identifies the content on this vertical as dealing with these types of issues and events.

The argument that “gay” is still the closest we have to a universally acceptable word to describe LGBT people is not new. The question I have from the above rationale is: Has the word “gay” really come full circle? Well, Gay Voices seems to think so.

Considering that the site just launched, the mix of the content so far seems to be covering all the bases. Not sure if that will continue, but the main article today on the Gay Voices homepage about HIV gave me some hope.

I understand that not every LGBT story is an HIV/AIDS story and vice versa. However, there is often a lot of overlap. I would even argue that most HIV/AIDS stories are LGBT stories, but not vice versa.

Although many LGBT outlets do a good job covering HIV/AIDS, I believe I’m safe in saying that LGBT media—and certainly mainstream media—could do more HIV/AIDS coverage. Let’s hope Gay Voices keeps HIV/AIDS stories high in the mix.

8 Responses

  1. While I think this is a great idea in concept, as a trans woman I have a real problem with it being called “Gay Voices”. In my opinion, using the term “gay” to describe all segments of the LGBT community is nothing short of wholesale erasure of lesbian, bisexual and especially transgender identity.

    Many trans people are not gay, so to lump us in as a subsection of this term is not only erasure, but also grossly inaccurate and harmful to trans people politically. At a time when trans citizens are regularly being excluded from civil rights protections in many states, when all the mainstream media seems to know of us is Chaz Bono, this caters to the popular misconception that we’re all gay (we’re not) and civil rights laws which protect gay people also protect us as well (they don’t, unless we’re specifically included).

    I believe this is bad journalism, plain and simple. It’s the equivalent of putting all non-white writers in the same group and calling it “Minority Voices”. HuffPo would never consider doing that, but apparently it’s just fine for us.

    I would hope that NLGJA would be pro-diversity enough to speak out against this kind of ill-considered and inaccurate homogenization of Queer identity and speak out against it, not laud it.

  2. Rebecca: To be clear, I wasn’t lauding the “Gay Voices” title of the site. I actually questioned the use of the word “Gay” in the title of the site. As for the content, I do believe they have a good mix so far, but it’s very early to tell if that will continue – Thanks!

    • A good mix? Really? Have you looked at the “Transgender” page? With the exception of a just a few articles, all of the content about trans people is written by non-trans writers. And as far as the content itself goes, based on their lead stories maybe they should call it the “Chaz Bono” page.

      This is a classic example of straight editors believing that because someone is gay they somehow have an insight to the transgender experience. You can count the number of trans people who write for HuffPo on the fingers of one hand, but there seems no end to the number of gays and lesbians who post there and who the HuffPo editors apparently believe are qualified to write about transpeople.

      I’ve tried to get a HuffPo login (I’ve been writing for The Bilerico Project for more than 5 years now) but don’t even get the courtesy of a “thanks but no thanks” to my inquiries, yet they still fill their transgender page with work from non-trans writers.

      In my opinion, this is part of the problem, exactly what we should be fighting against, not the solution, and something NLJGA should be leading on.

      • First a quick correction: I should have written “…seems to be no end to the number of gays, lesbians, and straight people who post there…”. I didn’t intend that to be seen as implying that only gay and lesbian writers are getting published on trans issues at HuffPo, though they do seem to make up a substantial percentage of those who do.

        In addition to what I said above, it’s also worth noting that many, if not most of the posts on the transgender page have nothing to do with trans people or issues and some are from years ago, so ancient that the stories they link to are no longer on the original websites they were taken from. It seems they just filled out the page with leftovers from the gay and lesbian page when they ran out of trans-relevant work.

        It’s not like there’s a shortage of quality trans-identified writers out there who’d be more than happy to provide content for HuffPo, just an apparent lack of interest from the HuffPo editorial staff in including our work on their site.

  3. Rebecca: Thanks for laying out your arguments, I’ll make sure NLGJA leadership is aware!

  4. I agree with Rebecca here and think she is right on the money with her critiques

    I too find it odd that they chose to call it Gay Voices. To me the only people who think gay is an all-inclusive term these days are straight people.

    Why not use LGBT voices?

    By doing so I think HuffPost could help educate non-LGBT people what that acronym means.

    Seems like a missed opportunity to me.

  5. For the record on where NLGJA stands on the use of the term gay, here is what the stylebook says:

    gay: An adjective that has largely replaced “homosexual” in referring to men who are sexually and affectionately attracted to other men. Avoid using as a singular noun.

    For women, “Lesbian” is preferred. To include both, use “gay men and lesbians.”

    In headlines where space is an issue, “gays” is acceptable to describe both.

  6. […] the name “HuffPost Gay Voices” being somewhat controversial (instead of HuffPost LGBT Voices, for example), the site is quickly growing its audience. The site […]

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