When to (or not to) use the word Queer? That is the question. [Podcast] - Jenn T. Grace—Book Publisher, Speaker, and Author Skip to the content

When to (or not to) use the word Queer? That is the question. [Podcast]

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AUDIO TITLE:  Episode #47 – A Queer Question 

You are listening to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast, Episode 47.


Welcome to the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast where you’ll learn how to do business with and market to the LGBT community in an authentic and transparent way. We’re talking about the $790 billion lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community. We’ll help you grow your business, gain market share and impact your bottom line. And now your host – she’s an entrepreneur, a marketing maven and an advocate for the LGBT business community. Jenn, with two N’s, T. Grace.

Well hello and welcome to episode number 47 of the Gay Business and Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I am your host, Jenn Grace, and first I would like to say Happy Thanksgiving. So Happy Thanksgiving to all of my US listeners, to my Canadian friends I apologize I know your Thanksgiving was on October 12, so I’m a little bit belated in saying Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. But I hope that you are enjoying your day today and spending time with friends, family, et cetera and hopefully- hopefully not at work however I’m sure there are many of you out there who are working today, myself included. Fortunately I have the benefit of working from home so I don’t have to be dealing with any type of retail chaos or craziness that ensues during this beloved consumer driven time of the year. But anyway I do hope that the last year is something that you can look back on and think of all the many reasons why you’re thankful and grateful and all that great stuff.

Things to be thankful for…

In today’s podcast I want to just talk about a couple of things. I do want to mention just a couple of reasons why I’m thankful, because I did that in an episode I did last year, which was episode number 23, but this year I don’t want to make that the focus of that podcast, I do want to mention a couple of things. But today I want to talk about two things in particular. The first of those two is talking about your options as a consumer, whether you’re LGBT or not, and donating to places. So donating to food shelters, pantries, et cetera. I just want to talk about a couple of things as it relates to that as we’re in the spirit of the holidays and it’s now Thanksgiving.

…And the word ‘queer.’

And then the other thing which is completely unrelated to Thanksgiving is that I want to talk about the word ‘queer.’ And this is something that I should have been talking about more; I’ve written a couple of blog posts on it, it’s something that I bring up in almost every webinar that I do, but I haven’t actually dedicated any real significant piece of content to the word ‘queer.’ It does stem from an email that I received from somebody working in corporate America. So I want to read her email, my response to her, and then I want to elaborate on it a little bit. Just because it is a topic and word that comes up on a fairly regular basis including the webinar that I did just last week.

So I guess without further ado I’ll just dive into today’s topics. It is indeed Thanksgiving, a couple of things that I just wanted to note is that I really am really, really appreciative of you who is listening to this right now. Whether you’re listening to this on Thanksgiving Day, or if you happen to be listening to this in the middle of June, whenever you’re listening to this I’m still really grateful that you are here, taking your time, listening to my content and for the most part the vast majority of you are reaching out to me. It’s so wonderful to get emails and even if it’s just a simple tweet just saying, “Hey, thanks for Episode 45,” or whatever it happens to be. It’s just really nice to know that you’re out there and that I am not sitting here behind a microphone talking to myself. Which occasionally it does feel like I am just doing a show for the cat who is sitting next to me as my co-pilot today. I want to just thank you for being here, which is so awesome and I got an email just the other day from somebody who follows me and who’s been on a webinar. I had a great option to talk with her over the phone to just learn more about her business and see what she’s trying to do as an ally and it’s so great because I got an email from her that said, “So sorry I missed your latest webinar. I ended up at the doctor with my daughter who has a sinus infection, oh fun. If I don’t talk to you I hope you and your loved ones have a Happy Thanksgiving, you will be on my list of things that I am grateful for in 2014.”

It’s really just emails like that to me, that just really mean so much and it just proves that I’m not just talking to myself and that you are out there and that you’re listening to what I’m up to and it’s just, it’s pretty awesome. So I’m really happy that Jennifer reached out and had those kind words to say because I can say it right back to you. I really appreciate you and you are certainly on my list of people to be thankful for as well. So there’s that one person Jennifer I wanted to mention, and then I also want to say hi to Kelly. So I had a chance to sit down with a fellow business owner in Connecticut; a fellow LGBT business owner. And we have been playing email tag since March and it’s now November, and fortunately we were finally just able to connect and have a wonderful – I think it was at least a two hour conversation together at a lovely Panera. And it’s just, it’s so awesome to meet with people, especially those who have listened to the podcast. It’s just so easy and natural to talk to people and it’s great when someone can say, “Hey, I just listened to your latest podcast,” and in this case she was saying, “Oh I just listened to Episode 46, congratulations on your half marathon.” So it was pretty cool to just be able to have that conversation and really get to know her business, and then of course connect her with a couple of people I think might be helpful and ultimately that’s truly what I’m here to do. I’m here to educate you, I’m here to help connect you with people that make sense, and of course I just want to be a resource for you for whatever it is that you may be looking to do, looking to reach out for, et cetera.

So thank you Jennifer and Kelly for recent interactions, I really, really appreciate it. Other things that I’m thankful for, let’s see I actually don’t even have a list. I’m just really grateful for my clients, of course they’re the reasons why I can pay the bills, because writing my blog and doing this podcast don’t pay the bills but they’re so rewarding in so many other ways that it is 100% worth it for me. And ultimately doing all this stuff does yield me new clients. I actually just got a new client last week who I’m super excited to start working with because she has such a great message, she is somebody in the LGBT community who’s really trying to get the message out there around LGBT youth and I’m really excited and we connected through Twitter. So it’s pretty awesome to be getting new clients via social media. You know some people are very nay-saying of Twitter saying, “You’re not building real connections there.” I complete disagree anyway, and it just further solidifies it every time I do get a new client using Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, whatever it happens to be. As you know typically LinkedIn is my place to be, it’s a place I love to hang out, I converse with everybody who connects with me, and I’m sure plenty of you listening to this right now we are already connected. So I would love to continue connecting; if you haven’t already reached out to me, please do so. And when you do, don’t leave the generic ‘Hey I want to connect with you,’ or whatever the generic LinkedIn thing says. But tell me that you heard from the podcast, or if it was Twitter, or wherever it was because it’s cool to know and cool to be able to point as a reference.

So yeah, that’s that. So then of course the third thing, so I’m grateful for you the listener, for my clients, of course I’m grateful for my family. I have the most amazing wife on Earth who just puts up with all of the insanity in which I bring down on her on a regular basis. Yeah, she’s just my rock, she’s the one that keeps me focused, keeps me in check, keeps me from doing really stupid things on occasion. So yeah, those are my three big things. There’s a million other things I’m grateful for, there really are. I definitely take time every day to just kind of sit back and think, “Wow, I am doing this. I am doing something that I love to do.” And I know that there might be a couple of you listening to this who don’t feel that way and you’re trying to make a change from where you are to where you want to be and that’s why you started a business, or that’s why you’ve started listening to this to figure out how you can start making that change and for that I’m really grateful that I can help you along that journey, but I’m also grateful that I am in just a really awesome place right now.

So those are my random tidbits of things that I am thankful for right now. And I encourage you to share with me what you are thankful for; whether you want to send me an email, send me something via Facebook, any type of social media, or post a comment on this blog post. You know the podcast does have a blog post that goes with it, which is JennTGrace.com/47 and that’s for episode number 47. So feel free to leave a comment as well because I also do interact quite frequently on the comments on my blog as well.

Story time….

Now I want to share just a small little story which is slightly entertaining as it relates to the Salvation Army and it’s such an organization I have- I don’t want to say hatred towards because that’s a little bit dramatic, but I’m not a fan of. So I just want to bring this to your attention because I always feel like the Salvation Army just has a natural- like everybody knows they’re bad for LGBT. I just assume that, and then I realize that not everybody understands that. So every year on Facebook, whether it’s on my business Facebook page or whether it’s on my personal page, I always post a link – and Huffington Post is usually really good about this, and always comes back every year and writes up something new about the Salvation Army and why they’re bad and I always share that without fail. So in today’s episode and in the blog post that goes with this, I will certainly include a link to the article on Huffington Post which is titled ‘The Salvation Army’s History of Anti-LGBT Discrimination.’ And it’s an interesting article, it goes back to 1986 to ’98, 2001, 2012, ’13 – this that and the other. So I don’t need to read the whole article, you can certainly go check it out on your own time. But the moral of the story is all I want to tell you is the LGBT community is known to be discriminated against via the Salvation Army. So I don’t really know how to phrase it, I almost said a hoarder, I’m so far from a hoarder. But everything that I have I always donate to somewhere. So before I buy anything new, whether it’s a jacket, it’s a shirt, I will clean out my closet and I will go donate everything that I have that I don’t need, I haven’t worn. Same thing with the kids’ clothes, I actually got into- there was a meltdown at the bus stop with my six-year-old about two weeks ago because his winter coat didn’t fit and it was ridiculous, I wish I had a picture because it was like halfway up his arms and he insisted on wearing it to school anyway. So I was like, “Listen, we’re going to give your coat to Matthew, who happens to be the neighbor, and we’ll go buy you a new coat.” And of course he wanted nothing to do with it, he threw a whole tantrum, it was lovely. So he went to school with the coat that did not fit in any way, shape or form, but you know sometimes you have to pick your battles, that’s not one I wanted to pick for the day so I sent him off looking somewhat ridiculous but who cares. That coat did end up going to the neighbor as I told him it was going to, and he’s totally fine with it. A lot of times if they have toys to be donated or if it’s old books, whatever it happens to be they’re usually really good at being able to take away that sentimental value that might be attached to it and give it to somebody else because we’re always talking about how there’s always more people out there who are less fortunate than us and they need clothes too, and they need toys, they need games, they need books, et cetera. So my kids are really, really mindful of the idea of giving back. I am always kind of just keeping an eye out for where we can drop stuff off because the Goodwill organization also isn’t great; if I were looking at the Salvation Army and looking at Goodwill, I would definitely go to Goodwill first and drop off our stuff. But there are just those random bins that are laying out. They’re like giant dumpsters that say, ‘This stuff gets donated to-‘ and I always look at what that sign says. Like where is this going to? Because you want to make sure that you’re giving your stuff that’s actually going to get to the people who need it the most. So you can also go to like the soup kitchen, which clearly you’d have to be bringing food to the soup kitchen. But you can go to homeless shelters, there’s battered women’s shelters, there are a ton of places locally. And there’s also animal shelters so if you have old bedding or pillows or blankets or anything like that. Animal shelters are looking for those things for pets to be able to have a warm place to sleep during the winter months.

Alternative places for your act of charity…

So there are a dozen different ways I guarantee, if not more, in your local community of places that you could give anything to. So whether you’re giving money, whether you’re giving some sort of clothing, whether it’s books, whether it’s electronics even. Whatever it happens to be, there are a ton of places that you could give your items to that is not the Salvation Army. So I really encourage you, and again they just have a long history of being anti-LGBT. So for that reason alone I will not give them anything and I understand that whatever they’re doing is going to needy people, I’m sure of it, but I’m not going to support an organization that doesn’t support me, doesn’t support my family. So I do go out of my way to make sure that I’m supporting locally where I can. Because that just makes the most sense to me. So even if you’re involved in your local church, by all means go bring it to your church. You know just go somewhere where you have a relationship with that’s not going to have any type of anti-LGBT or politics or some BS associated with it.

A little entertainment for you guys…

The entertaining piece of this, other than my son going to school looking like a hobo, is the fact that I posted this on my Facebook page and I put it out and my wife’s friend sends her a text message a couple days later and says, “You’ll never guess what your wife made my wife do.” And I’m thinking, “What have I done now?” Because there are so many things that I’m posting on Facebook, it could be anything. It was really kind of a shot in the dark. My thought was, I had encouraged her wife to like start running or run a marathon or something ridiculous. And so my wife gives her a call, then the three of them are the phone in the other room and I’m not really paying attention to it. Other than my wife yelling into the other room, she’s like, “You’re changing the world.” And I’m thinking, ‘What on Earth is she talking about now?’ And it was the fact that the two friends who are together, married, go into a grocery store locally where they are in New York, and one of them sees- the one who read the post I had on Facebook, she sees the red kettle and the bell, and when the person asked her for money she went into- I don’t want to say a tirade but certainly went into a whole diatribe perhaps, I’m not really sure what the right word for it would be; of why she’s not giving them money because they’re anti-LGBT. My assumption is the people who are out there ringing the bells, they probably haven’t the slightest clue what the Salvation Army’s policies are on a corporate level, they have no idea I’m certain of this. You know you can’t really blame the person who’s out there ringing the bell who’s volunteering their time, but at the end of the day I’m really proud of her for standing up and speaking out to the fact that they’re anti-LGBT, and of course there was plenty of other shoppers within the radius who heard this conversation going down. So and mind you, so they’re a lesbian couple so clearly they’re part of the LGBT community too, and they didn’t realize how negative the Salvation Army was towards the community so I was quite pleased to know that my simple Facebook post about sharing this Huffington Post article that I’ll link in here that you can go get, just something so simple like that. So now the two of them know, God knows how many shoppers in the radius also know, that bell ringer knows, and who knows how many other times because the holiday season is just starting. I know it’s Thanksgiving right now but ’tis the season of chaos, and those bell ringers are everywhere. So I’m hoping that she continues to just really be a voice for change is really what it comes down to. So it’s really small things like that to me that are a complete win. You know when somebody that I didn’t realize she’s even kind of following anything that I’m up to, and it’s a friend of a friend and it’s just one of those things that’s like, yeah even if you’re not following me for the specific reason of trying to learn these things, but we are just connected through our wives for this particular example, then hell yeah that’s just as good as any other way that we would have connected. So I’m really excited that she was really vocal and read that article and really took it heart and said, “You know what, I’m not giving money to the Salvation Army.” So hopefully she’ll be donating in other ways to her local community and that’s a pretty awesome thing, because there are plenty of people who are in need this holiday season and I certainly want to make sure that we’re all mindful of that and there’s just better ways that your money can go toward and donate your things in a much more productive cause than supporting an organization that is notoriously anti-LGBT.

Be vocal. Tell someone, anyone.

If this is news to you I certainly encourage you to share this along with others that you know; hopefully people who are not part of the community because we really want our allies to understand that these things are occurring and I’m going to go completely on a tangent on a related but unrelated note, and say that my inlaws were over a couple of weeks ago and one of them- I just had an article written about me in the local paper and she was just asking me like how it was with the reporter over and I was just kind of giving her a rundown. And she asked me something and I don’t even know what it was but somehow Hobby Lobby came up. And I just must have had the look of like, I don’t know some kind of like- I don’t want to say disgust because again that’s dramatic, but I must have just- my body language or something must have shifted enough for her to notice to then say, kind of like a scared like, “What’s wrong with them?” type of comment. And then of course I went into a whole history with her of how terrible Hobby Lobby is for LGBT people, and I always equate them with Chick-Fil-A because Chick-Fil-A’s horrible as well and I’ve talked about them, I’m sure, on this podcast in the past. But both of those organizations are very anti-LGBT and it’s one of those things that I will not shop there, I don’t care under what circumstance; you will not catch me in a Hobby Lobby or at a Chick-Fil-A whether I was starving to death or needed some craft supply, whether it was life or death. It just wouldn’t happen. And that’s fine for me to make that decision because I’m an educated consumer and I know this, but it’s nice when I can share this message with my mother-in-law and explain to her that these are their policies, these are their views and this is how they’re discriminating against members of your family, IE her daughter and me, and whomever else she might know who is part of the LGBT community. So it was a really cool conversation because she was definitely taking it all in, she was thinking about it, and you could definitely tell that she may be thinking twice next time she thinks about going to Hobby Lobby; she already had written of Chick-Fil-A for other reasons so that’s a win in my book. But it’s one of those things that it’s really just a matter of educating those who are in your immediate circle, because they’re going to go to the people in their immediate circle. Because even when we were talking about Hobby Lobby she had said something about having, you know wanted to go tell one of her friends who also shops at Hobby Lobby. So it will be interesting that this conversation about Hobby Lobby and anti-LGBT can really kind of start to have a conversation in circles that aren’t mine; it’s not my immediate circle, it’s the circle in which my mother-in-law is in. So we’re talking about somebody who’s in their mid-sixties having conversations with other people in their mid-sixties. Because those are the shoppers of Hobby Lobby and now they’re more educated because of a simple conversation that I happened to have with my mother-in-law, which I wasn’t even intending on having to begin with.

So you as an educated consumer, listener of this podcast, somebody who knows a lot more about LGBT now, I would encourage you just to have these random conversations as they come up and you know, do your best to try to navigate through it and any time if you start a conversation that you realized that you’ve gotten yourself buried in a little bit too deep and can’t back up what you’re saying or you’re uncertain, or it’s making you uncomfortable, whatever it is; feel free to send them my way, send them to my website, I’ve probably written about it already. Or you know just give them my email and have them contact me because I’m happy to have the conversation with anybody because if I can make a difference with one person I know that there’s a trickledown effect to many, many others.

And okay. So that was quite the breath-full so I feel like I’m almost out of breath from that long rambling about those things but I really hope that you hear me and consider what I’m talking about and make an impact where you can.

Onto the word ‘queer’….

So before we get into talking about the word queer, I do want to pause and take a quick commercial break to hear from the sponsors of this podcast and then when we come back we’re going to dive right into one company’s struggle with how to use the word queer. So stay tuned and we’ll be right back.

Okay and we are back. Thank you to all of the sponsors of this wonderful, wonderful podcast and hopefully you are loving and are thinking it’s wonderful right now. As I mentioned before we took the quick commercial break I do want to talk about the word queer. And I don’t have a prepared amount of things I’m going to talk about specifically but I do- it’s just something that’s swirling around in my brain and I’m just going to rattle off as much as I can give you that I think might help you in a context of selling and your marketing materials.

So before I get into all of the different angles of this word and the way to use it, I just want to read an email that I received and then I want to read back my response to this person for this email and then go from there, and then just kind of shoot from the hip in terms of things that I did not cover.

So I received an email..

So I got this email in- it was like the second week of November so it’s a really recent email and basically it says, “Hi Jenn, I am the lead of (and I’m not going to mention the company’s name). Hi Jenn I am the lead of X’s Employee Resource Group. We are starting to look at the generational differences in our employees with LGBT. I want to use our internal social network to start a conversation around the word ‘queer.’ I know I’m a glutton for punishment. It’s a word that is censored on our social network, and yet we have folks who are trying to reclaim the word. How can I frame a discussion around the subject knowing that people have very strong feeling about the word, but still accomplish our goal by bridging a possible generational gap about a word that in controversial yet evolving. Specifically, how would you frame the question? To me, just saying, ‘What do you think of the word ‘queer,’ is just pouring gas on a smoldering fire. This conversation will be happening on our internal Facebook group. Would it be good to create guidelines and post them along with the question? I hope you don’t mind the question but I wanted to solicit the opinion of someone who has more experience dealing with hard questions in conversations. Is considering this professional suicide? Thanks for any insights that you can give me. Sincerely, (and I’m not going to mention her name either just to be on the safe side because this is a corporate person reaching out to me).”


And my response was..

So my response to her, and I’m just trying to give it a glance through to make sure I don’t say anything that would allude to who this person- who this corporation is. I certainly want to protect her identity because you know these are tough conversations that people in Corporate America are having. So I write back, “Hi so-and-so, thanks so much for reaching out asking about the usage of ‘queer.’ Oh what a fine line you must walk. I am honestly shocked that it is being censored on a social network; it would seem that there it would be a safe place to say the word. Generational differences in the workplace are fascinating to look at. You may know of Jennifer Brown Consulting but if not, Jennifer handles workplace diversity and there’s a big push regarding generations right now. There is a new presentation available on her website that you could find that might be helpful as you move forward on that front, (and then of course I provide the link which I will certainly provide in here as well if this is something that sounds interesting to you). I work closely with Jennifer and she has some amazing research. Okay, so back to ‘queer.’ The best way to frame ‘queer’ is within a generational context. If you look at people who are typically 40 and over, the word ‘queer’ means something derogatory. The older the person, the more offensive this terms seems to be to them. If you at people who are under 30, ‘queer’ is a term of empowerment. Those between 30 and 40 tend to go in either direction based on a number of factors. I’m in my mid-30’s and I don’t dislike the word ‘queer’ but I also don’t love it either. It’s definitely something that’s being reclaimed by millennials. I’ve written about a few things on my blog that might be helpful for you to consume. This blog post was written by an intern of mine last year who’s in his early 20’s, definitely has an interesting perspective (and I provide the link, again I will provide that link to you as well in the blog post, so JennTGrace.com/47 and you can get all this information.) And then I provide another link saying, “This one highlights generational differences with an LGBT, not a focus on ‘queer,’ but also could be interesting to help your generational conundrum. And here’s one more blog post.” And then I provide another link that has about the hidden implications of using the word ‘queer.’

I put in closing, “You may be facing an uphill battle in Corporate America to get behind the use of ‘queer.’ It is truly becoming the popular terminology that many embrace. If you have a lot of older LGBT people in your employee resource group, I would survey them. Ask them what they think of the term and if they are seeing it being reclaimed. Then maybe get some younger LGBT employees to comment as well. Or perhaps bridging the two by getting the two of them to speak together in one room could possibly do wonders.” Then I ask, “Where is this censorship coming from? Was it a word just deemed inappropriate or did someone flag it as inappropriate? I hope this helps, please keep me posted on how it goes.”

So this is just such a fascinating email to get from somebody, and I do get emails on a regular basis from people, and I don’t often enough talk about them on the podcast. I know they come up every now and then but I really should highlight them more often because I can’t imagine that this woman is the only one having this type of conversation in a corporate environment or maybe you listening to this, you might also be having this type of conversation and you’re not in a large corporate environment. Like she’s reaching out from a company that’s got tens of thousands of employees versus yours who, maybe you have 500 employees and that’s still a good size. So having these conversations is really, really key. And the last question that I had asked her, I think is really the key in determining what exactly is going down in this particular situation. So where is the censorship coming from? So I know that you know spam filters for example, so all spam filters- like you can set certain words to trigger them and they just automatically get sent to spam. I know for a fact occasionally my emails end up in spam because I am the Professional Lesbian, and I know lesbian is a word that occasionally is censored by spam filters. And you know what, that’s fine. Just go for it, throw it in the spam filter. It’s not for me to judge how your spam filters are set up, but I know it can be frustrating and I know that when I was the executive director of the local chamber, one of our corporate partners was a casino and for some reason a ton of Corporate America type of businesses would flag the word casino for some reason. So my stuff would end up in spam all the time because I had our corporate partner listed in my email signature. So I understand that there is sometimes absolutely no rhyme or reason as to how things are actually filtered and put through. So in this case I’m not sure if ‘queer’ was one of those- just one word out of dozens of other words that’s included in here. Or if somebody actually saw the use of the word queer on this Facebook page, took it offensively and reported in. And then in that case sometimes it’s a lot easier to just flag something, deem it inappropriate and not really have to have that conversation, as to who said it, what context it was in, et cetera. And especially when we’re talking about Facebook. Like this is something that- this company has much bigger fish to fry other than what their employees- how their employees are saying things to each other on Facebook. So my guess would be that it was being used, somebody was offended by it, decided to flag it and then it was just kind of thrown there and now unfortunately it’s this woman’s- part of her job to figure out why and to really start that hard dialogue about this word. And I really, you know part of the conversation can be really- a really hard conversation, but  back to what I wrote back to her in saying that it really, in my opinion and just what I’ve seen and the people I’ve talked to, it’s completely a generational divide.

My feelings on the word ‘queer’..

So I am in my mid-30’s, I have never been a fan of the word; I don’t know why, I just don’t like it. And it’s not that I don’t like it, but I don’t love it either. It’s just- it’s kind of a word that just sits there. And if I were to describe who I am, I would never say I’m queer, ever. That would never come out of my mouth. And I know that there are many people around my age typically, my age and up; so like 33ish to like 40ish perhaps, and maybe even into the mid-40’s. Where the word queer doesn’t mean a whole lot, it’s just kind of there, it’s something that’s like ‘eh.’ You know I’m not going to use it, I don’t have negative associations with it like others do, but I also don’t think it’s something that’s empowering either. So that’s me. And that’s a lot of people who are in my age range. I’m like the lower end of that category of people. And then you have people who are Baby Boomers, for example. Where the word queer has a history of just being something so negative, so derogatory, so intentionally offensive. It’s very much as if you were going to call somebody a faggot, and that’s something that you absolutely do not ever want to say in your marketing, in a conversation with anybody, never. But in my mind- or not even in my mind. In the mind of the Baby Boomer, if you’re saying ‘queer,’ some of them are probably equating it to being called a faggot. And so that’s kind of the message that you’re sending. So if you look at your marketing, and you look at who your target markets are and you identify that your are going to focus on marketing your products or services to college students. You can use ‘queer’ and we’ll talk about that in a minute, and it would be totally fine. But if you then decide you also want to target Baby Boomers – and I don’t know what product or service you would have that would have these two very drastically different audiences – but there’s plenty of them have these types of divides between audiences. You don’t want to take the same messaging that you crafted for that younger audience, and then just plant it on top of this older audience; because you’re basically- anywhere you say ‘queer,’ you’re basically saying like faggot. Or you’re saying, ‘You are less than.’ Or- really it’s just a word that just has so many negative feelings associated with it because it was used for so long as an anti-LGBT type of term.

Old vs. New..

That’s the older generation, and then like I said you get down to where I am; I am the beginning- or I am the last year of Gen-X. So it goes Gen-X and then Gen-Y, IE the millennials, are beginning the year right after me depending on what chart you’re looking. Usually 1982 is where the millennials begin, so I just missed the millennial mark. And I don’t know it to be true that all millennials feel this way and they’re totally fine with the word ‘queer,’ but I do know that there’s some sort of ground swell movement of reclaiming the word. Rather than giving the power to the word, the younger generations said, ‘Oh hell no, we’re taking that back and now we are going to use the word queer as empowerment.’ So it’s very interesting, from a marketing standpoint, because you can use the word queer on college campuses, if you’re targeting people in their early 20’s. You know a lot of folks use the word queer as an umbrella term to encompass everything in which the LGBT community is. So as somebody might use the word gay, which traditionally encompasses kind of everything, even though it seems very much like it’s excluding people, it really is a word that kind of encompasses all. And queer is meant in many instances to also be a term like that. But you have people like myself who, I don’t identify as queer and I don’t think I ever will to be perfectly honest. So to market to me and using the word queer, that would have no impact on me whatsoever. And I wouldn’t look at it and think, ‘God how dare they say queer,’ but at the same time I wouldn’t be jumping for joy wanting to just immediately be resonating with your message and immediately want to start your products or services. So you have to be really, really careful with who and how certain terminology and certain words that you’re using.

So I guess a good way of framing this, and I’m trying to think what book I wrote this in- and I have books next to me that I could look, but I’m not going to, I will guess instead. So I think it was my first book where I’m talking about AARP. So if you imagine yourself, but basically if you are looking through an AARP magazine, you’re of a certain age. Which AARP starts at 50, which I still can’t wrap my head around why it starts so young, but you know it’s not for me to judge. I did see the latest issue and it had Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow on it. And I was like, ‘Oh, it’s starting to make me feel old.’ So I can’t imagine anybody who’s seeing the two of them on an AARP and thinking, “Oh yay, I’m so happy to be aging.” It just seems so- it seems crazy because they’re so young. But that is not what this podcast is about. My point being is if you’re flipping through AARP, it is assumed that you are of a certain age. If you’re flipping through it and you see an ad for Spring Break, and it’s got a whole bunch of 20-somethings in it, I can’t imagine that the average person reading AARP, flipping through, says, “Oh I have to go to Costa Rica because there’s a bunch of 20-year-olds in this ad.” No, rather you know they might not be a marketing type of consumer where they understand like the rhyme and reason; but my guess is that the average person would look at that and think, ‘Whoever put this stupid ad in this magazine really has no idea what they’re doing.’ And I think that it’s kind of a similar comparison. Where if somebody uses the word queer in some kind of ad or commercial, et cetera, that’s being marketed to an older generation; the average person’s going to look at that and say, “That company has no idea what they’re doing.” And at the end of the day this is a podcast about marketing, and it’s about business, it’s about communicating properly, et cetera. So when you’re thinking about all the different things that you’re doing, whether it’s in written conversation, verbal conversation, in presentation, sales collateral, whatever it happens to be; just really be mindful of all of these different terms and how they’re making you come across, whether you know them or not. And ‘queer’ is just one of those terms that’s- it’s very polarizing because there are very two different camps on the topic, and then there’s all those in between. But I would sat that if you are advertising and marketing to the community, your best bet is to just not use the word queer,’ just kind of keep it out unless you know for certain that your audience wants to hear the word. And if you have confirmation of that, by all means go hog-wild with it. But if you’re a little bit on the fence, you’re a little bit uncertain, I would just not even try to go down that road and use it.

So that’s kind of just a little bit around the word queer and if there’s another word that you might be thinking of now that’s kind of like was brought to your attention, by all means shoot me an email, send me a message somehow and just let me know what it is because if I can talk about it on this podcast or I can write about it in a blog post, I would love to because I would really like to be able to help you avoid yourself from falling into some kind of trap or a pitfall similar to what you would do if you were to start using the word queer in your sales collateral.

So that I believe is going to wrap up today’s episode. So I really appreciate your time in listening to Episode 47. If you’re listening to this on Thanksgiving, I really appreciate the fact that you’re carving out some time in your day to listen to this. Hopefully it’s not in some sort of- while you’re waiting at Walmart or some other major retailer and about to trample over others, hopefully that’s not when you’re listening to me. But if it happens to be, I would actually love to hear that because I think it would be slightly entertaining. So please let me know if that is how you’re consuming this; that would be pretty funny.

In conclusion…

But for those of you who are listening and want to have a private conversation with me, I would really encourage you to do so. I am still on a quest, and I have been for a couple of podcasts now, of just reaching out to people and having a fifteen minute phone call, a thirty minute phone call, to just find out what you do, how I can help you, how I can help tailor my products, my services, my message, my everything around something that you need and you desire. So I know a lot of times when I say, “What do you want?” you’re not going to have an answer. But I would still love to have a conversation with you to say, “Hey, let’s talk about your business. Let’s find out what it is that you need that I might be able to provide.” And if I can provide that via my blog or this podcast I would love to do that.

So if you’re interested in having a quick phone call with me, please just shoot me an email. My information is on the website if you go to the Contact Us page, it comes right on over to me. So just shoot me a message and let me know that you’re interested, I’ll send you a link to my calendar and then we can go from there. So I really, really appreciate the fact that you’re here, I wish you a very, very thankful, happy Thanksgiving and I look forward to talking to you in the next episode which will be smack dab in the middle of the holiday season but again if you’re listening to this in the summer, it’s all good because none of the content is overly specific to the holidays.

So thank you again, I really appreciate you and I will talk to you in the next episode. Have a great one and I’ll talk to you soon. Bye bye.


About Jenn T. Grace

Jenn T. Grace (she/her/hers) is an award-winning author and founder and CEO of Publish Your Purpose (PYP), the acclaimed hybrid publisher of non-fiction books. Jenn has published 100+ books written by thought leaders, visionaries, and entrepreneurs who are striving to make a difference. Jenn T. Grace’s work elevates and amplifies the voices of others—especially marginalized groups who are regularly excluded from traditional publishing.

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