Following our December issue, one reader reached out concerned with the headline used in the Studio West 117 article, "A New Queer Haven." Their letter references talks with LGBTQ+ and straight friends alike over their discomfort with the word "queer." Read the letter and our response below.
Letter from Wilfried Ehe:
Dear [Cleveland Magazine],
I am writing to address concerns I have regarding the title of an article published in the December 2022 issue of Cleveland Magazine.
On page 14, in the Lay of the Land section, the eye is drawn quickly to the title, “A New Queer Haven”. I’m sure this is the effect you were going for, as the title is what will pull readers in. However, in discussion with both straight and gay individuals, this was noted to be offensive and probably did not garner the response you hoped to achieve.
In both Webster’s and the Oxford dictionaries, “queer” can be used as a noun, adjective or verb. It still carries with it a negative connotation of “odd” or “different”, and even within the gay community is controversial in its use. Some wear it as a badge of honor, while others still feel it is largely used as an epithet, carrying its associated stigma.
In my opinion, the article could have been entitled, “A New Haven”, with the corresponding subtitle left as it stands, since it captures the description of the new project to a tee. In the future, I hope that Cleveland Magazine will go for substance over sensationalism, and try to avoid using potentially derogatory terminology in future articles. Your journalistic abilities are greater than that.
Cleveland Magazine acknowledges the tumultuous history and use of the word “queer” as seen in the headline for December’s Studio West 117 story. When handling the term, the magazine deferred to the Associated Press Stylebook and usages from NPR and The New York Times. Within those guidelines, “queer” is considered an inclusive term for non-cisgendered, non-heterosexual community members — a label the article’s writer, Anthony Elder, uses to identify himself. However, this does not erase the troubled history of a word once used as a slur to demean and denigrate. With this in mind, as media coverage of LGBTQ+ spaces evolves and adapts, Cleveland Magazine welcomes discourse as the organization pursues growth alongside the community.