Friday, September 26, 2008


Just in front of the entrance of the L.A. County Fair, there was some kind of promotional tent set up. People were handing out cards that you would scan into their computer and possibly win some kind of prize. I had no idea who was sponsoring the tent (it was not really marked) or what prizes might be won. It reminded me of those booths that announce, "Win A 2008 Prius" (or fill in the blank for some kind of hot, desirable car). But after you sign up to win, you're just barraged with direct marketing spam, snail mail, (or even worse, direct marketing phone calls). I didn't sign up, but what really caught my eye was their banner proclaiming, "Change Your Lifestyle." They were probably intending it to come off as a slogan to connote moving on up the social and economic ladder, but to me the phrase is a LOADED one that connotes years of antiquated, anti Gay rhetoric. When I see the word lifestyle attached to anything, my feeling is no different than when I hear someone refer to an African-American or Black person as "Colored." It's just wrong. I embraced the word queer a long time ago before it was in vogue and it really was quite a profound personal and political statement. The whole idea was taking a word that had traditionally been used against gay people and reclaiming it and therefore devaluing it as something to be used against you. I also liked that queer encompassed all kinds of people (and places on the continuum) within the gay community because in my own case, I didn't fit into a particular niche in the community. And queer means different and outside the status quo and I have always liked being an individual and never worried about so-called "fitting in" so it suited me. But when I started self-describing as queer back in 1991 as a college student, I never thought I'd live to see the day that TV shows were going to be called "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy" or "Queer as Folk" and people didn't blink an eye. Or that I'd drive down major thoroughfares in my city and see billboards and posters up on bus stands advertising them. So maybe there's a future where I can see the phrase "Change Your Lifestyle" and not cringe.

Change Your Lifestyle photo by Lydia Marcus
Photographed September 25, 2008 in Pomona, CA

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