Judging Just Out’s gayness?

It never fails to surprise me how catty the local media scene can be. I never used to think of writers as the popular kids but the journalists of P-Town seem to have a knack for knocking each other down. (Remember that whole plagiarist-gate thing from a few weeks ago?). But then again, all our beloved Portland publications need to be called out from time to time and all could certainly use some improvement…myself included of course.

That’s why I find myself on the other side of the Byron Beck fence today. I know in last few months I’ve disagreed with a couple of his musings (the teenage bus-kissing incident and that whole Tina Kotek as Rogue debacle) but his short commentary today on the lack of queerness at Just Out gives me pause.

I have no confirmation on the sexuality or self-identification of Just Out staffers although it sounds like, at least in terms of the newest writer, Byron’s right on the mark (her comments below say as much). It’s tough to get a writing gig in this town (believe me I know) so I understand her leap into a full-time position. And you can’t hire based on sexuality alone, it’s discriminatory. But there are deserving queer writers here. Lots of them. And in the case of queer news and culture I have to say that part of the essential knowledge of writing comes from the experiences of gay life, culture, and oppression. Someone who has walked through the world as a straight ally really can’t write queer issues with the same kind of depth, no matter how many cats they own.

I have a broad definition of queer but if you don’t even identify as any of the alphabet soup yourself, I wouldn’t argue to be a part of certain jobs that take firsthand knowledge, such as counseling or youth group facilitation etc. Writing for a gay rag is right on the edge of this precipice. And though Just Out’s Editor-In-Chief may certainly be a big ‘mo, Byron implies that the rest of the staff is also pretty hetero. I’d have to say, for any publication that wishes to be linked to the gay community to have any credibility, at least half the staff’s gotta fly their pride flag high.

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