After a strategic rebranding effort, The Huffington Post debuted the latest incarnation of its popular LGBT section, aptly named HuffPost Queer Voices.
According to an introductory blog post penned by HuffPo's editorial director, Noah Michelson, the new name -- which replaces HuffPost Gay Voices -- was chosen in an attempt to create a more inclusive online editorial space that better represents the LGBT population at large.
"We, like many others before us, have chosen to reclaim 'queer' and to rename the section HuffPost Queer Voices because we believe that word is the most inclusive and empowering one available to us to speak to and about the community -- and because we are inspired by all of the profound possibilities it holds for self-discovery, self-realization and self-affirmation," Michelson wrote in his post. "We also revere its emphasis on intersectionality, which aids in creating, building and sustaining community while striving to bring about the liberation of all marginalized people, queer or not."
Historically, the term "queer" has often been used as a derogatory slur against gay men, but as Michelson points out, the word was reclaimed in recent decades as a way to identify and unify all people who fall within the LGBT spectrum.
"I think so much has happened in the last five years," Michelson told The Advocate. "I think that term really has changed in the way that people view it. I know that a lot of people, especially some older people, still see that term as a really hurtful term, and they see it as a slur, and I respect that. It was a word that was used against me in one of my earliest memories, as I write about in my blog post today, and that wasn't something that was being used lovingly, so I understand that being used as a slur. I think that all language does not exist in a vacuum, and I think that words matter and words mean things depending on who is using them, how they're using them, and why they're using them, and I think that we can take a word that really can be about community and inclusion, and we can make that the focus of the word."
Intersectionality, especially the exploration of topics like gender, race, class, and other sexualities, will be a continued focus on the site, something Michelson notes is an exciting part of reporting about the LGBT community in this day and age.
"For a lot of people, intersectionality is difficult," he said. "I think that a lot of groups who are marginalized or disenfranchised have their sights set on trying to bring about liberation for that particular group. It's only been recently that people understand that most oppressions are all tied together. We're not going to really get very far if we're just trying to work in our own lane. We actually have to be working with each other because at the end of the day we're all trying to get the same thing, I hope. And that is liberation for all marginalized people and for all people."
"People really get caught up in their own battles, in their own victories, in their own struggles," Michelson continued. "I think that's changing. There's a lot more that we should be doing, but I think we're at a time now, and exciting time, where people are starting to see that it's all tied together."
Day-to-day operations of HuffPost Queer Voices will still be run by the all-male editorial staff of Michelson (editorial director), Curtis M. Wong (senior editor), JamesMichael Nichols (deputy editor), and Michelangelo Signorile (editor-at-large), but already-established efforts to diversify the section's roster of editors and writers will continue to be amplified so that the site is inclusive in voices and action, and not just name.
"The goal, in any newsroom, is to have as diverse of a staff as possible." Michelson said. "Luckily, we have thousand of bloggers who blog for The Huffington Post who share their very personal experiences with the world, and millions of people get to read about what their lives are like and what they've been through. Personal stories are really the key to changing people's minds about what it means to be queer. Being able to offer that platform and having so many people take advantage of it, it's something we're really proud of."