Chapter 78: Reclaiming the VEQ

There has been an off and on effort in the Gay Community for years to reclaim certain derogatory terminology and make it acceptable to the Gay Community.

The first and foremost example of this is the word “Faggot”.  Larry Kramer started the reclamation of this term with his novel back in the 1970’s.  To sum it up, as Joe Jackson sang in his song “Real Men”, “don’t call me a faggot unless you are a friend.”

I still don’t like that word.  But then, I have never been but so Politically Correct.  Accepting standard orthodoxy has never been my strong point.

Instead, I’m planning to spend 2014 reclaiming the word “Queen”, and all its derivations for the Gay Community.

First of all, I want to reclaim the term VEQ, which stands for “Very Efficient Queen.”  I think this terminology adds much more value to the social dialogue and is a much more important point of departure for the social discourse.

There has been so much focus on showing how “normal” Gay People are over the last few years- since “Will and Grace” illustrated how Gay Men can be successful house pets- that I think it’s time to re-evaluate us all and celebrate our uniqueness.

I don’t want to be some “normal”, house pet Gay.  I worked too hard to be classified as that…

I’m very proud to be a VEQ.

VEQ’s were the Gay men who set the social standards for generations.  We were the products of a culture of repression.  And we still made the world a better place…

VEQ’s were, generally speaking, Gay Men who always felt they had to be better at whatever they did than anyone else.  We always worked twice as hard to be efficient and indispensable out of fear.  We knew we had to be much better at everything we did than any straight person because we feared being fired or replaced if/when people found out we were Gay.

We worked extraordinarily hard to climb and make our lives better than they might or should have been….

If you are over 40, think back to your youth and young adulthood.  Think of those hardworking, quiet young men who ran all the committees, worked outrageous hours and seemed to have no personal life.  Think of the perfectly groomed escorts who gave wonderful parties and made no sexual demands.

Odds are, they were all VEQ’s.

Our efficiency and style, driven by fear, made the world a better place.

We just need to replace fear as our motivation with the knowledge that we just make the world a better, more functional, prettier and more pleasant place to live.  And that should be enough motivation for us all…

Let me try to clarify this by naming a few historical VEQ’s.   Bayard Rustin, who planned the March on Washington that culminated in Dr King’s “I Had A Dream” speech, was a VEQ. Alan Turing, the great “code breaker” from World War II  was a VEQ.  T. E Lawrence (aka “Lawrence of Arabia”) was a VEQ.

Cole Porter and Cecil Beaton, who provided the soundtrack, stage settings and photographs of an era were also VEQ’s.  Noel Coward and E.M. Forster were VEQ’s.  Michael Bennett, who created “A Chorus Line” and directed so many  Broadway shows of the 1980’s was a VEQ.  These guys understood style, showmanship, substance and depth and brought them all together in their work.

Not to trivialize the AIDS epidemic, but AIDS wiped out a generation of VEQ’s.  But still, the surviving VEQ’s formed ACT UP and fought back to save untold millions from AIDS.

Had the tragedy of AIDS not happened, we would not be facing the societal repercussions we face today.

VEQ’s would not have tolerated the growth of “Great Rooms”, the breakdown of style and manners and the general tackiness that is now pervasive in American life.

We would live in a much more decorous and orderly world if more VEQ’s had survived the AIDS epidemic.   We would all be prettier, thinner, more well-mannered and happier….

There is a flip side to this….

The VEQ’s Evil Step Brother, also a product of repression, is the EBQ.

The Evil Bitch Queen.

I’m happy she has almost disappeared.  The EBQ felt that their homosexuality limited them and that societal prejudice against Gays limited their options.  The VEQ would just have kept going and trying and been so good at what they did that their sexuality was irrelavant.  The EBQ gave up and blamed society for their short falls in life….

Much as I love his work, Gore Vidal was an EBQ.  No matter how wonderful his books were, he felt he was thwarted in his desire to run for political office due to being Gay.  He was a bitter queen who denied his sexuality.  Matt Drudge is an EBQ. Ken Mehlman is an EBQ trying to become a VEQ again.  The Republican Party is just full of EBQ’s…..

I know.  I was briefly an EBQ in the GOP before I became a VEQ again and  made myself a happy life….

This is a dialogue we need to have.  We need to talk about these Queens.  Life is so much better today, but there is still repression for Gay People.  We just need to decide how to channel the results of this repression and oppression.

As long as there is repression and oppression, there will be VEQ’s and EBQ’s.

That’s why it’s time to revive the terminology VEQ and openly discuss how to handle EBQ’s.

All Queens are not created equal…..

But they still rule….

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2 Responses to Chapter 78: Reclaiming the VEQ

  1. Cathy Hampton says:

    Dear VEQ Scott — i need to ponder on this — while I was reading it, I kept drawing parallels to my struggle and feelings as a women (and a mother) in corporate America and the need to work harder than all the men and then still feel the sting of a double standard.

    Case in point – I was up for a promotion and had all the right “stuff” – ability, experience, a powerful mentor and advocate… and still I had to have a 5 minute meeting with a very senior person ( too senior to be involved in the decision) who came into my office and without much beating around the bush just wanted to know what my childcare arrangements were since there was some travel involved in the job. As if I had not even thought about that in my pretty little head. Very condescending. Well I must have had the right answers because the next day I got the job. Oh… And he scheduled the meeting at the last minute of the day, requiring me to be late to a daycare pick up — I guess as a test.

    Then there was the time I was again up for a new job and the only question the hiring manager had was whether or not I was pregnant.

    And the time I won a marketing excellence award – a very big deal. In this $30B company there were about 20 winners each year from across all businesses around the world. All the winners and spouses were flown in to HQ for meeting with CEO, a day of events and an awards banquet. Winners and spouses wore matching lanyards for ID into all events. So at one of the meet and greets, a VP came up to Graeme and me and congratulated Graeme and asked to hear about what he had done to win the award. Graeme, of course, was great and directed the question to me, while VP stammered and turned red. I’m trying to remember how many women won that year and I think I was one of only two or possibly three so I would have thought it would have been hard for VP to lose me “in the crowd.”

    And I’m going on and on – making this all about me! (Sorry). Over my 34 year career things did improve a lot and I think my daughters have benefitted from the struggle.

    I certainly don’t mean to trivialize the struggle in the gay community or to argue that women have had it any tougher. I’ve seen too much of both struggles, along with the struggles over race and now those of the mentally ill, to ever do that. I guess your post just forced me down memory lane a bit…here in the middle of the night. For years I’ve thought all our problems stem from this being such a male dominated society, but lately I’ve been thinking that maybe our problems stem from the fact that we are all human and all a bit mean and selfish and intolerant.

    It seems there has been some evolution in your story too which makes me feel hopeful. And I do agree that reclaiming some of the “language” is a healthy step. I did love your post. It caused me to stop and think and I learned a lot – which is important to me. And I thank you.

    • Scott M says:

      Cathy: Many thanks for your thoughtful comments. I think this is a shared journey taken by Gay Men, Women and almost any minority. Given that the white male patriarchy ran things for so long- and if you look at Congress still does– the struggle continues for all of us. It is better, but…

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