Here we go again……
Self described “polysexual genderqueer transgender boi” blogger Jude Orlando Enjolras has a bone to pick with openly gay actor and LGBT rights activist John Barrowman after he posted a video on OOPSIE where he uses the word “tranny”.and the fact that he had the unabashed gall to bring it up the whole situation at Fantasticon, Milwaukee.
In a nutshell.
Barrowman used the word “tranny” in a video he posted on the website WhoSay.
Enjolras in turn posted an open letter to Barrowman asking an apology.
I am a trans gay man. Your work means the world to me. I look up to you, and it breaks my heart that you would use this word. You are a gay icon people actually listen to. The words you choose to use have weight, and the potential to hurt.
“Tr*nny” is a slur. People shout it before beating up folks like me, or worse.
Some trans people may choose to reclaim “tr*nny,” for whatever reason. We are the ones oppressed by a system that uses such words to remind us we’re different, other, deviant. It is our prerogative and right. Our word. Not yours.
So John, please, don’t.
Don’t reinforce a culture that mocks us at best and kills us at worst. That’s exactly what you did last night. Intentions are sadly irrelevant – you hurt a lot of people who love and respect you, and were absolutely crushed that one of their heroes would use the same language as the people who make us fear for our lives.
I really, really hope this gets through to you; that you say sorry to my community, and mean it.
Well John Barrowman did indeed read Enjolras’ letter. And when asked a question at Milwaukee Fantasticon , JB was honest enough to talk about it, explain what happened, and did not apologize.
This of course did not set well with Mr. Enjolras who wrote another column upset that John Barrowman did not fall on his knees and beg for forgiveness.
I honestly don’t think I could have made my points more politely, carefully, and respectfully. Not because I think politeness is in any way owed to someone using oppressive language – I am in fact a great believer in anger as a valid emotion and tool for social change. Yet I was polite. I bit my tongue, I swallowed the rage welling up inside me and burning against my eyelids. I gave Barrowman the benefit of the doubt because I truly believed he would listen and learn and everything would be sort of fine.
Or, you know, not.
As it turns out, my hope that this was all one big misunderstanding was just that – hope, and horrendously misplaced at that.
When I was asked if I wanted to write this article, my first thought was, of course not. This is a great big horrible mess, it’s making me sick to my stomach, I just want it all to go away.
Yet here we are, because as I said before: there is no such thing as a throwaway word. Doubly so if you’re a celebrity. Double that again if you are an LGBTQIA celebrity. Barrowman does not sing, act, speak in a vacuum.
Besides, he wasn’t just my role model. Most of the LGBTQIA folks I know are speculative fiction fans, too. We just love the possibilities for representation and escape offered by genre at its best. And we deserve a happier ending than this.
An apology to the transgender community would be a great start.
Watch the video below. Does John Barrowman owe the transgender community and apology for using the word “tranny” as a term of endearment with fellow cast members? Or is this just an over-reaction from a community that has far worse problems than persecuting a a gay icon who has worked diligently for our equality and who thinks people are “Tranny-tastic.”