By Nicole Murray Ramirez | Conversations with Nicole
This past Sunday, CNN’s “This is Life with Lisa Ling” weekly news program focused on “gender non-binary … gender fluid” people. If I was confused, I am sure heterosexual Americans and our friends, families and allies watching were also left scratching their heads.
The program featured a middle aged man who was heterosexual, married with a wife and a son named Steve. Steve has a closet in his house that is full of women’s clothes and makeup that he said he feels good wearing once in a while. An individual like Steve used to be considered a heterosexual transvestite or cross dresser, but Steve feels he falls under the transgender label. He proudly wore a rainbow bracelet when he was being interviewed.
In my opinion, there is a big difference between a transvestite and a transgender person. One who likes to play “dress up” and puts on the clothing of the opposite sex once in a while is a transvestite. A transgender woman lives, breathes, and is all woman in heart and soul, as is the feeling of a trans man who identifies as male.
When the transgender label/identity came out, a “transgender umbrella” included transsexuals, transvestites, drag queens, cross dressers, and more. I have always disagreed. To me, queens are gay men, and most transvestites are heterosexual men with a female clothing fetish. As many of you know, I lived for five years in the 1960s as a pre-operative transsexual in Hollywood as a woman 24 hours a day. In time realized that I was just a homosexual man — a gay drag queen. I stopped all my surgery and medical treatment, but during those five years I learned a lot about the trans, transvestites, drag and gay community as a whole.
These days, the labels and names are not only confusing to our straight friends, families and allies but also within our very own community. A recent survey found that 75 percent of gay men and lesbians could not properly tell you about their trans sisters and brothers, with 95 percent not knowing what LGBTQIA stands for.
It’s beginning to be very hard to navigate in our community. First we were homosexuals, then gay men and women, then gay and lesbian, and then lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer. Now people are pushing LGBTQIA, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersexual and asexual or ally. Now there are also gender non-binary and gender fluid pronouns. Personally, I prefer to use GLBT because it is historically correct, but the editor of this paper makes me use LGBT.
My message to the younger generation making these changes is that you are doing a lousy job of educating us and the world. You keep adding and changing the acronyms and honestly feels like you’re shoving it down many of your gay and lesbian elders/seniors’ throats! Many seem not to respect our journeys of the 1950s, ’60s ’70s, and don’t respect or understand why many of us don’t like the word queer.
I know times are changing and I love how open and free the younger generation is, out in schools, holding hands in public, and coming out of the closets in their teens. These are things I would never have, or could have, done. Remember homosexuality was not legal in California until 1976. You want us to respect your individuality and prefer identity/labels/pronouns, so please respect your GLBT elders/seniors by educating us and also trying to understand our opinions and viewpoints.
Let me make this column very clear. These are my opinions and views on the ever-changing name of our homosexual community. I am not against anyone or any group’s name, or what they wish to be called or identify as.
What I am saying is that it has gotten and continues to be very confusing, and it seems that more and more initials are being added. There has really been no educational campaign on these changes and additions to the general population, and a lot of Americans within and outside of our community are totally confused.
Matthew Shepard – Oct. 12, 1998
On this day 20 years ago, Matthew Shepard died after six days in a coma after being beaten, tortured and hung on a fence in Wyoming. His death became a national and international news story, bringing focus to hate crimes against our community, people of colors, the Jewish community and other minorities. I have become good friends with Judy and Dennis Shepard and the Matthew Shepard Foundation.
In leading the Imperial Courts campaign that so far has raised more than $185,000 for the Shepard Foundation, is part of this year’s upcoming 43rd Annual Nicky Awards which will benefit the Foundation. On Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. there will be a gathering in front of Flicks to remember Matthew Shepard led by community activists Benny Cartwright and Rick Cervantes and their great group “San Diego Remembers,” founded in 2008. Everyone is invited. See you all there tonight!
43rd Nicky Awards – Dec. 16
This year’s 43rd Annual Nicky Awards will be held Dec. 16 at the Courtyard Marriott Liberty Station, 2592 Laning Road. Nominations for the 43rd Nicky Awards is now open and will close Oct. 20 at midnight! You can go to nickyawards.org to nominate your favorites in 48 categories. Any questions or info please contact Michael Lochner at 619-972-6369.
—Nicole Murray Ramirez has been writing a column since 1973. He has been a Latino/gay activist for almost half a century and has advised and served the last seven mayors of San Diego. Named the “Honorary Mayor of Hillcrest” by a city proclamation, he has received many media awards including from the prestigious San Diego Press Club. Reach Nicole at Hillcrestqueen5@gmail.com.
Editor’s Note: The opinions written in this column are the author’s own and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the staff and/or publisher of Gay San Diego and/or its parent company, San Diego Community News Network (SDCNN). The newspaper and its staff should be held harmless of liability or damages.