“Queer is a Culture, Queer is a Historical Legacy”

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By Melanie Davis Publisher/Owner & Daniel Borgen Managing Editor, PQ Monthly

Those words, written by one of our favorite guest columnists (Katey Pants), were published in our pages last month, and I can’t think of a better sentiment for everyone as we go full-steam-ahead into Pride season.  And as we think about our culture, our legacy, we have much to celebrate. We won marriage equality last month — and we were the first state in the country to not have to live through a stay of our ruling (though with all we’ve been through, one could argue we certainly deserved it). We continue the fight against HIV/AIDS. Efforts around racial justice, immigration reform, trans justice, and economic justice — very important lived equality pieces — are ramping up, as they should. The list goes on.

One rather unfortunate development, though, was a local publication taking aim at one of our community’s leaders, Terry Bean, founder of HRC and lifelong champion of all things fair and equal. And it’s not lost on our community that this publication decided to do so as they simultaneously printed our community’s official Pride Guide. (Update – Pride NW has since announced they will self-publish the “Pride Guide” in 2015). The story, ostensibly about Terry’s recent breakup, was short on facts and heavy on innuendo and “he said, he said” fodder. In a moment, Terry’s personal life and heartbreak were splashed all over the cover of a newspaper, for all the city to see.

I searched for a reason: What law was broken? Was there public money somehow mishandled? Did Terry abuse his position and power at HRC, or his relationship with President Obama? Aside from a vague, unsubstantiated claim about possible video cameras in Terry’s own residence, I came up empty.

I am fairly certain few of us would survive a “scandal” that revealed our most intimate, private romantic moments to an entire city. I know I wouldn’t. More importantly: Who cares? Your bedroom, your choice. So I’m left with some rather disturbing conclusions: We’re meant to be appalled about Terry’s dating choices; we’re meant to think people his age shouldn’t have sex lives; we’re meant to think someone being kind, generous, and loving automatically means they have sordid ulterior motives; we realize there’s no such thing as privacy. And, perhaps most sadly, straight, suburban masses are meant to be mortified when a complicated queer relationship is deconstructed in painstaking detail. Look at that older man with that younger guy. What is he up to? An open relationship? The scandal!

I’ll tell you what he was up to: Loving his partner, and making personal, private choices with another consenting adult.

I don’t know Terry terribly well, but I do know many, many people who do. People I respect. People who are leaders in our city and our community — and country. Terry has, as one friend put it, “done more for the national LGBTQ movement than anyone I can think of.” He’s a man who’s dedicated his life to social change and making the world a better place; he is, according to countless sources, a kind and loyal friend, an endlessly caring, generous soul. We, as a community, know one story won’t change all that. His lifelong fight — for us — will be what defines his legacy. Because they already have.

The real question about legacy here is: What’s yours?