Kentucky | Michelangelo Signorile

Former Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent Explains Why She Came Out As 'Queer' - AUDIO


This March, former Miss Kentucky Djuan Trent came out of the closet after a federal judge ruled that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

In a recent interview with Michelangelo Signorile, she explained why she came out as “queer” as opposed to “gay”:

”I think it’s one of those words that doesn’t put you in such a box… If you choose other labels, sometimes you feel like you’re in a bit of a box.

”My favorite example, that I always love to use, is that girls I went to college with, who ran all around campus waving rainbow flags -- they were like, ‘Lesbian for life! Yeah, forever!’ And now, how ever many years later, I’m seeing them on Facebook and they’re like, ‘He proposed, and I said, “yes!”’ And I’m looking, like, ‘What?!’

”So I think that 'queer' is one of those things that, it is more inclusive. It kind of opens to a whole other conversation about the fluidity of sexuality and being able to embrace that. Because I mean that’s the basic reason you see women who are hardcore lesbians one year and the next year they’re married to their husbands with three kids.”

The Huffington Post continues her explanation:

"When I originally wrote the blog, I wrote, ‘I am gay... And then, I went back and I looked at it and I decided I wanted to change it. I wanted to put ‘queer' there, because it’s a word that I like. I feel that a lot of people outside the LGBTQ community don’t know it’s a thing, that it’s okay.”

Trent has since become an honorary co-chair of Southerners For the Freedom to Marry.  

Hear her explanation AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. I wasn't aware "LGBTQ community" was a thing

    Posted by: Homo Genius | Apr 7, 2014 11:48:49 AM

  2. I respect Ms Trent's choice, but Queer is still a label and a box. I am all in favor of inclusive words and even to some extent rebranding formerly negative terms as positive, but I will never be comfortable with or identify as Queer. To me it is a negative, degrading term that I cannot embrace.

    Posted by: Chadd | Apr 7, 2014 11:58:52 AM

  3. My gay neighbor is 67 and when I ask him if he prefers gay over queer he sneers at queer. "It's a derogatory horrible word used by many of my generation to denigrate and discriminate against gay people."

    Posted by: Mike Ryan | Apr 7, 2014 11:59:43 AM

  4. That quote could easily come from the mouth of a Christian Rightwinger. This woman thinks that lesbians can change their sexual orientation on a whim, from year to year. That is a lie. The "lesbians" to whom she is referring are called bisexuals. The idea that a woman will go straight so long as she meets the right man is a lie. It is the basis of "corrective rape" to which some lesbians have been subjected.

    This woman and the concept of "queer" are antigay.

    Posted by: Lori | Apr 7, 2014 12:00:00 PM

  5. Mike Ryan -

    The proponents of "Queer" would like everyone to think that only old people object to it and that the "new generation" is the one that embraces it. That's a total lie. "Queer" was invented 25 years ago. It isn't a creation of young people. The people who created it are in their 50s and 60s.

    People object to it not because their age but because it is an ideology that is anti-gay. "Queer" ideology says that 1) sexual orientation is a chosen lifestyle 2) gay people are by their nature in conflict with their community's values and thus are "queer" 3) gay people are inherently threatening to existing societal norms and institutions and thus are "queer". Queer is a parallel to everything the Christian Right believes about us, only tarted up with faux progressive jargon. It is anti-gay.

    Posted by: Lori | Apr 7, 2014 12:10:07 PM

  6. Personally I think it's offensive to be labelled "queer".

    Posted by: Pete | Apr 7, 2014 12:21:15 PM

  7. It seems kind of ridiculous to say to someone that you're 'queer'.

    Posted by: Ryan | Apr 7, 2014 12:24:16 PM

  8. Yes, the olds don't get it. That's fine. Whatever "it" is, the olds never get it. That's one of the ways the youngs separate themselves from the olds, and that's fine, too.

    Queer was adopted into common usage 25 years ago, that's true. Which means that the first people to adopt it are now in their early to mid forties. Old people didn't adopt it then and those people are not old now.

    Queer is an inclusive label and doing verbal acrobatics in a vain attempt to prove otherwise only makes you look silly. Absolutely anyone can claim to be queer and that is the genius of this label. If your goal is to make all labels disappear when the fact of language makes labels necessary, well, good luck with that.

    Frankly, it doesn't matter how many stupid people don't get it, or even how many smart people have a bad opinion of it. It's an identity that exists and you can not like it, but your dislike will not make queer people cease to exist. So knock yourself out.

    You can hate queer people until the cows come home -- just like every right-wing lunatic Christian bigot, so congratulations on allying yourself with your enemies -- but it will not affect queer people one iota.

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Apr 7, 2014 12:26:11 PM

  9. @ "That's a total lie. "Queer" was invented 25 years ago. It isn't a creation of young people."

    I read that the word had its double meaning going back to the 1920s.

    At universities today you have classes in "Queer Studies" and there is "Queer Theory" in English, History & Socialogy, etc.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Apr 7, 2014 12:29:36 PM

  10. Just a different box.

    Posted by: Card Bored | Apr 7, 2014 12:38:49 PM

  11. Lori, it sounds like you made a fundamental error in terms of how you read the article. She didn't label those women as lesbian, she said that the women themselves self-identified as lesbian, although it later proved to be true that they were bisexual. She was making a point that some people's sexuality is a moving target, not that being gay is a choice.

    Posted by: Thedrdonna | Apr 7, 2014 12:40:59 PM

  12. for those who think "queer" is so loaded, I have been called homo is very derogatory terms and its scientifically correct.

    I agree with the above poster though, that queer doesn't mean what she thinks it means. Her thought process might apply to Lesbians but how many of us cisgender homo's know other guys who are settled down now with a little lady. I would say its the exact opposite.

    What I find offensive is being referred to as what ever acronym some activist has made up today. And if the acronym sounds a bit ridiculous, just add "community" to end of it, because you know, all the letters get together all the time and hold meetings and what not.

    Posted by: Homo Genius | Apr 7, 2014 12:42:53 PM

  13. @ ONCEMOREWITHFEELING: Thanks for a perfect example of why people (of many ages) don't like the word Queer as a label. Despite your condescending, dismissive and insult ridden comments, nobody said they hate queer people, only the term. If you represent "Queer" then I will be happy to never share that term with you. And instead of insulting gay and lesbian people who are older than you (Olds? Really?), you should try to learn about all they have been thru that allows you personally to live your snarky, arrogant, obnoxious life so openly.

    Posted by: Chadd | Apr 7, 2014 12:48:34 PM

  14. I meant "sociology"

    my, what a queer mispelling.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Apr 7, 2014 12:50:46 PM

  15. I embrace the word "Queer" as my identity. I am glad Ms. Trent has used it to describe herself.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Apr 7, 2014 12:55:21 PM

  16. OnceMore: The people who created "queer" in the late 1980s were not 18 years old. They were in their late 20s to 40s. Some were working in academia. Some were full time activists. Some were professional writers. They weren't high school students. And there were no college groups that called themselves "queer" in the late 1980s. This was an adult thing even then. And those folks are now AARP eligible.

    Of course, none of this determines whether queer is a good concept or a bad concept. But it is simply false for people to assert that it is a term created and embraced by young people and opposed only by old people who can't grasp that it has been reinvented. It is a way to use ageism to delegitimize any resistance. That would be bad enough on its own, but in this case it is ageism coupled with a lie.

    Derrick: Obviously, the word goes back beyond 25 years ago. We are talking here about the movement to reconceive of "queer." First it was portrayed as an effort to "reclaim" a slur. Later, that effort was changed to creating a term that defines gay people as an inherently marginalized, inherently transgressive group of people. It is this latter meaning which is offensive and ironically, which brings the word almost full circle back to its original meaning.

    DrDonna - I understand her very well. She is quite clear: "It kind of opens to a whole other conversation about the fluidity of sexuality and being able to embrace that. Because I mean that’s the basic reason you see women who are hardcore lesbians one year and the next year they’re married to their husbands with three kids.”

    She doesn't say that these women were bisexual but were too hasty in adopting a label. She isn't saying that these women were bisexual then and are bisexual now, and that their error was to have jumped the gun instead of exploring first and then self-identifying after they had figured things out.

    No, she is saying that the "basic reason" for the experiences of these women is that their "sexuality" was "fluid" and that they they changed from "hardcore lesbian" to straight. All they needed was to meet the right man and have some kids. That is the ideology underlying corrective rape.

    Posted by: Lori | Apr 7, 2014 1:46:08 PM

  17. I'm 32. I self-identify as Gay and as Queer. I am empowered by both identities - two elective identities that I find strength and a genuine sense of pride in.

    I am queer - I am of a different point of a view, a deviation from the expected and perceived cultural "norm" - unique, unusual, and that's exactly how I like it. Anything but ordinary, please.

    I've never understood the "it's an insult! you're hurting older gay people for whom that term caused pain!" thing.

    Would you like to know the words that were used against me as a child? The biggest one was GAY. Age 9 - a block of ice thrown at my head as I walked home from school in december. the boys laughing at me, calling me 'gay' - one saying "sue us for gay bashing" as they walked off.

    "YOU'RE GAY!" - the words shouted at me at age 11, in the fifth grade, as i was jumped on the playground and had my face forcibly held and ground into the mud.

    does that mean you guys shoudlnt' say "gay" , or self-identify as Gay, since that word was used against me many times in my life?


    i'm not calling anyone else Queer, I'm self-identifying. Many of us, and not just gay people, are self-identifying as queer.

    Not all queer people are gay, and not all gay people are queer.

    Some gay people have an ultimate goal of blending into the crowd and being seen as "normal, like everyone else"

    I am not, nor have i ever been, nor will i likely ever be, one of them.

    I think Ms. Trent is rather awesome. if self-identifying as Queer is such a bad thing then why has my doing so only resulted in me being all the more empowered in my life?

    I don't need to be like "everyone else" to be afforded grace, love, support and respect. And look at me, my ubiquitous attention-whoring self - i embrace being different from what society expects, and my differences are a threat to nobody but the insecure

    werk, y'all.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Apr 7, 2014 2:53:56 PM

  18. Lori is absolutely correct - she properly "historicizes the genealogy" (these are concepts any good critical theorist should appreciate) of the term to debunk the specious claims made by its proponents.

    Just to add to her criticism, "queer" is often promoted as a form of "intersectionality" that is more "inclusive" of race and gender than traditional conceptions of sexual orientation. However, surveys done by the NGLTF in the early 2000s revealed that only 3% of LBGT identified with the term and that 3% was overwhelmingly white, middle class college graduates. So, it turns out that "queer" is much more elitist than gay & lesbian!

    Posted by: etseq | Apr 7, 2014 3:23:53 PM

  19. PS - Why doesn't it surprise me that Daniel is the dude promoting this? He did this crap all the time at Queerty and was universally reviled by the commenters...

    Posted by: etseq | Apr 7, 2014 3:25:25 PM

  20. As a gay man who's almost 50, active in Queer Nation in the 90's, and a fairly normative dad, I say, Bravo. Come out as queer, gay, lesbian, trans, etc. Be yourself and don't let haters, academics, or anyone else tell you how you "should" identify.

    While some older people do still have trouble with the term queer, they should just ask that they themselves not be called it. I don't choose queer to describe myself, but do consider myself part of the larger queer culture.

    Posted by: DavidR | Apr 7, 2014 4:10:14 PM

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