Does it matter if the apology has been forced out of somebody if only to save face? Perhaps. But I'd rather the apology be sincere rather than half-assed or insincere.
This comes to mind because I took a decision last night to sever my ties with a website I have absolutely adored up to this point and has given this site major support as well (you no longer see their 'Partner Scoops' widget on Blabbeando anymore for one).
When quirky Latino gossip site Guanabee approached me a couple of years ago and asked if I was interested in being a "Featured Partner" I jumped at the chance. It's not that I got any monetary compensation from it but they often highlighted some of my posts which brought a lot of traffic to this site. The value of that traffic wasn't necessarily the number of hits on Blabbeando but the fact that they came from readers of a non-LGBT Latino site. In that sense, Guanabee helped to direct a lot of non-LGBT Latino readership to what happens to be a site with an LGBT-focus and I thought that was great.
As a gossip site, Guanabee does engage in campy humor sometimes and probably uses language that would not be used on other newsier sites. But, even within those parameters, yesterday I was alerted to a post that I felt went beyond the pale.
In "Eva Longoria Confronts Bitchy Queen on H8R", Guanabee Associate Editor Marcelo Baez using his Nacomprende nickname writes the following:
The CW is running a new show called H8R (pronounced "hater") where celebrities confront random people who hate them while attempting to win them over [...] We actually enjoyed the episode. In it Eva Longoria confronts a bitchy queen who fags out on her and her supposed self-Mexican hateIn the clip featured on Guanabee, a guy who comes across as an obnoxious twit goes all off on Eva Longoria's 'Latina-ness' and then gets all flustered and embarrassed when Eva Longoria shows up to challenge his views.
Call the guy an obnoxious twit, call the guy insufferable, but Baez instead calls him a "bitchy queen" who "fags out" when she shows up. This, on a site that is marketed to the general Latino public.
Up to this point, I've had a great relationship with the site's leading editors so I reached out to them to privately express my concern. In response, I was forwarded a message that Baez sent to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) when they made an inquiry about the post. In it, Baez stood his ground and argued that the informal tome used on the site and the fact that gays had appropriated terms such as 'queer' gave him the liberty to call someone a 'fag'. Baez also argued that he wasn't necessarily questioning the man's sexuality but, instead, he was calling him off on his intolerance.
That pissed me off even more so I wrote back again and tried to calmly explain, among other things, the fact that gays appropriating certain language does not mean it gives free reign for these words to be used at free will, by anyone, on any site or publication - or in day to day conversation.
I never got a response. Instead, Guanabee posted a follow-up last night titled "Gays, Do The Words "Fag" And "Loca" Offend You? GLAAD Says They Do"in which Baez defends the post making some of the same arguments he made in the response to GLAAD e-mailed to me and expanded on them.
I blew a fuse. And I quickly fired a Tweet severing my relationship with the site.
In the meantime, GLAAD, who alerted me to the post in the first case and had been exchanging messages with the editors as well, also reacted. They launched an action alert asking people to "Tell Guanabee.com you are not laughing". It mentions the actions I took last night.
In my anger I missed something in Marcelo Baez' latest post: For what I believe is the first time on the site, he tells his readers he is an openly bisexual man. In retrospective, it does explain his argument about appropriation of words that are used to insult members of the LGBT community even though I still don't agree he should have used the terms.
Does this make any difference? There was no mention of this on the original post that would have led anyone to assume that Mr. Baez was trying to appropriate such language as an openly bisexual man. Instead the words "fag" and "fagged-out" were used to denigrate the man in the CW show. I have since had an exchange with Marcelo on my strong feelings that it would have been wrong even if he had disclosed his sexuality in that post and I know he strongly disagrees with my assessment.
This morning, though, I woke up feeling something was missing from all of this. GLAAD's call to action will continue and sites, like this one, will begin to pick up on it. Guanabee and Marcelo will decide whether to stick to their guns and push back - or eventually apologize.
But in the larger context of things, I do see an opportunity here to expand the dialogue on usage of these terms in the Latino community as well as whether the fact that the person using the language is a member of the LGBT community changes these dynamics in any way (in some ways, the debate is similar to usage of the 'N'-word among African-American individuals where some African-Americans feel it's always wrong and others feel it's a way to appropriate the term and strip it from it's original intent to hurt someone based on one's race).
As things stand right now, I have asked to be removed from the Guanabee site. GLAAD is mobilizing against Guanabee. And Baez and Guanabee seem to be standing on their ground. I've had several exchanges with the editors of Guanabee throughout the day, including Marcelo, and they have expressed in no uncertain terms that they are sad to see me go, would love to continue the relationship, but understand my decision to go.
Part of me keeps looking at that post and the way the language was used, with or without the context that it was written by a bisexual man, and wonder how I can keep a relationship with a site that doesn't 'get' why I am so disappointment by the post.
Having said that, if Guanabee had been as homophobic as some are charging - and I am not talking specifically about GLAAD's reaction but that of individuals who might not have ever visited the site and are judging by this post alone - they would have never prominently featured this blog on their site and be so open to promote gay content on their site. It turns out, according to Marcelo, that he is the editor at Guanabee who promoted most of the Blabbeando content that made it on their site.
I know I don't often ask readers to comment and with such long posts, who is gonna bother reading this entry to this point. But, if you would please take a moment or two to comment, should I stay or should I go? Would working with Guanabee promote an editorial decision I do not agree with or would it provide a platform for their general Latino readership to continue having access to my point of view on the issue and on other issues as well.