Queer Behavior

Gay Man Freaks Out Over Colorado College’s Use Of “Queer” On Job Applications, Files Complaint With Attorney General


John Kichi is definitely not going to be a fan of this site. Kichi, 66, was job hunting online, and so upset over Colorado College’s use of the word “queer” in their online application that he actually filed a complaint with the Colorado Attorney General’s office. The “queer” in question wasn’t related to sexual orientation however, but gender identity. On the application, users are allowed to choose between male, female, transgender, queer, or opt out of gender identification altogether.

Kichi’s freakout put Colorado College on the defensive when it comes to the word itself and its place within their progressive policies. Colorado College director of human resources Barbara Wilson told The Denver Post that she’s “proud to work for a school that doesn’t just talk the talk, we walk it, too.”

The Post also talked to others at Colorado College who maintain that the word is used in the spirit of diversity and inclusion as it relates to sexual orientation and gender identity, and that it is not meant to offend. Other sources also made note of the changing meaning of the word over time, particularly how the LGBT community has expanded so much and that the younger generation are claiming ownership over the label.

Still, Kichi was having none of it. “I thought I was going to have a stroke,” he said. “It’s totally from the Dark Ages. If them including it on applications isn’t against the law, it should be.”

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  • MikeE

    Well, being gay doesn’t immunize someone from being an idiot. One need only look at some of this websites regular commentators.

  • 2eo

    What an idiot.

    @MikeE: To be fair BJ waits to pounce on anything he can shoehorn in Hillary Clinton at the minute.

  • Jake357

    WTF is a “Queer” gender? I’m insulted by this egregious display of douchiness. “Do you identify as male, female, intersexed, transgendered, queer, leprechaun, a half masticated burrito buried beneath the back seat of an 87 Honda Civic?” It hurts to roll my eyes this far back.

  • viveutvivas

    Regardless of what I personally think of the word “queer”, the college should have known better than to use a word that has painful connotations to many gay men, especially older ones, but even many younger ones.

    If they wanted to place such an option there, they should instead have used the more academically accepted term “genderqueer.” The word “queer” itself is seen by many as encompassing sexual orientation (e.g., gay men and lesbians shouting “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it”), and so has no place in a question regarding gender identity. You can identify as both male and queer because you are gay. (For that matter, pretty much all transgenders identify as male or female, so having transgender as an option alongside the latter also doesn’t make much sense.)

    But why on earth does a college ask about gender on a job application? Why should it matter to whether you get offered a job.

  • douglassnow

    “Queer” is a word much fancied and bandied about by those who are ignorant of its actual meaning and semantic content, but who seek, by using it, to demonstrate their cool, avant-garde hipness, and to show misguided sympathy for two palpitatingly fashionable causes at once–Gay Rights and Transgender Rights–by confounding them. These well-meaning, unconscious calumniators, defamers and insulting trivializers of gay men’s and Lesbians’ rights, typically, are neo-Marxist feminists (such as Judith Butler, Eve Sedgwick and Teresa de Lauretis, with their proudly espoused “queer theory,” and triumphant “social construction” of gender), and the young, female, Human Resources Directors of small colleges. As a gay man, I’ve long since stopped being nice about it: If you call me queer, Sir or Ma’am (as the case may be), I’ll slap you.

  • Elloreigh

    If the college is guilty of something here, it’s trying to appear ‘cool’ at the cost of ignoring the words checkered history and its potential to offend. Not a smart move.

  • Kieran

    Couldn’t they just have a GLBTQCLYUVWXYZ box to cover everybody?

  • Kangol


    Correct you are!

  • Kangol


    The college isn’t trying to be appear cool, it’s called INCLUSIVE.

    I know people who do not consider themselves gay, lesbian, bi, or trans, but queer. Their gender is fluid, and they are not just being “cool,” but strongly and deeply feel queer.

    Judith Butler broke it down over 30 years ago in her famous article on “gender insubordination,” and some people in academe think we’re well past her ideas now, but the as this site’s comment section makes clear (not queer), some of our fellow gay people haven’t even really gotten beyond 1969 and Stonewall.

    And as the phrase has gone for over two and a half decades: “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” (cf. Queer Nation, circa 1989)

  • etseq

    @Kangol: Exactly who, outside of a small clique of brain dead 90s litcrit snobs, gives a crap about Judith Butler. Not only is she vacuous but also her politics are extremely left wing and anti-israel. Martha Nussbaum skewered her years ago in the New Republic and she was awarded the first satirical annual “bad writing” prize by a group of critics. This is the opposite of inclusive – its an elitist class signifier. NGLTF did a survey back in the mid 2000s on this very term and found that less than 5% of LGBT people approved or used the term as an identity category. Even more interesting was the breakdown of who the 5% were – they were almost exclusively white middle class bisexual women with college degrees. Not a single african american or other racial minority in the bunch! Of course, to those of us who always believed Queer Theory was a bunch nonsense that was more about academic politics of the ivory tower than anything else, it was no surprise.

    Tldr – STFU you elitist snob.

  • DarkZephyr

    I can still remember people playing “smear the queer” and pelting me with balls and rocks and sticks when I was a kid. My feelings about the word are not good ones.

  • Palmer Scott

    @DarkZephyr: My feelings and experience echo yours. I hate and despise the word and NEVER use it, period.

    That being said, this man should’ve called the college first and allowed them to explain their usage before making his complaint.

  • bledoutcolor

    I actually understand this man’s trepidation having had queer thrown at me pejoratively. Considering he’s sixty six I can only imagine how offensive it must be to him since when he was young it was nearly never used positively. I think he should be cut some slack, and I wish we could find a more neutral umbrella term for the community, but I understand the logic behind taking a derogatory term back for the community.

    I have mixed feelings on this one, hes from a different time and his intentions are good afterall. But I feel bad for the college being called out on something they were trying to do right. Just a bad situation both ways, and it definitely highlights the pros and cons of reclaiming slurs for the community they target, especially when the elders of the community can still recall when they were used alongside the other “f” bomb to attack “alternative” (hate that term) sexualities.

  • FStratford

    This guy should at least try to get that the word is no longer pejorative these days. Or does he think that “gay” only means “happy” as well?

  • jimbryant

    I agree with Kichi. I can’t stand these pseudo-trendy college clones who think they’re being “hip” by using the word “queer”. This includes gay guys.

  • GLF

    As if I needed to be reminded that being gay doesn’t automatically mean your eyes are open. It’s not 1955. If someone screams “queer” at you in prelude to physical violence- be offended. If a college has “queer” in a box referring to gender identity…why are you even looking at it? Just mark “Male” and be done. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. If you can’t adjust your frame of reference from skinhead to admissions office, you’ve got other problems.

  • balehead

    Everybody should grow a life already….Someone’s looking for money….

  • AuntieChrist

    A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social or cultural groups but not in others. Queer is the least offensive to me but it really depends on the context in which it is being used. An application seems like a stupid place for it. I wouldn’t get upset over it, that seems a bit much.

  • AuntieChrist

    @DarkZephyr: No one used queer that often when I was a kid. They had much nastier names when throwing rocks and sticks and mud, snowballs with rocks in them. Sissy, pantie waste, dork, freak, and of course the old standard fag and faggot.

  • Jessie R

    Since it was listed under gender, it was probably intended to reference the label genderqueer. That’s the most common umbrella word for non-binary genders of non-First Nations people in the US and there’s no other word that includes the same spectrum of people, is as widely known amongst people who hold such identities, and that is an acutal identity label that people use for themselves instead of a clunky descriptor adopted solely to avoid using the word. Non-binary people already have it really badly, and almost never get to see themselves acknowledged in official capacities such as applications, so I honestly think that how it might help those people is more important than whether or not it momentarily offends the occasional uninformed cis gay person.

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