Queerty ReBUTTal: A Note From the Guy Who Runs This Site

Queerty

Despite our tagline (a catchy slogan at best, a marketing gimmick at worst), Queerty does not have an agenda beyond “entertain and inform our readers.” That’s true for Queerty, and the three other sites under the Jossip Initiatives umbrella.

Most of our readers understand as much. That’s why they continue coming back. Michael Lucas, of porn company Lucas Entertainment, doesn’t understand our appeal or our mission, which is made evident by his column in this week’s New York Blade, where he goes on the attack against this site, myself, and Queerty’s editor Andrew Belonsky.

It was a welcome surprise.

Despite the numerous emails and marketing materials we regularly receive from Michael, his business associates, and his company – evidence of a courtship, it might seem, or at least hopes of a marketing relationship – Michael claims he doesn’t like this site.

That we regularly discuss Michael on the blog is evidence of his mark on gay culture. As he’ll be the first to tell you (as he does with us, so I’m paraphrasing here), he started his business from the ground up, leveraged his porn career into a level of status among mainstream media, and speaks three languages. (Perhaps building my business from the ground up and leveraging my media rants into a level of status among mainstream media will forever be overshadowed by my only speaking 1.5 languages.)

Alas, his accomplishments deserve recognition.

They also make him a public figure.

And like Rosie, Lance, Reichen, and Ellen, gay public figures draw Queerty’s attention — our praise, and our criticism. If we disallow the mainstream media from poking fun at or criticizing members of our own – they’d receive a stern letter from any number of gay rights organizations – who should have that right but the gay community itself? And while Queerty does not, by any measure, attempt to speak for the entire gay community, we’re certainly a part of it, and command our say.

As someone whose career is wholly dependent on the belief that we should cherish the ability to say and express ourselves as we please – including through parody and satire – I would have thought Michael would be among the first to be in on the joke.

Instead, he has threatened, repeatedly, to sue us over our commentary. Given that nothing we’ve said about Michael constitutes libel or defamation of any sort, I’ve welcomed him to lodge a legal complaint and join the ranks of Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, and the notoriously litigious Steve Bing, who have all threatened to do so, only to recant their decisions soon after brushing up on their case law.

But this debate has little, if anything, to do with legal matters. This is an issue of a gay public figure displeased with his treatment by gay press (if you’ll allow us the term). According to Michael, “of late [Queerty has become] obsessed with me, in the way Bill O’Reilly is obsessed with Rosie O’Donnell.” Funny, because Michael has wasted equal amounts of breath on us. (And we’re pleased to have the attention.)

Simply because Queerty is a gay blog does not mean it will kowtow, defend, and laud every member of our own. Love her as much as the next person, Rosie pisses us off sometimes, too. And while Michael has contributed much to public visibility for gay men and women, he’s also provided plenty of fodder. If anyone, it should be a blog like Queerty that gets to have a laugh or two about it. Or at least weigh in.

Among our recent coverage of Michael:

• We covered the coming gossip-book about his business from Michael’s assistant Heather Fink.

• We plugged his first column in the Blade, where he calls on the gay community to grow a pair and start defending itself. (A position I agree with.)

• We covered his court win over the copyright infringement case to continue marketing his DVD La Dolce Vita. We welcomed his new column — which we also, yes, critiqued. In his column, Michael opined about gay people and their anti-semitism, arguing that disagreeing with pro-Israel policy and being pro-Jewish were mutually exclusive. Like Michael, I’m gay, and Jewish. So is Queerty’s editor, Andrew Belonsky. I’m pretty sure that gives this gay blog a modicum of authority to criticize Michael’s opinions on gays and Jews. It apparently gives Lucas the ability to criticize us.

• At the request of his publicist, Michael asked us to use a better photo of him. So we put it to a vote among readers.

• And, of course, there’s our meta coverage, where we blog about him blogging about his day that involved reading Queerty. I’m not sure how much closer to satire one can get.

Despite what you might think, talking about Michael isn’t all we do. Nor is sometimes taking a light-hearted approach to the news. Queerty also commemorates heroes of the Harlem Renaissance, profiles up-and-coming aritsts, delves into the histories of notable lesbians, introduces you to interesting and underground faces in the gay community, and explores the world of gay travel in supposedly un-gay-friendly places. And that was just The Wild Issue. Not that we’re on a high horse, but publishing photos of pretty people isn’t all we’re good at, and I’d hate for you to read Michael’s column and think as much.

While we’re at it, let’s clear up the supposed scandals Michael attempts to create. Regarding former editor Bradford Shellhammer’s request to have his name removed from our masthead, it’s true; his request came after we ran an item on his friend. His friend’s name? Michael Lucas. The request came one day in March; his name was removed from the site the following day. Bradford remains a friend.

And – who knew this was even an issue? – to clarify any matter regarding Queerty’s award as “Best Gay Blog.” The Annual Weblog Awards (known, in short, as The Bloggies) are voted on by the public. In 2006, voters chose Queerty as their pick for the best blog in the “gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered community.” It’s an award we accepted with great humility. It’s also an award we did not win in 2007; voters chose Perez Hilton‘s website.

And like Queerty, Perez Hilton was also named, by V magazine, as “toxic to the gay community.”

I’m not sure which badge we wear prouder. But we don’t foresake either superlative; they were bestowed upon us by folks who have, hopefully, taken the time to read Queerty and make an informed opinion. I hope you’ll do the same.

— David Hauslaib