Wordplay

Remember When the Word “Fierce” Actually Meant Something?

The word “fierce” is in danger of being defanged. Somewhere in between Tyra Banks throwing “fierce” around like used fake eyelashes and President Obama campaigning as a “fierce advocate” in spite of his galling ambiguity on comprehensive LGBT rights, “fierce” has been sanitized—pink-washed if you will—and pushed to the brink of irrelevancy.

Perhaps being killed softly is the way of queer culture. After all, who could resist us—our flourishes, our intelligently crafted posture, our razor sharp punch lines, our tailoring? The Ballroom Culture of 1920s Harlem (yes, honey—and Langston Hughes was there snapping with the best of them) becomes “Paris Is Burning” becomes Madonna’s “Vogue” becomes Lady Gaga’s hilariously trite “Born This Way.” What once encapsulated a captivating, untamed and necessarily tough spirit has been turned into a synonym for “good,” or even “cute.”

–In a new monthly column for Lambda Literary, writer Saeed Jones strives to re-appropriate “fierce” in terms of queer rage found in literature. What do you guys think? Should we take “fierce” back or is the mainstream coining of the word another step towards visibility and acceptance?