William S Burroughs Queer

Larry Kramer Faggots

I have brought these two books up as an example of acclaimed Gay Literature Canon after reading this little rant over on Paul G. Bens site. He was going off because Barbara Sheridan, a straight woman, wrote a Gay Romance titled Beautiful Cocksucker.

Here is his two main arguments…

I have heard these words over and over in my life. These words are horrible, horrible things. I personally do not even like it when other gay men say them as a joke. They are not words to me that can be reclaimed.

I don’t care that in the context of the story the characters call each other c*cksuckers. In text, in context, I would still bristle at it, but I would understand. But as the title of a book? NOPE! See, I realize that there are many, many non-pro gay people — people who love to hunt gay folks — who will simply see that title — they will never read the book to understand the context, and if they did, they’d never want to understand the context — and all they will do is see that title and feel justified for their usage of that word. I don’t care how romantic or loving the D/s relationship is depicted in that book. C*cksucker is a horrible, dangerous word, one that should not be used lightly or thought of as a catchy little title for a book. It is offensive. And not until you have had it shouted at you by a group of rowdy, drunk teenagers in a passing car at night can you truly understand how damaging that word is.

So basically Paul is claiming in his rant that using “bad words” like Cocksucker or Queer or Faggots supports homophobia and Gay Bashing and these “bad words” cannot be reclaimed.

As far as the term Cocksucker, do I TeddyPig in fact suck cocks? Why yes, yes I do. Do I find that “bad word” worse than say being called a Faggot? Nope! Do I blame Larry Kramer for people using that “bad word” or threatening me? Nope!

When William S. Burroughs wrote Queer in 1951-1953 there is no argument at the time Queer was a “bad word”. We now have highly visible examples of a reclaimed “bad word” in Queer Nation and Queer Eye For The Straight Guy and Queer Fashion. I also don’t think Mr. Burroughs was at all concerned about reclaiming the word when he wrote that book. Nor have I found any online article stating that was his exact intention. Larry Kramer on the other hand is a noted Gay Activist and might have intentionally chosen to use the title Faggots for his book in 1978.

Since Faggots is now considered Classic Gay Literature Canon along with Queer I find it hard not to think this is a confirmation by members of the Gay Community in seeing some value in these literary works. If they were so concerned as a whole about the physical and political repercussions of “bad words” being used in titles then I think Queer or Faggots, “bad words” solely attributed to Gay People unlike Cocksucker, would in my opinion be at the top of their “Do Not Use” list.

I choose not speak for all Gay People. I am not about policing language or trying to censor someone using terms I might find offensive. I agree that words have power but I also know as with the word Queer there are proven examples that we, Gay People, can change the meanings and reclaim those we find hateful.

I also simply try to relate this current controversy to facts and what I see on the shelves of any Gay Bookstore. I must say Paul’s opinions do not mesh with mine or what I have read or what I see. So no, Paul does not speak for me as a Gay Man or I for him. We just both happen to be cocksuckers.

In closing this whole post kept nagging at me because of the word cocksucker because I know someone much smarter than me talked about this already…

George Carlin

“There are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are seven you can’t say on television. What a ratio that is! 399,993 . . . to seven. They must really be baaaad. They must be OUTRAGEOUS to be separated from a group that large. ‘All of you words over here, you seven . . . baaaad words.’ That’s what they told us, right? ‘That’s a bad word!’ Awwww. No bad words. Bad thoughts. Bad intentions, and wooooords. You know the seven, don’t ya? That you can’t say on TV? Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits. Huh? Those are the heavy seven. Those are the words that’ll infect your soul, curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war. Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits, wow! And tits doesn’t even belong on the list! It seems like such a friendly word. Sounds like a nickname. ‘Hey Tits, come here man! Tits! Meet my friend Toots. Toots, Tits. Tits, Toots.’ Sounds like a snack . . . oh yeah, it is. Right. But I don’t mean your sexist snack, I mean new Nabisco Tits. Corn Tits n’ Sesame Tits n’ Cheese Tits . . . Tater Tits. Bet you can’t eat just one!”

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"I Am A Cocksucker!" by TeddyPig was published on December 31st, 2008 and is listed in Gay Romance, Wank.

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Comments on "I Am A Cocksucker!": 32 Comments

  1. LBea wrote,

    I’d venture to guess that there are a lot of cocksuckers reading this thoughtful blog post, right about …Now.

    Words do have power. But I think people are smarter than that. I am. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life TPig…none of them having to do with my sexuality, but with an emotionally/ physically abusive parent, I know first hand that words sting and burn and crush. It’s a person’s ability to reclaim themselves, to conquer those who would hurt, to triumph, to forgive, and to overcome that truly establishes our identity. Defiant. That’s who and what we really are.

  2. JenB wrote,

    This is exactly why you’re the coolest cochino ever.

  3. Lauren Dane wrote,

    Words have immense power, which is why I love them so much. Cocksucker is a loaded term. Loaded with history and I do understand taking terms back. Cunt for instance. Cunt is a gender slur but I love to use it in sex scenes. I love it when the woman thinks it or uses it. It’s a hard word and it works to convey a certain type of feeling in a scene. Bitch is another.

    I can say that I personally wouldn’t use the term – I’m not a gay man although well I can certainly say I’m a cocksucker in the descriptive sense. But it’t that issue, that I’m not a gay man that would stop me from using the title (which is a whole ‘nother issue).

    I think this issue is an interesting one and re-appropriation of hate speech is a powerful topic. Queer is a word I think of as one of the most important examples because it’s been so successfully reclaimed. Sure it’s still a slur, but it’s also a self naming term of power and identity and that’s why words have so much power.

  4. Katrina Strauss wrote,

    It really is a matter of perspective. I too have GAY FRIENDS. *waves “gay friends” card* Some of them whom have suffered physical assault. (One was left partially paralyzed after he was shot.) I’m also the mother of, guess what, a GAY KID! *waves rainbow colored “gay kid” card ala Debbie Novotny* My out-and-proud teen refers to themself as “queer”, calls their friends and straight brother “fag”, and recently declared to me that “Dykes are hot”. I once shared an apartment with a bitchy drag queen who used every homophobic, racist, and sexist slur in the book, so perhaps my DNA got tainted by being in such close proximity to such fabulous self-depreciating diva-ness. So perhaps that is why I didn’t bat an eye at Barb’s book title.

    Or perhaps my gay kid and I are just insensitive. What do we know? I’ll tell you this, if someone calls my kid a cocksucker out of hate, I’ll kick their ass. But so long as the context is not one of hate, well, I just personally don’t take issue.

  5. JenB wrote,

    Or perhaps my gay kid and I are just insensitive.

    *waves insensitive card*

    I think context is the key here. My husband and I call each other all kinds of nasty names in fun. He is an illegitimate child who was adopted and then orphaned. I have an attitude problem and can be difficult to deal with if I don’t get my way (shocking, I know). We’ve each really hurt the other’s feelings by using those two words in anger. I know not to call him a bastard in a fight, and he knows not to call me a bitch in a fight. But we use those two words all the time when we’re goofing around. When I say “bastard”, I’m not encouraging hate toward all the world’s illegitimate children. When he says “bitch”, he’s not encouraging hate toward all the world’s female population.

    Like I said on Karen’s blog, there’s a big difference between concerned individuals and crusaders on a mission. Unfortunately, the latter seem to be the loudest. It’s not about a word anymore. Now it’s about being right and winning.

    Hey, who has that “Someone on the internet is wrong” pic? lol

  6. TeddyPig wrote,

    When I was writing this post something kept nagging me. I kept thinking “Cocksucker, where has this all been discussed before? I mean, my lowly and unoriginal opinion must have been done better by someone else much more smart and witty than I am when dealing with the issues of censorship and senseless people demanding we not use bad words.”…

    Lady’s and Gentlemen, I give you George Carlin…

    “There are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are seven you can’t say on television. What a ratio that is! 399,993 . . . to seven. They must really be baaaad. They must be OUTRAGEOUS to be separated from a group that large. ‘All of you words over here, you seven . . . baaaad words.’ That’s what they told us, right? ‘That’s a bad word!’ Awwww. No bad words. Bad thoughts. Bad intentions, and wooooords. You know the seven, don’t ya? That you can’t say on TV? Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits. Huh? Those are the heavy seven. Those are the words that’ll infect your soul, curve your spine, and keep the country from winning the war. Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits, wow! And tits doesn’t even belong on the list! It seems like such a friendly word. Sounds like a nickname. ‘Hey Tits, come here man! Tits! Meet my friend Toots. Toots, Tits. Tits, Toots.’ Sounds like a snack . . . oh yeah, it is. Right. But I don’t mean your sexist snack, I mean new Nabisco Tits. Corn Tits n’ Sesame Tits n’ Cheese Tits . . . Tater Tits. Bet you can’t eat just one!”

  7. LBea wrote,

    Tits-n-Cheese sounds like a review we’ve yet to write, Das Bear Pork.

  8. JenB wrote,

    OMG, my husband loves to piss me off by calling me “Sugar Tits”. Nasty. LOL

    But funny nasty, not “disgrace to women everywhere” nasty.

  9. LBea wrote,

    The poor tufted titmouse must be very…sad about his wittle name.

    That title has stirred controversy, for sure. Controversy= buzz and name recognition and interest. I wonder if that is translating into sales?

  10. Amber wrote,

    Edited at Amber’s Request.

  11. LBea wrote,

    OMG Amber. LOLOLOL.

    Heh. Mwah. Happy New Year.

  12. TeddyPig wrote,

    Amber,

    I guess it’s the way I was raised but I never felt being accused of acting like a woman even sexually as an insult. No one fucked with my mother and I never saw her depend on dad to defend her. She was small but she was incredibly smart and she could be scary.

    Don’t feel too bad I mixed up Larry Kramer’s name earlier when talking about this stuff. Poor Larry. You would think if I was gonna drag him into the argument I could get his name right. Sorry.

  13. JenB wrote,

    Ah, found it. :)

  14. kirsten saell wrote,

    The poor tufted titmouse must be very…sad about his wittle name.

    Not to mention the crested tit, a bird most at home in British backyards…

    Gotta say, Teddy, having someone speak for you (inaccurately, no less) or all gay men, without your permission is probably even more annoying than having someone repeatedly and determinedly misconstrue what you’re saying to suit their own agenda. Gah!

    Amber, you’re freaking hilarious. :D

    And you know, I’ve seen the word cocksucker so many times in the last week or so it’s lost what little ick-factor it had for me.

    Cunt for instance. Cunt is a gender slur but I love to use it in sex scenes.

    Cunt wasn’t always a slur. It used to be just a succinct and effective word for female genitalia, and if I had my way, that’s all it would be now…

    *sorry if I screwed up the italics, I never know how to do them unless the site spells it out for me

  15. TeddyPig wrote,

    Oh Kirsten, have I been there.

    I always remember that great Heinlein quote…

    Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig. ~ Robert Heinlein

  16. Emmy wrote,

    I feel so bad for Barb. Bad choice of title, but she’s also a bad choice of person to pick to reorganize the gay movement. I know she’s wishing all these posts about the intarwebs would just *die* already.

    As far as names go…can I wave the bisexual woman, daughter of a lez, sister of gay, has a gay best friend card? My friend calls me his “fag hag”. I always turn to him and say, “if I’m the hag, that makes you…whom?”

  17. TeddyPig wrote,

    Emmy I hope deep down she and the ePub are making bank. Everyone just buy a copy it is just two bucks.

  18. AM Riley wrote,

    I remember when we couldn’t say ‘dyke’ or ‘butch’, either. I remember when the Women’s movement was afraid to be associated with lesbians.

    There are well-meaning, fearful conservatives in every revolution. They apply the brakes while the rest of us are screaming Kowabunga and applying the gas. Thank God for them.

    They keep us cocksucking, muff-diving gender queer folks from driving right off the cliff.

  19. TeddyPig wrote,

    I don’t know AM,

    I guess I do not understand living in fear of words or ideas or even hate.

    I spent ten years in the NAVY because I disliked the idea that being gay would keep me from doing something I felt was important as serving my country. So despite “the rules” I went and I did it.

    I have spent the last 19 years explaining to other gay people that being HIV+ (Which I am.) or having AIDS should not be used as some form of insult to put another person down because that is really sad.

    I guess I am tired of the stigmas and tired of the fears and the people promoting that fear.

    Life is full of risk. We just have to expect that and get over it and learn to live with the fact that people will hate for all sorts of reasons and not saying bad words won’t alleviate that.

  20. Emmy wrote,

    More than a little off topic….I was a Corpsman in the Navy for 7 years. Apparently your pain threshold is higher than mine, Teddy.

    Incidentally, I didn’t actually have any relationships with women until I joined the Navy either. Take 200 women, put them in one big ass room on an aircraft carrier, and sail out to the middle of the ocean for 6 months….well, girls will be girls, and boy howdy did we have some rockin cruises. Literally *g*.

  21. Tuscan Capo wrote,

    You’re alright, TeddyPig. Have a great New Year dude.

  22. TeddyPig wrote,

    More than a little off topic….I was a Corpsman in the Navy for 7 years. Apparently your pain threshold is higher than mine, Teddy.

    Well, since I turned HIV+ and in the Navy no less (Talk about some interesting discussions with the CO.) I was part of the GP-160 study group.
    I walked those hallowed halls of Bethesda many many years.
    Let me tell you getting those spinal taps for research purposes will give you a high pain threshold.

  23. LBea wrote,

    Happy New Year TPig. Mwah.

    (mwahmwahmwah)

  24. Barbara Sheridan wrote,

    May the coming year bring everyone the best it has to offer (and offers a lot less scandal to some of us *cough*).

  25. Sarah wrote,

    Happy new year TP, may it be simply wonderful. Big kisses from me.

  26. Lauren Dane wrote,

    Kirsten – sure, many words weren’t actually insults or slurs at their inception. Bitch is another. The issue with slurs is that they often take the matter of fact meaning and twist it to make it an insult.

    Which is why there’s power in taking those words back. Because as far as I’m concerned a cunt is a cunt as in pink parts. I don’t use it as a gender slur in my books.

    I think it’s all about context – I’ve been called a cunt a time or forty. I’m an opinionated woman – it comes with the territory. But you know, being referred to as a “housewife from Iowa” in a certain context has the same intent as men who’d call me a cunt – the intent is to belittle the person by devaluing it.

    And that is why I’m not offended by the title of barbara’s book. It’s not a title I like much though, for other reasons. But when we’re dealing with intent (and words are so much about intent and context) – and talking about offense, that’s the crux for me. Certainly other people can disagree, even a simple housewife like me can allow for a difference of perspective here.

  27. TeddyPig wrote,

    even a simple housewife like me

    Now hold on there I thought you wrote some books if I remember correctly.

  28. kirsten saell wrote,

    Which is why there’s power in taking those words back. Because as far as I’m concerned a cunt is a cunt as in pink parts. I don’t use it as a gender slur in my books.

    I completely agree. There is huge power in taking words back. Cunt is one of my absolute favirites, and I have used it my books both as a succinct and sexy word for “pink parts” (awesome term, btw), and as a slur. I frequently use fuck in both its positive and negative permutations. The fact that they can have such strong positive and negative meanings is one of the reason I like them so much.

    The insult is completely in the intent. Although I think people have the right to dislike certain words based on their own personal experiences, or be offended by them, that doesn’t mean they can ascribe an intent to a word’s usage that simply doesn’t exist.

    And that is why I’m not offended by the title of barbara’s book. It’s not a title I like much though, for other reasons.

    Heh, on a purely aesthetic level, I’m not a fan of the word cocksucker. To my ears, it’s…inelegant. But that inelegance may be one of the reasons the title was chosen in the first place, and why some (not all) gay men might use it during sex. Or *gasp* other people may see the word in a completely different light than I do, and that’s okay.

    Bottom line, and I’ve said this before: words have as much power as we give them. If a word is used with no intent to insult, and insult is still felt, it’s the affronted who have given that word its negative power. They have a right to feel the way they do, but others have the right to disagree.

  29. REVIEW: Beautiful C*cksucker II: Such a Good Boy by Barbara Sheridan | Romance Fiction Books wrote,

    [...] tend to agree with the outrage over the name (Paul Bens’ original reaction, Teddy Pig’s response, Karen Knows Best’s extensive discussion) but I also know that in BDSM play, some epithets that would otherwise be [...]

  30. South Park: The F Word | The Naughty Bits wrote,

    [...] Remember that incredibly stupid wank over someone using the word Cocksucker in their book title? I have never watched a more pathetic group of people than those trying to say how horrible someone used a BAD WORD. I guess the Internet is full of sixteen year old teenagers with nothing better to do but sit around on their fat asses impersonating what they think Gay Rights Activists talk about in real life. Anyway… [...]

  31. REVIEW: Beautiful C*cksucker II: Such a Good Boy by Barbara Sheridan | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary wrote,

    [...] tend to agree with the outrage over the name (Paul Bens’ original reaction, Teddy Pig’s response, Karen Knows Best’s extensive discussion) but I also know that in BDSM play, some epithets that would otherwise be [...]

  32. Cubs Out Loud | The Naughty Bits wrote,

    [...] about gay guys and the use of  the word faggot that I myself have talked about on the blog here when discussing the term cocksucker. In short I agree with Dan Savage that the best way to handle BAD WORDS is to reclaim use of the [...]

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