interior banner image

Gay Poet Dean Atta Discusses the Historical Weight and Ownership of Oppressive Language.

Gay Poet Dean Atta Discusses the Historical Weight and Ownership of Oppressive Language.

Author: David Mattar

March 7, 2013

In response to witnessing the casual use of the ‘n’ word on TV, poet Dean Atta stormed Twitter and Facebook with the message, “Rappers when you use the ‘n’ word remember it’s the last word that Stephen Lawrence heard.” And with that, his debut collection burst into Internet consciousness. 20,000 people have listened to one of his poem only one day after he recorded and uploaded to the Internet on his phone. Stephen Lawrence’s racist murderers were brought to justice twenty years after his death–with this fresh in the mind of the public, it goes without saying that Atta struck a nerve.

Arifa Akbar, of The Independent, attends to the use of oppressive language in her interview with Atta, and calls on the statements of Peter Tatchell, a veteran campaigner, to explore the empowerment of the word queer, and how its original connotations have diluted through defiant reclamation: ‘Our rationale was that if we used the word in an assertive and positive way, it would undermine the word’s effective usage as an insult. We promoted the idea that if you are abused as a ‘queer’ you should shout back “Yes I am a queer. So what?”’

Atta is adamant, however, that the historical context of certain words cannot, and should not, be erased, and that his poem is a direct commentary on that. He tells The Independent:

Growing up, I had an aversion to hip hop. I felt like it wasn’t a welcome place for a gay man. I didn’t like the ‘n’ word used so casually. I thought it was offensive whether it was being used by black musicians or white.

Justin Hernandez Urges, “There is Always a Way Out”, Discussing Sex Work and His Memoir Inside the Vortex.

Having found an audience and voice on the Internet with his blog, Naked in New York City, Justin now hauls his writing into the physical world and unravels his life in a memoir, Into the Vortex. Determined to detail each moment that accumulated to form who he is today, Justin re-visits memories of sex work and abuse. He tells The Windy City Times:

When I committed myself to the writing of this memoir, I knew it had to be a no-holds-barred project. It allowed me to look back on my life, understand it more and realize that the abuse I suffered as a child led to more addictive personality traits that were out of control while I was in Los Angeles and are still, to some extent still with me.

Acknowledging that his approach to sex work was as a result of his abuse, and an unhealthy quest for attention to upheave worthlessness, Justin is clear to comment that his agenda is to”‘let the LGBTQ youth know that if they felt they had to live like this they do not.”

Vintage, Gay Graphics Book is Rejected by Apple.

Lust Unearthed, by Thomas Waugh (first published in 2004), has been dubbed “inappropriate” for eBook – Arsenal Pulp Press associate publisher, Robert Ballantyne, claims that Apple “[is] more or less completely opposed to visual nudity or sexuality of any sort.” Expressing that the social and historical significance of the book (as an archive of gay resilience against homophobia) should not be discarded, Ballantyne makes a case for the ”battle for freedom to exist” without objection or damaging censorship. He brings to the attention of that, while Apple demonstrates deep concern over the publication of gay erotica, they fail to apply the same constrictions to such publications as Playboy and the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated – a detail worth noting.

Feminist, Lesbian Magazine Published in Russia.

Pushing against the weight of oppression, Agens (Latin for ‘driving force’) snaps at the ankles of Russian laws against ‘homosexual propaganda’. The independent quarterly describes itself as ‘A Magazine About Women, for Women’, publicizing features about film-making, studies abroad, private business initiatives, and an androgynous photo shoot. Milena Chernyavskaya – editor-in-chief, states that, “We are aiming at a dialogue both with the readers and the authorities. If the deputies are unhappy with the magazine, I would like to talk to each of them face to face.” Vitaly Milonov, St. Petersburg’s legislature lawmaker, who wears his anti-gayness as clear as a gash to the face, condemns the magazine as “filth“:

Such a magazine can be published, of course, but we should watch that this filth does not fall into the hands of minors. I would be happier if someone started a magazine about cats.

[Photo: Dean Atta, photo by Aderonke Oke]

David Mattar photo

About: David Mattar

David (Day) Mattar currently studies and lives in Liverpool, UK, where he studies English and Creative Writing. His poetry has appeared in Radical Faery Digest magazine and In The Red, where his essay, 'The Importance of Tea' was also published. He plans to move to NYC after graduation to apply for a MFA in Creative Writing.

Subscribe to our newsletter