Enter your email address to receive our daily LGBT news roundup

You're free to unsubscribe at any time.

BBC’s Business Editor Robert Peston defended for use of “Queer Street” term

Post your comment

Comments on this article are now closed.

Reader comments

  1. It’s an old established usage, and a non story.

    1. Like ni**er in a wood pile? The bbc is alinging it’s self with govt policy anti gay is ok

      1. Jock S. Trap 15 Nov 2011, 10:41am

        Oh what rubbish. Some people, like you, just want to make something out of nothing.

        Trouble is the less open minded bigots take your very few voices and drag us all down with you.

        1. So you’re worried about what less open minded bigots think about you?

          That is so sad.

          1. Jock S. Trap 15 Nov 2011, 12:50pm

            Yeah, that turn it around argument don’t work with me I’m afraid.

            Personally don’t give a toss with small minded people think but clearly people like you do or you wouldn’t be making such a fuss about nothing!

      2. James!, your analogy is false. ‘N- in the woodpile’ is a clearly hostile racist expression directed at escaping black slaves in the 19th century; ‘Queer Street’ is purely a reference to poverty. The correct parallel to accusing Robert Peston of homophobia for using this expression is accusing people of racism for using ‘niggardly’ (as has happened recently in the US). ‘Niggardly’ is of a Norse root meaning ‘mean’ or ‘meagre’ and bears no relation at all, either semantically or etymologically, to ‘n**ger’, which is derived from the Spanish ‘negro’, which means ‘black’.

      3. Its no different to using the word gay to mean various different definitions eg homosexual or jolly or carefree or brightly coloured …

        I would not compare the use of the word gay to mean something negative in the same sense …

        But Queer has many different definitions and usages in vocabulary that are in no way linked to orientation …

        Get a grip!

  2. With examples of the kind of back lash we got form people (and I refer to the ever enlightened Keith) it is easy to understand some people feeling sensitive to a possible slight/slur, but for my way of thinking some stuff do not feel to much as an insult, I love being “gay” and have no issues with “queer” as both have older more fun meanings.

    As I am jolly and definitely strange they describe me perfectly, though just to be contradictory I agree that the phrase that’s gay that has been talked about on the bullying thread needs to be addressed in school usage (I am a complicated person lol)

  3. I agree with Peter Tatchell. Using ‘queer’ in a homophobic way is just unacceptable, but as with many words, it has alternate meanings, including older ones which predate the use related to gay, bi and gender variant people.

    Before we run about screaming ‘homophobia’, we need to understand the way the word is used and can’t claim all uses of it and words similar to it as being related to LGBT people if there are legitimate and current uses of it outside of that sphere.

    1. I use old words all the time, only I don’t get a hail of people screaming at me for using them I tend to get “huh”? and then have to explain what they mean lol

  4. Christine Beckett 15 Nov 2011, 10:16am

    Yep. Over-sensitive is the right word….

    chrissieB

  5. Peter Tatchell is right on this particular issue

    1. I agree.

      Got complete perspective on this one

  6. Mike Homfray 15 Nov 2011, 10:24am

    Oh, come on – this is silly. There is no evidence at all that Robert Peston is anti-gay

  7. Being thick head and thin skinned makes us dick heads.

  8. Political correctness may have improved consideration for minorities and increased carefulness in the use of language (whether it has really changed underlying attitudes is debatable), but it’s also led to a climate of stupidity where people’s first reaction is to take offence and their second reaction is to moan and whine, while actually thinking comes a long way down the list.

    It also shows how uneducated and ignorant people are. Don’t they read Dickens and Conan Doyle? The phrase is common in these authors.

    Also remember: there is no text without context.

  9. Jock S. Trap 15 Nov 2011, 10:39am

    Oh dear, I do think some are getting a little too sensitive.

    Yes it’s an unfortunate phrase but do lets keep it in the context it was meant. Some, very few actually, do us no favours or justice picking on every little comment or phrase esp when we know they ain’t homophobic.

    Think we have enough with the ilks like Keith to be making this up as we go along. Lets focus on the real problems and not make them.

  10. Nah using queer in a negative manner sends out the wrong signals this is why African Americans will not be refered to as black as it has negative connatation in English.

    Zero tolerance on anti gay metaphores

    1. Spanner1960 15 Nov 2011, 4:10pm

      You are the sort of PC twat that bans “Baa-baa-Black Sheep” because it could be construed as racist.

      Meanwhile, the non-white people actually don’t really give a flying sh|t.

      1. @Spanner1960

        There are elements of political correctness that are correct, fair and appropriate …

        This sort of complaint lacks any common sense or sense of proportion …

        As many gay men, non white people, disabled people, etc etc I actually appreciate jokes and comments that may sometimes push the boundaries of acceptability … It clearly depends on the perceived intention behind the joke eg self depreciating humour or humour from close friends may be perfectly acceptable – whereas the same joke told by a stranger may be offensive.

        I appreciate this was not a joke but the same principle applies.

        We need to show respect but we need to make sure we dont see offence where there is none.

  11. Idiomatic ignorance is as embarrassing as hypersensitivity. ‘Queer Street’ as in ‘poverty’ is not a common expression now but I remember my parents’ generation using it often, and without the slightest allusion to sexuality (and they were pretty homophobic). I have read somewhere that the homophobic use of ‘queer’ was not common before the 1940’s. Challenging offensive language is a good thing to do, but selecting the right target in the first place is a good idea. Duuuuuh!

    1. Not only did “Queer Street” refer to poverty, it referred to difficulty of many kinds. One of my grandfathers used to say, of girls he deemed excessively “flirtatious” with boys, that they would find themselves in “Queer Street” if they were not careful. He also said, of things he found odd, that they were “as queer as Dick’s hatband”. Never, at any time, did he mean these expressions to indicate anything to do with homosexuality.

      You mention your parents’ generation as being pretty homophobic – interestingly, such sentiments were totally foreign to my grandfather and his wife (both born in the 19th century).

  12. Q. How have you been feeling Mr Dawson.
    A. Not the best Doctor, I came over queer in the night and I’ve been feeling a bit stiff all morning.

    1. Nurse Felicia: Best be paying the fare to ride the bus next time Mr. Dawson, You can catch it at the corner of Skid row and Straight.

      1. Nurse Felicia … do you have an alter ego?

  13. jamestoronto 15 Nov 2011, 11:28am

    Context is the important consideration here. “Queer as a three dollar bill” had nothing to do with one’s sexuality and still means someone is really odd. Watch enough British movies and we here know that a “fag” is a cigarette. “Knocking up the neighbour” will invite a “queer grin” in North America. Context.

  14. The phrase “Queer Street” was coined long before the 1920s when ‘queer’ was first used as a synonym for ‘homosexual’.

  15. If using the term “Queer Street” was the worst example of homophobia at the BBC we wouldn’t have much to worry about!

  16. I think it’s fairly obvious Peston, in speaking of financial matters, wasn’t even remotely intending to be homophobic in any way.

    On the other hand, the word ‘queer’ has taken on new meanings in the last century and so perhaps it’s time for Queer Street to be retired.

  17. It is utterly ridiculous to think the term has any homophobic meaning. If we banish certain terms from the language we impoverish it. Queer and gay both have other uses, as do many thousands of other English words.

  18. You could be a queer Queer feeling queer in Queer Street.
    Four meanings of the same word!

  19. What rubbish. He isnt being homophobic at all. People need to learn more about language and stop looking to be offended.

  20. My father uses the expression “queer one’s pitch” which is another example of an old use of the word queer. How about one I frequently use “bent as a nine bob note”
    We have bigger battles in which to engage so let’s not queer our own pitch by being overly sensitive.

  21. Tom Stoppard 15 Nov 2011, 1:09pm

    He wasn’t been homophobic. And calling him so will just result in a backlash where people are called too sensitive and “politically correct” (a term the Daily Mail loves).

    I guess the only area where I would be concerned is that this is a use of “queer” to mean something bad. And even though he didn’t mean a link to homosexuality, for a lot of people, queer does mean gay. And there aren’t a lot of good contexts where “queer” is used, so a phrase which means something bad like “queer street” can result in a kind of negative association between the word queer and bad things in some people’s minds. There is a proven link between cognition and language.

    With that said, I never bother to argue these points any more – and people always tend to value their own opinions over “ivory tower” academic research on things like this. So, yes – let’s just kill all the people who say that Robin Peston shouldn’t have used Queer Street.

  22. Many people I know refer to going out as going down ‘Queer Street’ so if they gays use it why cant he ?

  23. God what paranoia!

  24. I am queer (strange) I am gay (happy) ohh I am also homosexual I think I prefer the other two for that too, like I prefer human to homosapien. Though I do like the word homosapien I never call myself that lol

    1. I am queer and gay in both senses of the word too :-D

      Why do some people try to find offence in something where it clearly is not there …

  25. It is plain to see who and where the word “queer” comes from, http://www.bible.ca/s-homo=sin.htm, they have been bashing and bulling gays for 2,000 years now and it is time to stop them now before they continue to do it. People who harm others have mental problems and need treatment or to be locked up.

  26. Spanner1960 15 Nov 2011, 4:14pm

    I felt quite offended recently when somebody commented on my job as goods out delivery clerk at a confectionery company as a fudge packer. I have decided to leave to join a menswear company as a quality control manager lifting shirts.

  27. Off topic, but has everyone noticed the very odd stresses and rythms in Robert Peston’s speech? I wonder what the rest of his family sounds like. For a brief time recently he displayed more normal speech, as if he’d had some sort of coaching, but his strange habits seem to be back.
    I still think he’s quite cute though.

    1. Mr. Ripley's Asscrack 15 Nov 2011, 8:52pm

      I was wondering if anyone would take the opportunity to mention this… I HATE THE WAY ROBERT PESTON SPEAKS… I can’t listen to any business story he’s reporting on – he speaks like a pull-cord toy but the batteries are running out. And he’s had vocal training – money wasted I’d say! This is a non-story but the ‘right-on’ people will pounce…

      1. That’s because Peston struggles with a stutter and the staccato way of speaking is a coping mechanism to overcome that.

        1. I didn’t know that. It makes his efforts and achievements in the broadcast media more admirable.

  28. Ladies, ladies, cool down now and find something really worthwhile to talk about. This is a story which doesn’t exist so let’s divert our multiple energies into fighting for things worth fighting for.

  29. I do hope that the gay world isn’t going to be stealing words from our dictionaries and Thesauri when clearly many have no idea of semantics.

    Do get real folk. Queer Street pre-dates its use as a homosexual term by many, many years.

    We must now absolve Robert Peston of all his crimes. He works for the BBC who have very few homophobic staff.

    Before jumping up and down and writing to Points Of View, use a dictionary or web search.

  30. Brucelaidlaw 16 Nov 2011, 2:46am

    Reminds me of the story of someone in the US a few years ago who was forced to resign his position because he had used the term “niggardly” (meaning miserly). A dictionary is useful if you’re not sure!

    1. GingerlyColors 18 Nov 2011, 6:48am

      Another word which may be construed as racist is ‘Nig-Nog’ which means idiot.

  31. A strange homosexual friend of mine came over today, this man enjoys marmite and smoking cigarettes at the same time, which I as a Canadian find it quite queer, to see a man so gay at the thought of inhaling fags while swishing his way through a jar of this substance.

  32. Urgh, sounds like any attention is good attention for this guy. He has used some outdated phrase, which many have never heard of, to stir up some controversy and get everyone talking about his name.

  33. For goodness sake, why are so many gays so “over sensitive” these days. I’m gay, marched for equal rights in the 70s but I haven’t lost my common sense. Get over it!

  34. GingerlyColors 18 Nov 2011, 6:46am

    At one time Noddy could be ‘happy and gay’ one day the ‘feel a bit queer’ the next. The English language has been evolving since before Chaucer and while the meaning of some words change, others become unacceptabe. As for Dire Straits, did they not have a record banned in Canada because of an outdated gay reference?!

  35. the term queer street was around long before the queers were on the street.
    get over it. i have.

These comments are un-moderated and do not necessarily represent the views of PinkNews. If you believe that a comment is inappropriate or libellous, please contact us.

Top commenters this week

Latest stories

See all