Queer

I was talking with a friend the other day about queer literature. The second or third time I used that phrase, she stopped me and asked why I kept using that word — queer. She found it offensive & derogatory. I was surprised, as I’ve begun to use queer for shorthand to mean LGBT, or as some prefer, lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender.

Up until recently, my general word for LGBT has been Gay, as in gay marriage, gay rights, gays in the military, etc. But there is a body of feminist literature that argues against lesbians acquiescing their identity to the generic Gay. We’re already invisible to many, and the political wars on women will only render that worse.

I posted a note on Facebook about use of the word Queer and got about three dozen responses that were all over the place. Many reacted the way my friend did, no doubt remembering the hurtful utterances of ignorant people who rejected the very idea of homosexuality. For too long, that word was hurled as an epithet and it evidently left a scar. For me, it’s a reclamation, a statement that no one will shame me with their label.

I feel it also encompasses the entire community of “other,” those of us whose sexual or gender identity falls outside the mainstream … or as I like to call it, the ordinary. I don’t mind queer, dyke, lesbo, lezzie, whatever. My response? Damn right I am.

I welcome your thoughts in the comments section.

2 Responses to “Queer”

  1. Bett, I’d finally grown astute at rattling off LGBT without getting any of the letters wrong, when one of my activist associates asked all us to start using lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender because the acronym was, he felt, dismissive of our individual identities. The word Queer grows on me every day, but I hate using something that offends.

  2. I agree. I too find using the word “queer” to encompass all of us is less cumbersome than “LGBT” or “lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender.” And I also support the notion that we can take back use of that word which many have used as insult and make it ours again. I agree with the notion, and that it’s possible, and that it is time we did so.

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