why I use queer

I find the older I get, the more I have come to appreciate language. My mom, my sister and my beloved are all word nerds.

As with the church world and its own special brand of ‘christian-ese‘, it seems every tribe and subculture has its own way of speaking, its own language, and it is not any different in queer culture. Queer language can tend to focus on sex and words to describe, attract, acquire it. However, being on the outside looking in, trying to understand, even the most normal, widely-used, simple terms tend to get misunderstood. An example came across my facebook page this week. A bad tweet from the LA Times, set the twitterverse on fire with tweets announcing (INCORRECTLY) that Prop 8 had been overturned. I of course retweeted, in kneejerk (dumbass I might add) fashion, and then learned of the mistake seconds later. So, I updated again and deleted the tweet. A friend, based on what I just written, asked what I was talking about. I was confused by her confusion. I thought I was so clear.

It got me to thinking. What words do I use as an insider to the queer community that mainline Josie Anyone find confusing or offputting? How can I clearly articulate universal themes like love, compassion, generousity, and justice when talking about my tribe?

Queer is one of those words that has a long history of rage, hate, violence and oppression behind it. It also has a brighter side: Scottish in origin, it meant “strange, peculiar, eccentric.” (Ok, to me this sounds brighter–I SO hear myself in these words.) In looking around on the interwebs, trying to understand the various (because the community is nothing if not various) opinions on this word. Here, a gay man explains how it should not be used. Here is an article I LOVE, sort of going on and on, a sort of inner brain talking to oneself ramblng of all of the possibilities of the word, its history, its present and past.

But the title of this post is why do I, me, Rachel, use the word queer. Not Sally, Joel or Sammy. Me.

Here it is. I am queer because I am connected to a larger story of a community of people that have been to often oppressed and misunderstood. Although I identify as bi-sexual, my heart, longing and passion for the rights (and joy to live a free and honest and happy life) for my gay, lesbian, trans-_________, intersex, allys, bi-gendered, questioning, and on and on and on the labeling goes (where it stops nobody knows) is endless. I use queer because in it I am bound to a larger community of people for whom deserve to love and be loved. I find the word to be radically inclusive, wildly open and that is why I use it.

What about you? Where you at with this word?

6 thoughts on “why I use queer

  1. Thanks for this.

    I currently would feel really uncomfortable using this word…it sounds like a derogatory term to me and I’d be afraid of offending someone.

    I’ll be listening…

  2. Hey MB! Perhaps its an insider term? I am not sure. I have such a hard time with the alphabet soup (GLBTQIA) as warm and open. I am listening too. 🙂

  3. This is one word in my hag stages and even now I have just kind of gotten “itchy” around. Not as to why. Its just a label among many of labels. Reading your post was probably the first time I had a settled feeling on it. When I was married and going to an LGBTQA (as you, where it stops nobody knows) support group (kind of funny to say that) there were a couple of people who identified as “queer”. Their reasoning was a “stick it to th man” attitude. I’m not exactly that hippy-granola, PETA, Itty Bitty Titty Committee girl. (although a ‘hippy femme’ in other ways) So for me I just didn’t feel a warm feeling or a connected feeling to it.

    I kind of interchange between “gay” and “lesbian”. However, neither truly sit with me. I think mostly because its a label. One label. That is one side of me, however large it maybe. Its just like calling myself a “Christian”. I get antsy at saying that because of the power it brings to people. Good and bad. So for me, I toy between gay and lesbian. Which out of them both lesbian has never been my fave. So I play with it in certain settings. When I’m hyper and goofy I’m a “lesbo”, when I’m feeling sexy and flirting with my gf I’m a “femme” and when she and I are joking I’m a “futch”. (I’m realizing I’m throwing all kinds of ‘family terms now’ LOL) I’m a light hearted person. My sexuality for a large part of the time is serious, because of my circumstance,ect. So I try to find ways to not take it seriously, to enjoy it and celebrate it. Much the same I do with being a “christian”/Christ follower.

    Ok, have I rambled enough? LOL

  4. I too, struggle with labels. I normally stay away from them. And queer is not the only term / word I want to take apart either. But I have so enjoyed reading peoples reactions, and ideas about the word — both for against and ambivalent, that I really wanted to bring my thoughts (and encourage yours) here.

    Love your ramblings Jules.

  5. hehehehehehe….thank you. 😉

    I’m glad you posted this. I think it is something that you never think about from the “outside” because for the most part our “inner labels” don’t get spoken of “out there”. Talking about it in a realm for understanding is awesome. It is also helpful for us to ask ourselves what we are truly saying when we use these “labels”. I think for some of us in the LGBTQ we never question them or what they mean to others, if anything. And it seems our words and terms continue to grow to fit how fluid sexuality is. 🙂

    so thank you for the spot to ramble about something sometimes I don’t even give thought to.

  6. Personally I don’t like labels. You are you and I am me. I love, you love. We all love.

    If you like queer – use it. Of course I am not your typical human.

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