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?