TW: Q-slur used frequently.
Today I’ll be exploring why I prefer using the term queer. For those who don’t know, queer is an alternative umbrella term for the LGBTQ+ community. But it can also be used to define a specific identity, either with gender or sexuality. If you saw my 10 things about me video, you already know this. I am part of the queer community, thus why I’m talking about this.
Before I continue with this blog post, I want to explain a couple things about signing/fingerspelling this term. If you saw my 10 things video, you will have noticed I signed it as shown in the GIF below.
I like to sign it this way, because it’s simple and easily understood. This is how LGBTQ+ is signed in International Sign. It also doesn’t indicate which term I’m using – queer or LGBTQ+ (unless you’re reading my lips). For non-signers, LGBTQ+ is a little awkward to sign, but queer is easy to spell. Now signs aside, I’ll explain why I specifically like the term queer.
I understand that queer is a sensitive word for some, and is still used as a slur by some people. I can not emphasize this enough – DO NOT call someone queer unless they specifically tell you that you can call them queer. Rowan Ellis, a YouTuber, has a video explaining if queer is offensive or not, and a little more history behind the term. It’s captioned! Go watch the video after reading this post, or watch it now and come back, it’s up to you.
The point is: I want to reclaim this term, and make it into something more positive. For me, queer is more inclusive than LGBTQ+. I know the plus sign is supposed to represent everything that isn’t in the acronym, but that’s exactly why I have a problem with it. To me, it implies that people who are LGBTQ are more “important” than the rest, which is NOT the case! Unfortunately, it’s also a harsh reality that people who are BTQ+ are often forgotten about or excluded from many discussions about queer rights or the community. It’s much like feminism, where it’s often really white, straight, and able-bodied feminism. It’s not completely inclusive of people of color, disabled people, and queer people. Now, if we look at rights or pride for queer people, what do you tend to see it called? Gay pride. Gay rights. I know that’s not always the case, but it’s what often happens. And before anyone says, “but-but-but ‘gay’ can be used as an umbrella term too!” What’s the first thing you think of when you see the word gay? Yeah. And does everyone identify with this term? No, not everyone does.
Let’s go back to queer being a slur, and people saying that’s the exact reason why we shouldn’t use it. Honestly, my generation (Millennials) grew up not really seeing queer as an offensive term, used as a slur, or derogatory. The word we DID grow up with as being offensive, used as a slur, and derogatory: gay. I could give many examples on how this is a slur, but that’ll make this longer than it already is, so I won’t.
Moving on. Now I want to focus more specifically on the acronym, LGBTQ+. I’ll analyze it and pick it apart a little. People have argued a lot over this. Some feel more letters should be added for more inclusivity and others say no – it’s already getting out of hand, and it’s enough. The longest one I’ve seen is LGBTQIAPK+. Something like that. Yeah… See how queer is easier? But that’s not what I’m doing here, I’m focusing on the shorter one. This acronym is problematic because LGB (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual) are all sexualities, or sexual orientations. Essentially, what you’re attracted to sexually and/or romantically. The T stands for transgender, which is a gender, and is completely separate from sexuality. The Q can represent either Questioning or Queer. Questioning is when someone is unsure what they identify as and is in the process of figuring it out. It can be related to either sexuality or gender. Queer can be used as an identifier with either sexuality or gender, and the definition varies person to person. I know this can be confusing for those who don’t know this community well, so bear with me. Basically, you have three (or four) sexualities and one (or two) gender(s) in that acronym. Yes, these are the biggest (and most well known) groups in that community. But there are plenty of other large groups, such as non-binary people and pansexuals. Non-binary people exist or identify as outside of the sex/gender binary (which is male and female), being neither man and woman, or being only partially or a combination of these things. Pansexuals are capable of being attracted to any or all genders. And there are far many more!
Here’s another reason why the acronym is problematic. It implies that a person can identify with only one of the letters and none of of the others. But that’s not true at all. You can be trans and gay. You can be non-binary and bisexual. SOOOOO this is a roundabout way of basically saying that queer gets rid of all of those problematic implications.
Whew! That was a lot of information in one post! I hope you learned something. If you’re still confused, please feel free to contact me, and I’ll do my best to answer. Also please don’t depend on me for all of the information. Go and do your own research, do some learning on your own! I would recommend the book, The ABCs of LGBT+ by Ash Hardell. It’s a fantastic resource! You can find it pretty much anywhere – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. I actually got several of my definitions in this post from that book, so there you go! If I got anything wrong, please let me know. But also know that this was a very superficial touching on of a lot of different topics. Therefore, if I said something that doesn’t fit how you define something, it isn’t possible (or wise) to cram everything into one blog post. I plan to make a lot more in-depth posts on these topics. So let me know what y’all are interested in learning about! Thanks for reading, and see you next time!