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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Identity » "Queer"?

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Author Topic: "Queer"?
Member # 56775

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Hi everyone, I'm not sure if this is in the right section, if not I apologize and if you wouldn't mind moving it where it belongs I'd really appreciate it [Smile]

I was wondering about the use of the phrase "queer" on place of "lesbian", "gay", "bisexual" or other such terms. I know "queer" is more of a umbrella term, but I've also heard that some LGBT members don't like that phrase, but I never fully understood why.

Would anyone mind explaining this word for me? I respect people who do not believe in labels, but I'm someone who likes having a word to use to describe certain things about myself. (Too often I ramble on about something to explain it, so it's so much easier for me to at least have a word to go along with it)

I identify as bisexual right now, but it's new to me, and it sounds so final (even though I know I can change that if I want, and I really need to just gain experience as well before making that title to "official", but right now, that's how it feels to me, seeing as I've been attracted to males, and have recently found myself attracted to females as well) But I was thinking about the term "queer" instead, but I don't fully understand it's implications and such things. Could someone explain it for me?


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Saffron Raymie
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Some people don't like the term 'queer' because it used to be a homophobic insult for gay people, and occassionally is still used that way by some. It was also a term used by straight people to describe something they didn't quite understand, as it 'well...she's a bit...urm....queer' (as queer also means out of the ordinary). Which again, is very homophobic, but it was said when people weren't sure of the right word for a bisexual or gay person.

Some people have reclaimed the word and use it to describe a more fluid sexuality, because of its already implied uncertainty. If, at a moment in time, a person likes women, but a few weeks ago they like men, then the next week the like people without a gender identity; queer might feel like the best fit - because of the fluidity of the feelings.

'Queer' tends to mean 'anywhere on the orientation spectrum' - an umbrella term, as you said - and is a more floaty term than gay, bisexual or lesbian. Some people also feel that 'gay, bisexual or lesbian' don't really fit their sexuality (which is perfect, when 'queer' means 'out of the ordinary' in general speech, and out of the narrow constraints of 'gay, bisexual, lesbian' in sexuality); as some people they're attracted to have no gender idenity or have a fluid one that changes - or gender just isn't a factor in who they're attracted to. This is the same reason people use 'Pansexual' (meaning attracted to all genders, as there are many more than two) - but for some, 'queer' feels like a better fit because it's more fluid and floaty than pansexual, and can allow for a person to like women more for a while, and then people without gender more, then to more androgenous people, and then back to feeling more pansexual. Does that make sense?

[ 06-08-2012, 06:20 AM: Message edited by: Rei ]

'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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Member # 61437

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I really like this as an explanation of queer, and its really the reason I tend to use it as my label? Because I-like-men-and-women-and-sometimes-people-who-aren't-really-either-but-not-always-sexually-and-sometimes-in-a-demisexual-way-and-I've-only-other-dated-men-and-I-know-that-bi-as-a-f emale-holds-a-lot-of-stigma-for-those-who-date-'heterosexually-so-my-label-is-long-and-hyphenated is.. long and hyphenated. Hope that helps some [Smile]

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Hey Ohana, I think I remember coming across a little bit that same resistance from the LGBT community to the word queer too. And it made me sad because I thought it had solved a lot of problems for me so I was like "Yay! Magic Word!"... It was a lot simpler to explain than "LGBTTQQIAAX", it allowed for a lot of flexibility and it was a cool way of thinking about sexuality for me to have discovered.

I think sadly, some of the tension comes from the queer idea that sexual identities aren't so clear and that they can change and of course that the categories are themselves made up by (even if useful for) us. And I think for some people the idea of being gay, being born gay and it being a hard biologically unique state of being (think lady gaga: "I was born this way"), that concept seems like a threat... but also from my experience there can be a perceived threat of those who like self-describing as queer accusing LGBT folks of having a sexual identity that's not 'real', attacking their identities etc etc...

I remember trying to start a group and calling it a queer culture discussion group at university. We were so disorganised we didn't even last and had maybe 4 discussions about books and tv, and yet the rumours from all over our LGBT community got to me that apparently there was an army of radical queers trying to take over and there had apparently been a load of drama and arguments... whereas really that was us, and we were just a few disorganised students who had hardly any contact with anyone but each-other for the whole thing, let alone any exciting arguments! So yeah I think the idea of queer identifying people can be a bit scary for some!

[ 06-09-2012, 06:34 PM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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