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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » EXPERT ADVICE » Ask Scarleteen » defining Queer

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Author Topic: defining Queer
QuantumInc
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On this website and feministing.com I've seen a number of people call themselves queer. On one feministing blog there were several responses where people said "I'm not bisexual I'm queer!"

As I understand the word, the original definition is a synonym for strange, weird, odd. It also came to refer to homosexuals in the early 20th century. However the way I've seen it used confuses me. Sometimes it seems intentionally ambiguous. It's like the word is used to avoid defining one's sexuality. The wikipedia article on queer confirms this.

How do you define the term?

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QuantumInc
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Also the term 'genderqueer' has appeared in several places, it also confuses me.
Are these terms really intentionally ambiguous?
Do they have a precise definition that I'm not aware of?

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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I think it's safe to say that when we're talking about terms like "queer" and "genderqueer," that yes, in some respect, these are terms which are intentionally ambiguous. In other words, they're terms that tend to leave more latitude for a variance of identity and experience than say, "bisexual" (which is all about binary gender) or "male" or "female" (also binary).

People who ID as genderqueer tend to mean that they do not feel cisgendered or transgender, but outside the binary or are questioning their gender.

When most of us who ID as queer say that, what we most generally tend to mean is that our identity and experience is, seems or feels outside a lot of norms, and doesn't fit easily or well into other boxes. For example, I'm a person who does tend to ID with my orientation as queer. To give you the nutshell of my own sexual history and orientation so you can see why, I've dated men and women, at least one intersex partner that I know of (and given how many sexual partner I have had, potentially more than one), and a couple partners who ID'd as genderqueer or questioning when it comes to their gender. I've had times in my life when my attraction sphere was very broad, but then had other times when I was only attracted to women and people who ID'd as female. I also tend to be attracted to androgynous or butch people, but not attracted to femme in people of any gender.

So, I've certainly never been straight, I don't think I've ever been completely homosexual, nor does it make sense to say bisexual when my attraction clearly includes those who are not cisgendered men or women, and when my experiences of gender with myself and others also don't fit into the usual binaries or ideas about gender. Make sense?

Too? Sometimes, for sure, some of us don't want to have a pat definition for our sexual identity, and do resist that in how we identify, for any number of reasons.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Mortality
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oh, I didn't check what section thsi was posted in >< SORRY!

[ 05-17-2009, 09:32 AM: Message edited by: Mortality ]

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