The word “queer” has a complex history. With a literal meaning of “unusual, strange, or odd,” people used queer as a pejorative towards members of the LGBT community in the late 19th century. It was specifically used for men who acted effeminate. However, starting in the 1980s, members of the LGBT community began reclaiming the word. Today, the word queer no longer has a hateful connotation. For that, you can thank the LGBT community.
Queer is a powerful word, and here are 6 reasons you should use it more.
The word queer is inclusive for all members of the LGBT community. As the LGBT community grows to recognize all genders and sexualities, a word to reflect the community’s diverse membership is desperately needed. The most inclusive acronym currently in use is LGBTQQIAAP (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Allies, and Pansexual), but that still leaves out many genders and sexualities (and is ridiculously long).
2. The un-label-y-ist of labels
Labels can be harmful, especially for those of us who don’t feel as though we neatly fit into any label. Having the word queer as an umbrella term for all sexualities and genders helps to solve the problem. It also accurately describes sexuality as fluid, which it is for many people.
3. Power in being reclaimed
There is great power in taking a word that once was hurtful and making it our own. It’s a feat of the LGBT community, and one in which we should take great pride.
4. Necessary for those questioning
Some of us knew we were part of the LGBT community from a very early age. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all of us. Having a term that, for lack of better words, keeps our options open as we question and discover our genders and sexual identities can be liberating. It allows us to explore without feeling confined.
5. Breaks down binaries
The belief in sexual and gender binaries is one of the biggest and most harmful fallacies for members of the LGBT community. It perpetuates biphobia, panphobia and queerphobia. Having an inclusive term that’s non-binary helps dispel misconceptions about gender and sexuality. It can be a powerful tool in combating LGBT phobias.
6. Unites the LGBT community
Despite being one community, there are still hostility and misconceptions between subgroups of the LGBT community. While we should celebrate our differences in gender and sexuality, we must remember that we are still part of a larger community. The word queer unites us.