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5 Reasons Why I Choose to Call Myself Queer

5 Reasons Why I Choose to Call Myself Queer

5 Reasons Why I Choose to Call Myself Queer

I’m here. I’m queer. Get used to it.

The word queer isn’t for everyone. Historically, it’s been used as a slur, and while some people have reclaimed it, it’s definitely not popular with everyone. I respect everyone’s right to use the words that work best for them when they’re describing their own identity, but personally, I’m a fan of this provocative little word.

And for many reasons.

1.) It's liberating to reclaim a word that has been used against me

Queer is a rough word for a lot of people. It’s been used against us, and I understand why everyone wouldn’t want to reclaim it. When I directly confront people who think there’s something weird or unnatural about who I am with confidence, I’m able to disrupt what they think they know about my sexual orientation or the way I live my life. I don’t have the shame they think I should have for being queer. In fact, I'm angry that they think I should be ashamed at all. I find it liberating to take a word that’s been used against me and say, "Yeah, I am queer. You got a problem with that?"

A pamphlet titled "Queers Read This" that was distributed by Queer Nation at the 1990 New York Gay Pride Parade sums up this thought, stating: "Well, yes, 'gay' is great. It has its place. But when a lot of lesbians and gay men wake up in the morning we feel angry and disgusted, not gay. So we've chosen to call ourselves queer. Using 'queer' is a way of reminding us how we are perceived by the rest of the world."

2.) I have no desire to make homophobes more comfortable

There are a lot of people who "tolerate" LGBTQ+ people without actually accepting us for who we are. They’re the kind of people who wouldn’t vote to ban same-sex marriage, but think it’s inappropriate when they see a queer couple kissing on the street, or get uncomfortable when they meet a transgender person who doesn’t "pass" as cisgender and doesn’t care. They would probably be more comfortable if I identified as a lesbian, or even as bisexual.

I don’t feel the need to make people who barely tolerate me more comfortable. I also don’t think softening and reshaping my sexual orientation to fit more comfortably into a dominant straight culture is going to win them over.

3.) I am what people are threatened by when they use the word "queer" against me, and I’m more than okay with that

To me, queer means more than who I partner with. It means having relationships that don’t adhere to the traditional gender roles in heterosexual relationships, regardless of the gender of my partners. It means I support marriage benefits being expanded to all domestic partners, whether they’re in a monogamous or non-monogamous relationship. It means that I consciously choose to surround myself and work with other people in the LGBTQ+ community over heterosexual and cisgender people, because I deeply value those relationships in my life.  I choose to use queer to describe myself politically as much as I do to describe my sexual orientation.

4.) It’s the most accurate way to describe my sexual orientation (Or: No everyone knows what pansexual means)

I’m attracted to and date people of all genders. I could, like many people who are attracted to two or more genders, identify as bisexual, but I find that a little limiting. I could call myself pansexual too, but I like queer best. To me, queer reaffirms that whether I’m in a relationship with a woman, a non-binary person, or a man, my relationships are not straight.

5) It reminds me that we’re all in this together

There isn’t a perfect umbrella term. LGBT leaves out people who don’t identify with those four letters, and adding letters quickly turns into alphabet soup. Personally, I prefer queer as an umbrella term.

It reminds me that the people who use "queer" in a derogatory way often see all of us the same way, and even though different identities have different struggles, we have a common bond. It reminds me that if we all work together and support the unique battles we all have to fight we can actually win. 

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Cassie Sheets