The word “queer” has a hurtful history. In the past, people used it to disrespect and put down the LGBT community. However, nowadays, the word is used with pride by the LGBT community as a way of identification as part of the community. Before you use the word “queer” on someone, you want to ensure that they’re comfortable with it.
The LGBT community uses the word queer to describe people who aren’t cisgender or straight. Transgender, gay, lesbian, and bisexual people may identify with as gay. If you feel like your gender and sexuality is a little complicated, or that it may change over time, you may identify as queer. You may also identify as queer if your gender or sexual identity doesn’t squarely fit into identities such as gay, straight, female, or male.
Sometimes, people feel that the terms gay or lesbian may be too limiting. There are those who live within the gray areas of LGBTQ and thus feel the term queer is more apt.
Queer, an Umbrella Term
As we noted earlier, the term queer can be used by people who are not sure or comfortable about using a label. Young people who are just discovering their sexuality find that they’re more comfortable when they feel a sense of community around them. Fortunately, once you realize that sexuality and gender are quite fluid and aren’t written in stone, then you can use this term to identify yourself.
The word queer acknowledges that sexuality is fluid and ambiguous and it’s ok to embrace this nature. You don’t have to know what you are or who you are. And that’s ok.
When you think about this, you will see that queer refers to an intersection of identities. Other than lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, identifying as queer may mean you are asexual, intersex hence the term LBGTQIA+. The + sign may refer to pansexual or pangender identities or people in alternative relationship models such as non-monogamy, kink, swinging, or even polyamory. We can all celebrate our differences because of our individual uniqueness.
You can accept someone for who they are and they’ll accept you for who you are. There’s an aspect to the word “queer” that doesn’t allow people to be in isolation. Even though the word can be used by all members of the LGBTQIA+ community, it doesn’t specifically belong to one particular group.
Today, the use of the word queer is a celebration of reclamation. As we mentioned earlier, the word was previously used as a derogatory term. Using the word is like an affirmation of who you are and a realisation that you do not have to be like everyone else. It is an acknowledgement that we all have to celebrate our differences.
The word queer, is like a warning of sorts. That if you try to put people in any kind of box of who you require or need them to be, they will continue to break free.