Some people in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community are adapted to using the acronym “G.L.B.T” to describe their community. While there isn’t anything particularly wrong with using such a slogan it hardly rolls off the mouth and still remains an exclusive label to many who do not fit into the heterosexist world. This is why many individuals have chosen the word “Queer” instead. Whereas “GLBT” is elitist to those who do not identify as such and cumbersome when more letters are added to inclusion, Queer is short and to the point: not straight? Come on in!
Back during the early nineties the group Queer Nation popularized the word and gave it the jumpstart it needed to become a reclamation movement. In their manifesto they had a short segment which explains some of their logic of choosing such a word…
“Queer, unlike GAY, doesn’t mean MALE. And when spoken to other gays and lesbians it’s a way of suggesting we close ranks, and forget (temporarily) our individual differences because we face a more insidious common enemy. Yeah, QUEER can be a rough word but it is also a sly and ironic weapon we can steal from the homophobe’s hands and use against him.”
I believe their reasoning is solid. They understood the necessity of having a universal identifier and decided to put in the effort to grab the word back from the hands of the queerphobes (you see what I did there).
The value of having such a word is also revealed when a comrade of mine was verbally attacked by a self-identified Lesbian who misunderstood the word. My friend’s response to this woman’s cries is worth reading…
“[B]igots use any word associated with non-heterosexuality or non-cisgender as insults. It is not solely the word ‘queer’. They use ‘homosexual/homo’, ‘faggot/fag’, and as you even pointed out ‘lesbian’. You introduced yourself as a ‘lesbian’ so clearly even though bigots use the term as an insult, it doesn’t cause you to stop using it. Should any homosexual person stop referring to themselves as a ‘homosexual’ because bigots try to use it as a hateful word? Why is the term ‘queer’ any different? The only thing that is different about ‘queer’ and “homosexual” is that ‘queer’ refers to all of us as a community, while “homosexual” refers to only a particular section of that community.
I prefer ‘queer’ because it helps break the barriers in our own community. Instead me knowing you as a lesbian female and you knowing me as a pan-sex male, we should be able to view each other as the same; as ‘queers’. We are all in the struggle together, whether that be homosexuals, bi-sexuals, pan-sexuals, transexuals, etc. and the term that can be used to describe us all as [one] community is ‘queer’.”
As demonstrated above Queer is a more progressive term. It leaves behind the exclusion many face, it is simple and light-weight, and shows the world the unity we queers share as an oppressed community.