Why Use Queer?


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.

17 thoughts on “Why Use Queer?

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  1. As a younger person I’m uncomfortable with the word queer. Homosexual is a real descriptor of an actual innate trait of a person’s identity, his/her sexual orientation. Queer, on the other hand, describes nothing real or innate but just an impermanent state of mind. Also, I dislike it because it is offensive and also ideologically-charged.

  2. Sure, the word “queer” can be offensive, but reclaiming it is as important as the black community reclaiming the word “nigger” and the Asian community reclaiming the word “slants.” Words carry emotional connotations. Changing those connotations can be painful.

    My suggestion? Suck it up. Change is never easy.

  3. I am bisexual and male so I have no dog in this fight since neither gay or straight people in any way shape or form have welcomed me at all. Due to bisexual erasure and the fact that I do have an aspect of me that is both gay and straight and we are all over both “queer spaces” and hetero spaces.

    I think the ableist tone to this really takes away from the fact that people suffer from actual PTSD from beatings and assault due to hearing that word. Many people with that diagnosis suffer from flashbacks so it’s worth noting. Plus, in the case of bisexuals, our struggle is different in the sense that whether or not anyone likes it, we are in both worlds and also in neither in many ways. You are too stuck in your own bubble to understand that place though.

    One jab I used to hear was that I was a fence rider, switch hitter and/or such a pervert, I am not “even a real queer”. Also, queerness isn’t empowering when you choose to place heterosexuality in the position of superiority. I luckily had goth/punk in the mid-late 90s to have a space that us bisexuals as well as trans people were welcome when gay and lesbian people were nasty and rude to us.

    I mean, if I am bashing homophobes and playing their game to be feared in their space because I was outed younger and beat my way out of problems and worked my way up the ladder in hetero spaces with what I had available then I out queered queerness. Because I terrorized straight people when I suddenly became popular once the Marilyn Manson boom and the angsty kids made the goth/punk scene trendy. I am on that borderline of Gen Xer and Millennial so I guess I agree with some of the sentiment and am underwhelmed with some of the other aspects of it.

    This community discourages original thought and doesn’t accept anyone that doesn’t want to conform to pinkwashed crap. I personally am pro-bisexual (a large umbrella of labels, in some queer applies and in others it is rejected) so I see myself as outside of this. I don’t fear heterosexuals and I am more than happy to respond with violence to anyone threatening my life and safety. Queer means strange or weird and I don’t care, no hetero is going to make me feel less than or unwelcome when by definition nor will I let some gay, I mean queer cisgendered male try to order me around. I bashed the same counterparts you did nothing about in high school. I only date bisexual people anyhow and many of us share this sentiment.

    We could be a bigger asset than your exclusionary group is willing to own. But go on, attack, attack, attack like you seem to do with every comment here even though I agree that when it comes to overlap, we do share a responsibility. But years of feeling like the help while you all got yours and bi people still don’t exist in many spaces nor are our unique differences respected. This kind of erases a lot of people who still aren’t quite where gay and lesbian people are. Glad you got yours but don’t call me and mine family.

  4. You explain this like it is all settled and ok. It isn’t I find Queer and even Gay offensive. Always have, even when I was very political in my early years.
    like you I also believe there should be a word to describe everyone in the community. But queer is not the word. The very fact many people find it offensive is a perfect reason to stop using it and also to stop arrogantly explaining how good it is to own the word. it is not good because many people are offended, it doesn’t get any clearer than that. If someone offended you with a slur you would be upset. This is a slur when you use it ok! It is not something any person should be justifying with small history lectures and explanations that word meanings change. Get over the lecturing attitude. The word doesn’t work, so many people are offended and many arrogant people keep saying is is all ok to use.
    I can see how many young people can be attracted to the word. It sounds fun, it is “awesome” to use, and they have not had a history of the word being used to say they are abnormal. They like being political from a distance and this is a way of sounding radical, or they are not really giving it much thought and going along with an accepted norm.
    I never thought in a million years the slogan “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” would sound like it is being used against me, as to say to use of the word “Queer” is fine so get used to it. I always thought it was used against bigot’s. But now when I recall that chant it feels directed at me and many people like me that hate the word by people that consider themselves in authority or having a voice in the community. Well don’t decide for me ok! The meaning of the word has not changed it means “odd, not quite right, different from the norm. Well I would like you to know I am not “queer” I am perfectly normal and fine thank you and not different or separate from society at large. I am part of the whole human experience not separate as in queer and don’t tell me it has changed meaning and it is ok to use the word.
    I am offended by the word “Queer” and offended by your explanations about why it is ok to use. You should also know I am quite comfortable with my sexuality and have been for 40 years. I didn’t get this far and survive so many obstacles in life just to roll over and use a derogatory term to describe myself.
    If we all agree there should be a simple word to describe the diverse community of people then get on it, figure it out, but stop using spin on me to accept the “Q” word.

    1. Hello Brian,

      I will try and hit on all of your points, but wish to do so without recourse to overly long explanations, so my curt replies will direct and I hope you will not misinterpret them as hostility, sarcasm or the like. So, let’s get into it.

      (1) My tone is one of detached perspective. It is formal. Academic. Whether that comes off as lecture-y I guess is undeniable since that is the general thrust of academic writing. However, it is still, at the end of the day, my opinion, like the usage of the word Queer. I would just mention that because my tone is that of a lecture does not mean that I value it above another opinion or believe it to be superior. Sometimes there is overlap, to be sure, but in this case it is just tone, not that I see myself as so much more enlightened than anyone who disagrees.

      (2) You repeatedly referenced being comfortable with your sexuality and relating it to the usage of Queer. All though there is a strain of thought which attempts to rehabilitate ‘Queer’ from the vantage point of making people comfortable with their sexuality, I think that this misses the point. At least today, the issue is not about reclaiming as much as it is an umbrella term, as previously said (since, after all, the reclaiming has been done, for the most part). So, the issue is not that we cannot be well with ourselves without using Queer but that it serves a higher purpose.

      (3) I think you do not fully understand why the current generation uses Queer. I am sure some people do use it because it sounds ‘fun’ or ‘awesome’ but if that is the case, I have certainly not met them. Many seem to use it either because of ideological reasons (such as my usage or when it was original made to reclaim an idea), or because it was inherited; it seems like many young people today would use it because they perhaps heard it in an academic setting, or because it is a world alien to them that they heard from an activist means not straight. And they are okay in using that word to describe ‘not straight’ because to them…

      (4) the word ‘queer’ means nothing. The current generation’s insult was ‘faggot.’ When they hear ‘queer’ it is just white noise. They can’t associate it with anything. I guess this is where temporality comes into play: words change with time because the materiality surrounding those words changes. ‘Queer’ was associated with the militant activism of the 90s and was part of an ideological campaign against heterosexism. The reason for the choosing of this word is clear and you have already spelled it out– because ‘Queer’ means different, odd, it was selected; against your liberal humanism, gay, or homosexual, men and women are not ‘like the rest of humanity.’ We are different.

      We do not add to the surplus-population and so do not contribute to the reserve industrial army which keeps wages low. We do not conform to the bourgeois sentimentality of the nuclear family because we do not contribute, in a direct way, to the patriarchy and because we cannot produce future workers. Yes, we may be human but we are not ‘like them’ and to ignore this grievous difference is to succumb to an anti-materialist idealism.

      This difference needs to be embraced. Otherwise, we loathe ourselves since we do not contribute to the decaying regime of hetero-patriarchy. This self-hate has proven deadly, as the case of the recent Orlando massacre indicates (the shooter has appeared to frequent the bar and likely was homosexual himself). Pretending that we are simply one big happy family while ignoring the contradictions between sections, socioeconomic groups, and classes– and how those classes and groups and the rest interact on a material, productive level– leads to incidents like Orlando.

      What can we do as a community if we cannot even bear to embrace a word, to reclaim its painful connotations and usher it towards a new horizon? Many things, perhaps; and maybe one of those things could be finding a new umbrella term (though, this late in the language-game it seems unlikely) as, as with any reclaiming operation, it always falls prey to ‘just one more word’ (as reactionaries invent new words to belittle the oppressed, and as progressives reclaim those words, what happens is a never ending cycle where nothing gets done).

      So, I think the issue is less with how a word makes us feel in the short term and more in just deciding on a word to use which encompasses a wide community. ‘Queer’ means nothing to me. ‘Faggot’ does, however. But though it does, and though I may feel uncomfortable in the future when a new generation starts to reclaim that word for use in a specific context, I know to not let is emotionally sway my judgement because there is more important issues at play then this very base incarnation of political correctness; issues like housing, healthcare, education and the like. Settling on a word enables us to define and articulate a mode of behavior which opposes the heteronormative because it requires us to examine ourselves as people and write how we live, how we work, and how we have struggled; that history, of course, is different from the heterosexual in a fundamental way, one which strikes deep into the heart of capitalism as a mode of production.

      You say you do not want to have your word of choice decided for you. Fine. But we do not get what we want under capitalism, much less in the struggle to surmount it for something better. Deciding for yourself requires both struggle but also the willingness to concede for the greater good. I feel that simply choosing a word, a word, like Queer, which if stuck with, will eventually be uncontested in its definition of the non-hetero, and will ultimately allow a better means of facilitating an identity as a group. Is this set in stone? No. The ruling class are experts at recuperation and ideology; perhaps a different word will be needed, one which better articulates identities and performances of gender and sexuality, but that is for the future to decide, and right now, I feel that ‘Queer’ has some potential. Not perfect potential, obviously, but something which could help.


      1. You know I wish I had the energy to slog through your reply. Muddying the water can often make it seem deep but no mater how much intellectualizing you apply to a word that simply has a negative connotation is not going to change the fact that the word means,
        odd, strange, unusual, funny, peculiar, curious, bizarre, weird, uncanny, freakish, eerie, unnatural. A mess of terms, some tame and some offensive but mostly with a negative slant. I am part of society at large a diverse society. Hmmm perhaps “DIV” The (Diverse Inclusive Voice) might be a good term to use. Who knows, I feel something is needed.
        Recently I made the point that I do not identify as queer to a queer festival organizer. My artwork is being shown at a gallery and the Queer arts festival decided to include the show in its upcoming events and label my art as queer art. I was not consulted. All of a sudden I am part of a Queer Arts Festival. I am an Artist, not a queer artist.
        The individual I made my point to just kept smiling and assertively chatting on about her events and did not acknowledge my comment at all. I don’t think she really understood that some people do not identify as queer and find it an offensive term but if she did she avoided the subject badly. She buried the conversation in rhetoric about the festival and her involvement in queer arts.
        It is like a bulldozer pushing a sugar coating over all that disagree. Mostly I am confronted with the use of the word queer from people in a more political and organizational realm. Then there are people that disagree, like many posting here. But the problem is the overwhelming move forward by community organizations and politically motivated people. It often feels like their voice is louder because they are advertising and organizing events and build up a word speak that sticks. Something we all have to live with. I find these decisions from the political side of the community are decided upon from an over zealous energy. The fact that many people do not like the word queer is enough to question it heavily and to question the motivation and mechanics that lead some to decide that this is ok or fine and that we should move on and maybe “get used it”.
        But I am at reaching the point of bogging you down with my rhetoric now. But lets be clear, queer is not a changed word, because many, old or young, use it does not change it. Intellectualizing it and bogging the word queer down with a mass of reasons why it should be accepted just sounds like a lot of effort to convince on some higher level that this is ok. The “N” word is not a changed word owning that is not ok but I bet you can find people giving intellectual reasons why it is ok. It still means what it means, no modern usage of the word is changing the past definition and meaning. You can’t sugar coat the “N” word. I would be blasted and offend so many if I tried. To try and do the same with the word queer is offensive to me.
        We have added so many labels to everything. Bears, otters, twinks, list goes on. On social sites terms like “no bugs” and “be clean” offend so many people that are HIV. But people do it and don’t think twice because hey everyone does it.
        If I went to my friends house and in front of their kids called them Breeders and was relentless about it all night long to the point of being offensive I am sure some comment would be made. If I decided to give reasons why it is ok and say it is normal ignoring their discomfort it would only make it worse.
        So in this diverse community we have we can’t afford to offend and label each other indiscriminately. There has to be a better way.

        1. Brian,

          Replying to your humanism does not take any great leap of intellectualizing. It simply means dispelling your humanist dogma; an easy, trite thing to do. Something which you would know had you actually considered my reply.

          I am confused as to why you were surprised that your art was labelled ‘queer’ at what you are describing as a self-described Queer art festival. Of course at a queer art festival you can expect queer art; what else kind of art would there be? Hetero-art? No, of course not. When you submit art to a queer art festival, as a gay man or lesbian woman, you need to understand why it is called queer art– because it is art that is different, art that challenges the heteronormative social convention and empowers where it once belittled. That is the function of art at a queer art festival because it is art which is, by its very nature, singled out from the crowd. If it was simply called “art,” as I imagine you would like it to be, then people would not know how to react to it or what its purpose was to be; this is why distinctions between art exist, why we say ‘modern art’ and ‘street art’ to differentiate two very different styles rather than simply labeling everything as ‘art’ and hope the masses understand the difference without the aesthetic image.

          Of course, this argument still stands if you submitted art to a simple arts festival that included hetero-art; all the more important for it to be called queer art in order to make the fullest impact possible. Whether you like to admit it or not, there is, in fact, a difference between queer and hetero art, just as there is a difference between queer and non-queer persons; it is up to you, though, to educate yourself on why noticing this difference is important.

          All though you have a point about how the queer community classifies itself with how labels can define who a person is before they even have a chance to articulate it, we need to understand that ‘queer’ is a different label because it does have a lot of baggage. It is not like Twink or bear, it does not politicize; with those terms, you have ambiguity. Additionally, to an extent, you have space since its non-literal meaning will not interest heterosexuals. But queer, that means something more and delineates a group as a whole, regardless of their body image or health status; from this politicization comes the ability to argue for new ideas and new societies, new formulations for how to live and organize ourselves since the word– the sign– connotes different realities then the present. That is why reactionaries love using it so much, because they are fond at highlighting this difference, and because they have their own political agenda in mind, one which involves mass-violence against anyone who is not a cis-heterosxual.

          But, you lack a full idea.

          Yeah, if I constantly refereed to my friends as Breeders, it may annoy them, but it does not have the same oomph behind it as faggot does today. It lacks the history of violence and oppression which other words do so, for them, it will only ever be anything other than a mild berating, one which cannot be equated to slurs which do have a violent history behind them. This is also why reclaiming words with a violent history is so important– because it denies the reactionary mind a weapon, at least temporarily; this is in force with the N-word; Black people have reclaimed the N-word and you see them using it a great deal when among themselves; in fact, it even enjoys a second life, as an altered edgy word used primarily by privileged white boys, as ‘Nigga.’ It is everywhere in the social vocabulary and paying attention to its usage will tell you a lot about that person or group, and to what end they are organizing toward. Which, if we want to being it back to my final point, is the reason why you see many politically active people using Queer, because they have a praxis built around that word, hence why the festival organizer arranged you art to be included in the queer section, because her ideology and worldview, includes a method of examination that classifies, order, and synthesizes a politics built around a dichotomy between the hetero and non-hetero. If you wish to challenge that, then you yourself need to organize; and if you do, do not be surprised if your vocabulary will reflect your politics, whatever your personal opinion may be.

          I severely doubt that there is a better way. As I said before, Queer has been a round for a while and it will only become more entrenched as time go on and new generations become immune to any and all hateful baggage which the word as to some. To say that there is a better way, is to demand a fresh start and erase many years of progress and politics because a reactionary segment of an aging generation disagrees. It is neither democratic nor very helpful. I have never seen an argument against using queer which was well reasoned, but if one exists, then I am open to listening to it if it espouses a politics which demands what the ruling class has deemed ‘impossible’ (meaning, a critique of heteronormativity that does not erase the history of non-heterosexuals and non-cis people).

          1. My art has nothing to do with gay, queer straight or any label. The term was attached without me explaining or even any study or knowledge of content or even communication with me about who I am. It was being shown PRIOR (as I mentioned) to the queer event then was labeled queer art once the show coincided with the queer event. I didn’t say I was surprised but I am just making a point that it is not queer art just “art” and for a group to label it queer art seemed presumptuous. So had I entered it in a queer art show and then complained then you could say “what did you expect” but i didn’t enter it.
            I understand all you are writing about in length. There is no need to reiterate all that I have learned over the last 61 years of me being on this planet. I do not need to be told to “educate myself” or that I “lack a full idea”. Expressing the full emotional experience I have had within these posts can’t be done and to explain in full my reasons for my choices also can’t. It is wrong to assume I need the information when I have experienced most of it and lived it. I have been to all the bars and events, raised funding for many groups, held the hand of a friend as he died of AIDS and experienced the death of many more. I have mentored young people and pointed them in the direction of solid help when the only direction they had were bars. Lived the good times and the bad and experienced them all with deep emotion. I am an individual and choose my path. I no longer live within any community or label myself I never have. I do not think about my sexuality much. Days and weeks go by without thinking about being part of a gay or queer community. I just live life. But once in awhile I am confronted by the labels others create and I am pulled into a situation where I am challenged to be part of a label. The biggest one now is “senior” and it is ok, people will call me that. But I have never labeled myself anything, even as gay, even in the crazy 70’s when there were 25 gay bars in this town compared to the 5 now. I never labeled myself in the 80’s when the AIDS situation solidified a Queer identity. Later When my number was called regarding AIDS it was a struggle to heal but I did because of some amazing human beings. I have always seen myself as part of humanity as a whole not part of a sub group that is different. I am not different from other humans except in my point of view talents which make me an individual. If I am labeled queer, or gay by others. I will probably point out I do not identify that way. I don’t have to and many people I meet understand that, get it and they also do not identify or make a point of identifying as gay, queer ….. or whatever.
            To some it might be important . But to get through my day I do not have to identify my self. I have covered all the ground you post about, I have seen it, lived it and understood what is best for me. I don’t need you to explain it to me or assume you need to. I don’t need explanations about non hetero and hetero, non queer and queer.

            Anyway enough!

            Now I have to head out with the kids (that “surplus-population” you mentioned)

            It is car free day today on the drive and they desperately need faces painting so off to find face painters.
            Signing off. Bye

            1. All Art has to do with its material origins; all artists, consciously or not, utilize their personal histories in their art. It may not be a large extant to you, but I would be greatly surprised if there was no influence.

              You misunderstand what I meant by ‘surplus-population.’ Seeing as how you chose not to elaborate upon how you supposedly know, in depth, everything about what I am talking about, I am not surprised, though will look forward to a time should you decide to explicitly write on your engagement with the theory I am speaking of; or, about your liberal humanism and why you think individualism is more productive then collectivized action.

  5. I’d rather just think that all of us are in one category…people. I try not to differentiate between groups because I’m not smart enough. All I know is what’s been taught through the years; I try to practice acceptance. However, the word Queer is just too loaded, it seem very wrong to use in conversation just as I would never use the word faggot. Reclaiming words is fine and I get the concept especially from those on the front lines, but if you’re watching from a distance it’s very difficult to understand.

    1. Hello, Jeffrey: (1) I would not self-deprecate; it is not that you lack the intelligence to differentiate, rather, differentiating between segments within groups takes a a willingness to learn and understand those groups, a a process which takes times and willingness. (2) For that reason it is why refusing to differentiate leads to ill-practice in both theory as well as action, for one cannot believe that trans men and women face the same kind of oppression as, say, gay men and women– there is variances and to disregard these variations of oppression will be to make mistakes in the liberation struggle itself, both in how forces are accumulated as well as in how struggle is conducted. (3) Language changes. I can understand why people from certain generations find the word ‘Queer’ to be disrespectful, because it reminds them of a terrible time in their youth, and to hear the word being spoken of as a good thing in both activist circles and the academia, is a disorienting thing. However, this was an old argument even during the 90s when groups like ‘Queer Nation’ and ‘Act-Up’ fully embraced the word as a tool to fight back. Today, with the word of choice among the bigots being ‘faggot,’ and ‘Queer’ being, more or less, fully reclaimed, it seems to me a waste of time to mourn over what, to some, is an unfortunate choice of linguistics. The issue, therefore, does not lie with those on the intellectual and activist ‘inside,’ but rather with those on the ‘out.’

    1. Words change over time. This is perhaps the number one rule of semiotics. Nothings in this world lacks the ability to intensify and everything has the possibility of changing into the opposite, and so it is for language. I’m not trying to erase the fact that “queer” was used widely to denigrate Gay kids years ago or to mitigate the severity of that bullying. But the fact remains that reclaiming the word “queer” has been both an empowering initiative for a new generation of activists, those which persons like yourself tend to leave out of the discussion, as well as a more inclusive term which touches on Bisexuality, Transgender and Transsexuality, Asexuality and others. Society should not remain stagnant simply because there was a moment when a wordy was used nastily to oppress.

      1. While I respect your opinion, it’s flawed. It infuriates me when the younger generation just brushes aside elders thoughts simply because of their age. Yes, times change, but drawing a “age” line in the sand is a cruel slap in the face to every gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender person that doesn’t fit in the Millennial bracket. Everyone’s thoughts and opinions matter regardless of your age. It is so narrow minded and insulting, I think I’d rather be called a faggot than be spoken down to by the likes of people like you.

        I’m a proud Gen Xer (just celebrated my 42nd birthday this month) and I am far from dead. I grew up in the southern portion of the United States and growing up words like “faggot” and “queer” were interchangeable, they were hate words. And they still and in the south. So forgive me if I do not, as a bi-sexual man, welcome this “label” with open arms.

        1. All of you Gen-Xers sound exactly the same. It is almost like we grow up in specific material realities which influence our lives and those who surround us, and it is almost like those realities demand something larger, something more coordinate in order to destroy them from memory; it is almost like you burnt out liberals do not care about the future since you are so hesitant to be a team player and help the future become politicized and organized that you, under a haze of individualism, enjoy being up high on your pedestal.

          Listen, actually respond to my positions with a well thought out argument, or do not bother responding, because it will not get approved.

          This blog follows a revolutionary communist line and follows a certain politics which allow for Queer emancipation; as such, there is an ideology and philosophy at work which subtends even the specific words used. During my previous encounters on this thread I have put forward plenty of concepts worth engaging with but they are never engaged with by you Gen-X reactionaries.

          Engage or disengage. There is not other option.

  6. During the formation of the Gay Liberation Front in the late 60’s the word homosexual was rejected by some women who insisted that the word relayed an image of men to the exclusion of women. Therefore an entire political movement tagged itself gay, a word I’ve always hated.

  7. You are dealing with words and semantics. Words like these change meaning quickly. Each of the words you are describing have histories and trajectories. Queer today seems today to infer a more defiant tone, but Gay was once a very defiant word and many women used it to describe themselves. Neither Gay or Queer, or LGBT, etc. are inherently more progressive in and of themselves. The content and context that defines these are. Homosexual hasn’t been an exclusively male-indicative term, although currently it tends to be more likely to define males. There are many people in SF who consider themselves to be Queer and support the status quo. Queer is becoming another shorthand for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered, I think.

    “We are all in the struggle together” isn’t true… many of use are not in the struggle, but living our lives as individuals with a greater or lesser identification with a movement or sense of community. Nor are the gay men, lesbians, bisexual men, bisexual women, and transgendered people of whatever sexual attraction a joint community… each are rather distinct, some more solidly defined than others. And as a “community” of same interests… our experience as queers is often more dominated by our economic class. But what real community of interest do I have with a wealthy, gay man or woman, who’s social consciousness and political outlook is in the final analysis on the other side of the class line.

    This becomes a non-philosophical question in many situations. The bourgeois side of politics, including within the gay/lesbian/queer/etc community is far more developed than the revolutionary, democratic, socialist side. In SF, part of the gay and lesbian community is part of the ruling class and an millieu around the elite are quite self-righteously queer. We have white queer cops in black neighborhoods. We have queer politicians who are part and parcel of the status quo. So it is something we all have to articulate more carefully in order to understand our political strategy.

    More later…

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