What does queer mean? What is LGBTQ+? Why am I reading this website? Here are some small bites of all you wanted to know about gender(s) and never had the courage to ask.
Why we chose the word queer?
We have to admit that we use the word queer quite a lot in our articles (besides the name of this website!) and we use it frequently in combination with gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans. All of this can result in a little bit of confusion and that’s why we want to talk about the meaning of this word and why we chose it. Besides, since this website began, one of the most frequently asked questions from the people we have spoken with is, “ok, but what does the word queer actually mean?”.
Well, it’s complicated
Let’s start by what we mean when we use the word queer. We feel like we hear and use it many times, but we don’t often stop and analyze it.
Even though the word queer is connected with queer theory, we recognize the fact that it cannot be entirely explained in a short article, simply because it involves different points of views including different philosophical theories, combined with an everyday way of life meaning.
So, let’s skip for now the academic and philosophical ideology, and let’s focus on what we actually mean when we talk about (or refer to) queer and queer women.
Let’s not label it
On a general and political perspective, we use queer as a label that aims not to be a label; said in other (and less cryptic) words:
it is a term we use to include all the other specific sexuality,
such as gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans, at glance.
We use the word queer as a unifying term which intentionally does not explain your gender/sexual preferences neither the gender/sexual preferences of your partner.
It can be explained better, related to other sexual orientations.
For example, if someone uses the word lesbian, that label refers to a woman who likes only other women. Meanwhile if someone uses the term queer woman it refers to a woman (biological or not) who escapes from the hetero-normativity, but does not define her sexual preferences.
Following this example, the word bisexual appears reductive as well, as implies a binary sexual preference (liking only man or women) and not considering other types of gender and sexuality.
In the same way, the term pansexual (or omnisexual) has a similar meaning as queer – in the sense that it refers to people who like all the genders and sexual orientations – but doesn’t question the role and the necessity of the society-constructed genders.
If we follow this claim, and use the word queer not only to include all types of sexual orientation, but also going beyond gender until a future with complete fluidity of sexuality, there are two implication which are opening in front of the LGBT+ rights struggle.
On the one hand, queer is a very helpful and politically correct term; in fact, without using an infinitive number of letters and making a huge acronym (LGBTQIA etc…), it includes all the differences in one short word.
On the other hand, and this is what many LGBT+ activists claim, this word yes it is inclusive, but it also disperses some of the specific political battles of each gender. In fact, the transexual rights battle is not quite the same as the gay male struggle and this one is not quite the same as the lesbian rights struggle – for differences of gender and an oppressive patriarchy society matters.
Ok, so…what’s the solution?
To reach a compromise and make everyone happy, generally the community (and this website) uses the acronym LGBTQ+, giving an equal space to gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and queer and by leaving it open to the remainder of the sexual spectrum.
We also use the word queer, referring particularly to art, video, parties, events and performances, more as an “out of the gender normativity” point of view. It has a “not-heterosexual” point of view anyway, but more specific to an “out of the mainstream” sound, visual and performative genres, which basically extend this term to the widest spectrum of experiences.
Cool! But I’m a little bit lost…what queer means, again?
To conclude, and to put it simply, we use the word queer for our website as an umbrella term and as a synonym of “not straight”, with a specificity of being out of the ‘norm’, and with an inclusive and sexually fluid aim.
What’s your take about the word queer? And what queer means to you? Let us know here.