This post is long overdue. It has been in the works for quite a long time, I just keep procrastinating and procrastinating on it.
The term queer is near and dear to my heart. It means odd. It has also meant homosexual. The term has been retaken by the LGBTQI movement to mean something more full and inclusive than simply “homosexual”. A queer person may be of any sexual orientation, but they realize that they are not simply defined by that orientation; they know that their sexuality can be fluid and they are accepting of this. They are comfortable in their otherness, their oddness.
I have a friend who identifies as queer. He is pretty much exclusively heterosexual, but there is something else about him, a comfortableness with being, a bond with the idea of being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, without necessarily being fully one of the above. Like me, he knows the sex and gender binaries and what can be damaging about them. He is one of the few other people I know who objects to the use of the term “gender” on forms; gender is not male or female, but one’s gender identity as feminine, masculine, androgynous, or any combination of the above. To put it simply, there is no correct answer to the question of “male or female”. But most people do not understand that and I believe, do not care. I always put “female”, simply because I believe that my biological sex mostly matches up with my perception of myself in a sexual way, and that most forms do no not leave space for an explanation of how I believe I differ from that. And my assumption is that they are really asking about that. This is where my friend may be more queer than me. Often if there is an option he will indicate “other” on the form, perhaps at an attempt to address the difference between how he feels about himself as a being and the stereotype of “man” in our culture. I greatly admire him for this and may do this in the future, simply because it is a way that appears to work pretty well without preaching or getting upset at every little form or incident.
There are privilege issues at stake here too. As I have said before, as a bisexual woman, I do not have some of the privileges that heterosexual women take for granted. As a queer (mostly) heterosexual man, my friend can come from a position where he acknowledges that there are privileges he does not wish to partake in that he could claim simply by not also identifying as queer. I think queerness addresses privilege in a way that heterosexuality (or homosexuality) cannot, by coming at the issue from a different perspective
There is so much more I could say, but it is getting late, so I will potentially save that for another day.
P.S. I apologize to my friend if this seems to imply that I am saying something about how you feel that is not true. Feel free to leave me a comment and I will change it if need be.
3 thoughts on “Queer”
I’m heavily dedicated to the idea of pursuing more and more freedom.
I’ve been thinking a lot about “queer” lately (as in the last year or so). I have started to see it as a method for allowing more freedom to my partners as well as myself. As far as I can tell, a lot of people get into the habit of relating to themselves by the method they relate to others. Identifying with how others identify us. As a genderqueer person, I naturally shy away from identifying myself through other’s eyes… however, I feel queer can be a cool method to extend that same freedom to other people.
When I wear queer loud and proud it not only says that I’m free from doing things in any specific way, but it also tells my lovers, “hey, between you and me, we’ll negotiate what feels good for both of us.” I think there’s a freedom there most people don’t have.
I notice that even with my friends with whom I’m not having sex, there’s an openness that shows up, like, “oh, hey… I can just do what I feel like, flitting between roles that would traditionally be “masculine” or “feminine” as I please.” Some people seem to really appreciate this. Others get a little nervous 🙂 But that’s why queer is ultimately more revolutionary than “gay” or “lesbian.”
Also, regarding forms. I object to the use of the category “Gender” followed by “male” or “female.” It simply isn’t the correct answer for the that question. If someone wants your biological sex they should ask for that.
If they’re too prudish to write “sex” (and why else are they afraid to type the very word that indicates what they’re asking for?) and then give biological categories for me answer, then screw ’em, I think they’re morons and I won’t answer. Or I’ll write an addendum to their form.
Curmudgeonly Queer Polemicist
When I was much younger I shied away from using the term sex because I was a bit of a prude. So I tend to think that a lot of people who use gender instead of sex are like I was then.