I love the way the younger generation has embraced the word queer. In my generation, it was a slur that meant something you definitely did not want to be. It implied a dirtiness and something low life. Today it is a banner proudly worn by many men and women. When I think of using the word queer to identify myself or my friends I am still a bit uncomfortable. But queer we are and queer we will be.
A friend of mine who is bisexual and married to a woman talks about himself as queer. The TV show Queer as Folk brought the term mainstream attention. I hear younger gay men use the term more often than younger lesbians, but my circle may be limited. The Radical Fairies often use the term queer. And groups like Queer Nation also bring the word attention and acceptance.
When I think of myself, I think in terms of being a gay man. The term, gay man, seems to have a level of respectability. Thinking of myself as queer would imply something more wild and undefined. The term gay gives me a very clear swim lane to identify with. Queer would imply more variation and movement in my sexual orientation than exists.
But I like the term queer. It implies something more radical, out of the mainstream, and eccentric. The LGBT group at my son’s college uses the term, ‘gender non-conforming’, instead of LGBT. But I am not crazy about the term, ‘gender non-conforming’ because it implies something that is not normal. After years of fighting who I am, and seeing it as not normal, I now reject anything that says who or what I am is not as normal as any other sexual orientation or gender identity.
So queer I am and queer I will be.