Don't Call Us Queer

3:37 PM




A hot take on a controversial issue.

By politics editor, Cameron Price
Queer was, and still is, a slur. It has historical significance as being used to slight LGBT people. It was popularized in the late 1800s to negatively describe us. In 2019, it seems as if the pain it caused our ancestors have been completely devoid of any value. LGBT people say “queer” in place of LGBT, it makes a straight person “woke” if they do the same. 

According to Wikipedia, “queer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities.” This definition leaves room for people who are neither same-gender attracted nor transgender to reclaim a slur without the use of it against them. Reclaiming slurs that were never yours to begin with runs rampant within liberal circles. Cishet people who do not have vanilla sex-- or sex at all-- have been told they have the right of doing so.

Those of us uncomfortable with being called queer have no problem with it being used as a personal label, as long as the person using it is same-gender attracted and/or trans. Call yourself queer as much as you want, we just ask that you not refer to the rest of us as such. 

There is an argument for using queer that says it has not been used as an insult for decades, and this is simply untrue. I have heard it used as an insult time and time again toward me and the entire LGBT community. In modern media, homophobes constantly use that word negatively as well. Even if this claim of it not being an insult was true, we should not erase the pain it brought upon our ancestors and members of our community that are older than us. 

I am not ready to be called queer by those who by those who claim to care about me, all while being called the same by those who want me dead. Queer was reclaimed during the AIDS crisis as a way to shove it back in straight people’s faces, to say that their word to define us did not have as much power as they thought. Queer was the word they knew us as. That was why we took back its power for that time period. We used it because that’s what straight people thought we were, strange and perverted. Now the term is clean, apolitical, and a catch-all from anyone who deviates from society’s norm-- even, apparently, asexuals and kinky cisgender heterosexuals. 

“Queer” in the place of LGBT also erases our individual identities. It no longer allows us to have our own labels while we are still in the same community. It forces those of us who have faced struggles accepting our specific identity to be uniform with everyone else. Queer does not allow individuality that we all deserve. We should bridge the gap between all of us instead of just erasing us under the guise of inclusivity. 

The term is now often used to describe historical LGBT figures-- a move I think is especially cruel, as it is almost certain that “queer” was only used toward them as a slur. It is unfair that those who felt so much pain at that word and cannot defend themselves should have to hear it used to describe them by their fans. One quick Google search of your favorite LGBT celebrity in history and the results will show you the level of normalization.


Freddie Mercury (1946-1991)

Storme DeLarverie (1920-2014)

Bayard Rustin (1912-1287)

There have been hot debates on whether LGBT should be changed into queer to be more inclusive. It is clear to me that this change is already occurring. It is very harmful to those of us who are uncomfortable with being called a slur in our safe spaces. I always get uneasy with being referred to as queer by those who have not asked my consent because more often than not, I am being called that by those who hate my very existence. Queer is a reminder to many of us of the harassment we’ve faced. It has been the last word some of our forefathers heard. Trans Health Australia puts it perfectly: “The word Queer was not invented as a term of inclusion, it was coined as an insult and derogatory term.”

Most people understand why it would be completely inappropriate to call lesbian and bi women “the dyke community,” but have no aversion to calling every single one of us queer. Social justice accounts on Instagram will straight up tell you “stupid” is a slur and censor it, all while calling us “the queer community.”

The widespread acceptance of calling everyone who is not strictly sexually and romantically attracted to the opposite binary gender and cisgender queer has allowed corporations and heterosexuals alike to use it freely. Hearing so-called “allies” call us queer makes my skin crawl because cishets slurred the word in the first place. Being LGBT is still so radical and political, so those who oppress us should not have free reign in using slurs that are only targeted toward us, but we have given them that opportunity. We have even encouraged it. 

Many are not willing to change. Time and time again, I request that the LGBT-centered groups I am a part of to not call us all queer. Not one of those groups has stopped. It frustrates me because I know that this will only go deeper until no one uses the term LGBT anymore. It is already starting to be called outdated and un-inclusive, despite the fact that the LGBT community was never meant to be inclusive. It was made by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. 

This debate is nothing new. In the text Queer Today, Gone Tomorrow by Emma Healy written in 1990, she says “I AM not Queer. I am a lesbian, I’m sometimes gay (but never a gay girl) and even occasionally a raddled old dyke. But I am never Queer.”

So, please, think twice before addressing us all by a slur many of us have not reclaimed.

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