Martha Irvine, a journalist and national writer for the Associated Press, discusses the reworkings of a quite delicate word in today’s society in her article, “Queer” Evolution: Word Goes Mainstream. Originally this was a word that was used to define something or someone as “odd” or “unusual”, but at some point in the past it took on a new connotation where it was being used to insult people who were either gay, lesbian or anything else that wasn’t “straight.” Fast forward to more recent years, the word is still a derogatory term, but at some point the LGBT movement took it as their own word and now it’s connotation is somewhat more positive and still refers to “non-straight” people. Being a part of the LGBT community, I’m here to discuss my feelings on this entire subject matter.
Firstly, I would like to talk about the apparent “issue” with queer people. There has been recorded same sex relations in history dating as far back to the Ancient Roman kingdom and more than likely predates that even further. I bring this up to say that it is not like queer people just suddenly appeared out of nowhere like an alien invasion. They have always existed, it’s just that in society’s main circles they are shunned by religious zealots and people who generally refuse to accept beliefs that don’t mesh with the way they have always viewed the world. Because of this, queer people used to try and hide from public eye, and to an extent still do today; I essentially have two lives, one where I’m comfortable in my own skin and people either know about my pansexuality or I don’t care if they know or not and another life where I hide part of who I am because I don’t want to potentially and unnecessarily burn any bridges with people just because they are stupidly afraid of who I am or think I’m in the wrong for being who I am.
Now let’s move on to the adaptation of “queer” from derogatory to positive. I am normally not one for being okay with words changing like this and then using them towards others in a positive manner. One such example is with the “n-word”, a word that I hate absolutely and would never even dare call anyone that term endearingly and hates it when anyone, black or otherwise, uses that term on me in any manner. However, queer doesn’t have that effect on me. Even though I rather just describe someone as they are or by name, if the term queer fits them, I would still use it. I think it’s because of the fact that the original definition means someone or something that is different from the norm, and as far as I’m concerned, different is good. The people who tried to use it in order to defame the LGBT community did it because they were afraid of people who were different and we took the term because we are different and don’t care if people try to harm us with who we are.
I do understand that not everyone can have that kind of understanding with this term, however. Even though times have changed, and big events like the legalization of same sex marriage have occurred, society is still at war about subjugating those who are different rather than just trying to understand them. Luckily, differences are winning battles day by day, which leads me to believe that not only the LGBT community, but people as a whole will one day be able to realize the stupidity and error of our ways and start to actually see everyone for who they are and not just the labels surrounding them.