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What does "Queer" mean to you?

Posted on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 in queer

Being “queer” is different than being “gay” or “lesbian.” “Gay” or “lesbian” is a sexual orientation. Queer is more a sociological lifestyle rather than a sexuality (or gender identity). With the mainstream trying to make money off the “gay” and “lesbian” identities they use the word “queer” for marketing value such as “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” or “Queer as Folks” but not really addressing what it’s like to be queer.

For me, being queer is about rejecting heteronormalitivity and mainstream values. It’s not about being a sheep and following into line. It’s about thinking for yourself and being independent. It’s about rejecting societal and cultural norms. It’s about living life as you want to live it rather than being told how to live it. It’s about questioning everything – even yourself to come up with the solution that works best for you.

A current example of my rejection of heteronormalitivity and mainstream culture: my stepsister is downstairs on the couch cuddling her boyfriend while watching a show that makes fun of people. I don’t see how watching a show that makes fun of my fellow human beings to be entertaining since it’s laughing at their expense and not with them. They are so conditioned that they don’t even see that there’s anything wrong with chosen form of entertainment as I hear laughter trailing upstairs. I found something gravely wrong with the mainstream culture and what other people find permissible. I don’t find the misfortune of other’s to be funny. They do it for the sense of fitting in, to be cool, and possibly their minds are just that fucked.

Being queer is about not being fucked up like mainstream society. It’s about being vocal while the masses are silent. It’s about seeing and addressing the problems we face. It’s about having the best parties. 😉 It’s about swimming against the stream rather than going with the flow. For me, part of being queer is how I present myself to the world. I am rather butch, wear a frog bra, have tattoos, piercings, and a mohawk. I don’t “pass” at all. For some people, my mere appearance is a confrontation because I don’t follow gender stereotypes. I get stares, sneers, sometimes verbal assaulted, and once physically assaulted. Violence never solves anything. You can bash my face in but you can’t touch my mind. I won’t stop being queer just because you don’t approve.

I once saw a poster that said, “Not Gay as in Happy, But Queer as in Fuck You.” Queer is about being in your face and getting your hands dirty to change things. It’s not about being political correct. You can also be straight and queer. It’s a mindset and a way of being. It can also be a sexual orientation for those who defy the binary. It’s many things to many people. What does queer mean to you?

Bring on the comments

  1. Pythos says:

    There is another term for what you are saying.


    You and people like you are enlightened. You do not follow the crowd, you dare to ask “why”, and you think for yourself.

    I have a few of those qualities, and find them good. But also find blending in is much easier.

    I want to shake that habit.

  2. ebonee says:

    i agree..

    i choose to identify as queer because its the only word ive felt completely drawn to.

    language is powerful….and labeling myself as such gives me a freedom i cant get with anything else….it encompasses my views/apperance/lifestyle.

  3. Kleinzeit says:

    Thanks again for good wordage Jess. Excellent.

    I certainly didn’t feel that I fitted into any of those older “labels”. Although I have always been somewhat attracted to some men, I certainly didn’t feel “gay” and didn’t like the look of that subculture particularly. So, when I first heard about genderqueer stuff, I got pretty exited. It seemed to describe me.

    So; I’m biologically male, certainly look “male” in a big and hairy kind of way and probably most often act in ways that conform to the current social stereotypes. But; I love both women and men (and yes, Bisexual has always seemed like a totally inadequate description of something way more complex and wonderful than that word suggests). I also love to play around with what most people seem to assume are natural laws – I wear skirts sometimes for example.

    I am queer because it describes me, it frees me, and yes indeed, we do have the best parties!

  4. Devorah says:

    I completely agree that queer is different from gay or lesbian, but I wonder if queer necessarily has to be radical. When I’m asked to label myself, I tend to say Queer (Lesbian)–“lesbian” being the functional who I would like to date and “queer” being the community that I identify with. For me it’s much more about community than attitude and political statements. Maybe those political statements COME with the community, but they’re not the main point of it.

    Could “queer” be different to different people?

  5. Jess Five says:

    I had this conversation about straightedge and veganism the other day. Some people think they can label themselves as vegans and still eat fish. Other people who drink occasional or smoke sometimes claim to be straightedge. People can claim to be things all they like but it doesn’t make it true. Queer does mean different things to different people. I know some heterosexuals who will never use the word queer as they view it as derogatory while there are queers who use it as their identity. I have always viewed queer as being radical – but that’s just me. Other people might not.

  6. Devorah says:

    *blink* I read two different things in this statement. Are you saying that people who say they’re queer but don’t make political statements aren’t actually queer, or that queer can mean different things to different people?

  7. Jess Five says:

    I’m saying queer means different things to different people. I don’t know if I would consider someone who’s not active in challenging the set hierarchies and binaries as queer as per my definition – I mean, they are queer not “queer.” There’s a difference. I run into lots of people who claim to be punks – they might be punk but they aren’t “punk.”

  8. Devorah says:

    Active to prove a point or active because that’s simply who they are? I mean… I’m a female who doesn’t shave, but that’s because I don’t think it’s worth the pain, not because I’m making a statement–nor do I consider that queer, though many people see it as such in the dictionary sense of the word. Is the displaying of rabinows queer, since having them while being LGBT makes LGBTness less invisible? Is having pride, and displaying said rainbows due to said pride, something that makes someone queer–or could it be queer if the person simply likes rainbows?

    I hope it’s okay that I’m questioning like this when you don’t even know me. Intellectual wheels turning…

  9. Jess Five says:

    It’s not about waving rainbow flags made in sweatshops. If I see a person wearing rainbows, I don’t assume they are queer or lgbt. I don’t view not shaving your body hair as an act of resistance. It’s personal preference. I also don’t view being a vegetarian or vegan as being an activist. But like being vegan or vegetarian – being queer is a lifestyle choice. Being queer, if you are queer, is part of who you are. It’s about speaking up when people say things that are hateful and violent. It’s about being different and not assimilating to be a “safe” gay or lesbian that’s viewed by society as being acceptable. I was talking about the lack of butches to someone – and they mentioned that many butches “tone it down” to be accepted by society. A queer wouldn’t conform. It’s about not turning our backs on our transgendered brothers and sisters – or the leather community – or any queer community that isn’t upholding “family values” but is between consenting adults. It’s about being who you are with pride and not needing the approval of anyone else.

    I am fine with questioning but it’s the type of thing you need to make up your mind about yourself. If you are identifying yourself as queer – be prepared to take a little heat for it or if you don’t get any heat for it maybe you aren’t really queer.

  10. Kleinzeit says:

    Don’t have anything to add beyond agreement with Jess. I suppose the best bit about “queer” is that we don’t have to define it. Let the bigots define stuff – I’d rather live fully.

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