I’m not sure if you’re the correct person to ask but if you could point me in the right direction that would be great.
I’m trying to understand what Queer means. For a long time I thought it was an umbrella term used by gay, bisexual, transgendered people to (for lack of better words) label themselves. But now I see a lot of heterosexual people identifying themselves as Queer. Whenever I’ve asked about it most people have said that “you can’t define Queer”. I guess what I’m asking is to not define Queer but maybe explain what the word Queer now means. I apologise if I’m not making sense I’m just very confused. I honestly am will to learn so any information you can pass my way will be appreciated.
This is a question that is near and dear to my heart, especially as I have been doing my own soul-searching lately regarding sexuality and labeling and what it means to Identify As Queer.
I wouldn’t say that I am the “correct” person to ask, only because I am certainly not an authority on all things queer (especially as a cis white woman who has only been in heterosexual monogamous relationships her entire life). But I’ve been a queer ally nearly all my life, and have engaged with queer theory in graduate school and in my own work in fat studies. Recently I’ve ‘liked’ and reblogged some excellent posts about What It Means To Be Queer by some of my fave tumblr-ers. Check out this post by fuckmemilo, this post byinnerfatgirl and this which I reblogged today with your question in mind.
If you read all of those posts, you might be able to piece together a clearer understanding of queerness—namely, that it has no definition and that this is intentional and important and political. For many people, queer means saying “fuck you” to rigid binaries (i.e. gay/straight, boy/girl, female/male, etc.). For many people, choosing to identify as queer is political because it is a refusal to be put into neat little identity categories. For many people, queer has something to do with sexual desire, but I think more than that it has to do with recognizing the fluidity of desire… and, in the end, the fluidity of everything. Nothing is ever either/or.
Some people will tell you that you can’t identify as queer unless you can comfortably place yourself under the GLBTetc. umbrella.
However, I am of the mind that anyone who is committed to “a total rejection of the regime of the Normal” is/can be queer. I might be a (mostly) hetero cis girl in a monogamous relationship, but I’ll be damned if I ever try to push how I live my life and my experience of human sexuality onto anyone else. I *do* think, and maybe I’ll get some heat for this, that primarily heterosexual and cisgender people who choose to identify as queer for these reasons should always be aware of the privilege they have as people who can pass as “not queer” at any given moment. This doesn’t mean that they (we) shouldn’t identify as such (and I think it’s important for people who are not “seen” as queer to make their queerness known… it’s important for the world to realize how fucked up heteronormativity is, and there is power in numbers here), just that the decision to identify as queer should (I think) come with an understanding of one’s various privileges to ensure that the experiences of other queer people are not being appropriated or erased.
In any event, and because I feel woefully under-qualified to answer this question with any kind of authority (although obviously queerness in and of itself defies authority), I thought you might want to hear from a Real Live Queer Person on why he chooses to identify as queer. I hope you don’t mind, Anon, but I sent your question to my boyfriend Chris. The following is his response:I don’t have any desire to define “queer”, and I’m definitely not the arbiter of who or what behavior is or should fall under the umbrella of queer. Before I start, I should explain that I have the obvious privilege of being a white male that can easily pass as a cisgender heterosexual. In that sense a lot of people may feel I’m appropriating “queer” because my sexuality and gender are not obviously non-normative to someone who may not know me personally. How someone is supposed to identify sexuality (or gender) at-a-glance, I don’t know. My romantic relationships have been with women, and my sexual contact has been mostly limited to women. On the other hand, I think boys are attractive, and I want to fuck them. I can easily see myself being in a homosexual relationship. I don’t feel “straight”, I don’t feel “gay”, and I don’t identify as “bisexual” (which I feel is a term that’s very limited in scope). Additionally, I’m not “masculine” or “feminine” either. Again, I obviously have the privilege of being able to pass as cis and het, but to simply adopt that identity seems very dishonest to me.
So, there you have it. Queer is queer and not very easily definable beyond that (and that is kind of the point). In the broadest sense, queer means rethinking all that we’re taught is normal (and thus, good). Queering how we view the world is a political project that is really fucking important. And honestly? I kinda just wish everyone would be queer. That would be grand, wouldn’t it?
[P.S. I should also add that some use queer as an umbrella term for non-normative sexuality… in this way, not only GLBT people can identify as queer, but anyone whose sexuality has been marginalized by mainstream and heteronormative ideas about sex. I know some fat people, for example, who identify as queer BECAUSE fat sexuality is considered to be so disgusting and subversive. Many people in the kink and BDSM communities identify as queer. It’s not just about the genitals of the people you sleep with, but the way society marginalizes the type(s) of sex you have.]
ROUND OF APPLAUSE!! This is phenomenal!!!