I have been extremely interested in the word queer lately. As a bisexual, I used to (and still do) refer to myself as queer to my friends, and just in my head. I liked the way it sounded, and I liked that it didn’t tie me down to any one identity. However, I never really thought I was reclaiming a slur when I called myself queer, which in hindsight, I guess I was. Queer is an unique word because it has two meanings. The first being the classic dictionary definition: strange or odd. The other meaning being a slur against people who identified openly as gay, lesbian, bisexual or Trans. Queer is now often used as an Umbrella term to describe the LBGT community, which is now often called the Queer Community.
I think when saying the “Queer Community” people need to be careful. Queer was a slur a used to target and oppress people in the LGBT community, and was often used to dehumanize them. Calling people “queer” striped people of their identities they had to work so hard to be honest about. Because of all this, people may not want to reclaim the word queer, and do not wish to be called it. I think that by classifying the LGBT community as the “Queer Community”, it glosses over the fact that there are people who do not want to identify as queer, and forces the label on them anyways. I don’t think there is any problems with individuals reclaiming the word, but there are many valid reasons why others will not. I think that when using the word queer it should be used in the singular, such as “I am a queer person” not “We are queer people”. It’s best to never assume that people are okay with the word queer, and always ask them how they identify themselves. Also, Straight people should never use the term, “Queer Community” or “Queer” in a general sense. It is not their slur to reclaim, and not a word that should be in their vocabulary. The only time I think there can be an exception to this is if a friend or family member asks them to refer to them as queer. Other than that, Straight people please refrain from using it.
A question that has come up a lot is who can use the word queer in the LGBTQIA+ community. There has been a lot of people saying that only those identify as, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and/or Trans should be allowed to use the term Queer, since historically it was a slur used against them. Should aromantic Asexuals, heteromantic Asexuals or aromantic Heterosexuals be able to use the word queer? Now, this is not saying in anyway that any of the groups above are straight or are not apart of the LGBTQIA+ community because they absolutely do. But, can they reclaim the slur just because other parts of the community do? To be completely honest, I am not sure. I know the word queer can be very inclusive, and allow people to feel closer and more apart of the community, especially to those who are often left invisible. On the other hand, I understand why certain members of the LGBT community may not want others in the community reclaiming a slur that was not specifically used against them. In think end, I think that people should just be respectful when using the word queer, and understand the historical and cultural context.
Like a lot of reclaimed slurs, queer can be used to make people feel more comfortable and at home in their community, and can makes other feel the opposite. I personally still like to use the word queer and identify with it, but thats my personal decision. Just like it is others’ personal decision not to. But most importantly, respect other people’s decisions, and their right within in the community to make that choice.