What does it mean to be Queer?

“Queer”. If you translate it on Google, you will get a bunch of different meanings: odd, spooky, freaky, creepy, strange, unusual, eccentric, unorthodox, unconventional, OUT OF THE ORDINARY and other 20 synonyms.

This word was originally used to insult gay people, the first recorded written example of its use as a slur dates back to 1894, when John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry, discovered that his son was in a relationship with Oscar Wilde, being afraid of a gay scandal, he decided to prosecute Wilde by launching a court case which argued that the author was a sodomy-obsessed old man. It is in its case against Wilde that Douglas used the term “Snob Queers” to describe gay men.

The word kept this meaning for a long time, to underline the fact that homosexuality was weird, abnormal, until it was reclaimed in the middle of the Aids epidemic, and then again in the late 80s and early 90s by LGBTQIA+ activists.

These factors, together with others, point out at the early 90s as the years in which the term was ultimately reclaimed.

I think it’s important to underline the fact that some people from the LGBTQIA+ community think that this term shouldn’t be used, because they still consider it to be offensive. So be careful not to call every member of the community “queer”, unless they specify they’re okay with it. 

I must admit that I myself didn’t know much about this term until last year, when I was trying to understand who I was and how I wanted other people to refer to me.

To make it clear to you, “queer” is now an umbrella term that comprehends all the labels of the LGBTQIA+ community.

There are also a lot of people that identify with this term, I am one of them, and I am going to explain what being queer means to me, but keep in mind that this way of identifying could mean different things to different people, and of course all of these meanings are valid.

After this disclaimer, let me start by saying that mine was a long journey which honestly didn’t end yet, and I think it never will. It started when I was a young girl asking myself “Why do boys have to like girls and vice versa, why can’t I like girls?”, and the answer I gave myself was “It’s just how it works”.

But I knew that if that was how it worked, I didn’t work right.

First of all, I always felt this very strong masculine energy in me, I was always taller than my girl peers, always more muscular than them, my voice was deeper, my face wasn’t equally soft and something that surely didn’t help was that my hair was always shorter.

When we had to play some role play games for which we needed someone to play the boy part, well, that would always be me.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel comfortable in my body, I feel a woman inside and out, but I believe that we all have masculine and feminine energies inside of us and therefore our gender is somehow fluid.

Even though I believe that clothes have no gender, I don’t really know how to explain it better than this: one day, or one week I would like to wear high heels and make-up, things that are considered to be more feminine, and I also behave in a more “feminine” way. Some other day I would like to wear shirts, and large pants, and I will probably behave in a more “masculine” way.

This is what it means to me to be queer on my  gender identity side. SO, even though I like to be a girl and I would never want to change my gender, I just don’t believe in the binary concept of things, so a girl can feel masculine (as in my case) and a boy can feel feminine. There’s nothing wrong with that and it doesn’t preempt or affect people’s sexual orientation.

What I mean is that even a straight boy or girl can feel more feminine or masculine. I can’t say this is my case though.

Talking about sexual  orientation, I have always wondered why people felt the need to ask and tell theirs.

I know that many believe that if we do not label ourselves in some way, then society will never acknowledge our existence, but we EXIST and that should be enough.

To me it has always been a feeling, a state of mind, that I do not have to give explanations to others. I am me, whoever I like is none of your business.

When I started coming out to my friends I used to say “I don’t really label myself but anyway you would call me bisexual” and then a lot of people started questioning my sexuality in many different ways.

I met people who would tell me that bisexuality was just a train to gay-land, and I must admit that I used to think that too when I was younger, but I grew up, unlike someone else.

Others would ask me why I decided to exclude other genders, ignoring  the fact that bisexuality can also mean  “my gender” and “all other genders”. So I decided to start labelling myself pansexual because, in few words: I just like the person, regardless of their gender identity.

However, people didn’t like that label either. I was asked multiple times if I was attracted to animals, which I’m not. I stick to human beings; and other people made a lot of jokes about the fact that I was attracted to pans.

I was done with labels.I already didn’t like the idea and I hadn’t had a very good relationship with them so far, so I decided to search for a term that a friend of mine used to describe me with: “queer”.

When I found out that a lot of people were feeling just like I was, I heard an angelic choir.

What came out of my research was exactly how I was feeling but translated  into words, something that I was not able to do at the time.

Now that I am, I can tell you that to me being queer means our gender and our sexuality are fluid and I think that it is too simplistic to label ourselves in just one way, so I refuse to use labels, but I do respect anyway those who use them.

Personally, it’s a sort of philosophy in which I dream of a more queer world, where no one will have to come out, because we won’t really care about people’s sexuality and gender idenity. As long as they’re happy, we are going to be happy for them.

Moreover, I think that labels sometimes make us freak out. A girl may consider herself straight, because for twenty years of her life she has only been attracted to boys, and then one day she finds herself to be attracted to a girl. At that point she is surely going to question her sexual orientation, her identity: ”Am I bisexual?” “Am I gay?” … girl, who cares! If you like someone, do not feel trapped by the label that YOU have given yourself.

Live and let live, like whoever you like without thinking about it.

And for what regards me, I am queer and I am sorry but who I like or how I feel is none of your business.

 

Sources:

https://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/32213/1/tracing-the-history-of-the-word-queer

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