Thursday, January 21, 2021

Why I Prefer 'Queer' to 'LGBTQ'

I like the word queer and I give you all permission to say it. Yes, even the straight folks.

I want you all to say queer because saying LGBTQ is awkward. I can do it smoothly because I've practiced, but a lot of people have trouble with it because it's literally a mouthful of consonants. It's difficult to work into a sentence, especially if you trip over it when speaking. 

I also like queer because the current hotness dictates that LGBTQ is not inclusive enough and that we must add more letters. The last time I checked, and this could have changed, is LGBTTQQIIAP2S+: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Ally, Asexual, Pansexual, Two Spirit, and the plus is for "everything else we might have missed." As you can expect, this just rolls off the tongue in casual conversation. [/sarcasm]

I don't like this term. I don't like it because it's unpronounceable, I don't like it because it's awkward, and I don't like it because people won't use it. We are a culture who has literally said "It's too much effort to say I am so we're going to say I'm instead," so what makes you think anyone is going to take the time to spell out an acronym of 12 or more letters?

In order to be welcomed and accepted and included and listened to, we need to make it easier, not harder to talk about us. I want people to be able to talk about me and people like me, because the moment they stop talking about us is the moment our voices are no longer heard, and silence = death. 

And so I want to encourage you and everyone else to use the word queer for the following reasons:
  • It's an actual word. We already know what it means and we already know how to say it. 
  • It's a single syllable, making it very easy to say. 
  • It's a nice umbrella term. Q already exists in LGBTQ, and it already means "an umbrella term to be more inclusive of the many identities and variations that make up the LGBTQ+ community." Why do we need anything more?
My problem with using all of those letters instead of the collective "queer" is that in an attempt to be inclusionary, we further exclude people. LGBTTQQIAAP2S+ has 14 characters, but I can already see some gaps. 
  • What about people who feel like they have no gender? We should add another A to that list for Agender. 
  • What about those whose gender identities change on a regular basis? We need another G for Genderfluid. 
  • What about Demisexuals and Demiromantics? We should add two more Ds to the list. 
Just off the top of my head, we're up to LGGBTTQQIAAAP2SDD+, and I can guarantee you that's not the end of it. I call this inclusionary exclusion because the more letters that get added, the more people will say "Everyone else has their own letter, I need one too!" and we end up fighting over labels and who goes into which labeled box. We end up divided, with each faction willing to tear down the others instead of working as a group to uplift us all. 

No. I say We Are All Queer, because unity is more important than labels. 

Now, I understand the people of a certain generation have a problem saying queer because in their time it was an insult, a word of hate. I sympathize with that, and I'm not going to force people to use it. But I also feel quite strongly that it's the duty of certain minorities to reclaim hurtful words and make them words of power. 

As an example, I am a transwoman and I adore the word tranny. It's hilarious to me, although I couldn't tell you why; it just is. More importantly, though, that word has no power over me because I think it's funny. It's as powerless as a child taunting a straight man by saying "You like kissing girls!"  Well yes, little boy, he certainly does and there's nothing wrong with that, and perhaps one day you'll like kissing girls too. 

I acknowledge that just because the word isn't hurtful to me doesn't mean it's not hurtful to others, so I am certainly not going to call another transgender person tranny because it might hurt them and I don't want that. When I use it to describe myself, however, I rob it of its hurtful power over me and perhaps over over people as well, because those who would use it to harm may hear me say it about myself and think, "If she's using that term, then it must not be an insult anymore" and they lose that arrow from their quiver.

That's why I use queer, and I encourage everyone to use it. I say that you can say it. If anyone gives you problems, send them to me and I'll set them straight... or set them queer, as the case may be. 

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