“You’re such a queer” the bully slurred.
“I think he’s a queer” whispered one girl to the other.
“Don’t wear THAT, people will think you are QUEER!” Came the fashion advice from your friend.
Queer, the word, that one time label of shame. Insecure boys wielded it like a sword in public schools across our nation. Status seeking girls used it as to control who their click could socialize with. It was hate speech plain and simple.
A few years ago Debbie and I participated in our very first QueerBomb party/march is Austin Texas. Before the march Debbie was enjoying the company, the food, drink and music. We eagerly took our place in line and started down the streets of downtown Austin, Debbie smiling from ear to ear.
Then it happened, the crowd started chanting “We’re here, We’re Queer! Get Used to it…”,
Debbies smile disappeared. She had to declare, out loud, she was queer and in public! It was hard for us both.
We grew up in the 1960s & ‘70s where you never used that word if you were one on the ‘nice’ people. It was a slur, and a bad one.
Since then we have grown more comfortable with the word, and will tell you proudly it applies to us. We have learned to embrace and relish being queer.
Recently I was listening to NPR on the radio. I don’t remember the show but it was one of the interview shows. A woman, the interviewee, was speaking and introduced herself “ I’m queer, middle aged ….” There its was, on National Public Radio, the word.
This woman used the term no different from if she had said she had brown hair, or owned a dog. And this was not the only place I have seen and heard it.
My news curation app is filled with articles about people identifying as queer, with media being judged for how much or how little queer content it has.
TV, movie and book producers are working overtime to insert queer people into their media. The internet is filled with memes of people expressing how queer they are, many just applying the term to any everyday activity (there are always those wishing to capitalize on a popular trend).
So how did this happen?
Years and years of activism, legalizing same sex marriage, the removal of the mental illness diagnosis for gay and trans people all played a part, but it was the cascade of people proudly standing up to come out as gay and trans that really tipped the scale.
You see it’s hard to use a term against people when they openly and proudly embrace it.
We could not take the hate out of people, so we took it out of the word.
We’re here, We’re Queer…and we aren’t going away!