Why queer?

I like the word ‘queer’ – just in case you couldn’t tell by the title of the blog.

I realize a lot of people are uncomfortable with using the word ‘queer’ to describe themselves or to describe others because it sounds derogatory or militant.

But I am queer.

I prefer identifying as ‘queer’ rather than ‘gay’; in my mind gay is a very straightforward, literal word: a man who is attracted to other men or, in broader terms, a person attracted to someone of the same sex.

‘Queer’ is a much more holistic term, I think.

I like queer because it describes my approach to gender. It describes me as a kid when I looked into my parents’ front room mirror and was horrified because I didn’t look like the short-haired female news anchor I saw on TV who I thought was pretty. It describes me feeling insecure about singing alto in middle-school. It describes me getting called ‘ma’am’ or ‘miss’ or ‘young lady’ on a regular basis up until I turned 20.

I like describing myself as ‘queer’ because it describes who I am as a person, not who I want to get in bed with. Who I want to get in bed with is a part of who I am, but most of my life is not spent in bed.

I like ‘queer’ because it’s inclusive. It includes gay men, lesbians, bisexual individuals, transgender, pansexual, asexual, etc. Gay has very phallo-centric connotations that I’d rather leave to the side.

I like ‘queer’ because it’s counter-cultural and makes people uncomfortable. I think it’s good to be uncomfortable sometimes. Being gay is quickly becoming more and more acceptable in the United States. Gay marriage is passing votes, we’re electing gay senators and representatives, and we have loads of openly gay people in music and on TV.


But what about being queer? To be ‘queer’ is to be ‘other’ – which is, I think, outside the realm of gay versus straight, liberal versus conservative, Christian versus secular. As cited from dictionary.com, queer means “strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint; unusually different; singular.”

This blog is not about breaking the world down into the conventional groups of us versus them because you realize that that’s not the way the world works when half your friends are agnostic or atheists and the other half are in church on Sunday mornings; you can’t dismiss Evangelicals or conservatives when you go home to visit your conservative evangelical parents with your boyfriend.

The world is not us vs. them, it’s all of us together.

While I may write in favor of promoting ideas that are considered ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’, I don’t write from a traditionally partisan perspective. I write to promote a different way of looking at our society; I write to promote thoughtful engagement – critical discernment, if you will.

(Thank you, Calvin College.)




One response to “Why queer?

  1. I read your work on Flint, MI, enjoyed it. It was good.

    The person with a social circle that encompasses varied schools of thought, is a good and balanced person indeed.

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