So is the word “queer” offensive or not? Great way to start a column, right? But hey, I have heard some complaints that we use the word on this site. I have also heard many, many kudos that we do. There is a fine line I think between what is or is becoming politically correct and what is not. We here decided to try and be sympathetic to all views and also to be sensitive to words and thoughts. At the same time, we didn’t want to go too far one way or the other if we thought some were just being too sensitive and even bullying in what they thought was gospel. We did research and we talked to a lot of people and weighed all factors before we got underway. We also fine-tuned as we thought necessary. Things can change, people can change, and we can adjust if needed. We are not rigid here and we try hard to do things right.
So back to queer. Is the word offensive? Derogatory? Insulting? “Queer” back in the 16th century, originally meant unusual or different and even now you can sometimes hear it used that way. In the late 19th century, the word started being used to identify gay people. At that time it was deemed quite derogatory. In the late 1980’s, gay activists and scholars “reclaimed” the term to use it as an identity for the gay community, and for some specifically those in the gay community who would not conform to what was becoming a gay political identity as gay people became more accepted and as gay-related violence and other gay-related issues made the news. Many find it a term of empowerment. Others say that because of its origins and also because of how some have used it for a type of gay radicalism, the word should not be used.
At one of my first rallies in support of those who had HIV and against gay discrimination, I first heard the protest slogan, “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it,” shouted by members of the group, Queer Nation. That was shocking to me at the time, and some of my friends, and so I spent a lot of time talking to three members of the group about the term, queer. Was it just to shock, to get attention? And so, perhaps not to be used outside such a type of venue. Or was the use of that word something more? Even something prideful. It was explained to me in a very clear and a times forceful fashion, but with respect, that the term was not just one to irritate and piss people off, but to also make a statement, and was yes, one of pride. I never forgot hearing the slogan that day and the explanation for it I was given.
It is reminiscent of the song Yankee Doodle. There are those who say that the song that is best known for the Americans usage of it during the Revolutionary War against the British was actually a British song! That the British used to sing it to make fun of American soldiers before the war, mocking them, doodle being a derogatory term, like a fool. You can google it. During the war, American soldiers used it proudly, especially as they became more and more victorious, and they were only too glad to use it to mock the British’s belief they were a ragtag, useless army.
So there you have it. Queer was turned around for good, and we believe that. If you know of someone who dislikes the word, don’t use it. And you can decide for yourself if you will, of course. But now you are armed with some information, if you didn’t already know it. To find an great man who may or may not be happy with the word queer, lol, join GayDating.com. It’s a great gay dating site.