Monday, October 12, 2015

The Q Word

Someone asked today when "Queer" became an acceptable word. Of course, it happened organically and over time, but it has been used in a positive context for well over 40 years in academic, political, and even progressive theological circles, but has even been mainstream for half or more of that time.

Depending on memory alone (God help us), I offered the following response to the questioner:

In social science, queer theory emerged in the early 90s out of the queer studies and women's studies disciplines as a post-structuralist critical theory. Queer theory "queers" (or spoils or reads against or challenges) gender binaries and heteronormativity.

Politically, I remember as far back as the 80s the word being embraced/reclaimed by people to make it a word that instills pride rather than shame, a word that was ours to use happily rather than allow it to be a weapon used against us to victimize us, and to include all segments of the, lesbian, bisexual, straight allies, transgender, gender non-conforming, intersex, questioning, etc. Lots of ways to be queer, but an (ideally) unified, Queer community.

In theology, Queer Theology uses religion and sacred texts to affirm and empower same-gender loving people and people all along the continuum of gender and to challenge and deconstruct the ways religion has been used/misused to promote homophobia and intolerance.

So, as an academic, political, and theological term, Queer has been in use for 40+ years. As a 48 year old Queer person, it has been my identifying word of choice for most of my adult life.

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