term ‘queer’—which is used to
define those outside the cis-gender and heteronormative bubble—was called into
question in a column entitled “Taking the ‘Queer’ Out of QRC,” published Sept. 26 in TSL. I am here to defend this term as the proud
queer that I am.
back in April when I was still a high school senior trying to figure out where
I was going to spend the next four years of my life, I went to Admitted
Students’ Day for Pitzer College. When I saw the words “Queer Resource
Center” at the student
services seminar, I knew Pitzer was the school for me. I knew I could find a place to fit in at the 5Cs, and I knew I
could be the real me surrounded by a supportive network of queers like myself.
an asexual, I do not find the LGBT label often ascribed to us sexual minorities
helpful. This combination of letters fails to encompass not only my ace label,
but the other sizable variety of groups
whose letters are not in this acronym (unless one is willing to say the full
term’s failure to
embrace all its participants and provide equal visibility to those not listed
in these four simple letters makes it fairly unusable within the movement
against systemic sexual oppression. A name like LGBT puts a certain weight on
members with name recognition and their issues and leaves those of us not
making the cut to the wayside.
of us face challenges and issues, and the point of collective action is to
provide solidarity and strength to causes. We cannot effectively do that,
however, if no one is aware of the other groups besides the ‘Big 4.’
is why I like queer. Queer is inclusive; queer is equal to all members.
Whenever queer is used, equality is more probable. Queer does not demand
specificity either; one can simply be queer and end it at that, not having to
use the plethora of sexual and gender-based labels available. A word like queer gives an equal voice and
importance to us all.
means more than LGBT can ever mean. It verbalizes the rejection of
heteronormativity, patriarchy, cis-genderism—the things sexual minorities
collectively fight against. It sets our goals in a way LGBT cannot.
course, queer is not the purest of words. It is true it has been marred by its
use as a homophobic pejorative for decades. It is also true that the dictionary
definition of the word is that of “weird, bizarre, and abnormal.”
it has been said this latter connotation is self-deprecating to the movement, I
must humbly disagree. Yes, the self-use of the word is effectively calling
oneself abnormal and bizarre, but that is solely because of the social
constructions of the patriarchy. We are construed as abnormal because of a
subjective system of norms set up, a system that should no longer be used in
word queer is a rejection of heteronormativity. We are not weird objectively; we
are only weird because of
antiquated, human-made social structures based on Judeo-Christian values. ‘Queer’ is a rallying cry
to all of us fed up with this nonsense, who just want to be seen as humans.
Nevertheless, the historical connotations of the word ‘queer’ being
used in a derogatory and vulgar way cannot be dismissed. At
a time, the word was hateful and rude to many a homosexual. Language is subject
to evolution, however, in tandem with society; semantics change as the peoples
using the words do.
An example of such is the word ‘hooligan,’ a word commonly
associated with British soccer fans that are aggressive in their loyalty to the
team. The historical connotation of the word is that it is a vulgarity for
Irish people. Does anybody think of it as such now? Not really.
word ‘vandal’ is the same; we
have signs saying “no vandalism” everywhere and use
it to describe the desecration of property. This word was a pejorative for
for words are socially fluid and based essentially on usage; it is their
current use that determines their meaning far more than any historical context
could ever do today.
word ‘queer’ has become an
incredibly important part of the struggle for sexual minority awareness and
tolerance around the world. Queer is inclusive to all sexual and gender
minorities that are not gay, bi or trans* and gives visibility to us all. This
visibility provides a sense of equality
in the movement to combat sexual societal oppression, the goal that all the
various minorities are trying to fight.
As the QRC searches for a term seen as
more inclusive to the whole community, I hope it remembers these unifying associations. While it may be eager to reach out to include those unaware or
uncomfortable with the term ‘queer,’ it must not forget about those who find solace
and solidarity in it.
Eskilson PZ ’18 is an English
and environmental analysis major from Los Angeles, Calif. They are currently
co-vice president of the Rainbow People Collaborative at Pitzer College.