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Is Queer Really Different From Gay?

“Queer”

In addition to Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgenders, we often see that “Q” for “Queer” at the end of the LGBT acronym. But there doesn’t seem to be any reason for this, according to Richard Wagner

I understand every letter in the “LGBT” acronym – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender.  Lesbians and Gays are really the same in terms of sexual orientation, as they are attracted to the same sex.  Bisexuals are attracted to both.  Transgenderism is often misunderstood.  It’s not a sexual orientation but a sexual identity.  A man trapped in a woman’s body, or vice a versa.  

I get all that.

But what is a Queer?

What’s with this “Q” I often see added to the LGBT acronym?  It stands for “Queer”.  I thought “queer” was a pejorative term in reference to gays, much like “fag”.  But some people prefer to identify as “queer”.  

Is this another sexual orientation or identity, different from the other four?

What’s left?  Most people are attracted to the opposite sex.  Some are attracted to the same sex.  Some are attracted to both. And then there’s some who are the opposite sex of how they’re born on the outside.  What could yet another term, like “queer” possibly cover?

According to the University of Michigan’s “LGBT terms and definitions”, “queer” is:

  1. An umbrella term sometimes used by LGBTQA people to refer to the entire LGBT community. 2) An alternative that some people use to “queer” the idea of the labels and categories such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc. Similar to the concept of genderqueer. It is important to note that the word queer is an in-group term, and a word that can be considered offensive to some people, depending on their generation, geographic location, and relationship with the word.

I don’t want to write a whole article based on one university’s definition, of course.  But I’ve also read several articles on the subject.  Paul Katz with the Huffington post is a gay man who was put off by the label “queer”.  

When I read that The Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices” page was being changed to “Queer Voices,” I felt a pang…In that context, a word I already didn’t like became a label, and a blanket label at that. I felt I was being put in a box I didn’t want to be in.”

If you read on, Katz discusses labels and seems to be arguing that they are subjective, and that usually society will impose labels on different groups of people.  And he concludes on this note:

I understand the need for simplifiers. We assign words and labels to things.

Even so, there will likely never be just one word, or even an acronym, that describes the vastness and diversity of what no longer makes sense to call the “gay” community (unless we’re referring only to homosexual men and women).

I basically agree with his point, and I have no desire to impose a particular label on gay people.  But guess what?  I just did!  My natural inclination is to use the term “gay”.  If some people prefer “queer”, that’s fine.  But when using the acronym “LGBTQ”, are we seriously adding yet another category just because some homosexuals prefer “gay”, and others prefer “queer”?  And are queers necessarily homosexual?  According to the definition above from University of Michigan, “queer” is actually an umbrella term.  

But can a seemingly “straight” person actually be “queer”?  Get this!  Hari Ziyad with “everyday feminist” is physically a woman, and attracted to men.  Sounds like a regular homosexual.  But wait!  

“I thought I was gay because I thought I was a man, and I thought I was only and always attracted to other men.”

Ziyad doesn’t clearly identify with any gender, or any sexual orientation.  I don’t know Ziyad of course, and I’ve only read this one article from…her?  But it looks to me like Ziyad is simply a heterosexual who is very confused, and likely fascinated by the idea of homosexuality and transgenderism so much that she has tried to identify in some way with such.  But that is just my guess, and not a very educated guess at that, I confess.

The “Queer” label, and critical thinking

I’m not here to stop people from calling themselves “queer” if they wish.  And if a strong majority of homosexuals started preferring the term “queer”, I might oblige and start using it as well.  But when thinking critically, we don’t just accept a new label simply because some people present it and it develops a following.  There is a reasoning behind labels such as “gay”, “straight”, “bisexual”.  They can be clearly defined.  

Yet there’s a whole field of study in academia called “Queer Theory”.  It’s pretty much the nihilism of gender issues.  

I don’t write this article to express any kind of bigotry towards self-identified “queers” but rather to challenge the very concept.  If you’re going to claim that there’s this whole field of study, and devote public and private resources to it, then you should satisfy the burden of proof, at least showing that your theory is plausible.  And I don’t think the advocates of “Queer theory” have satisfied that burden of proof.  They can’t even identify exactly what it is they are studying?  When they try to explain “queer”, they pretty much end up explaining how it can’t be explained.  Queers don’t want to be put “in a box”.  If you don’t want to be in a box, then don’t be in a box.  Don’t make another box from those already available, and label it “queer” and then tell me “we’re not in a box”.  

My sexual orientation – I’m coming out of the closet

By that logic, I can create a new sexual orientation.  Sure, I’m a man, and sure, I’m attracted to women, but I’m not heterosexual.  You see, heterosexuals are men who are attracted to women, like me, but they are also macho, they like sports, they strongly identify with their masculinity, and see femininity as opposite and complementary.  I, on the other hand, do no strongly identify with masculinity.  I have no problem doing things that are stereotypically feminine, such as my loving of cooking.  And I don’t just mean cooking steaks over charcoal and other “manly” cooking.  I make a mean mushroom quiche!  

My wife likes sports more than I do.  I’m soft spoken.  I have no problem wearing a pink dress shirt, and I love cuff links!  Friends and family wondered if I was gay growing up.  It is true that I am not heterosexual.  I’m metrosexual.  Much like a woman trapped in a man’s body, we metrosexuals are often mistaken for homosexual due to being slightly effeminate, but we are not.  But unlike transgender females, we do identify as “male”.  Therefore, I want to add to the LGBTQA acronym an “M”.  Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders, Queers, Metrosexuals, and Allies, LGBTQMA!  Allies, you are last but not least, I assure you.

Queer Theory – lack of evidence

Seriously, though, there is no more of a case to be made for treated “metrosexuality” as a new sexual orientation than there is for “queer”.  I don’t see any evidence so far that there is a separate sexual orientation for “queer” that differs from all the other sexual orientations we as a society have already identified.  I admit that I have only a layman’s understanding of gender issues, however.  If someone would like to educate me on this, I would welcome it.  But note that I am not a bigot.  I am not a homophobe, or even a…queer-o-phobe?  Is that a word?  I just don’t see any objective evidence that there is a newly discovered sexual orientation called “queer” and I have no intentions of using the acronym “LGBTQ”, unless evidence is presented to show that “Queer theory” is at least plausible.  

 

 

 

 

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About the author

Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He conducts independent study on the American conservative movement and foreign policy. When he is not talking politics, Richard is an aspiring novelist, and culinary hobbyist. Richard holds MSc from London School of Economics in Political Science.

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