Queer has traditionally meant odd or unusual, but is now also used to refer to anyone who is not heteronormative. Its use in reference to
LGBT( gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex) communities as well as those perceived to be members of those communities has tainted the traditional definition and application.who Its usage is considered controversial and underwent substantial changes over the course of the 20th Centurywith some LGBT people re-claiming the term as a means of self-empowerment. The term is still considered by some to be offensive and derisive, and by others as a re-appropriated term used to describe a sexual orientationand/or gender identityor genderexpression that does not conform to heteronormative society.
Since its emergence in the English language in the 16th century (related to the German "quer", meaning 'across, at right angle, diagonally or transverse'), "queer" has generally meant 'strange', 'unusual', or 'out of alignment'. It might refer to something suspicious or 'not quite right', or to a person with mild insanity or who exhibits socially inappropriate behavior. The expression 'in Queer Street' was used in the UK as of the 1811 edition of
Francis Grose's " A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue" for someone in financial trouble. [ [http://www.telegraphindia.com/1050513/asp/opinion/story_4734803.asp The Telegraph] If one is bankrupt, one is in Queer Street. This originates from the word query which tradesmen and merchants would write against the names of persons who were late in paying. Another theory relates it to Carey Street off Chancery Lane in London which housed the bankruptcy courts.]
In the 1904
Sherlock Holmesstory " The Adventure of the Second Stain" the term is still used in a completely non-sexual context (Inspector Lestrade is threatening a misbehaving constable with "finding himself in Queer Street", i.e., in this context, being severely punished).
By that time that story was published, however, the term was already starting to gain its implication of sexual deviance (especially that of homosexual and/or effeminate males), which is already known in the late 19th century; an early recorded usage of the word in this sense was in a letter by
John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberryto his son Lord Alfred Douglas.
Subsequently, for most of the 20th century, 'queer' was frequently used as a derogatory term for effeminate gay males who were believed to be into receptive or passive anal/ oral sex with men, and others exhibiting untraditional gender behavior.Fact|can you provide a citation which indicates that 'queer' was used only for effeminate men?|date=September 2008
The first time it was used in print in America in the modern era was in "Variety"
As a contemporary antonym of heteronormative
In contemporary usage, some use "queer" as an inclusive, unifying sociopolitical
umbrella termfor people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersexual, genderqueer, or of any other non-heterosexual sexuality, sexual anatomy, or gender identity. It can also include asexualand autosexualpeople, as well as gender normative heterosexuals whose sexual orientations or activities place them outside the heterosexual-defined mainstream (e.g. BDSMpractitioners, or polyamorous persons). "Queer" in this sense (depending on how broadly it is defined) is commonly used as a synonym for such terms as LGBT.
Because of the context in which it was reclaimed, "queer" has sociopolitical connotations, and is often preferred by those who are activists, by those who strongly reject traditional gender identities, by those who reject distinct sexual identities such as gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight, and by those who see themselves as oppressed by the
heteronormativityof the larger culture. In this usage it retains the historical connotation of "outside the bounds of normal society" and can be construed as "breaking the rules for sex and gender." It can be preferred because of its ambiguity, which allows "queer" identifying people to avoid the sometimes strict boundaries that surround other labels. In this context, "queer" is not a synonym for LGBTas it creates a space for "queer" heterosexuals as well as "non-queer" ("straight-acting") homosexuals.
For some queer-identified people, part of the point of the term 'queer' is that it simultaneously builds up and tears down boundaries of identity. For instance, among
genderqueerpeople, who do not solidly identify with one particular gender, once solid gender roles have been torn down, it becomes difficult to situate sexual identity. For some people, the non-specificity of the term is liberating. Queerness becomes a way to simultaneously make a political move against heteronormativity while simultaneously refusing to engage in traditional essentialist identity politics.
Several television shows, including "
Queer Eye", the cartoon " Queer Duck" and the British and American versions of "Queer as Folk", have also used the term in their titles to reinforce their positive self-identification message. This commonplace usage has, especially in the American colloquial culture, has recently led to the more hip and iconic abbreviation "Q".
The term is sometimes capitalized when referring to an identity or community, rather than merely a sexual fact (cf. the capitalized use of
" [http://www.queeruption.org.uk/qwb.htm Queers Without Borders] ", a network of queer activists that opposes border regimes while supporting those people oppressed by them.
"Queer Mutiny North", a D-I-Y non-hierarchical collective that aims to create politically motivated queer alternatives to the commercial and non-representative gay scene in the north of
" [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cardiff_queer_mutiny/ Cardiff Queer Mutiny] ", A not-for-profit collective inspired by queer activism/philosophy, DIY punk ethics, creativity, and political activist movements. "(These groups put on much more regular activity but are smaller in size.)"
Queer studiesas an academic discipline is now established at many universities.
* "Edward II"
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"
Queer as Folk"
Sexuality and gender identity-based cultures
Queer Youth Alliance
Bugger(as an identity label, i.e. "a bugger")
* Anon. "Queercore". "i-D magazine" No. 110; the sexuality issue. (1992).
* Crimp, D. "AIDS DemoGraphics". (1990).
* Katlin, T. "Slant: Queer Nation". "Artforum", November 1990. pp. 21-23.
* Tucker, S. "Gender, Fucking & Utopia". "Social text", Vol.9, No.1. (1992).
* [http://www.glbthistory.org The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society]
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