Queer versus ‘The Q Word’

Queer Culture
Vada Voices

I never knew my blood pressure could shoot up so quick. Tell you what, kids – don’t go wasting your money on MDMA, just read the article on here entitled ‘The Q Word‘ and you’ll get the same rush pumping right through you (fair enough, this one is rage-fuelled but you’re still £40 better off).

‘Queer’ is a perfectly empowering word and has its place in culture indefinitely. It refers to such people, artworks, theories, literature etc. that wish not to fit in with accepted norms based on a heteronormative platform under a patriarchal rule, and as far as I’m concerned that’s what makes it so appealing. Queer looks to show what can happen when you don’t fall into line with what is generally taken as being “just so”, and is often liberating in terms of the refreshing lack of prejudices that come with a system swung too far in the favour of heteronormativity and, beyond that, heterosexual men. To then read more prejudices being thrown at the term Queer and those who wish to identify as Queer is downright depressing, particularly from a gay man.

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So, let’s get this clear – Queer is NOT synonymous with gay. Simple. If you knew that, give yourself a gold star (a big, Queer one with lots of glitter). Funnily enough, gay is NOT synonymous with being Queer. Guys who like guys don’t have to identify as “gay” if they wish to choose “Queer” instead which can encapsulate so much more (i.e. a male who is attracted to males, but who might also identify as “trans” and therefore doesn’t feel “gay” to go far enough). Queer culture may well be mostly made up of people who happen to be attracted to members of the same sex, but that is not an explicit rule of thumb. The majority of transvestites are heterosexual, but many identify with the term Queer and do so happily. It is not a method of labelling – it is a way of defining what you stand up for.

I identify as Queer, and here are a few fundamental things that I stand for: that a person’s anatomy does not define their gender; that women and men and everything in between are equal and should be treated as such; that equal marriage is bullshit and doesn’t go far enough as it doesn’t view gender outside of a binary system, and doesn’t allow for polyamorous relationships (relationships between more than two people) to marry; that monogamy ain’t all that; that I can walk into a clothes shop and buy from any section without being looked at by the cashier like I’ve just landed from Mars and pissed on their chest (even better, do away with ‘Mens’ and ‘Womens’ sections altogether); that casual sex is fun, and not “slutty” (a word used to oppress women by straight men – so please think again if you’re one of these gay guys who brands all other gays “slags”, you’re not helping anything by oppressing other gays and, in turn, yourself further) and many Queer sexual activists didn’t fight for sexual liberation just to be called a slag; and that the patriarchy needs overthrowing. These are generally accepted Queer theories, as they present alternative viewpoints, and these are viewpoints I stand for as a Queer.

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For the writer of the article in question to then say in a bemused manner that he now learns such things as “Queer culture” exists – well, I have news for you: it has ALWAYS existed. You can even do a Master’s Degree at Birmingham City University in Queer Studies in Art & Culture. But then, I suppose they’re all wrong too, eh? Tch, these radicals and their harmful words. The author of the article claims what people mean by “Queer culture” is “gay culture”. Well, being “Queer” does not just stop at being gay. If you want to stop at just being “gay”, then go for it! Knock yourself out! Get gay ALL over the upholstery. But nobody can tell me that I can’t then be Queer. It’s a word many don’t understand.

To another point – the one the author raises about the word being used with negative connotations, akin to “poof” and “faggot”. Darling, please. No word is positive and no word is negative until it is put into context. Yes, the word “queer” is used as a form of abuse, but just stop to ask “Who is using the word abusively?” That would be the homophobes. It’s nothing to do with the word, it’s all to do with who’s using it and how. Don’t help them by making the word even more of a taboo. I mean, you say “feminist” to some people and they’ll conjure up negative connotations. Why? Because they’re generally dicks. It doesn’t then rule out identifying a feminist as being something that is actually perfectly rational, and generally decent.

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It’s in debates like this that we forget the Q in LGBTQ. Queer is the “Why not?” to heteronormativity’s “Why?”. And, fuck me, we need that.