Sunday, July 16, 2017

Vagaries of the word queer

During the 1990s, with the rise of Queer Nation and Queer Theory, there seemed a serious possibility that "queer" would become hegemonic, a universal label for all of us same-sexers and possibly other nonconformists as well. 

Things did not turn out that way, for Queer Nation has been essentially defunct for some years now, and Queer Theory is collapsing, together with its postmodern cousins in the academy. No one that I know of speaks of queer rights or queer marriage. So the q word has not, despite the aspirations of some observers, become the overall label of choice. That function has been assumed by LGBT - not in my view the ideal solution, but it has in fact become the answer. 

All the same there is still a use for the queer label. In the current assimilationist climate there is a danger that our heritage (if I may use the term) of outlaw/outsider affirmation will be swept away. Yet it continues, as the Queercore film shows. So the word queer should still be employed for this, dare I say, heroic affirmation of the outsider tradition. But the q word is contraindicated as a generic term, and those of us who object to its hegemonic deployment are justified: it does not apply to us.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my personal opinion, I see nothing wrong with the evolving fashions for how those with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity choose to identify themselves. For more, see my blog post in response:

Wayne Dynes declares 'queer' word obsolete plus Dan Savage on 'straight' truth (7/19/17

In my blog post I describe the history of the usage of "queer" at Oregon State University, and its current use for the

OSU Queer Archives (OSQA)

that documents LGBTQ+ histories at Oregon State, Corvallis, and Benton County, including the OSU Queer Archives Oral History Collection (OH 34).

See previous post OSU Queer Archives collaborates with German Professor Bradley Boovy (7/7/17)

Even though I would not have used the word "queer for this archive, it does cover the breadth of the Archive well and I can't imagine it causing confusion in the future, even if it could become quaint as the term "homophile" in the future.

2:00 PM  

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