Racial & Ethnic
GBT on Wikipedia
Polari: Gay Slang
Gay on Wikipedia
Lesbian on Wikipedia
UAB Safe Zone
Umbrella Term for Sexual
Queer has traditionally meant
unusual, though modern
use often pertains to
Its usage is considered
underwent substantial changes over the course of the 20th century with
some LGBT people reclaiming 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
sexual orientation and/or
gender identity or
gender expression that
does not conform to
In contemporary usage, some use
queer as an inclusive, unifying sociopolitical,
umbrella term for
people who are
of any other non-heterosexual sexuality, sexual anatomy, or
It can also include
people, as well as
heterosexuals whose sexual orientations or activities
place them outside the heterosexual-defined mainstream (e.g.
persons). Queer in this sense (depending on how broadly
it is defined) is commonly used as a synonym for such terms as
Urban Dictionary: Queer
Discussion of Meaning
According to Merriam-Webster...
Queer as a term referring to
homosexuals or gay and lesbian people was often disparaging and
Over the past two decades, an
important change has occurred in the use of
The older, strongly pejorative use has certainly not vanished,
but a use by some gay people and some academics as a neutral or
even positive term has established itself. This development is
most noticeable in the adjective but is reflected in the
corresponding noun as well.
The newer use is sometimes taken
to be offensive, especially by older gay men who fostered the
in these uses and still have a strong preference for it.
POWER OF WORDS & SYMBOLS
Reclamation and Empowerment
pink triangle was
originally used by the
Nazis to denote
homosexuality in male
concentration camp prisoners.
It has since been
organizations use the inverted pink triangle as a symbol of queer
gay pride and
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
heteronormativity of the
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
LGBT as it creates a
space for "queer" heterosexuals as well as "non-queer" homosexuals.
"Fag" or "faggot" are slang
terms that are considered to be pejorative and offensive to gay and
lesbian people. The use of these words is intended as an epithet
or slur, meant to demean or insult.
Similarly, slang expressions like "homo,"
"fairy," and "dyke" are considered to be derogatory. Referring to
gay and lesbian people as "sodomites," "deviates," "pedophiles," or
"perverts" is clearly meant as an insult.
Often such disparaging language is part of
the hate speech used by bullies to verbally abuse, harass and threaten
those they consider to be gay or lesbian. Such vocabulary is also
used by hate groups and other ideological organizations to intimidate,
defame or vilify gay and lesbian people.
Additionally, using the word "gay" as a
general insult is disrespectful and offensive, as in the expression,
"That's so gay," in which the speaker uses the term "gay" to mean "bad"
THE Q WORD
What's In a Name?
Several television shows,
of Queer as Folk,
Queer Eye For The
Straight Guy and the cartoon
have also used the term in their titles. 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
community, rather than merely a sexual fact.
There has sprung up a variety of
special interest categories and subject matter than employ the
positive use of the term queer.
as an academic discipline is now established at many
universities. There is a sociological perspective known as
You can also find Queer Culture,
Queer Nation, Queer Cinema (See: Queer Lounge), Queer Theology,
Queer Nationalism, Queer Literature, Queer History, and Queer
Queer Theory is a field of
critical theory that
emerged in the early 1990s out of the fields of
LGBT studies and
feminist studies. It is a
kind of interpretation devoted to
queer readings of texts.
Heavily influenced by the work of
Michel Foucault, queer
theory builds both upon
feminist challenges to
the idea that
gender is part of the
essential self and upon
gay/lesbian studies' close examination of the
nature of sexual
gay/lesbian studies focused its inquiries into "natural" and "unnatural"
behavior with respect to homosexual behavior, queer theory expands its
focus to encompass any kind of sexual activity or identity that falls
Queer Theory Home Page