“We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” was the battle cry of so many gay rights marches. Where did it go, and is it back?
Striking differences in vernacular are appearing between different age groups in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. While older LGBT folks tend to stick with time-tested terminology, the youth are increasingly redefining the terms with which they brand their identities. New terms are entering the lexicon relating to the LGBT community, especially its youngsters. Many are tossing aside the standard terms such as gay or LGBT for the word “queer.”
Youth are embracing queer as an all-inclusive term in lieu of the traditional acronyms used by the community. In many cases LGBT youth are refusing to be defined at all by their orientations but by their collective struggle. To outsiders, the word queer may immediately seem offensive, but today’s gay youth are finding power in the word. Queer has gone even further and been heavily embraced by gay minority youth. The term Queer People of Color (QPOC) is appearing more and more referring to all LGBT non-whites, and seeks to empower QPOC as a collective force for change. It’s even gained so much momentum that 2013 will be the eighth year for its annual QPOC conference.
The reaction to the word queer within the LGBT community can be very broad. Opinions on the use of the word queer vary from an offensive word, akin to the word “faggot,” to not just a sexual identity but an identity of a movement. Queer is being used to encompass everything that isn’t within social norms.
As these terms evolve, it is important to bear in mind the context of their use in the struggle for LGBT rights. As the future leaders of the LGBT movement embrace new terms and identities these terms will continue to evolve. As they do, it is important to bear in mind the context of their use in the struggle for LGBT rights. As the reclamation of the definition of the word “queer” at the early stages of the fight for LGBT rights, we will continue to see people defining our struggle on our own terms.
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