We’re here, we’re queer

By Jack Rechsteiner, managing editor.

Hot Take: There needs to be a change in how we talk about queer folks.

And yes, I said queer. Not gay, or LGBT or even LGBT+, but queer. As someone who is queer themselves (I’m asexual and agender, gotta #represent) I try to be involved with the different communities in the area and try to stay informed on what’s happening with queer communities in general. And there is something I’m sick and tired of seeing over and over again: LGBT. It’s a bad term, and we need to stop using it. It’s an awkward mouthful to say, it’s outdated and, most importantly, it’s not inclusive.

Gender and sexual identities cover such a broad spectrum that they can’t be confined to oversimplified categories, like heterosexual or homosexual and cisgender or transgender. By being based on that social system of one-or-the-other binaries, the term LGBT limits how we can perceive and think about gender and sexuality. Using LGBT as a blanket term to refer to anyone who isn’t straight and cisgender excludes so many people who are queer-identifying. Even the slightly more inclusive “LGBT+” still places emphasis on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and invalidates those who fall outside of those categories. Who wants to say “We’re here, we’re LGBT+”? No thank you. It sounds more like a sandwich order than something that someone can proudly identify as. So, let’s all agree to stop it with the weird acronym stuff and use a better word: queer.

“But wait! Isn’t queer a… bad word?” one may ask, which is not entirely wrong. In the past, “queer” has been used as a derogatory term but has since been reclaimed as a word of pride and identity by queer folks, who identify under a broad umbrella of various identities and expressions. This is part of what makes it such a powerful word to use. Instead of conforming to ideas of the cis-heteronormative, either-or binary, the term queer explodes those categories and lets people place themselves on the rainbow spectrum of identity wherever they feel is the most accurate. And, unlike “LGBT+”, the word queer can be used as an identity by someone who isn’t sure about their identity but knows that it isn’t cisgender/heterosexual or by someone who is fluid in their identity. Someone who doesn’t feel comfortable telling everyone their gender or sexual identity can still refer to themselves as queer without having to explain their identity.

What it comes down to is that queer is a unifying word that recognizes and celebrates all the ways someone can identify in ways that LGBT can’t. Many people have fought to reclaim queer as a word and an identity. Not to use the word queer as a source of pride would be disempowering and excluding to many queer people. So, please, help make the world a little better and a little queerer.

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