The past two decades, LGBTQ folks have been taking back the once-pejorative ‘queer’ as their own. Many folks elect not to identify as an individual letter of the alphabet soup, but solely as queer, seeing any individual letter as too constraining or restrictive. Others are adopting queer as a political identifier, often indicating their rejection of heteronormativity.
Groups have started incorporating queer into their names as an indicator of broad, general acceptance of all shapes of gender identity and sexual orientation. Just a few days ago, the Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival announced that they’ve renamed themselves TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival. Other examples of LGBTQ groups that use queer to try and encompass a larger audience are QueerPeopleOfTech and MN Queer Science (the LGBTQ science group at the University of Minnesota that Daniel co-founded).
While trying to be more encompassing, queer can be othering and divisive, and is far from being a generally accepted umbrella term in the community. There are many people, myself included, who do not identify with the word queer despite broadly identifying with many aspects of the above definition.
Some of us have proudly identified as gay or lesbian for years, fighting for our families and communities to treat us as equals despite those labels and can’t fathom switching now. Or maybe it’s that queer’s modern definition still leads with ‘strange; odd’ and many of us have been called that enough already in our lives. Perhaps it’s a generational thing and that generations younger than mine are embracing and reclaiming queer the way my generation and those before me embraced and reclaimed gay.
Regardless, if you really must call me something besides friend or fellow human1, stick to gay before queer.