‘Queer’ was reclaimed as an umbrella term for people identifying as not-heterosexual and/or not-cisgender in the early 1980s, but being queer is more than just being non-straight/non-cis; it’s a political and ideological statement, a label asserting an identity distinct from gay and/or traditional gender identities.
People identifying as queer are typically not cis gays or cis lesbians, but bi, pan, ace, trans, nonbinary, intersex, etc.: we’re the silent/ced letters. We’re the marginalised majority within the LGBTQIA+ community, and
‘queer’ is our rallying cry.
And that’s equally pissing off and terrifying terfs and cis LGs.
There’s absolutely no historical or sociolinguistic reason why ‘queer’ should be a worse slur than ‘gay.’ Remember how we had all those campaigns to make people stop using ‘gay’ as a synonym for ‘bad’?
Yet nobody is suggesting we should abolish ‘gay’ as a label. We accept that even though ‘gay’ sometimes is and historically frequently was used in a derogatory manner, mlm individuals have the right to use that word. We have ad campaigns, twitter hashtags, and viral Facebook posts defending ‘gay’ as an identity label and asking people to stop using it as a slur.
Whereas ‘queer’ is treated exactly opposite: a small but vocal group of people within feminist and LGBTQIA+ circles insists that it’s a slur and demands that others to stop using it as a personal, self-chosen identity label.
Because “queer is a slur” was invented by terfs specifically to exclude trans, nonbinary, and
intersex people from feminist and non-heterosexual discourse, and was
subsequently adopted by cis gays and cis lesbians to exclude bi/pan and ace
It’s classic divide-and-conquer tactics: when our umbrella term is redefined as a slur and we’re harassed into silence for using it, we no longer have a word for what we are allowing us to organise for social/political/economic support; we are denied the opportunity to influence or shape the spaces we inhabit; we can’t challenge existing community power structures; we’re erased from our own history.
Pro tip: when you alter historical evidence to deny a marginalised group empowerment, you’re one of the bad guys.
“Queer is a slur” is used by terfs and cis gays/lesbians to silence the voices of trans/nonbinary/intersex/bi/pan/ace people in society and even within our own communities, to isolate us and shame us for existing.
“Queer is a slur” is saying “I am offended by people who do not conform to traditional gender or sexual identities because they are not sexually available to me or validate my personal identity.”
“Queer is a slur” is defending heteronormativity.
“Queer is a slur” is frankly embarrassing. It’s an admission of ignorance and prejudice. It’s an insidious discriminatory discourse parroted uncritically in support of a divisive us-vs-them mentality targeting the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQIA+ community for lack of courage to confront the white cis straight men who pose an actual danger to us as individuals and as a community.
I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m too old for this shit.