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Is It OK to Say Queer?

What the Word Queer Means to Me

We've reclaimed it: the word "queer." It's inclusive, it's broad, and it's the word that feels best for me. Yes, the term was a slur. When I used the word queer in front of my grandma for the first time, I registered the shock in her voice, but I quickly explained that queer had been reclaimed in academic discourse and in public spheres in the early 1990s. This reclamation took back a word lobbed as an insult and made it something beautiful and inclusive. It broadens the scope for gender and sexual expression by defying a fixed label or identity through something that is inherently changing and changeable.

Queer at its inception was a label that defied labelling. It eschews traditional fixed identities for a flexibility (see: not gay as in happy, but queer as in f*ck you) that need not be defined, explained, or locked in. Queer is a spectrum that includes, but is not limited to, gender identity or sexual orientation. It is an umbrella term that represents a myriad of LGBTQ+ identities, used as a quick and inclusive shorthand.

It feels good to proudly say I'm here, I'm queer, and I love it.

For me, queer feels like the most comfortable label (yes, labelling can be problematic) because it allows me to best communicate who I am and want to be. In one word, I can express that I am changeable in my personal identity, as well as the people I want to love, date, and have sex with. As a cisgender woman, queerness comes with its complications: not feeling queer enough, or fighting the hetero-normative socialisation that taught me how to talk to and date men but no one else. But regardless of my issues, it's the space and identity that suits me best. It feels good to proudly say I'm here, I'm queer, and I love it.

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