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Words with Friends

April 27, 2010

Not only a great app on the iPhone, but “words with friends” is what I’ve had the last few months regarding a few particular words (un)becoming of the LGBTQ community: “queer” and “gay lifestyle.” My “un” is parenthetical due to differing views within the community regarding these two terms. Some people identify as queer because they feel it best encapsulates their sexual orientation. Some look down on the phrase “gay lifestyle” because it describes a life led and looked upon differently than that of a heterosexual.

The term “queer,” in its most literal interpretation, conflicts with my own views toward homosexuality, as it describes something strange and abnormal. Even the dictionary agrees with me. Identifying as something other than straight is perfectly normal, but why has this word come into play as a categorical term of reference in the LGBTQ community?

Theory.org.uk provides an interesting explanation regarding queer theory:

Queer theory is a set of ideas based around the idea that identities are not fixed and do not determine who we are…Indeed, it proposes that we deliberately challenge all notions of fixed identity, in varied and non-predictable ways.

If queer theory revolves around the notion that a identity is not the end-all-be-all factor determining “who we are,” how has a word conveying such literal negatively been lumped into this progressive outlook on being?

While I do not identify as queer, I’ve come to terms with others’ qualms over the phrase “gay lifestyle” — how it passively establishes a sentiment of otherness while trying to sound politically correct. If I wanted correct politics, do you think I’d live in the U.S. of A.? Probably…but still! Thanks to the wise words of my friend Gerod Rody, what with me being so new to the “family” and all, I share this view in thinking one phrase; two words can be offensive. At the same time, there are people using this word I find negative to define their orientation, but I simultaneously see and respect it as the caboose of the political acronym I’ve come to know and love: “LGBTQ.”

Is it necessary to embrace all facets of political correctness when engaging with people from all walks of life? When is a word only a word, and when is it divided into two conflicting frames of thought?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Schnik permalink
    April 27, 2010 5:48 am

    It’s funny, I don’t feel any of those really describe me. At best, I find myself identifying as “homo” or in literal Latin translation: Same. 🙂

  2. Daniel permalink
    April 28, 2010 12:09 am

    I don’t have as much of a problem with the term “queer” as I do with the term “gay lifestyle”. In my mind, “gay lifestyle” implies a choice such as “college lifestyle” or “party lifestyle”. And we all know being gay is not a choice. I also think it is incorrect to assume that because I’m gay I subscribe to a particular “lifestyle”. The term comes with connotations.

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