The word queer has more than just one use. It is used as a derogatory term by some, an umbrella term for the LGBT community by others, and for others, the word queer applies to anyone who fits outside of typical gender roles.
The meaning of queer and its numerous interpretations was the topic of discussion at yesterday’s Pride! Kent meeting in room 315 Student Center.
“Queer doesn’t necessarily describe someone’s sexual orientation,” Pride!’s Vice President Trae Ruscin, who instructed the meeting’s lesson, said. “Anyone who breaks a gender norm can identify as queer.”
Ruscin admits, however, that there are still many people today who use the word negatively against the LGBT community to describe them as outsiders.
As a transsexual still transitioning and an open bisexual, Ruscin used his own life to illustrate how he identifies himself as queer.
“I kind of live in the gray area of sexuality and gender,” Ruscin said.
Many of the attendees agreed.
“When I took LGBT studies, I learned that being queer was about breaking stereotypes,” a student said. “Both gay and straight.”
Ruscin also pointed out that the word itself has held a long history in the English language. The word queer was first introduced by military officials to instruct non-straight line formations. In 1922, the Oxford Dictionary defined queer as “not mentally straight.” Since then, queer has grown into different meanings among different groups.
The discussion evolved into a debate about how LGBTQ should interpret the abuse of words, such as gay.
“I try not to be too sensitive about someone else’s vocabulary,” one student said. “Though I will feel a bit awkward most times.”
Earlier in the meeting, Pride!’s President Max Harrington encouraged everyone to attend the speaker event featuring Geoffrey Giles who will discuss the inhumane treatment of homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps. The event takes place 7:30 p.m., Tuesday at the KIVA and is sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program and Pride! Kent.
— Simon Husted