Recently I was having a conversation with some people about identity and labeling – specifically around sexuality. One of my friends asked me what queer meant to me. He felt it was vague and unspecific, whereas for me, I feel it’s more meaningful and a better descriptor than the other options that are available.
Erika Moen drew a comic a couple of years ago that encapsulates fairly well how I feel, but yesterday after another friend asked me what queer meant to me, I realized it didn’t tell the whole story.
I came out as bisexual over twenty years ago, and I felt that identity/label fit for a long, long time. I was (and am) attracted to both men and women. But over the last several years, as I learned more about the gender spectrum, I felt constrained by this particular label. As the comments and discussions around Facebook’s decision to allow people to indicate a “custom” gender illustrate, there are far more than the two genders we’ve been led to believe.
But there are a few other components that Erika’s comic doesn’t touch on. Just as lesbians and gay men get a label that doesn’t have sexual in it, neither does queer. If you ask most people along the spectrum of gender and sexuality, I’d guess that while sexuality is a component of who they are, it’s not THE defining quality.
Finally, as I indicate in the title of this piece, I like queer for its OTHER and much OLDER meaning: odd, strange, or weird. I’ve always felt a little bit like an outsider, even within supposedly queer space. I’m too much this or not enough that. I like that queer is inclusive, broad and maybe a little slippery. It makes it that much harder for other people to define me, and that suits me just fine.