Social Question

Yellowdog's avatar

Why did they add a "Q" (for "Queer") to LGBT? Isn't that an insult label?

Asked by Yellowdog (11064points) July 2nd, 2018

This is what I understand:

L = Lesbian: Women who are attracted to women.
G= Gay: Homosexual men; men who are attracted to men,
B= Bisexual: Men or Women who are attracted to BOTH sexes.
T= Transgender. Men or women who do not identify with the sex of their birth, but with the other sex—irregardless as to whether they have had sexual reassignment surgery, and irregardless as to which sex they are attracted to.

Now, the “Q” (Queer) label used to refer to homosexual men, or occasionally transgender men or boys with effeminate traits. But it was never a ‘nice’ thing to be called. It was like the designation ‘faggot’ In any case, it seems redundant with the other terms of the LGBT banner.

Androgyny, Hermaphrodites, and asexual or non-sexual are not covered

I personally do not like using the “Q” banner because it is an insult. But it seems to be coming into vogue.

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73 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Sexual minorities started re-appropriating the use of the word queer in the late 1980s. The chant “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it ” was a liberation cry.

Queer Nation was a group formed by ACT-UP activists in 1990.

Queer was often used as a bullying word by homophobics.,By reclaiming it the power to hurt was taken out of it.

LGBTQ has been around a long time, it is not “seem to be coming into vogue”. It is now extended to LGBTQIAQ. (Intersex, Asexual, Questioning)

notnotnotnot's avatar

@Yellowdog: “I personally do not like using the “Q” banner because it is an insult. But it seems to be coming into vogue.”

As @zenvelo mentions, queer has been a very common term used for self-identification for decades.

But as a rule, it’s not necessarily your job to determine which terms groups choose to adopt to self-identify.

canidmajor's avatar

@Yellowdog, where have you been for the last 50 years? As a teenager on Fire Island in the 60s, “queer” was in usage, by the gay residents of Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines, as a self-designator, for the reasons that @zenvelo mentioned.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Interesting that we have a conservative, religious minister fretting over what LGBTQ people are calling themselves. I find that odd and ironic.

As others have said, the “Q” is a self-chosen initial used to take ownership of the term and show pride in it, so that others cannot use it as a weapon against them.

Yellowdog's avatar

I agree with calling people what they want to be called. And if people of that designation have owned it, then that is what they want to be called.

I also remember when it was an insult—Childhood is too early to be sexually oriented but many boys with effeminate traits, or who were less tough, or maybe too creative (I was into puppets, drama, and art) or who have too many friends who were girls—were designated ‘Queer’ and were tormented heavily. Such memories are why I PERSONALLY do not like the word.

But if the LGBT + Q community owns it—and want to be called that, that’s what I’ll call them. I don’t call them very often, however.

I myself DO have some loose ties with them, as I am a Hermaphrodite who has always identified with the Male gender. But even as a male I probably identified as Intersex during my late childhood and early teens.

The Evangelical Christian community is fairly non-judgemental among individuals and may have gays and transgender in the arts—but resists gay marriage and societal change, Many Evangelicals consider it a sin but no more serious than any other sin most people engage in. Its not encouraged but is generally accepted among individuals, especially among late Boomers, Generation X and younger.

kritiper's avatar

“Queer” is a perfectly acceptable term, and as I understand it, accepted by the LGBT community.

Demosthenes's avatar

The “Q” was also used as a catch-call for anything that is not specifically lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans but is also not straight/cis. “Queer” is that umbrella term that can cover it all.

Dutchess_III's avatar

We used to have a social activist here, and on Wis.dm, named Simone DeBouvier. She identified as queer. So it’s what ever trips your trigger.

Patty_Melt's avatar

By definition, queer simply means not of the norm, an oddity. It is not, in that sense, derogatory, unless you are using it in relation to someone who deeply desires to be average.

I have used the work queer numerous times, but I can’t recall ever using it to mean gay.
Mostly when someone is being silly, with a side of creepy, I will call them queer.

Huh. Spellchecker won’t let me do it. I had to go back and retype each one.
It was in common use where I went to primary school, but when it started gaining usage in the gay community, we all sort of backed off using it.
Most of the people I have heard using it to define lifestyle, were saying it about themselves. I believe it is not simply defining sexual preference, but as I said, lifestyle, which is often a bit off the Dick and Jane norm.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Always taught it was ‘questioning’. That’s another word struck from my vocabulary.

janbb's avatar

^^ I was an ally at work of a group that used LBGTQQ for the obvious plus queer and questioning. I agree with those who say it has been in vogue for many years as a self-identifier.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@janbb I’ll let someone else use it, same as the N word, not going to be me.

janbb's avatar

@KNOWITALL I understand that and would probably do the same thing.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it’s kind of like the word “Snowflake,” which was created to insult compassionate liberals. It was meant to be an insult, but we turned it into a battle cry.
Words, meanings, are fluid.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Patty_Melt There is no single lesbian, gay or bisexual lifestyle. Lesbians, gay men and bisexuals are diverse in the ways they lead their lives. The phrase “gay lifestyle” is used to denigrate lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals suggesting that their orientation is a choice and therefore can and should be “cured”. source

Please don’t use the term lifestyle.

seawulf575's avatar

Not sure why we have LGBT or LGBTQ or any of them. Isn’t sexual orientation just a thing? You shouldn’t try labeling people by their sexual orientation. If you call someone Mr. and he identifies as a woman, you are a bad guy. So isn’t having groups that run by labels a bad thing?

notnotnotnot's avatar

^ Not one word of this makes any sense. Just stop.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@seawulf575 We shouldn’t try to label, or make someone fit into a box, that’s a big part of the social and political problems right now.
And fyi, my trans friend is very understanding when we slip and use the male pronouns instead of female, takes a bit of getting used to, a good sense of humor helps, and knowing we love her no matter what.

@notnotnot You are not the fluther police, you stop.

zenvelo's avatar

@seawulf575 Yes, You (unless you are a member of a sexual minority) should not label people by sexual orientation. (One should not label anyone for any reason).

The LGBTQIAQ labeling is a matter of self-iedntification.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But can’t we identify them by how they identify themselves? About a year ago my 21 year old grandson was visiting and we were on the deck. I suddenly said, “Hey, is Dom gay?”
Dominick has been his good friend since middle school. He was one of my students in 2012. He shows up on my door step from time to time to visit.
My grandson goes, “Duh! Aren’t you a fast one!”
I had to laugh at myself.
I said, “Does it affect your friendship at all?”
He said, “Nope. He knows I’m not gay and as long as he respects that we’re good.”
Was I wrong to use the “label” “gay”?

Dutchess_III's avatar

And to that same end, @KNOWITALL just said, ”...and my trans friend….” ... was she so bad and wrong to use that “lable”?

Patty_Melt's avatar

@Aethelwine, I didn’t lump anybody. The word lifestyle applies to us each as individuals.
I have a lifestyle, but I would certainly not presume to believe my lifestyle lumps all heterosexual women together as being “like” me.
I find it terribly presumptuous of you to give the impression you are the voice of LBGTQQABCDEFG.
not everyone agrees with you. Lifestyle is not a category. Lots of people know that, and that includes people of all sorts of lifestyles.
Read above again, what I said. Lots of people use the word queer in reference to lifestyle, their own. I said nothing about whether that groups any particular people together. I only said some people find the word queer applies to their own lifestyle.
That is individuality through and through, so don’t go sticking your tongue out at me. You know nothing about the life I have lived, the people I have known, or lived with.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I have to agree with @Patty_Melt. Each person has their own unique lifestyle. I have mine, she has hers, you have yours, others have theirs.

Yellowdog's avatar

She has his own unique lifestyle, too.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III Shoot no, I’m not wrong to call her that. Unlike many people, I ask questions about anything I’m unsure about directly to the person so there’s no confusion. :)

@Patty_Melt I agree with you. Screw all this judgement here lately.

zenvelo's avatar

@Dutchess_III To answer your question, why are you nosing around in other people’s private life? it is non eo your business. So yes, you were wrong to use the label, and you were wrong to ask grandson.

Patty_Melt's avatar

People have gotten extreme about labels.
Sometimes a word or phrase is necessary to specify a group of people. Doing such is not always a derogatory thing.
At weddings, we have friends of the bride there, friends of the groom there.
“WAIT A MINUTE BUSTER! DON’T TRY TO LUMP ME TOGETHER WITH OTHERS. I AM FRIENDS WITH BOTH OF THEM.”
Fine, sit on the freaking roof, whatever.
Grouping people verbally is sometimes simply a way of determining just who we are talking about.

Yellowdog's avatar

This question started as me asking if “Q” was an insulting label.

I remember as a kid entire playgrounds at school tormenting me into the dirt with the word merely because I was friends with girls and was a little bit girlish looking myself and made puppets.

I find it hard to believe that ANYONE would own or claim or label themselves a queer, faggot, or nigger. Maybe owning the label is a way of healing from the hurt. But I would never call anyone any of those labels. Gay, Homosexual, Transgender, Bisexual, Intersexual—but not queer or fag or nigger or any other derrogatory name.

Nowhere in my question is any insinuation of judgement.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Yellowdog No, you didn’t do anything wrong.

The people here who are telling people what they can and can’t say are in the wrong. All we can do on Q’s like this is explain our position or opinion, not tell anyone else what they can and can’t do. People should change their profile pics to PC Police vests so we know who to avoid lol

Demosthenes's avatar

@Yellowdog Well you don’t have to believe it, but people do. I also think it’s a generational thing. I can’t even recall a time when queer simply meant “strange”. (Although I think it’s probably a little more recent than “gay” meaning “happy”).

Dutchess_III's avatar

That is ridiculous @zenvelo. Why would him being gay have to be something “private,” something no one should know? I’m straight and it’s no secret. It’s nothing private. You act like it’s something to be ashamed of. I don’t think it is. I guess you do, and it made you uncomfortable.

filmfann's avatar

A friend of mine, who has been a spokesman for the LGBT community, just calls it “the alphabet”, because LGBT omits many different lifestyles.

zenvelo's avatar

@Dutchess_III No, I don’t think it is anything to be ashamed of. But it is none of your business

@KNOWITALL When people start talking about the “PC Police”, they are complying about no longer being able to be disrespectful. I don’t want people to be PC, I just wish people would treat others with respect. That includes not asking them about their sexual orientation.

seawulf575's avatar

I think my point is that if labels are bad, why is there a group that focuses on labels representing those that think labels are bad? Think about it…If you were to say you were a leader of the LGBT community and someone asks if you are gay, why is that wrong? If you are going to take offense at a question like that, why are you in a group that advertises the labels?

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
notnotnotnot's avatar

@seawulf575: “I think my point is…”

Holy shit. You doubled down on the nonsense.

If you’re able to use a computer and type this, you should be able to realize that you are typing nonsense. You have to be trolling.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Zenvelo Oh now you get to decide what I mean by PC Police, too? Geez.

Listen, whats right for @Dutchess to ask her own grandson is NOT your business. She was curious and asked a legit question. See that furthers understanding. Why wouldnt you want someone from the Midwest to ask questions and learn? Heck a decade ago it was still iffy if you could keep a gay bar safe and open here. We need to educate people, certainly not take them to task for the wrong label or verbiage.
All I’m saying is please understand we cant be so rigid being PC, that we forget to help people learn. There are no stupid questions when educating people.

@notnot You been here like a minute and taking on senior jellies. Way to make friends.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
notnotnotnot's avatar

@Patty_Melt – You do know that “lifestyle” was designed as a political tool, and is used as a weapon against people, right? When you use this word, you have to be aware that you’re going to get pushback.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I asked someone about that recently and was told it’s OK for one to use the label regarding themselves or within their own community but it’s not OK for others to do so. That’s all I got.

Demosthenes's avatar

@seawulf575 Who’s saying “labels are bad” though? You’re accepting that as a premise, but I don’t know that people are arguing that “labels are bad”. Labels are human nature. You can’t escape them.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Patty_Melt's avatar

The word lifestyle applies to everyone, not just an individual community.
Oh, wait, isn’t the word community isolationist?
Hurry notnot, get the computer from mom and jump in here.

raum's avatar

@Patty_Melt Referring to someone’s sexual orientation as a preference or lifestyle is offensive because it is implying that it is something they just chose.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I did not do that.
I never once said gay lifestyle.
In fact, I was speaking of friends who are living a self described “queer lifestyle” which means neither gay nor straight, but offbeat, or different. Some people are proud of being different.
My very point was, that people who claim a queer lifestyle are not framing themselves as gay, but different.
If anyone believes that to mean specifically gay, they were defining that themselves. I never once said gay lifestyle.

Zaku's avatar

I’ve met plenty of people who proudly say they are queer. I believe I understood accurately enough that they meant by that that they had a non-traditional sexuality of some kind(s).

As a quick visit to Wikipedia explains:

“Beginning in the late 1980s, queer scholars and activists began to reclaim the word to establish community and assert an identity distinct from the gay identity. People who reject traditional gender identities and seek a broader and deliberately ambiguous alternative to the label LGBT may describe themselves as queer.”

Response moderated
Response moderated
JLeslie's avatar

I don’t know why people are jumping all over @Yellowdog for asking a question about the word Queer. You can just answer in a nuce way to inform him.

I thought it was odd when the show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy came out. That’s when I figured out the gay community was at least semi-alright with the use of Queer. Back then though, I had been under the impression that gay people only used it among themselves. Kind of like I can call myself that, but you can’t use it. Similar to nigger now. But, then it seemed Queer became basically acceptable in general. I still don’t use it. Queer Eye kind of reminds me of the show Blackish. Willing to put the label on it and live in the stereotypes while also showing the world how much we are all alike.

I’ve also been told the Q actually means Questioning. I don’t know the official word on that.

If Queer means gay then it’s redundant to put it in there. If Queer means anyone not “straight” or as said anyone under the umbrella, I guess it’s to catch anything not covered in the LGBT.

Adding the Q seems unnecessary to me, but I’m not gay, and I’m not going to tell a minority group what to call themselves, except to say I have. Lol. I’m usually not fond of reviving words that have been used in a derogatory way, but it’s been done no matter what I think. Gay meant happy years ago, but also at one point it eluded to sexually promiscuous, or at minimum flirty, so I found it a little odd when homosexual men adopted gay as their identifier.

There are people in the gay community who still don’t like the use of Queer, but overall I guess it’s been accepted.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

From my understanding and from what I have seen I can say that “Queer” is the term that is meant to be temporary for people that are still unsure of their own sexuality or wanting to experiment more about ‘new’ sexuality. Once they’ve discovered their own sexuality they will abandon this term and adopt one of LGBT letter in accordance to their sexuality.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t think “life style” = “preference.” I live a fairly austere life style due to a lack of funds for playing with. We camp quite a bit, but I’d rather be jetting up to the Pacific Northwest to visit family, or hanging out on an island in Florida with my dad’s wife.
I need to think about this though. There are many ways I could live an austere life without doing inexpensive things I like, like camping. I could collect coupons…but I choose camping over coupons.

raum's avatar

@Dutchess_III In the general sense, lifestyle does not equal preference.

But in the context of LGBTQ, they have the same implications.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That can get really confusing, you know? I don’t know why it has to be so confusing.

raum's avatar

It’s not just an LGBTQ thing.
Or an issue of being politically-correct.

Language exists within context.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III It doesn’t have to be confusion, it only seems that way because some people here are pushing the PC answers on you.

I’ve literally been schooled more on fluther about this than by anyone in the LGBTQ community. They just laugh when I tell them about some of these posts/ thoughts and tell me not to worry about it.

Demosthenes's avatar

Don’t understand why “preference” should be controversial. A preference doesn’t necessarily imply choice. I have a preference for the color green, but I didn’t choose it. I’ve liked it since I was a kid; I don’t know why I like it, I just do. I can understand the controversy around “lifestyle”. A lifestyle is a choice, like the “rocker lifestyle” or the “hippie lifestyle” or something like that. The word “lifestyle” is also often used negatively, e.g. “avoid that lifestyle”, “you don’t want that lifestyle”, etc.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL @KNOWITALL! I’ve noticed that too!

JLeslie's avatar

Down here in Florida we talk about lifestyle all the time in a positive way—enjoying the Florida lifestyle. BUT, when it comes to LGBT I think the problem is the “gay lifestyle” was perceived as extremely promiscuous. Not every gay person is promiscuous, plenty are in long term loyal relationships.

I personally don’t think of the word lifestyle in regards to LGBTQ, because I make no assumption about a lifestyle or behavior just because someone isn’t “straight.” I do make assumptions about their dance clubs, and my assumption is the music will be fantastic. Lol. I spent my teen years in LGBTS clubs. I put the S, because the club I primarily went to had quite a lot of straight people in it. Just trying for a little levity there, but everything I wrote is in fact true.

zenvelo's avatar

@JLeslie The problem is that “lifestyle” has been used pejoratively by homophobic people to imply that there is a choice to being gay/lesbian, and that lifestyles can be legislated out of existence to remove that choice.

People adopt a “Florida lifestyle”; some even maintain it when they move away. People don’t “adopt” a gay lifestyle; they are born that way.

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo Like I said, I wouldn’t use lifestyle to describe LGBT. I think its wrong to do so. If the haters are using lifestyle to mean it’s a choice, then of course it’s not ok. However, I maintain that it shouldn’t matter whether it’s a choice or not, adults can do whatever the hell they want regarding sex and love if all parties are consenting in my opinion. Same with gender, if they want to live as a different gender than what they were assigned at birth, that’s their business. I think focusing on nature or choice is a mistake. How about respecting people’s individual rights period.

Aethelwine's avatar

@JLeslie How about respecting people’s individual rights period.

That’s what the LGBTQ community and their allies are fighting for. It isn’t easy when you have millions fighting to take their rights away. Just look at the pushback here on this Q. Asking for respectful discourse is considered the ‘pc police” by some.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I realize that. I’m not sure that there is pushback on the Q. I think people are trying to say they remember when queer was derogatory, and maybe pick another word. Just maybe their intention is to be helpful by explaining how they perceive the word. I also think it’s fine to explain to them the word has changed, and also explain that you think it’s a tool of the conservatives to use specific words and scripts to marginalize groups. But, I don’t think we have to attack anyone here that’s all. I don’t want to assume a bad intention, I want to listen.

Remember, I’m the one who says I think black people should not use the word nigger. My example is I don’t hear Jews using kike. It’s all very similar.

I think it was Dutchess who said now liberals are using snowflake as a battle cry. I haven’t heard that, but I believe her.

I’m all for reducing the name calling.

I’m ok with a group deciding for themselves what they want to be called, or use among themselves. To me it’s obvious that they have every right to decide what they orefercabd what’s offensive. I just think let’s make sure they know what is conjured up in the minds of those hearing it.

A 20 year old may have no clue what a 60 year old might perceive that word as.

I just answered on a Q that I don’t think I would ever get a tattoo, and that I didn’t play the wedding match at my wedding. The primary reason is because of what it reminds Holocaust survivors of, and even people who didn’t go through it, they know the association. It’s the same type of thing. Did you read the article I linked?

I do realize that the people here giving the most blowback are generally associated with a conservative view point, and the conservatives in the country have been the ones trying to inhibit equal rights for the LGBT community. I too have always had a serious problem with trying to block equal rights. I have always supported gay marriage and gay people in the military. I mean even before it was a hot issue, way back in my teens when I first became aware. Anyway, I see why it’s hard to trust the intention even during a discussion. Trying to control words matters. “They” tried to control the definition of marriage. I had a serious problem with that. I get it believe me.

I don’t think there is any mal intention though by the OP asking this Q. By asking he can learn from people in or near the LGBT community, instead of only hearing what people similar to him think. Let’s not beat someone up for asking.

It’s hard for me to believe that if straight people start saying he’s queer and she’s queer all the time that it’s really ok, but if everyone hear says so then I guess it is. Not that I’m sure why that would come up all the time, but I think you know what I mean.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When I think of “gay lifestyle” I think of community baths….it’s got to be a throwback to the 80s and when AIDs first came on the scene.

zenvelo's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yes, people like Ronald Reagan who blamed the AIDS epidemic on people choosing to be gay. Because to Reagan and company ALL gays were spending every free moment in a bathhouse having anonymous group sex.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yep. That was basically the perception we were left with.

Having said that, though, I have a classmate who finally realized he was gay when he was about 35 two kids later!) He lives in another state, but he flew down for our 40th reunion and, also, just last week when our class had a 60th birthday bash. I kid you not, the man scopes out sexual partners as part of his itinerary! I mean, other men he has never even met before!! As a female, that really left me befuddled. I’d be scared to death to meet some random stranger for the sole purpose of having sex. I can’t even imagine such a thing.

JLeslie's avatar

Exactly, what I said. Gay Lifestyle was used as a way to infer promiscuity. I put a big BUT to emphasize how lifestyle used for gay people has a negative, even derogatory connotation. It’s not ok.

And, I’d just like to agree that Reagan was horrible during the time of AIDS first hitting America. He bowed to the religious right and didn’t want to let the Surgeon General give out solid advice to the public, because it would involve talking about sex and condoms. He didn’t act swiftly to protect the blood supply, with great harm done especially to people with hemophilia. It is one of my biggest reasons I don’t like Reagan. He was an actor! Many friends and peers of his were affected by AIDS. Truly disappointing.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My life style is BORING!!!

Patty_Melt's avatar

Gay lifestyle never was a thing to me, but queer lifestyle was.
It may have something to do with a few of my best friends. There was a gay couple who were rather flamboyant. They were cute, full of energy, and had no qualms about pirouetting around there apartment in matching briefs. Through them I came to understand how the term fairy came to be. Another friend who was gay was more happy closer to the ground. He liked those guys, but he felt the flaming was a bit much.
The couple had no qualms about announcing they were queer, and it was the only way to live life. To me queer life was about the attitude, not about being gay.
I never had anyone appear to differ from that.
I’ve had gay friends who were queer, and others who weren’t.

I lost track of that couple over the years.
Last year I got their anniversary notice passed along to me on facebook. Man, thirty years. Queer lifestyle works for some.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Aethelwine I said PC Police to @Zenvelo (not you) because if we don’t KNOW ‘lifestyle’ is wrong, should we really get tons of posts about how horrible it was?

Now she does and it’s still HER CHOICE about what to say or not. End of story.

chyna's avatar

@Aethelwine has deleted her account.

NomoreY_A's avatar

This may be off topic, but the word “queer” can also be used to denote simply unusual or out of the ordinary. I read a book recently that dealt with attempts by a Clergyman in So. Africa in the 19th Cenntury, to convert Zulu tribesmen to Christianity. One of them brought up the issue of how the Books allegedly written by Moses describe his own death. Very legit question, how could he have written a book describing the time and place of his own death? Some wit in England wrote a ditty about this: “A Bishop there was in Natal, who a Zulu had as a pal. Says the Zulu, ‘Look ‘ere, ain’t the Pentateuch queer?’ And converted My Lord of Natal”.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah…. “Queer” and “gay” had nothing to do with sex when I was growing up in the 60s. I had a babysitter named Gay. I guess it started changing in the 70’s, although “homo” was the most commonly used word them. The boys giggled over “homo milk.”
I don’t think they had a name for girls, though.

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