So one of the greatest things about Peers for Pride is how our discussions have altered my views on language.
Oh, language. It kinda sucks.
Yes it is super necessary. I mean I guess I could draw my thoughts, but trust me when I say NO ONE wants that. I draw great sea monsters though… But as I was saying, language causes problems. PfP has made me consider how our construction, perception, and application of language spawn difficulties. I mean, are we taking back the slur “fag” or not? I’d prefer not too, but some people are really riding that train.
So that example is a bit more controversial, but after having a conversation with one of my friends I realized there are complications with a word most of the Queer community identifies as. Actually, that word is “queer”. He said that he didn’t feel comfortable being classified or identifying as queer, and that it was actually pretty upsetting for him to hear the word.
I don’t know if anyone else had the joy of experiencing the exceptionally homophobic game “Smear the Queer”, but it is still very alive and well. The way the game works is a group passes around a football that someone has to catch. Whoever is in possession of the ball is deemed the queer and must avoid being tackled, or “smeared”, to the ground.
This was a popular game that I was fortunate enough to frequently experience in middle school during athletics. My friend mentioned that hearing queer being thrown around by those in the LGBTQ brought back memories of these types of things. He recollected having the word used as a weapon off the field, too. On the bus. In the halls. At home.
I have met a few other individuals who feel similarly about the word, which is problematic, as it has been coined as this umbrella term. So what does this mean? Honestly, I have no idea. I think it does show just how complicated the language we use can be, and a word some use freely to identify as is not easily transferable to someone part of that same group.
I don’t have an answer to give on how to navigate the use of that word with people. I think it brings forth a lot to consider though. It also never hurts to ask someone what THEY are ok with.
Until next time,
Heath "Yasss Gaga" Fowler