Breaking the Binary

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I am new to the positive use of the word queer. The town I came from never really used it but I had heard older generations use it in a more negative manner, usually meaning "odd" or "weird". When I came to the U of M and noticed people embracing this term it took some getting used to, and honestly I'm still getting used to it. The introduction states that the term "exposes the inadequacy of the straight-gay binary" and this statement really makes a lot of sense to me. Like I said earlier, the town I came from never really used the word "queer", but when referring to sexuality always used one of three terms: gay, straight, or bi (meaning bisexual). Nobody even knew what "asexual" or "pansexual" were, and as far as gender was concerned you were either a guy or a girl, and there was no in between or changing of that. This kind of small town cultural paradigm left no room for the transgendered person, for the sexually fluid person, the pansexual, asexual, or otherwise. The word queer as an umbrella term offers a more flexible identity for those who are uncomfortable labeling as gay, straight, or bi and adhering to the rigid definitions of these labels.

2 Comments

I had a very similar experience to yours with the word queer being used in a negative context in my hometown. I recall using the word my freshman year after taking a couple Queer classes and my mother scolded me for it. I think that the word queer is a great tool to use for breaking down binaries and leaving people with an ambiguity that leaves them questioning everything they were brought up understanding and knowing as truths. It forces one t acknowledge that identities are mere social constructs that we use as tools for feelings a sense of community, but that are also used to exclude people who do not fit one's identity.

I also had a similar situation with you where I felt I couldn't come out to anyone as being gay in my home town because there was such a negative context when it came to being any form of queer. Even when I came out to my family they were not excepting of me being gay because it meant I was different. Therefore queer is now a good word to me because it means people can be different and I think it breaks down these negative contexts and allows society to accept people who are "different"

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This page contains a single entry by Bri Lopez published on January 30, 2012 11:55 AM.

In Response to Bell Hooks' Cultural Criticism was the previous entry in this blog.

Gender-Fucking and Transgressing Binaries. is the next entry in this blog.

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