I’m not gonna claim I know much about the labeling techniques of the community. I mean really I’m still learning the basics and when it comes to a word like queer that has had so many meanings, both negative and positive, I’m just trying to grasp it. A good friend of mine asked me yesterday;
I have a question for you. And I think you’re an excellent person to ask- so here goes… You are genuinely attracted to both genders, and you identify as bisexual, to me that makes sense (semantically and logically). My question is why don’t you identify as queer? Can you clarify the differences ( however many there are that you know of)- I’m unclear of what queer means and I’d like your professional opinion. Thanks!
and of course this question got me thinking. I attempted to answer as best I could, but admitted to her that I’m not exactly sure what queer is. I read it quite often in various forums and I still here it being used by individuals in slanderous and negative way, so I answered to the best of my ability from my own personal standing of the word.
I identify as bisexual because this definition for me really sums up my sexuality very nicely. As I’ve mentioned before I like to consider myself a 50/50 bi, something that may in fact be a bit rare, and so the word makes sense to me. Yet, I also identify as queer but not because of my sexual orientation but because of my gender and sexual -not to be confused with sexual desires- expression. I am very female in constructs but masculine in behaviors, and I believe it is fun to mess around with gender roles. I dress quite feminine and act very “girly” most of the time but I do feel a masculine force inside of myself (clearly part of the social construction of what it means to be male) and I pride myself on it. Sexually I express myself in a variety of ways that don’t fall into normative behaviors (well not accepted as normalized behaviors though I believe these taboo expressions might dominate certain societies) I am a kink as many call it and my kinks provide me a very -dare I say it?- queer outlook on sexuality. Thus, I am a queer bisexual cis female.
This reply though still does not answer the whole question, does it? What is the difference between bi and queer? I had to find out, so of course I began searching the internet for answers. Google time!
I found a lot of interesting things, most indicating similar things, and pushing more closely to gender than orientation. Most definitions say queer is an umbrella term for the LGBTQ community, which I can understand. They also bring up the negative past the word has and how older members of the community might still feel the word is negative and shy away from it.
So the juxtaposition of polysexual orientations to queer could be an easy way to label one’s self, a way to avoid the criticisms and confusion that some labels come with. Such as bisexuality, we often hear that this orientation reinforces the binary of gender and the label of queer doesn’t equal bi-nary. Pansexuals (please correct me if I’m wrong) can create confusion -bisexuals do this as well- people often just assume that pan equals everything and that, well that’s just a lot to take in and people can just start placing their assumptions upon you without your consent. With queer maybe that alleviates things? Granted, the last bit of that is all assumptions.
The google search also brought something up that I originally thought the word queer was used for; genderqueer. Which can be and is not limited to a gender being expressed in a non-normative way, androgyny, intersex, non-gendered, fluid gender, and third gender. Therefore, it does not appear that the “norm” is to use queer as a sexual orientation label, although it can be and is used when an individual is comfortable doing so.
What does “queer” mean? is a good read for this questions as well and reinforced what I’m trying to say here. The word has a lot of meaning, power, and possible negative effect but in the end the labeling is up to you.
Here is a nice little page about labeling which I think is a nice way to help one decide how to label themselves in a positive way that empowers them and the community. I do believe that our labels should be our choice. We have been dis-empowered in so many ways, so why further it by forcing labels? Here are some definitions and what not that could help in labeling if you so desire them.
When it boils down to it polysexuals and queer are not synonymous unless you desire to use queer as your orientation. I chose to consider myself bisexual because this label gives me the freedom to express my desire for the male and female gender’s, it limits desires for non-binary genders, and empowers me as person. I find the word bisexual as power, beautiful and a wonderful expression of my ability to love, thus it is my label of choice.
Also, when I say it limits desires for non-binary genders I don’t mean to insult or belittle those of the other gender category, it is just my personal preference. Which I will admit may change depending on who I meet and where I am in my life. I don’t believe that binary gender norms are the only existed genders in the least I think all gender identifications are amazing and beautiful because they are unique and add so much to our understanding and society, but I have never experienced an expanded desire for a person of an other gender identification. Meaning in a romantic sense I just haven’t felt it, but I am open to it and I am open to my sexuality to change if that is what is in my card.
So, that’s my answer, did it make sense? I’m not sure… but nonetheless here it is.