An environment that contains challenge and difficult conversations, which push us to grow. An environment that develops pride where there is a history of shame, empowerment where there is a history of oppression, healing where there has been a history of trauma, and joy where there is a history of sorrow.
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The glossary is a starting point for discussion and understanding about the trems and definitions that are always evolving and changing and mean different things to different people. A person who does not experience sexual attraction. They may or may not experience emotional, physical, or romantic attraction. Asexuality differs from celibacy in that it is a sexual orientation, not a choice. An attraction to people regardless of their gender. A pansexual person may be attracted to their own gender, as well as other genders. Prejudice against individuals and groups who display non-heterosexual behaviors or identities, combined with the majority power to impose such prejudice.
Usually used to the advantage of the group in power. Any attitude, action, or practice backed by an institutional power that subordinates people because of their sexual orientation. Some use it to encompass all non-heterosexual, non-cisgender identities. Certainly a wide variety of non-heterosexual, non-cisgender folks are queer.
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But though queer might cover some part of that spectrum, it is not limited to it. I am not gay nor lesbian nor bisexual nor transgender.
I am not anything other than just queer. Like plenty of the names marginalized people call themselves, queer has a fraught history of reclamation, many controversial political implications, and a universalizing aspect that is too contradictory for some. Yet, even here at Everyday Feminism, we sometimes use gay and queer interchangeably.
What Does Queer Mean Anyway?
Not to set the two in opposition or even to say they cannot sometimes overlap, here is why I think distinguishing the two might help people who are still exploring their gender and sexuality. It was turned into a pejorative to describe those with non-heterosexual desires and behaviors about a century ago. I understand that. Queer theorists, influenced in part by the work of French philosopher Michel Foucault , usually deal with sexuality not removed from gender but simultaneously, and questioned them both.
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Many push back against the essentialist idea that sex and gender are different and question the limitations inherent in a binary gendered perspective. What is gender?
What Does Queer Mean Anyway?
What is sexuality? Can we ever truly know? As a Black person in America, my experience with gender and sexuality is going to be vastly different than a similarly situated white person.
I find myself in non-white, non-male, and non-cisgender affirming gay spaces often, and they are lovely. But queer spaces also provide me with something that is vitally different.
It is specifically supposed to embrace the vastness of difference, which would ostensibly include more than white, cisgender men. But white supremacist cisheterosexism is invasive, and is nearly impossible to escape in the world we live in today. Those who became the prominent leaders in the movement to reclaim queerness were still predominantly white as well.