James W. Hicks, M.D.

Queer

In Sexual Types on October 28, 2010 at 5:26 am

If you are young or engaged in political and academic discourse about sexuality, you may prefer to identify yourself as queer rather than as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. By calling yourself queer, you challenge the idea that heterosexuality is normative, you imply that the gay-straight and male-female binaries are overly simplistic and restricting, and you assert political solidarity with others who resist being judged on the basis of their sexual preferences or gender identification. You may consider yourself post-gay and beyond labeling. You are open to exploring sexual feelings for the opposite sex.

If you are queer, others might view you as simply gay or bisexual, but your choice of terminology reflects the value you place on the potential for change and variation in sexual matters and your reluctance to fix a restrictive label on complex erotic tastes, emotional ties, gender roles, and behaviors. If you are primarily attracted to members of the same sex, you may identify as queer to reflect your own commitment to remaining flexible, or you may call yourself homoflexible.

Some who identify as queer also feel more comfortable thinking of themselves as androgynous or are attracted to men and women who are not typically masculine or feminine. In that sense, queers reject gender roles and stereotypes as well as fixed sexual orientations.

Michael Stipe, the lead singer and front man for R.E.M., identifies as queer rather than gay. He has said in interviews that he is most attracted to men but has had feelings for women as well and considers the label gay too narrow for him.

  1. I generally refer to myself as queer. Your description of queer has me thinking I’m labeling myself correctly.

  2. Michael Stipe is bisexual but he just prefers to call himself queer.

  3. not sure about this addition to my Flexuality description. Perhaps it’s just for “political” references??

  4. I think that the term “queer” is significantly more acceptable for a younger generation. Those of us born in the 60’s, 50’s, or earlier have significant problems with the term “queer”, as it still has a biting connotation for us. I’ve found that, for my generation, “gay” was a significant “political” term, vs. “homosexual”, which merely described a sexual orientation. I might have known a lot of “homosexual men” 30 or 40 years ago, but few were politically active, and therefore not necessarily “gay”.
    Obviously, things have changed, and I’m happy that younger men and women can use the term “queer” freely and positively, but it still makes me cringe.

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