I’m “queer?”

Okay, so let’s talk about the term “queer.” How do you feel about its use as a self-identifier, as the “Q” in LGBTQ?

I’ve noticed that it’s gendered: many of my female friends identify as queer, whether or not they seem to date other women. Yet guys like myself who are generally straight but occasionally date (read: sleep with, make out with) other men don’t use that term to define it. Or maybe some guys do?

I actually don’t know very many guys like me. We don’t really have a community. Despite the last 20-40 years of broadening acceptance of homosexuality, passing between sexual gender preferences still seems far less acceptable for guys. We’re supposed to be straight, or openly gay, or secretly gay (“come on, just admit you’re gay/straight!”), but not bisexual. Actually, I like the term “bisexual” even less. It sounds too polarizing and falsely egalitarian at the same time. Who really is evenly ambidextrous with their preferences?

But I feel almost as uneasy identifying as “queer,” and not because I’m ashamed of people putting their gay-ass prejudice on me.  It feels kind of false to claim such solidarity with my gay friends just because I occasionally have sex with them. I do not truly suffer from the same oppression. When push comes to shove, if the fundamentalists take over and anti-gay bigotry returns, I could always bunker down in a nice safe relationship with someone of the opposite sex, and my gay friends can’t. Calling myself “queer” feels a bit like the awkwardness of the MC5 in the 60s trying to appropriate the righteousness of black nationalism with their sympathetic “White Panther Party.”

That sounds harsh, and I don’t mean to be offensive to anyone regardless of how they identify. But I think we need another word. Hell, maybe we should navigate without a need for taxonomy, for specific words identifying people by the ratio of penises versus vaginas in their lives.

What’s your opinion? If you’re 110% gay, how do you feel about people who identify as “queer” but date primarily from the opposite sex? If you identify as “queer” but aren’t a full time, card-carrying homosexual, what about the term do you find useful or empowering? And does anyone feel comfortable identifying as “bisexual?”

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