Why would you use the word “queer”? Isn’t it a slur? Why would you use a word with a dark history?
Queer is an umbrella term that has begun to shake off its derogatory origins and is gaining acceptance, especially amongst younger LGBT+ people. In their eyes it has been reclaimed and repurposed as an act of defiance and empowerment.
However, we absolutely acknowledge the history behind the word queer, and why it is still painful and uncomfortable for some to see it used widely. Older generations of LGBT+ people have paved the way through literal blood, sweat and tears for the many freedoms we enjoy today, and their thoughts and feelings about the word (which would have been used against many of them in attacks and acts of violence) are completely valid. We listen to these voices; we hear about lived experiences of hatred and intolerance, and we are thankful that because of the sacrifices and activism of those that came before us we are in the position where the word for some has become, quite literally, a badge of Pride.
We also know people in Yeovil’s community who identify as queer, including some of the young people engaged in our school’s outreach program. For some, it is that act of defiance; for others, it is adopted for its vagueness. We are always being asked to define ourselves, by the government, employers, businesses… Constantly counted and quantified and asked to put ourselves into boxes where for many, none of the available options feel like a good fit. Queer has come into its own as a catchall as it really does not have a single meaning – other than “not heterosexual” perhaps.
Our campaign #QueerAllYear is a both a defiant act and a battle cry against a back drop of rainbow-washing and token gestures that happen but once a year. LGBT+ people don’t go back into the closet at the end of pride month, but the rainbow regalia and acts of support for the community often do. We do honestly appreciate all of the local businesses and organisations that are willing to stand up and show that they stand up for LGBT+ rights. But with this campaign, we are challenging and encouraging them to explore ways in which they can be supporters and allies of the community through out the year.