What Does 'Queer' Mean?

Queer is an umbrella term for people who are not heterosexual or are not cisgender. Originally meaning 'strange' or 'peculiar', queer came to be used pejoratively against those with same-sex desires or relationships in the late 19th century. 

Sexuality and gender were never meant to fit neatly into boxes or binaries, as much as that truth causes some to clutch their pearls, pass anti-queer legislation, or stick their head in the sand. That's why the word “queer,” in addition to being one of many gender and sexual orientation terms used to help folx define themselves and find their communities, can be political.

"Queerness is about being outside of the normative,” says psychologist, author, and speaker Liz Powell, PhD. “Queerness is about swimming upstream. It's about your presence in a culture that is heteronormative, that is cisnormative, that is mononormative."

However, that straight, cis, monogamous “ideal” is actually a lot less representative of our society and the people who exist within it than many powers-that-be would prefer. Which is to say: Queers are everywhere, whether you live in a loud and proud liberal city or a small, conservative town where many queer people are forced to remain in the closet. And while, unfortunately, LGBTQIA+ people still face heartbreaking levels of violence, hate, and discrimination (according to the Human Rights Campaign, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 47 percent of trans people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime, to name just one disheartening statistic), we are making some progress in terms of queer visibility and acceptance, particularly when it comes to broadening our language and understanding of the vast nature of gender and sexuality.

What does Q stands for in Lgbtq?
Most people are familiar with the term LGBT—lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. The acronym increasingly includes the letter Q, LGBTQ, referring to queer and/or questioning individuals.

What is queer theory in simple terms?
Queer Theory is an interdisciplinary field that encourages one to look at the world through new avenues. It is a way of thinking that dismantles traditional assumptions about gender and sexual identities, challenges traditional academic approaches, and fights against social inequality.

Definition OF Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, & Intersex Life

LESBIAN: Usually refers to a woman who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation toward women. Some nonbinary people also identify with this term.

GAY: Used in some cultural settings to represent men who are attracted to men in a romantic, erotic and/or emotional sense. Not all men who engage in same-gender sexual behavior identify as gay, and as such this label should be used with caution.

BISEXUAL or BI: A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction to more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, in the same way, or to the same degree.

TRANSGENDER: A person whose sense of personal identity or gender does not correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth, or does not conform to gender stereotypes. Sexual orientation varies and is not dependent on gender identity.

QUEER: a multi-faceted word that is used in different ways and means different things to different people. 1) Attraction to people of many genders. 2) Don’t conform to cultural norms around gender and/or sexuality. 3) A general term referring to all non-heterosexual people. Some within the community, however, may feel the word has been hatefully used against them for too long and are reluctant to embrace it.

QUESTIONING: An individual who is unsure of and/or exploring their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

INTERSEX: An umbrella term that describes people born with any of 30 different variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals.

ASEXUAL: A person who experiences little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behavior. 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. People who are asexual may call themselves ace.

AROMANTIC: A person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others and/or has a lack of interest in romantic relationships/behavior.

PANSEXUAL: A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions.

NON-BINARY or ENBY: A person whose gender identity does not fall within the binary genders of man or woman.

GENDERFLUID: A person who does not identify with the gender binary and move within genders and gender stereotypes.

GENDERQUEER: A person who does not identify or express their gender within the gender binary. Those who identify as genderqueer may identify as neither men nor women, may see themselves as outside of or in between the gender binary, or may simply feel restricted by gender labels.

AGENDER: a person with no (or very little) connection to gender, no personal alignment with the concepts of either man or woman, and/or someone who sees themselves as existing without gender.

STUD: A term originating within communities of color to describe a masculine identifying person who was assigned female at birth. Here is a study looking at the sexuality and gender construction of people who use ‘stud’ to describe their identity.

HETEROSEXISM: 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.

CISGENDER: A person whose sense of personal identity or gender does correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth.

LGBTQ2S+ ALLY: Someone who confronts heterosexism, anti- LGBTQ2S+ biases, heterosexual and cisgender privilege in themselves and others; believes that heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia are social justice issues.