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LGBT Website Survey Finds That 93% Of Gay Men Polled Don’t Want To Be Labeled “QUEER”

Only seven percent of the gay men surveyed thought that the term "queer" was acceptable

A recent survey done by the website The Gay UK has found that 60% of those polled find using the term “Queer” to describe members of the LGBT community is offensive and inappropriate.

The poll which was done in July 2017 asked over 200 people whether they thought queer as an umbrella term for the LGBT+ community was acceptable and sixty percent did not. Some commented that the word was “deeply offensive”, particularly to men who identified as gay.

The word queer is still used as a slur against many people in the community, particularly gay and bisexual men, and although some may refer to themselves in this way, the website says it’s probably best not to use language that causes offence to others.

Only seven percent of the gay men surveyed thought that the term “queer” was acceptable

Case in point: John Kichi, a 66-year-old writer and marketing expert in Sewickley, Pa., recalled how decades ago he was thrown out of an apartment and later lost a prestigious job because he was gay.

So when he began an online application for a job at Colorado College recently, he was shocked by a question that asked applicants to check one of five genders: “not disclosed,” “male,” “female,” “transgender” — or “queer.”

 “It would be like if they put down for race: ‘white,’ ‘Latino,’ ‘black’ and then the ‘N’ word,'” Kichi told ABCNews.com. “Every one of my gay friends is appalled by this.

 “I think queer harkens back to a time when being gay was a documented medical abnormality,” he said. “Queer is also not a gender, and if you want to list sexual orientation, that’s even more egregious.

While certain direct action groups began in the late 1980’s like Queer Nation used the word in the militant vernacular. Lately many QPOC (LGBT people of color), and millennial have begun to reclaim queer in response the ever widening LGBTQ!A+ umbrella without any thoughts or concern to those in the LGBT community that were harassed and harmed in the past and many  who still are in the present by the word “queer”.

 With PRIDE month coming fast everyone should be proud of who they are. Gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender.

I am a proud gay man. 

Proud of the word “queer”? 

 Not so much.

 How do you feel about the queer?  Sound off in the comments below.

 

 

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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40 thoughts on “LGBT Website Survey Finds That 93% Of Gay Men Polled Don’t Want To Be Labeled “QUEER””

  1. I think “queer” is perfectly acceptable for anyone who wishes to use it. Nobody is forcing anyone to use it. Sure it’s loaded — but I’ve fought many gay rights battles and not afraid of a word if I can take ownership of the concept.

    Personally I’m happy to “take back” that word and empower anyone who self identifies as queer.

    It’s not necessarily synonymous with “gay.”

    1. It’s 100% untrue that nobody is forcing the label “queer” on anyone. I could point you to a dozen articles referring to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting as “queer,” and nobody asked them if they were ok with it.

  2. “Queer” is a harmful term and not only because of its past usage as a slur. Today, it represents an ideology grounded in “transgression” and resistance to community and societal norms. In some usages, “queers” resist and subvert norms related to sexuality and gender, and in other usages, they subvert and resist all manner of societal norms. An identity based in the negative, based in opposition to something else, is unhealthy for LGB youth. An identity based in opposition to the norms of one’s own community is severely harmful to LGB youth. And no less than 3 studies show that “queer” youth have worse outcomes than LGB youth. Beyond its harmful tenets, it is simply wrong to single out one ideology, privilege it above all others, and impose it on every LGB person, regardless of their own beliefs.

    It is sometimes asserted that opposition to “queer” is the product of one’s age. This argument is itself ageist, but it is also wrong. The movement to create a “queer” identity was formed almost 30 years ago. “Queer” is not a creation of the young. It’s a creation of people who, today are quite old. And a survey by HERI of 140,000 incoming college freshman shows that the number of young people identifying as “queer” is less than 1/10 of those identifying as LGB.

    Queer is not happening despite the relentless efforts of certain media and certain activists to make it happen.

      1. Agree with Andrew! I am a gay cis man who came of age in the Queer Nation era. I continue to use queer not only because of my history of reclaiming the word, but also to show solidarity with bi people as well as intersex and trans people of all sexualities. Anyone who isn’t straight, cis, and gender conforming should band together in order to ensure that we aren’t victimized, whether because of having an intersex condition, what gender(s) we are capable of finding attractive and/or the fact that we may have medically transitioned or merely not adhere to the societal and sartorial norms of our sex at birth.

        Gender identity, gender expression, and sexuality are all linked in the human imagination. As such, a person who violates one norm is often assumed to be violating another! Homo/biphobia are propped up by the belief that sexed biology is destiny in terms of bodily configurations, gender normative behavior, sexual and reproductive roles, and the available set of people we are “supposed” to desire. “Queer” acknowledges these overlaps in a way “gay” does not. The most masculine male will be attacked by bigots if they learn he is gay/bi, a trans man, or both! Analogously, a cis het man who enjoys wearing dresses and/or has effeminate mannerisms will be attacked by bigots because they believe he is gay/bi or a trans woman).

        Hateful straights, particularly violent men, are a danger to each and every letter in the acronym. Let’s either accept the now-almost-30 years old reclamation of queer or else come up with another word that shares its inclusiveness.

  3. The person quoted in the article is alway off-base–there is no reason not to put “queer” under gender, as that is definitely something that people identity as. That he doesn’t is frankly immaterial. He might not like the word, but he has no right to police it for others.

    There’s nothing wrong with not liking the word “queer” being applied to you, but there is also a difference between referring to a group of people as “queer” and referring to a single person as such. We call people “queer” as a way to say, “All of these people are variously not straight and/or not cisgender,” not to say, “All of these people individually identify as queer and nothing else.”

    It is important to have a word that encompasses all non-straight, non-cisgender identities. So far, the word that’s caught on is “queer.” It is clearly not favored by everyone, but no one who objects to it (in my experience) suggested a similar all-encompassing term. “LGBTQ” simply doesn’t cut it, since it is necessarily limited (i.e., not all non-straight/cis people fit neatly under those letters, and they deserve to) and it suffers from primacy abbreviation (i.e., why is the L first? Why not another letter? How do we decide?).

    To date, all but one person I know who objects to “queer community” as a term is male and cisgender. Cisgender gay men are at the top of the food chain in terms of the rest of the community, and so I’m not surprised that they’re the ones most intolerant to shifting and evolving terms of identity. I’d take more of their objections seriously if they didn’t follow it up with, “Whatever happened to just being gay??” Such a dismissive statement betrays an unacceptably retrograde, intolerant view of our community, denying the very real and legitimate experiences and identities of countless people within our ranks.

    I would be happy to switch to another (infinitely expandable) umbrella term, once someone comes up with one.

    1. (That should say “way off-base” above–my cursor kept jumping around while I attempted to type on this site.)

    2. saying someone is queer without their consent to describe that theyre not straight and/or cisgender and youre unsure of how they identify is still wrong and offencive to many. you can literally just say theyre not cishet and later ask them how they identify. if they say theyre queer, you can call them queer! also i think lgbt is just fine as a umbrella term, people who identify as pan or any other term to mean mga fall under the B and non-binary people are also trans and are included in the T. the woman who created the trans flag says the white stripe in the middle represents people who exist outside of the gender binary. honestly you said a lot of shit im not even get into but thats just my thoughts on that.

      1. I am pan and know many pan people who would agree with me when I say that no, I do not fit under the B in LGBT. I am not Bi, I am Pan. They are different terms for a reason. And although I am also agender, no I would not label myself trans. I do not experience transphobia most of the time and I do not go through the stuff that I know many transfolx do, so I do not feel comfortable taking on that label either. You started your argument saying you can’t call people by one thing without their consent, but you ended up saying “these labels work for these other people” which is exactly the same.
        I get “queer” not being comfortable for a lot of people, but it is the only term that really speaks to me. When I’m referring to a group of people who I know to be all some form of LGBTQ+ I tend to use that terminology instead of just “queer,” but do not claim that everyone is represented in “LGBT” because you’ve decided that being pan is basically just bi anyway.

  4. I find Queer to be as offensive as the word Nigger, and if you look carefully both are Used by the same people !

  5. No surprises in this article. I always find it refreshing the rare times I hang out with lgbt people and don’t have to hear that q word once. Usually with older lgbt people generally or with gay men. I’m a young person who is bisexual and transgender – a lot of people who identify like my would prefer the word ‘queer’ for themselves so sometimes even among people who technically are like me I’m the only one using those words. I feel nervous about how things seem to be switching on larger scales from lgbt to ‘queer’ i.e huffpost. To the point where sometime soon straight people are just going to think it’s completely fine and acceptable to call us that. How many people that ‘reclaim’ the word have actually been called it in a violent context? I can’t help but feel in a lot of spaces the word just has no power to it. No meaning. Someone telling me that’s what they are usually tells me nothing about themself other than they probably haven’t talked to a lot of older members of out community. I’d advise against making comparisons to the n word if you’re not black. But it is fair to say that while a lot of communities have slurs used against them that some reclaim. It’s rare people will try and call themselves the [slur] community etc or use it as an identifier amongst people outside the group

  6. Im a lesbian perfectly fine with being called queer or dyke- as long as its by other people of the LGBT community. I know gay men who are uncomfortable with being called queer and reserve calling them that because I know it isn’t their scene. Comfort of the word is entirely to the experience of that person.

    1. I agree. I prefer to use queer to describe my identity because it’s slightly more complicated that somewhere in LGBT, and I haven’t quite figured everything out yet. I think it is a useful umbrella term for people who are comfortable with it. I would never use queer to refer to another person unless they have explicitly said that they are comfortable with it being used to describe them, and I would prefer if people who aren’t part of the community don’t use it. I definitely think comfort with being called queer varies from individual to individual, and we can’t make a blanket decision about whether it’s okay for everyone to use or not.

  7. “Queer” is a slur. It’s an offensive term. As a lesbian, I reclaim dyke, but I don’t call the entire lesbian community “the dyke community”, I don’t use the terms lesbian and dyke interchangeably, I don’t call other lesbians dyke unless I know they’re okay with it, etc. The same can’t be said for queer. People use “the queer community” as if everyone in the LGBT community wants to be called it. It’s used in academia so often (“queer theory”) that even cisgender straight people use it, and they think it’s okay! I always hate hearing the word queer but I absolutely loathe hearing it from people who aren’t LGBT. I have a few friends who reclaim queer and they’re good about not using it as an umbrella term. No one is saying you’re not allowed to use the label for yourself, all people are asking is that you don’t stick it on people who choose NOT to reclaim it. The point of reclaiming a slur is that it’s a choice; don’t take that choice away from people.

    1. exactly my thoughts too! im also a young lesbian and my mom and sister who are both cishet think saying queer is “progressive” and “inclusive.” i’ve told them to at least not call me it, but they still use it anyway. my sister (whos 24) snickers when she says lesbian but has no problem calling me and random lgbt people who she hardly knows queer and/or queers.

  8. The word doesn’t hurt me personally since english is not my main language and no one in my country uses it so I only got to hear it as a word to be proud of, HOWEVER I am 100% aware of how much it can hurt people and I would never refer to the LGBT community as the “Queer Comunity” as many cishets do (sometimes as a way to attack us even), as any slur everyone has the right to reclaim it but it shouldn’t be forced agaisnt people like the cishets and sometimes people from our own community do, it’s a simple matter of respect!

  9. Used to use the word “queer”. Don’t any more, for two reasons: it became clear to me that the word was bringing up distressing and cruel memories for some people (mostly gay men), and it also became clear the word was being flaunted and promoted by people who were not particularly same sex attracted at all. Go figure. Nowadays I stick with “lesbian and gay – and proud!”

  10. Queer is a gender? Tons of nonbinary people identify as genderqueer. I think maybe actually putting genderqueer or nonbinary instead of just queer would maybe have been more appropriate but if someone wants to use the word queer, let them- if someone doesn’t, don’t call them that. Also, the survey went to a pretty small amount of people and ONLY gay men… where’s the other letters at lol

    1. yes the survey group is small, but they didnt just ask gay men. they surveyed all lgbt people and overall 60% said they were uncomfortable with the word queer. out of all the groups gay men had the highest rate of being uncomfortable with the term, 93%. did you just read the headline? lmao

  11. Alright, so I’m agender, ace, and panromantic. What word should I use? If I try to call myself gay, I’m told by both gay men and straight people that it isn’t meant for me. LGBTQ? None of those letters directly apply to me, even though I’m part of this community. Queer is the only word currently extant that includes me and people like me, despite its traumatic history for many. If anyone can find an actual word to encompass the *entire* community that doesn’t inspire those same feelings, I’ll gladly adopt it. Until then, I’ll continue using the word that does.

    1. You use those words you just used to describe your identity. Agender, panromantic ace. None of those are slurs! And also LGBTQ doesn’t only literally encompass those letters. It’s for anyone who isn’t cishet! This whole “my identity isn’t explicitly listed so I’m not included” isn’t what LGBT community is about, it’s about coming together to fight homo/transphobia!

    2. You can call yourself queer dumbass, the text and poll just say to don’t use it on people who prefer to be called gay (or bi, or trans, etc). Also “well gay is an slur too” here a counterpoint: if gay is an slur, they still would rather be called gay than queer. LGBTQ already includes agender and pan people (nonbinary under Transgender, pan people tend to be counted on Bisexual).

      I don’t understand how people see other talking “I won’t call myself queer because I have negative and even traumatic experiences with them and I already have an identity” and make it about “so you dont want me to identify as queer? :/”.

    3. You’re a navel-gazer with a number of linguistic costumes, is what you are. And you’re not any member of the “LGB” community (T is not my people) either.

  12. I’m a teen in the U.S. who goes to a GSA at my school. We use queer in reference to gender very often as “gender queer” is like an all inclusive term for people who don’t feel comfortable with their assigned gender at birth but aren’t quite sure how they identify yet. I like to identify as queer because my sexuality and romantic orientation is complicated even for me. However, I do understand that some people still see it as a slur just as bad as F****t. We try to be sensitive to those people but me and my friends are supportive of recent movements to reclaim the slur.

  13. “Lately many QPOC (LGBT people of color), and millennial have begun to reclaim queer in response the ever widening LGBTQ!A+ umbrella without any thoughts or concern to those in the LGBT community that were harassed and harmed in the past and many who still are in the present by the word “queer”.” There is definitely a place for discussion of when the word “queer” is applied to people without their consent, but here you’re talking about people actively RECLAIMING the word and acting as if using the term for YOURSELF is a thoughtless act with no consideration of our history. We are very much considering our history by reclaiming this word. I find it a little baffling to read something like this on a site whose banner references one of the most iconic chants of all time: We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.

    As a side note, I think actively re-labeling QPOC as not queer when the queer identity is very much about making the choice to celebrate and revel in your queerness… well, I think it’s gauche at best.

    Finally, I must point out that even a cursory glance at some of the questions on this survey shows demonstrable flaws in question design. These aren’t generalizable stats; it’s the kind of casual quiz you see in entertainment magazines.

  14. I am 55, and I came out when I was 18….and like lots of people on here – have been through lots of equal rights campaigns. I love the word queer for me – because I am very happy being odd and a weirdo (according to other people). And also – I live in New Zealand – its’ a very affable, but very conformist country – particularly around clothing. So it doesn’t take much to be viewed as ‘different.’ I support anyone, of any background or identity, using the words that seem right for themselves.
    And I understand if other people don’t want to use the term for themselves. And, hey. I lived through the 1980s, so the current anxiety over our various names and labels is not a new thing for me. These anxieties will come and go my darlings.

  15. love all the people in the comments who boil down to “well **I** don’t think it’s offensive so it’s not offensive!” even though there are literally dozens and dozens of gay men practically begging them not to use it

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