I identify as queer.
I think of my gender as being queer, my sexual identity is queer, and perhaps most importantly, my politics are queer. I like queering things, because queer is also a verb. If I could be listed in terms of gender as "Q" instead of "F" or "M" on my official identification, I would. If I have to describe who I'm attracted to, it's other queer people. I use this word in my daily conversations with others; I've offended people by calling myself queer, because for so many, it remains a hateful, hurtful word, that cannot be reclaimed, or at least, that should not be. Yet, queer is what I am, and I feel most comfortable here.
For some people, the use of 'queer' is simply the new 'gay.' So, whereas someone used to identify as a lesbian, now they identify as queer, but otherwise, very little has changed. Queer is said to be this handy umbrella term, that can and does encompass all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual and otherwise "queer" people, but I disagree. When someone says that they are "queer," I expect more than just a taking on of this new, seemingly trendy self-identifying label. I feel invisible, like my queerness as a radical, political and personal identity is seen as the anomaly, when normative gay and lesbian people call themselves queer.
Queer isn't just a replacement for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or otherwise. Queer is not just a handy term to lump all differently sexed and gendered people together. Queer is not the new gay, and I'm offended at the suggestion that it is. Queer Nation, a short-lived movement of radical activists in the early 1990s, began as a push against the old, a reaction to the normalization of gay and lesbian people in their efforts for legal and societal recognition. That is, as gay and lesbian people continued to use the law and other social mechanisms in order to achieve 'equality,' these efforts were only successful insofar as gay and lesbian people could demonstrate themselves to be "just like" straight people, except for their sexual orientations.
Queer is political. I think if you are going to identify as a queer person, it's because you are invested in queerness, invested in not being "just like" everybody else. Queer for me is a sort of liberationist identity; that is, instead of assimilating, instead of being a "good" gay, who gets married and buys a house, and participates in consumerism, pays their taxes and is otherwise indistinguishable from their heterosexual neighbours, I am a bad gay. I don't subscribe to the normalizing tactics of gay and lesbian politics - I don't want societal acceptability, I don't want to be seen as 'normal' except for who I happen to sleep with. My queerness is MUCH more than who I fuck.
I wear my queerness like a badge of honour. I am proud of my difference, proud of not being normal. I am fiercely political, and am outspoken about those issues that affect me and my communities. I feel a sense of responsibility in my queer identity - it's not enough for me to just identify as queer, I have to live it, I have to breathe it, I have to let people know that it is who I am, and what I believe in. I am okay being shocking. I'm alright being the only queer person at the party, and feeling like the "bad gay" when I start to criticize same-sex marriage, for example, or Pride celebrations, or any other main-streaming or normalizing of our communities.
Where I'm not okay is when my queerness is erased, and I'm labeled by others as "a lesbian." I'm not a lesbian. I'm just not. Or when my queerness is seen as some sort of fashion-statement, like I'm putting on androgyny because it's sexy, not because I'm politically motivated. I am not queer for you - my queerness is not about being trendy, fashionable or sexy, attractive or popular.
Maybe this is another example of where I have a 'measuring stick of acceptability,' against which I measure whether someone is queer enough to call themselves queer, but it's nevertheless how I feel. I am saddened each and every time I meet a queerly-identified person who hasn't thought any about queer politics - to me, the two go hand and hand, you cannot identify as queer without being invested in queerness as a state of being. Queer is about doing and saying radical things, about being unapologetically different and not needing normalizing justifications like "I was born this way," that we use arguments for our right to equity. I don't need to know where my difference comes from, but I will demand it be respected. I will not hide my queerness, in the privacy of my home or bedroom. I will not keep quiet when my queerness is not recognized or respected.
I can't put away my queerness. I don't take it off at the end of the day. Queer is my state of being, my sense of the world, my understanding of my place within it. I suppose it's because I feel so invested in queerness, in being unapologetic, that I feel a sense of ownership or authority over 'queer.' Queer is not just a label I use to describe myself, so that I am intelligible to others; in fact, it is an endless yearning for unintelligibility.
How do you live your queerness?