At Howard Kennedy, inclusion and diversity is a key part of our personality. We are proud to celebrate our LGBTQ+ colleagues. June 2021 is our Pride Awareness Month. It's an opportunity for us to learn and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, as well as hopefully educate and inform others. In a series of articles, we will be educating on each initialism that makes up LGBTQ+.
Many people are familiar with the term LGBT. But often the additional letter of Q and the meaning of the word queer is misunderstood, misinterpreted or simply not known by some.
So, what is queer?
Queer is an umbrella term used by people that don't necessarily want to be restricted by more definitive labels. Gay categorises people into gays and lesbians mostly, whereas queer can pertain to a much broader spectrum. It is often more comfortable for those who are non-binary or gender non-confirming to identify with queer as gay indicates “I am a man who is attracted to men” and lesbian indicates “I am a woman attracted to women”. Queer can accommodate all the in between, for example, someone who was born and raised male that might be questioning their own gender and is attracted to men, women or both.
“Q” may also take the meaning of questioning. The questioning of one’s sexual orientation, sexual identity, gender or all three is a process of exploration by people who may be unsure, still exploring or are concerned about applying a social label to themselves for various reasons. The understanding that one does not need to apply any type of gender sexuality label to oneself is publicly and socially prominent today, but it definitely wasn't like this in the past.
Reclaiming the word Queer
If you ask my 78 year grandmother what her opinion is of the word queer, I’m pretty sure it would not be the same as my millennial peers. The younger generation of people are growing up in an environment where being LGBTQ+ is not only less stigmatised but is now often celebrated as a way of owning one’s identity. Part of this can be seen in the LGBTQ+ communities' reclamation of the word queer. In recent years we have seen young people revolutionise the word queer from a derogatory slur to that of freedom and fluidity. For some, however, they’ve naturally had to dismantle their previous relationship with the word that was used against them in playground taunts and public humiliation.
This has transformed into pop culture with many celebrities now identifying as queer. However, many people still face hurdles despite the defiance shown to overturn the meaning of the term that was originally designed to be degrading. For example, Jameela Jamil, English actor and radio presenter, opened her coming out tweet with “Twitter is brutal”.
To learn more about queer culture and its meaning, we suggest listening, watching or reading some of the following podcasts, tv shows and articles:
• Podcast - #QueerAF podcast
• Podcast - What does queer mean? The Shift
• Podcast – Getting Curious With Jonathon Van Ness
• TV Show - Queer Eye (Netflix)
• TV Show – It’s a Sin (Channel 4)
• Article – 9 LGBTQ+ People Explain How They Love, Hate, and Understand the Word “Queer”