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Gender language

(42 Posts)
Fennel Mon 04-Jul-22 11:56:00

I didn't know which forum to put this in.
Has anyone else noticed the increased use in the media of the word 'queer' to describe homosexuals? It makes me cringe because I think it was banned in the 'old days'.
But it seems to be permitted now.
Reminds me of the saying the more things change, the more they stay the same.

MerylStreep Mon 04-Jul-22 12:02:38

Fennel
The gay community use the word queer quite a lot.
Only this morning on MN a lesbian used the word in a positive way.

Doodledog Mon 04-Jul-22 12:08:40

It has been 'reclaimed'. That sometimes happens when a group want to take the sting out of a term that has been used as an insult.

It is often better for those who don't belong to that group to continue not to use it, as sometimes it will cause offence - eg the N word is used in the US by some people of colour, but it is still very much not acceptable for white people to use it - but I think that 'queer' is now considered pretty safe. It doesn't mean just gay, but also includes anyone whose sexuality is not heterosexual. It now seems to include so-called 'gender variations', too.

maddyone Mon 04-Jul-22 12:19:26

I will never use that word. My son is gay. He is married to his long term partner and they have adopted a lovely little boy, our grandson. He is a successful barrister and I am very proud of him. If you saw my son or my son in law outside you would never know they are gay. As I said, I would never use that word, even though I’m aware that it has been reclaimed by some in the gay community.

Doodledog Mon 04-Jul-22 12:32:47

I think that's fair enough, maddyone, and I can understand why you don't like it.

I find the 'reclaiming' thing a bit difficult too, although I understand why it happens.

TerriBull Mon 04-Jul-22 12:49:22

I had a great hairdresser do my hair recently, I'm fairly new to this town so trying out different establishments. I pretty much could tell he was gay right from when he introduced himself, during the course of our conversation he described himself as "Queer" which I always thought was a pre acceptance of homosexuality used in a more intolerant past, and to me has a somewhat pejorative ring about it. However, as others have suggested that word has been been reclaimed, I would prefer gay but of course it's the prerogative of the individual to describe themselves how they wish.

dragonfly46 Mon 04-Jul-22 12:57:49

maddyone I find your comment that your son and son in law do not appear to be gay strange. Would it matter if they did? I know lots of gay and trans people and just accept them.

Calendargirl Mon 04-Jul-22 13:13:57

Some gay people are very camp, others not at all. I think that is what maddyone means.

Sago Mon 04-Jul-22 15:26:01

There is always a risk of causing offence, the goal posts seem to move all the time.

I heard on the radio from a person of mixed race that he felt the term mixed race was derogatory, he preferred the term combined heritage.

Some homosexual men and women may find queer offensive.

Fennel Mon 04-Jul-22 16:48:12

"Some homosexual men and women may find queer offensive."
I certainly would. being used to the usual meaning of the word.
Also 'gay'. Where did that come from? they don't always look happy.
The first male I fell for was very nice to me but it went no further. His friend told me, "it won't go further - he prefers men.".
So rather than label and categorise, I think in terms of gender preferences. when it comes to close relationships.

LOUISA1523 Mon 04-Jul-22 16:48:28

maddyone

I will never use that word. My son is gay. He is married to his long term partner and they have adopted a lovely little boy, our grandson. He is a successful barrister and I am very proud of him. If you saw my son or my son in law outside you would never know they are gay. As I said, I would never use that word, even though I’m aware that it has been reclaimed by some in the gay community.

Very strange comment Maddyone...that if you saw your son...people would never know he is gay?? ... why would that matter?
What do you find offensive about the word Queer?

eazybee Mon 04-Jul-22 17:01:10

I just wonder who decides which words are acceptable to use and which are not. I have been aware that the term queer, as in Queer Theory, has been deemed acceptable for some time but was not aware that it was acceptable for some to use but not others. Sounds discriminatory to me.

maddyone Mon 04-Jul-22 17:28:54

Thank you for your understanding Doodledog.
It doesn’t matter if some people find it strange that I wouldn’t use the word queer to describe anyone, that’s what I feel, and it’s my son that I’m feeling it about. I haven’t asked him, but I’m fairly certain that he wouldn’t like it either because he’s very traditional. However, the word used to be used in a derogatory way years ago, and it conjures up the feeling in me that somehow using it would be derogatory towards the person it was describing. This is my feeling, I own it, and so it doesn’t matter if others disagree.

The same applies to my son and his partner not appearing to be gay, in other words not camp or particularly flamboyant. They’re not, that’s just how it is. Because of this they are far less likely to be subjected to attacks or abuse when they are out and about. It’s their choice, but they never hold hands or show physical affection when out in public, although they do at home. My son is a barrister and a judge, appearing very camp or flamboyant would do him no favours in court. Obviously all his fellow barristers at his chambers know about him. It’s of no consequence to them, nor to his family, nor to his wide circle of friends, which incidentally includes no other gay people.
I find it sad that others seem a little judgemental. We live this, many of you do not. It is our lived experience.
Thank you for understanding from many of you.

BlueBelle Mon 04-Jul-22 17:44:20

You must do what is comfortable for you Maddy
personally I get really pipped off with some of the ‘overt flouncers’ like Sean in Corrie as an example

Because I grew up believing ‘queer’ was a disrespectful title I still find it hard to use although I know it’s perfectly acceptable to use (why you would want to reclaim something that is really quite derogatory I can’t imagine) LOUISA

Personally I prefer to not have to judge whether someone is gay or not I prefer them just to be ordinary people getting on with ordinary lives why do I need to know someone’s preferred sexuality

Your son and partner sound sane and sensible in their attitude
Maddy

LOUISA1523 Mon 04-Jul-22 18:03:17

BlueBelle

You must do what is comfortable for you Maddy
personally I get really pipped off with some of the ‘overt flouncers’ like Sean in Corrie as an example

Because I grew up believing ‘queer’ was a disrespectful title I still find it hard to use although I know it’s perfectly acceptable to use (why you would want to reclaim something that is really quite derogatory I can’t imagine) LOUISA

Personally I prefer to not have to judge whether someone is gay or not I prefer them just to be ordinary people getting on with ordinary lives why do I need to know someone’s preferred sexuality

Your son and partner sound sane and sensible in their attitude
Maddy

Who said I wanted to reclaim it? I just asked the PP what she found offensive about it.... or are you just making assumptions about me?.... a lot of that going on today isn't there MADDYONE?
.... actually Bluebelle its not a word I use...... 2 of my GDs have both a gay aunt and a gay uncle ( separate relationships) ....at 6 and 3years they don't bat an eyelid and see this as nothing out of the ordinary ...they see them hold hands,kiss...at family gatherings........ surely all gay people are just ordinary people getting on with their lives whether they are camp or not?🤷‍♀️

MissAdventure Mon 04-Jul-22 18:10:43

My lesbian friend uses dyke, queer, butch, and all kinds of terms that I'd be uncomfortable using.
She used to use gay, though, herself, so who knows what is offensive anymore?

maddyone Mon 04-Jul-22 18:21:01

LOUISA
I have issued an apology to you on the appropriate thread, perhaps you’d like to read it.
I hope you read my response on this thread and if you did I’m sure you will understand smile

maddyone Mon 04-Jul-22 18:21:37

BlueBelle thank you for your kind and understanding comment.

BlueBelle Mon 04-Jul-22 18:21:39

I didn’t say you wanted to reclaim it, for goodness sake, LOUISA I just answered as you were incredulous that Maddy felt uncomfortable using it Oh blimey wish I hadn’t bothered…. how can I make assumptions about you I don’t have any idea who you are or what you are !

Yes MissA it’s a minefield isn’t it I don’t care who s with who I really don’t just hope everyone’s happy and think I ll not call anyone anything
‘OI YOU’ 😂😂😂

maddyone Mon 04-Jul-22 18:37:03

MA you’re right, so many terms, so many opportunities to be offended. I think we just have to use the words we’re comfortable with, and our family members, or friends (who are gay) are comfortable with. There are more important things to worry about in the world of gay people.
For example, when we travelled to Florida on holiday some four years ago, with our son, son in law, and grandson (who was then nearly six years old) my husband and I passed through passport control without incident. Not so our son, son in law and grandson. There was huge consternation and questions because two men were travelling with a young child. They had to answer a barrage of questions because the passport control obviously thought that something wrong was going on. Eventually they managed to convince them that our grandson was their legitimate child (they were not allowed to take him out of the country until the adoption was finalised.) It seems in future they may need to travel with the birth certificate and adoption papers. There was no trouble taking him to France or Spain, just America. However my son is fully aware that there are many countries he will never be able to travel to with his partner, mainly Arab states, some Asian states, and even Turkey and Tunisia, which are popular holiday spots. Being gay imposes limits on behaviour and life style. We can pretend it doesn’t till the cows come home, but the reality is that it does.

LOUISA1523 Mon 04-Jul-22 18:53:39

maddyone

MA you’re right, so many terms, so many opportunities to be offended. I think we just have to use the words we’re comfortable with, and our family members, or friends (who are gay) are comfortable with. There are more important things to worry about in the world of gay people.
For example, when we travelled to Florida on holiday some four years ago, with our son, son in law, and grandson (who was then nearly six years old) my husband and I passed through passport control without incident. Not so our son, son in law and grandson. There was huge consternation and questions because two men were travelling with a young child. They had to answer a barrage of questions because the passport control obviously thought that something wrong was going on. Eventually they managed to convince them that our grandson was their legitimate child (they were not allowed to take him out of the country until the adoption was finalised.) It seems in future they may need to travel with the birth certificate and adoption papers. There was no trouble taking him to France or Spain, just America. However my son is fully aware that there are many countries he will never be able to travel to with his partner, mainly Arab states, some Asian states, and even Turkey and Tunisia, which are popular holiday spots. Being gay imposes limits on behaviour and life style. We can pretend it doesn’t till the cows come home, but the reality is that it does.

Sadly you are right here....and far more difficult for gay men to travel with children than gay women....we can only hope things will change I guess ....years ago when I was a Health Visitor....I remember the first gay couple ( men) who adopted a baby.....that baby will be largely grown up now but it was almost unheard of at the time so I remember them well.....although its far more common an occurrence now.... I know there's still many many hoops to jump thru to even get to being considered a suitable adoptive parent as a gay person

maddyone Tue 05-Jul-22 10:26:55

Thank you LOUISA You are right, some things are still more difficult for gay people, and possibly always will be.

grandtanteJE65 Tue 05-Jul-22 16:19:49

I would personally never dream of using "queer" in the sense of "homosexual" but if those who are homosexual want to use the term, then that is up to them. I find it wrong to describe someone's sexual preference as odd or queer just because you happen to have different taste yourself.

"Gay" had, in the 18th century the meaning that used to be the most usual - happy, joyful. However, asking "Are you gay?" or "How long have you been gay?" was a way of asking a woman if she was a prostitute.

I have no idea whether homosexual people were aware of this usage of "gay" when they adopted the word to describe themselves.

I don't particularly care for "straight" used to mean heterosexual either. I feel life would be easier on us all if we could all manage to take a little less interest in other peoples' private lives and when we do need to discuss their sexual preferences stick to terms like homosexual , heterosexual etc.

Glorianny Tue 05-Jul-22 16:29:17

Have we stepped back in time? It's over 20 years since the word "queer" was reclaimed. Does no one remember the TV series "Queer as folk"?

MissAdventure Tue 05-Jul-22 17:09:29

That doesn't mean that all honosexual people are happy to be called queer, though.

That doesn't mean that people won't change what they wish to refer to themselves as.
I'm reminded of the ian dury song, banned for the way it referred to people with disabilities, then, a few years later, the anthem of the Paralympics.

(It's still not a way I would ever refer to anyone)