The use of the word queer has become more widespread amongst the LGBTQ community as an umbrella term in the last few years.  It has become one of the many reclaimed words that our society uses today.  It is also a word that has many different meanings as well as uses in today’s society.  In the past it was an abusive word and a slur that many people in the LGBTQ community resent and therefore it has a generational meaning.  In the last ten years or so it has taken on other meanings such as a sexual identity, an umbrella term for the LGBTQ community, a non-normative sexual or gender practice, or in some ways it can be used as a verb that describes a paradigm shift.

                There are a few different dictionary definitions of queer in both adjective/noun and verbal forms.  The adjective/noun form’s definitions include: different than a conventional viewpoint, of questionable nature or character, mentally unbalanced or deranged, or the slang term for a homosexual or an effeminate individual.  The verbal form that is used with a direct object means to spoil or to jeopardize something or someone.  It’s understandable from the different dictionary definitions that queer’s original use in the LGBTQ community was slanderous and hurtful.  It also demonstrates society’s need to categorize people as normal or as abnormal.  If the term is being used in an empowering way it is still defining a distinction between the LGBTQ community and “normal” society.

                In order to understand the progression the word queer has taken within society, the genealogy (historical study/analysis of knowledge) must be traced back.  American historian Jonathan Katz did a lot of work revolving around sexuality and the invention of heterosexuality and homosexuality.  According to his theories there were specific steps to the development of the categories which began with certain actions and behaviors which moved to classifying and naming these behaviors.  This classification system created binaries where one is favored over the other; in this case heterosexuality is valued over homosexuality.  This categorization also made it possible for a path of resistance to occur.  This path begins with the claiming of the name in order to develop a community, and then this community begins to reject the binary, which finally leads to where we find ourselves today.  Today, we are in the state where we have begun to recognize categories and binaries as socially constructed and to evaluate the true meaning of our identities within society.

                The point we are at today is where the word queer comes into play.  As part of our evaluation of the identities we have claimed from social constructions we also begin to look at the words that have been used by others to label us.  The word queer, which in the past was used as a slur to hurt and harm the LGBTQ community, is now being used as a tool of empowerment.  It is an umbrella term that rejects the idea of binaries and need for specific categorization.  Queer is seen by many as a way of recreating social structures even within the LGBTQ community so that they no longer conform to the longstanding heterosexual norms.

At Pride and Joy we have many interesting books on queer lifestyles whether it be about different gender identities or individual’s sexualities our book collection is full of many interesting personal stories and outside observances.