Monday, August 17, 2009



“…Queer is very much a category in the process of formation. It is not simply that queer has yet to solidify and take on a more consistent profile, but rather that its definitional indeterminacy, its elasticity, is one of its constituent characteristics.”

–Annamarie Jagose

Photo courtesy of: Wikimedia.

As all creative writers must be, I am aware of the power of language. Language has the power to shape world views, shift collective opinions and shelter the wounded heart. Language discriminates; it destroys.

As guided by language, groups and individuals may be discriminated against for their sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, religion, and/or race (a social construct built upon an imaginary concept related to skin color). Language can keep individuals from knowing and accepting themselves; and language can limit opportunities for diverse groups of people to know and understand one another.

Through language, though, we have the power to wage a war, wielding words as weapons that address the social injustice of discrimination. As a woman of color, I write to fight back against many personally oppressive forces. My writer friends and I often battle side by side, waging wars against the "N-word," patriarchy, and other social injustices.

Whether writing or speaking, I attempt to address injustice by continually evaluating and evolving my language. Organic language empowers. Organic language is healing.

In this tradition, I am raving about the word queer:

  • Queer empowers.
    Queer addresses the social barriers language erects between individuals and the collective.
  • Queer is powerful.
    Queer may create a more diverse community by allowing for more comfort and confidence in one's sexual identity. Queer promises acceptance no matter what one's sexual identity is at any point during one's developing life.

More reasons I like the word queer:

  • I like that queer's meaning is inherently undefinable: an inherent characteristic of the word queer and being queer is that one's sexual identity is not restricted to a rigid definition.
  • I like that queer subverts hetero-normativity by encompassing all types of sexual identities and expressions.
  • I like the way in which the word queer has changed my frame of understanding of existing sex and gender expressions.
  • I like that I can now say, "Sexual identity is organic," without my voice or heart being drowned out by the numerous religious voices I've spent most of my life listening to.
I believe that queer can effect self- and community- transformation because it is so widely accepting. I pray that our communities, in whatever forms they take, can experience the healing and empowerment that comes with more fully understanding what it means to be queer.

I know, at the very least, that queer has had a powerful impact on my life and way of seeing.

Why should I admit I dig girls?

So I can stare at my mama
across police barricades
at the gay pride parade?


I am interested in hearing people's opinions on this post. Do you agree? Disagree?


  1. Comment from Camille:

    I like the post about "queer," pretty solid. That's totally how I feel about it, that it's something rooted in nothing but instability & upheaval, which is what gives it its power. It's confusing & jarring in a way that seems to make people ask questions rather than shut down.

  2. i agree! "queer" is a totally helpful term - and i think it helps me make sense of all the different things that make up not only my desire, but my whole identity. to lots of other people, all the bits of me don't make sense as a whole person. but to me, they do!