umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities that are not heterosexual, heteronormative, or cisgender

Queer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or are not cisgender. Originally meaning "strange" or "peculiar", queer came to be used pejoratively against those with same-sex desires or relationships in the late 19th century. Beginning in the late 1980s, queer activists, such as the members of Queer Nation, began to reclaim the word as a deliberately provocative and politically radical alternative to the more assimilationist branches of the LGBT community.


  • while Michael Warner (1993) defines queer as "resistance to regimes of the normal."
    • Warner, Michael (1993). "Introduction", Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory, p. xxvii. Ed. Michael Warner. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner (1995) suggest that participation in "queer publics," is, "more a matter of aspiration than it is the expression of an identity or a history,"
    • Berlant, Lauren and Warner, Michael (May 1995). "What Does Queer Theory Teach Us about X?" PMLA 110:3:343.
  • "Queerness...[is] more a posture of opposition than a simple statement about sexuality. It [is] about principles, not particularities. 'To me,' explained [Queer Nation/San Francisco activist Karl] Knapper, 'queerness is about acknowledging and celebrating difference, embracing wha sets you apart. A straight person can't be gay, but a straight person can be queer."
    • L.A. Kauffman (1992). "Radical Change: The Left Attacks Identity Politics", Village Voice 30 June, 20.
  • "[There are] cases of straight queerness, and of other forms of queerness that might not be contained within existing categories or have reference to only one established category...new queer spaces open up (or are revealed) whenever someone moves away from using only one specific sexual identity category--gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight--to understand and to describe mass culture, and recognizes that texts and people's responses to them are more sexually transmutable than any one category could signify--excepting, perhaps, that of 'queer.'"
    • Alexander Doty (1993). Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture, p. xvii-xix. Minneapolis: University of Minneasota Press.
  • "The preference for 'queer' represents, among other things, an aggressive impulse of generalizations; it rejects a minoritizing logic of toleration or simple political interest-representation in favor of a more thorough resistance to regimes of the normal. For academics, being interested in queer theory is a way to mess up the desexualized spaces of the academy, exude some rut, reimaging the public from and for which academic intellectuals write, dress, and perform....For both academics and activists, 'queer' gets a critical edge by defining itself against the normal rather than the heterosexual....The insistence on 'queer'...has the effect of pointing out a wide field of normalization, rather than simple intolerance, as the site of violence."
    • Warner, Michael (1993). "Introduction", Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory, p. xxvi. Ed. Michael Warner. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • "Queer" involves "the open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning [that occur] when the consituent elements of anyone's gender, of anyone's sexuality aren't made (or can't be made) to signifying monolithically... [including] drags, clones, leatherfolk...fantasists...feminist men...masturbators...people able to relish, learn from, or identify with such." She praises, "work around 'queer' [which] spins the term outward along dimensions that can't be subsumed under gender and sexuality at all." However, queer must denote "almost simply, same-sex sexual object choice, lesbian or gay...given the historical and contemporary force of the prohibitions against every same-sex sexual expression, for anyone to disavow those meanings, or to displace them from the term's definitional center, would be to dematerialize any possiblity of queerness itself."
    • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (1993). Tendencies, p. 8. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.
  • Queer has become "the discursive rallying point for younger lesbians and gay men and, in yet other contexts, for lesbian interventions and, in yet other contexts, for bisexuals and straights for whom the term expresses an affiliation with antihomophobic politics. That it can become such a discursive site whose uses are not fully constrained in advance ought to be safe-guarded not only for the purposes of continuing to democratize queer politics, but also to expose, affirm, and rework the specific historicity of the term."
    • Judith Butler (1993). Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex", p. 230. New York: Routledge.
  • "'Queer' derives its force precisely through the repeated invocation by which it has become linked to accusation, pathologization, insult. This is an invocation by which a social bond among homophobic communities is formed through time. The interpellation echoes past interpellations, and binds the speakers, as if they spoke in unison across time. In this sense, it is always an imaginary chorus that taunts 'queer'".
    • Butler, Judith (1993). Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex", p. 226. New York: Routledge.


  • Thomas, Calvin, ed. (2000). "Introduction: Identification, Appropriation, Proliferation", Straight with a Twist: Queer Theory and the Subject of Heterosexuality. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0252068130.

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