In the wake of Pride last weekend, all but the least eagle-eyed will have noticed that ‘Q’ is now a prominent part of the LGBTQIA+… spectrum. There are conflicting accounts of what this ‘Q’ stands for. Is it queer? Or is it questioning? And what does either of those words mean in this particular context? The next time you go for gay massage, you could always ask your therapist for the explanation. Or you could read on at https://www.tantricsoul.co.uk.
Queer is a controversial one. For so many generations, it was a word associated with homophobic abuse. Some are ok with the idea of reclaiming it, while others have no wish ever to see or read the word again. Now, apparently, it means something different and here lies even more controversy. Unlike being gay – something which a person either is or isn’t – queer is a chosen identity. It’s a way for straight people – albeit straight people who maybe like indie music and alternative hairstyles – to enter the LGBT spectrum. A recent Advocate article, under the headline: “This is what a queer family looks like”, features a man and woman in a relationship with each other. That’s right. In 2017, a heterosexual item are held up as the poster couple of the LGBT community. Anyone, it seems, can be queer, despite never having experienced the bigotry and oppression that are so often the lot of the genuinely gay/bisexual. For some, this is a sorry state of affairs and the absolute ultimate in cultural appropriation.
Questioning is more straightforward and literal. It enables people who think they might at some point like to experiment with what they see as an ‘alternative lifestyle’ to become part of the club. Do you think there’s an outside chance that in, say, 2024 you might give being gay a go? Then come on in! You’re on our team. Again, this is not without controversy. It seems to support the idea of sexuality as a choice, something the religious right have always said was the case. It inadvertently (or knowingly) lends weight to the horrific practice of conversion therapy. It appeals to people who dislike the fact that their sexuality is perceived as ‘normal’ and would prefer to be ‘interesting’. Therefore, despite being to all extents and purposes completely heterosexual, they can move over to the other side by being ‘Questioning’ without ever having to have a same-sex encounter or put anything whatsoever on the line.
Of course, the above is the more unsympathetic interpretation and there is another way of looking at both these identities. After all, what’s wrong with wanting to be LGBT even if you don’t, on first inspection, seem to belong? It could be argued that we should be welcoming all allies into the fold, taking them to our breasts with unbridled gratitude. What’s so wrong with reclaiming Queer as a banner under which we can all proudly stand? And what’s so bad about being Questioning rather than wedded to a fixed identity? It’s 2017 and change is afoot. Something to be discussed further…the next time you have gay massage perhaps.