Being Queer Means...

Being queer means constantly questioning what's considered "normal" and why that norm gets privileged over other ways of being. It means criticizing who sets these norms and recognizing the privilege that comes with being able to identify as "normal."
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"Queer" is not a term that is universally recognized and understood in the common vernacular. So in honor of Pride this weekend, I attempted to present the many different sides of what being queer means. "Queer" can be used to describe someone's sexual orientation or stand as a political statement. Its definition has many dimensions, from gender identification to a resistance against structural rigidity to a strange sensation or state of being. "Queer" isn't a word that many people clearly understand when used to describe yourself. Allow me to elaborate what being queer personally means to me, as "queer" means different things to different people.

Being queer is first and foremost a state of mind. It is a worldview characterized by acceptance, through which one embraces and validates all the unique, unconventional ways that individuals express themselves, particularly with respect to gender and sexual orientation. It is about acknowledging the infinite number of complex, fluid identities that exist outside the few limited, dualistic categories considered legitimate by society. Being queer means believing that everyone has the right to be themselves and express themselves without being judged or hated because that doesn't fit in with what's normal. Being queer means challenging everything that's considered normal.

Being queer means ceasing to think in binaries like "male" or "female," "gay" or "straight," "monogamous" or "non-monogamous," because there are more than two sides to every person and every context. It means being aware of and OK with the fact that our own identities and sexualities are always in flux, never static. Being queer means recognizing that there are alternate gender identities, such as transgender or genderqueer or androgynous folks, and respecting that these identities are just as legitimate as those that are visible.

A queer worldview deconstructs and obliterates all established notions of gender. Gender is a set of socially constructed roles arbitrarily assigned to everyone based on physiological reproductive traits. Being queer means embracing supposedly "masculine" and "feminine" traits as simply universal human traits and ignoring the behavioral expectations that are socially imposed according to our non-consensually assigned gender. Genitals don't tell men that they can't wear dresses and women that they have to wait to be asked out; cultural norms dictate gendered behaviors. Being queer means doing away with gender altogether, because it restricts the ways people can freely and unlimitedly express themselves.

Being queer means being attracted to anyone, with no regard to a person's gender or sex. It could mean someone is attracted to more than one gender, or even two genders. Being queer means you like what you like and you accept that your desires are dynamic and you are open to change. Being queer means being sex-positive and recognizing that sex is good and everyone has the right to have as much or as little of it as suits them. It means thinking about sex in different ways other than the heterosexual, male-pleasure-oriented, meant-for-reproduction kind.

Being queer means constantly questioning what's considered "normal" and why that norm gets privileged over other ways of being. It means criticizing who sets these norms and recognizing the privilege that comes with being able to identify as "normal." Being queer means confronting all forms of oppression and bringing as many unheard, minority experiences and stories to light. Being queer means addressing and understanding the intersectionality between race, gender, sexuality and class and how it affects each person's experience and identity differently.

Being queer means searching for alternate ways of being and living. It means learning to appreciate and celebrate difference and striving for constructive, fair and happy ways to coexist with each other. Being queer means constantly looking for ways to be as inclusive as possible in order to create a world where everyone feels safe and accepted, in which there is true equality for every single person.

Being queer means embracing a free and open-ended identity by casting off all other identities that categorize us, and defining ourselves simply as human beings.

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