This was exactly my reaction when, in 2015, a 15yo on Tumblr came and sent me a load of hate for being “an OMG ACTUAL ADULT” calling myself ‘queer’ and using ‘queer community’.
Like, how to put this. In Australia since the early 90s, ‘queer’ has been the accepted term to call that community. It’s a mainstream word. We say ‘queer theory’, ‘queer community’, ‘queer organisations’, etc. Another Australian who words for the government said it’s a perfectly acceptable term to use in policy documents and funding applications. Here, in Australia, queer hasn’t been a slur at any point in my life. The only Australians I’ve ever come across who think it’s a slur are people who spend too much time around American youths on social media.
I did a post about the international queer community, it got 5-7k notes (ish) and people from at least 10 other countries said ‘queer’ is not a slur in their country and it’s just the word that’s used for the queer community.
This is why it drives me nuts when a 15yo from South Carolina, USA assumes:
1) Her experience with ‘queer’ is the same as everybody else’s
2) A small number of people having a bad experience with ‘queer’ is an acceptable reason to deny and police usage by the entire wider international queer community
The short of it is that it’s not acceptable. Many older queer folks have used this word for decades – it’s been in common use since at least the 80s. In the past 3 years it’s become very fashionable (mostly only on Tumblr, but on pockets of social media elsewhere, too) to treat queer as this Big Bad Slur (forgetting that there are many other slurs and most of our language gets used as slurs at some point by various people) and to pop up on every fucking post that mentions queer like “UM EXCUSE ME IT’S FINE FOR YOU TO CALL YOURSELF QUEER BUT IT’S LITERAL ABUSE FOR YOU TO USE IT FOR OTHER PEOPLE LIKE AS AN UMBRELLA TERM AND YOU ARE A BAD PERSON!!!”
like. babe. I’ve never met you in my life. You live an entire world away from me and you can’t tell me what language I’m allowed to use for myself and my own community. If you don’t like the word, you have trauma associated with it or whatever, I accept that. I feel for you, I have trauma about some words, too. USE XKIT BLACKLIST. Your trauma is your problem, just like my trauma is my problem. Yes, really. Get counselling. It’s not everyone else’s responsibility to change their identities and language because of your trauma. That’s not a lack of empathy from me, that’s a hard life lesson you need to learn about the world not revolving around you. I am not abusing anyone by using the language I’ve always used about my own community.
It’s not the end of your world, though. You’re not doomed to read ‘queer’ all over tumblr forever. There are many many many tools available for you to protect yourself and avoid triggers. You should be responsible for yourself and your experience online and protect yourself from seeing things that upset you.
“BUT I’M A MINOR!!”, you cry! okay, true. Get up from the computer, go directly to your parent or guardian, and let them know you’re not old enough to police your own internet usage and ask them to do it for you. It is not my responsibility to take care of you. It is no one else on Tumblr’s responsibility to take care of you. The internet is not just for kids. If you can’t take care of yourself, your parents need to help you do that.
The short of it is if you’re old enough to know the word ‘queer’ upsets you, you’re old enough to download xkit blacklist and add ‘queer’ to the blacklist words. If you’re not doing that, I have to assume you’re actually trying to pick fights with queer people and it’s more of a power struggle to you than anything about semantics.
“BUT I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO USE XKIT! IT’S AN EASY CHANGE FOR YOU!” Dude, you’re asking me to change my whole identity. You’re asking me to change my lexicon for you. It’s not an easy or fair change for you to ask me to make. Xkit is a quick and easy solution for you (and now, you can use the tumblr innate tag blocks, too). If that’s too much for you to do, I have a feeling you’re just looking for a fight and not actually traumatised by ‘queer’.
NEVER. NEVER. Come onto a queer person’s post and start telling them anything about how to use their word. Queer folks get policed and oppressed enough by cishet folks. We don’t need people from our own community trying to police our language and language we’ve used for decades and continue to use in many countries and in many parts of the US.
There is absolutely no reason to derail posts being “””””””helpful”””””””” by repeatedly, constantly, aggressively spreading rhetoric that shames people for using language we have used for ourselves and our community for decades. Your problem with the word queer should not be my problem, so don’t make it my problem.