As one of the early members of Queer Nation in New York City in 1990, I played a small role in pioneering the reclamation of queer, so I was quick to click on your article when I saw it this morning.

I like how you’ve captured the nuance in definitions between the individual and the community.

I personally identify as a cisgender gay man who belongs to queer communities. I tend not to say The Queer Community, because I like to acknowledge our diversity in my speech. That’s pretty similar to how I tend to say “LGBTQ communities” in the plural rather than the singular.

In the community sense, I use LGBTQ and queer as almost perfect synonyms.

As much as I wish it were, I have to acknowledge to myself that the reclamation work we started all those years ago isn’t finished yet. “Queer” continues to contain an emotional (neural) sting for many people in our communities.

I’ve been writing publicly about queer issues for several years, and I’ve had to learn to moderate my use of the word – not out of sensitivity to cis/straight readers, but to queer ones.

For example, I once wrote a story in the form of a fairy tale, to which I assigned the quasi-clever title of “A Fairly Queer Tale.”

I got a lot of blowback from LGBTQ people on social media who could not get past the queer in the title to get to the story. That happens a lot. The anger the word evokes is real.

So I’m more careful now. I still use the word fairly frequently, but I’ve learned to consider that reclamation is still in progress, to go slow and not necessarily trumpet it in a title.

I do look forward to the day when we get there, though. In the meantime, thanks for a great article!

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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