The Not-Human Considers the Many Definitions of the Word “Queer”


The first thing you must understand

is that this is not about what you think it is.

Not entirely anyway.

Perhaps it would be easier if I start at the beginning.

When I first encountered the word

it meant something akin to “strange” or “different” then.

They would say of me things like:

“That’s a queer one that one.”

I liked this new word.

It fit me.

I thought:

“I suppose I have always been queer.”

There was no malice carried in the word then.

Perhaps a hint of judgement or superiority

but nothing that carried venom behind its teeth.

I found other queer ones.

We made things together.

We built things.

We created.

We loved one another.

Not in the way in which “queer love” was meant later,

though I certainly counted those of that definition amongst my friends.

It never occurred to me that that was a definition in of itself.

We were just different, and had found each other.

I could forget for a moment

I was not human.

One day, I heard the word used in a different way.

Not towards me, but a friend.

There was poison in the word then.

A harshness more akin to a stain on the concrete.

I was not fully aware that it was connected to sex

or more accurately a disapproval of a kind of sex until that moment.

How naïve that must seem to you now.

When the true violence started,

I grew to dislike the word.

Ashamed to say I withdrew when the fighting started.

And just like that I was alone again,

with definitions I did not understand and words I could longer use.

For a long time there was no word that could define me.

Thought: “The humans, this is just what they do.”

I liked to think for a while that was my own sort of defiance.

After years isolated, I sought out the word again.

I found others who defined themselves by this word.

They kept asking me questions I didn’t know how to answer.

I suppose I was not enough their definition of the word for them

because eventually they stopped talking to me.

The experience made me more lost about my own definition

then I had ever been.

I have stopped liking the word again.

It seems inaccurate now,

or perhaps, not precisely accurate enough.

Why is it even humans who have been excluded

still find it so easy to exclude further?

I have only ever wanted to be like you.

To belong,

somewhere.

You can have the word back now.

I’m sorry you think I stole it from you.

If you come up with a better word for me,

maybe you will let me hold in my mouth a little longer.


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