Brother to Brother : What do you mean Queer?

Language is a tool to empower our thought and define our identity. One of the reasons for the title of my blog is a tongue in cheek swipe at the all too easy attestation of Queer as a movement in art.

As a non binary gay queer person I found myself unable to describe the essence of queer art to my straight friends and family, the charged nature of the word queer as an insult has yet to become unloaded. Do we as the reclaimers of language have a duty to educate those outside of our community? Does queer art speak for itself?

My brother and I have always had a very close relationship. He now works as a Test Analyst at the University of Nottingham. We settled ourselves down at the Lord Roberts pub and attempted to set the world to rights, we failed miserably but I managed to ask some interesting questions nonetheless.

What does the word Queer mean to you?

“To me queer means quirky or unusual. Something eye catching or out of the norm, but I don’t categorise queer with gay if that makes sense? Even though I know that the word has been embraced by the LGBT+ community , I still find it somewhat offensive to use it

Even though I wouldn’t in any way be using it derivatively or derogatory if I did use it.”

Do you think the LGBT+ community have a responsibility to educate people on the de escalation of the word?

“Yes. To me I feel like if I called an LGBT+ person “queer” it would still be offensive as I didn’t know until you mentioned it that it had been embraced by the community as a positive thing and not a negative derogatory term any more.”

What artist do you personally connect with or who’s works do you enjoy?

“Connect with? I would say Warhol I connect with. His work was very out there but also very methodical and technical in its design. The simplicity of it but also the almost shock of it when it arrived in the what mid to late 60s?

Also, I’m sure it’s been mentioned, but I didn’t know until quite recently that he was gay. Does that change my perspective of him? Not at all. But does that change people’s opinion of me for not knowing? Now there’s a question.”

I also love Lichtenstein. It’s bold, and probably one of my first introductions to comic art”.

One thing that came up with other members of our family was the idea of stereotypical aesthetics for particular LGBT+ people, Lesbians having straight hair and piercings. Gay men wearing pink. Is there a way to “look” LGBT+ in your opinion?

“No. Simple as. There isn’t a way you have to look. There are stereotypes yes and some LGBT+ community people might feel comfortable sitting within that category, but it doesn’t mean you have to. Express yourself however you feel comfortable.”

We need good allies to further the causes and to continue fighting the injustices we face. We don’t want acceptance, we want equality. Part of that comes from having a place of mutual understanding. We must educate rather than alienate.

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