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I disagree that words you embrace can't hurt you. Even your own negative
thoughts can destroy you. If you use your enemy's words, you're as good
as conquered. "Gay" and "queer" are unfortunate words we have given into
rather than fighting against. I am disabled, and a few years ago we used
to call each other "crips." It wore thin very quickly.
 
On Sat, 11 Jun 1994 [log in to unmask] wrote:
 
> At the risk of taking this conversation further away from film, let me say a
> word about the use of the term, queer. Historically, you are correct that the
> word was used in a hurtful way by large numbers of homophobe. Part of the
> experience of the gay, lesbian, bisexual community over the past few years
> has been to reclaim that word and try to remove some of its sting. Words which
> you embrace can't hurt you, particularly if you give them an alternative
> meaning. I was uncomfortable with the word at first. Now, I have come to
> embrace it. For one thing, it is an inclusive term. There have been many
> debates over the years about whether the word, gay, could also include
 lesbians
>  or whether we needed to create a long list of terms to refer to the range
> of different sexualities which existed outside the hetrosexual dominant. All
> such terms, of course, offered a fixed conception of sexual
>  orientation/preference, as something which could be given a specific label as
>  opposed to something that exists on a continuium. The word, Queer, addresses
>  many of those problems
> creating a space of inclusion where all forms of nondominant forms of
 sexuality
>  can co-exist and gain support from each other. It also suggests a space of
> fluid sexualtiy as opposed to a fixed sexual identity. I value this. On the
> other hand, the challenge can be made that the term, in fact, makes certain
> groups -- lesbians, bisexuals, for example -- invisible again in the same way
> that an inclusive conception of gay once did. And, it may be too
 confrontational
>  a term for many "mainstream" or "conservative" gays and lesbians, who do not
> see their sexuality as a lifestyle, a subculture, or a political identity. It
> also poses the problem of alienating straights who might feel its negative
> connotations without knowing about the politics surrounding its reclamation.
> So, the term remains one in debate, and that may be its strength since it
> can not be easily defined or assimilated, it forces us to think through the
> politics of our own sexuality and what might unite queers as part of a common
> political community. For an interesting discussion of this and a whole range
 of
>  other related questions, I strongly recommend Alex Doty's MAKING THINGS
> PERFECTLY QUEER (U of Minn.) -- there I did work a film reference in here.
> --Henry Jenkins
>