The Exclusivity of Inclusion: Why I don’t Identify as Queer
I’m not sure when the switchover happened. It may have been when the term “queer” was reappropriated two decades ago. Or when we went from an 8 letter acronym to an umbrella term, sweeping up every imaginable non-heteronormative and non-heterosexual (unless your sexual activities or orientation place you outside the hetero-defined mainstream) identity out from the pouring rain, and under the comfort of the all inclusive queer umbrella.
Was there an email list sign-up, Facebook invite, or some sort of vote? If so, I don’t recall being a part of it.
I was introduced to queer identity some years ago, when reading a queer theory book for a gender studies class in college. On paper, the identity made sense. We needed one term, the acronym was getting out of hand and we needed a catch-all name to include everyone within the sexuality and gender spectrum. I tried out the umbrella term for a few months, re-identifying from masculine-presenting, female-bodied, human being and sexual/romantic equal opportunist, to queer.
Queer felt strange coming out of my mouth. It felt like biting down on a piece of surprise packaging in your food, awkward and foreign. It felt forced, like a too-hard or too-soon laugh, obvious and fake. I had no problem using the term in conversation or referring to my queer siblings or to the community as “queer”, but putting that label on myself never felt like home.
I decided to get out from under the queer umbrella. I unclenched my fist from the cool wooden handle and stepped out into the pouring rain.
I am not queer.
I will not assimilate.
What I’ve found most interesting since deciding not to self-identify as queer, is that I’m still labeled as such. I cannot seem to escape from the all-inclusive umbrella, even though I have been soaked from standing in the pouring rain for years. I live in a place where neither gender identity, nor sexual orientation is assumed. We use gender-neutral pronouns before confirming someone’s gender identity, and we ask consent before assuming someone is sexually interested in us. Yet I’m still referred to as queer. Queer is the new default. Queer has washed away any other identity I might wish to have, and replaced it. I am very rarely asked how I identify, because it looks so obvious. When I am asked, my response is usually “slut and human being”.
To me, human is inclusive. Human identity doesn’t leave out the femmes, the seemingly “hetero-normative” couples, the lesbians, the gay men, the asexuals, the bisexuals, the pansexuals, the heterosexuals, or the folks at any points on the gender and sexuality spectrum. Human was never a term used in hate-speech, and it isn’t offensive, or self-depreciating. To be human is to be ever-evolving, to break down institutions, structures, and barriers (although I will admit that we’re doing a great job of breaking down this planet).
I will not leave out those who have left me out, because in my opinion, it’s hypocritical. Inclusivity should not be exclusive.