What Queer Means to Me
Queerness is Liberation.
Queerness to me means liberation. A strident, joyful defiance of the societal “norms” that mean to dictate who we may love, how we must express our gender, what we may wear, and fundamentally what we can or cannot do with our own bodies. An act of defiance made all the more powerful because it is done openly, simply by living our truth. Demonstrating that it is possible for each of us to live our own truths in the face of systems of oppression that tell us otherwise.
To put in a slightly more reductive (and tongue-in-cheek) way, to me, queer essentially means “not straight”. As in, not defined by any heteronormativism, by rigid (and categorically incorrect) normative gender framing, by the patriarchy. For that reason, to me, queerness extends to anyone who steps outside of traditional norms – two people of the opposite sex, who adhere to sex-aligned, pre-defined gender roles and power hierarchies.
Spirit Expanding Concept.
Because this framing is definitionally open-ended, queerness extends to many for whom more narrowly defined sexuality or gender labels may not fit perfectly. For instance, I identify as both gay and pansexual – a fact that I recognize is both logically inconsistent yet true to who I am. So to speak of myself in terms of those specific labels introduces some tension. But queerness carries no specific definition or connotation. And so it is an incredibly liberating and spirit expanding concept to apply to oneself. It is a powerful and essential avenue of liberation from the systems of oppression that are holding each of us back from spiritual growth and true connection, individually and collectively.
Shame is Political.
My perspective on the word queer has shifted significantly over time. My first reaction to hearing the term queer used as a self-descriptor was decidedly negative! For me, up until that point, the term queer only had negative connotations. Growing up, it was a slur – but specifically, a slur used by older generations than my own. It was a term I heard from people my parents’ and grandparents’ age. Which is to say a slur used primarily by people that I looked up to as a child. For that reason, I believe it carried a special sting for me. It wasn’t until I began to connect with others who identified with the term queer that my perception shifted.
And as I began to understand the shame that I had grown up with was inherently political that I truly embraced queerness and the queer community. And over time identifying as queer, I came to see that my queerness (and queerness in general), shared common cause with the human liberation movement more broadly – from the feminist movement, to racial liberation and economic liberation.
I believe our community shares much common cause with queerness and could not exist were it not for the societal strides toward sexual liberation directly driven by the queer movement. While we don’t apply the label queer to Headero or our community, the way that our community has embraced our platform is itself telling. The fact that we are grounded in safety and consent - rather than stigma - is met with vigorous head nods and positive feedback.
While we certainly have many (many!) members who identify with the term queer, because our space is sex-affirming and non-judgmental, to me, the entirety of our space is conceptually queer. The straight-identifying men who have selected an interest in a “female-led relationship” which bucks the rigid norms set by the patriarchy. The women who come to this space with an understanding that expressing a desire for sexual connection will be met with positivity rather than stigma. These are queer concepts!!
Joyful and Wonderful.
My path to identifying as part of the queer community and having embraced the concept of queerness – of sexual and gender liberation and bodily autonomy – has fundamentally shaped who I am as a person. The disconnect between sex as I have come to understand it through the lens of my queerness – and the dominant stigma-based framing for sex genuinely animates me every day.
This is the fundamental cause for my founding ThotExperiment and creating Headero – the app for oral pleasure. Sex is joyful and wonderful – and trying to contain it with stigma for the purpose of power is simply wrong. This recognition has made it fairly impossible for me NOT to venture into the sex space (for me – sex tech) in order to be part of a broader movement making positive change. ThotExperiment and Headero are a direct result of my experience with queerness.
Originally printed, in part, in Men's Health Magazine.
What does the term Queer mean to you? Let us know so we can publish your perspective! firstname.lastname@example.org