A simple explanation of the word queer does not exist. Ranging from the widely accepted definition of “odd or unconventional” to “offensive slang for homosexual.”* Instead of being defined as either of these words, it is more likely that these two definitions show the history of the word as a timeline. When the word first came into usage it was used for something that was not defined, or seemed out of the ordinary. As time progressed it became a derogatory term used against homosexuals. This term was used because homosexuals were deemed strange and abnormal. Now, many members of the LGBT community have taken the word back and use it to put themselves beyond definition. By using this word to define themselves, they are showing that the negative connotations previously associated with the word no longer affect them, though the word still has the "abnormal" meaning for many.
The word queer has been used in media for several shows including Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Queer as Folk. These shows, like most other representations of homosexuals in the media, tend to further stereotypes. The word queer in these cases does not follow the idea of remaining undefined, but follows the stereotype of homosexual men being different from straight men beyond the bounds of sexuality alone. The opening sequence from Queer Eye alone shows how gay men are shown in the media. The word queer is not being used in a progressive way in these cases, but is instead furthering the stereotypes surrounding gay men. As much as the new meaning of queer attempts to be “undefined,” the old stigmas of the word remain.Queer is a word that, like most words, can change with context. In this class we have learned that this word aims to break categories, and show that not everything has to fit into nicely controlled boxes, but by creating a word that aims to defeat category barriers, it becomes a category itself. Using the word queer no longer offers the empowerment it originally aimed to provide, instead it has just become a word that is interchangeable with all other words that define LGBT community member. What I have learned is that while queer is a valid attempt, it is better to just say, “I don’t classify myself under any term, because by terming what I am, I am putting myself into a box.”
*The Free Dictionary
**Image from Kulturni Center Q