Did that word make you wince? It still causes me to twinge slightly when I read or say it. However because I recognize the importance of reclaiming this word in an effort to diminish its negative connotation, I offer the following. (This originally appeared in the post “Meeting Hecate.” I’m establishing it as a stand-alone post because I feel it detracted from the focus of the other article.)
“Queer” or “LGBT” (“lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered”) are labels used to describe anyone who has a sexual identity, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation that falls outside the dominant “norm.” Blackcat, High Priest of Seattle’s Sylvan Grove, wrote an article called “Thinking Outside the Gender Box” in which he offered the following explanations of each:
Gender identity, sexual identity and sexual orientation are terms used to further define one’s gender experience. These concepts are not synonymous, nor are they mutually exclusive. Gender identity can be defined as how one sees oneself socially: man, woman or a combination of both. A person may have female genitalia and for all intents and purposes appear female to others, yet still prefer to relate socially to others as a male. Sexual orientation relates to which gender one is erotically attracted to, either a different gender (hetero), the same gender (homo) or any gender (bi). Sexual identity relates to how an individual sees oneself physically. For example, an individual may be born male, yet see himself as a female person. Some with this life experience may elect to change their bodies through hormonal treatment and surgery to match their internal sense of self. A person may express any variation of each of these in any combination. To discourage the free expression of identity and orientation by an individual is to impose horrific and often insurmountable burdens of conformity. There is much information on this complex subject outside the scope of this article.