Debate over the use of the term ‘queer’ goes viral online

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A letter published in The Guardian has revived debate about the use of the word ‘queer’.

In the letter, a reader likened the use of queer to the “N-Word”.

“Your report (England and Wales census counts trans and non-binary people for first time, 6 January) tells us that of the 1.5 million people who declared themselves non-heterosexual, only 15,000 referred to themselves as “queer”,” the author writes.

“I suspect that many of the others, like me, consider the term to be insulting and derogatory, and certainly not “reclaimed”.

“I am a gay man of 66 years with many friends and acquaintances and know no one who would refer to themselves as queer.

READ MORE: QPS Apology: Commissioner meets with LGBTQIA+ community

“It would seem a small minority of activists has encouraged the media to use the word without considering its offensiveness to many people. You wouldn’t use the N-word, so don’t use the Q-word.”

Queer used as an umbrella term for LGBTQIA+ community

In the 1990s, activists in groups such as Queer Nation began to use the word in their campaigns. Including the famous “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it”.

From the early 2000s, it became more common to use queer as an umbrella term.

With this, the “Q Word” has become a term that is inclusive of all sexual and gender identities represented in the LGBTQIA+ acronym.

Despite this, debate on the appropriateness of the term has once again fired up online.

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Sarah Davison
Sarah Davison

After working in print and radio, Sarah has joined the team at QNews to expand their coverage into South Australia. Sarah has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, and a Masters in Journalism, Media, and Communications. Get in touch:

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia


  1. Chris
    20 January 2023

    I hate lgbtqi+ people being referred to as queer. I’ve always associated the queer word to mean somebody who has a few roo’s missing from the top paddock.

  2. Derek
    23 January 2023

    I 100% agree with Chris in the comments. I am a 54 year old man, who is gay. However, I am not a gay man. Nothing about me is “gay” in the original meaning of the word. The same applies to the constant use of the word queer. There is nothing queer about me and my friends. If I am not queer, how the f$%k is that an umbrella term.
    Every time I hear gay people referring to everyone in the lgbti+ community as queer, it feels like a knife in my heart.
    It seems like a small vocal minority of gay activists who live in the inner city bubbles around the world and control gay news outlets, have hijacked the gay community and keep using the word queer, in every sentence they write online, like this very website. Not only do these folks keep calling everyone and everything queer, they seem to find the need to use it in every sentence they write.
    Just because I am attracted to the same sex, doesn’t mean I am queer. I’m quite sure the silent majority of the gay community, also hates the automatic use of this word. Most of us are too scared to say anything, because we know how self righteous the gay activists are. They have assumed too much, for too long.
    I absolutely hate what has happened. I didn’t sign up for this and I don’t remember a vote on the issue.
    Queer & N*gga are equally offensive terms and the vocal minority needs to STOP using this f^&king word. I can see a situation in another 10 years, where the next thing will be the “Faggot Film Festival”, because we have now reclaimed the word faggot as well. Just drop all the damn labels and be a human being.

  3. Terry Not Lewis
    24 January 2023

    I love the word Queer as it encapsulates our whole communities without having to rattle off all the LGBTIQA+BB SG.
    I am a 43 yo CIS white male activist and do not have a problem with alternate views. Always up for a healthy debate relating to any issue and happy to be proven wrong.
    I guess we just need to be respectful of different people’s needs and views.

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