The word Queer is one I have not used in a very long time. When I was in middle and high school we (meaning the girls) used it as a pejorative for anything “odd”. In hindsight the “oddness” was easily translatable to outside the heterosexual norm. Haven’t thought about that in years.
The association I have with Queer now, which only came to the surface because I was taking a SafeZone training at work, has to do with AIDS activism from the 1980’s and 90’s. HIV/AIDS was a new and ugly scourge. A death sentence.
In those days I was in the midst of activists and performance artists raising awareness, fighting against stigma and ignorance. I wore a Silence = Death pin, marched at PRIDE and knew people flying to France for experimental drugs they could not get here. And they are no longer here.
Now I know HIV positive people who are continuing to live their lives and Queer means something different. Far from the NEA Four days, the word Queer is being reclaimed in Queer Theory and Queer Studies.
I wonder how much the early activism is forgotten in the face of progress? I hope it remains part of the narrative as we continue to fight for legal rights in the face of counter legislation advocating discrimination.
I would love to direct a staged reading of the play Bent somewhere locally. I think its time to remember.
So we don’t forget.