(The thoughts I’m trying to express in this blog are kind of still in development. Apologies in advance for anything that sounds wonky as a result.)
This month is Queer Romance Month.
Queer has always felt like an awkward word to me. When someone first mentioned the event to me, I’ll admit that my first thought was that I wished that the queer population had picked a different name to unite under. I’m not talking about the people who organised this particular event here (who, by the way, have turned out to be some of the loveliest people I’ve met in a long time). I mean decades ago. I’ve felt this way about the word for a long time.
Why call ourselves queer – a word that means odd and different?
You see, I’m not odd and I’m not different. Well, okay, I might be both things but neither has anything to do with me being bisexual. That’s always felt like the most natural thing in the world to me.
I get the theory of reclaiming words, but this particular word isn’t one that’s ever been used against me as an individual. I’m not sure it’s my place to reclaim it.
But, since, the generally accepted definition of queer encompasses everyone who isn’t heterosexual or cisgender, I also accept that I’m part of it. When people talk about queer people, they’re talking about people like me.
(As a side note, there are people like Julie Bindel (feminist lesbian journalist/activist) who reckon that queer actually refers to anyone who likes kinky sex. This definition amuses the hell out of me because I’m sure she meant it as an insult, but I find it completely impossible to see kinky as a bad thing. I’m very happy to be part of that group too!)
Anyway, I signed up to write a blog post for Queer Romance Month. I’ve done a couple of theme of the month/week/whatever events before. They generally follow a familiar pattern and the posts usually revolve around each author’s latest release.
This time my post ended up being a more personal post than I intended and focusing on my memory of a particular event from a few years ago. I have one of the world’s worst memories. If something happened more than twenty minutes ago, the chances are I won’t remember exactly who said what, where and when. But the emotions in my post – they are as true and as accurate as anything can be.
That’s what seems to be marking this event out as different to the ones I’ve taken part in previously. A lot of people are posting from the heart. Personal stories are being told and for me this event had become about something more important than selling books. (And trust me, when a writer says something is more important than books things are getting serious!)
I said at the start that of this post that I’m not fond of the word queer. There’s always been an exception to that. I’ve always thought it works well when people are expressing anger with the world.
There’s a T-shirt that says: “Not gay as in happy, but queer as in fuck you!” There were banners that were once popular at pride rallies which said: “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.” Those work for me.
I think this is because queer doesn’t feel like a statement of fact, like gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. It’s more like a statement of pride and an unwillingness to let society break you when they force you into a mould.
As I’ve read more posts in and about the Queer Romance event, my thoughts on the word have changed and expanded. It still works as a statement of resistance, but it’s become a real statement of community for me too.
Maybe it is an awkward word, but it’s awkward like a hug between people who don’t know each other that well, but who still feel the need to embrace each other and hold on tight.
As a bisexual woman, I don’t often feel entirely welcome in the LGBT community, or in the M/M romance community if I’m honest. But the queer community, maybe that’s different. It feels like a community that says – if the world thinks you’re weird, that’s okay. We’re weird too. Come and be weird with us. We can be weird together.
There’s power in that. There’s a wonderful sense of acceptance in that. And there’s love in that.
The tag line for Queer Romance Month is “Love is Love”. I think the people involved in this event are all doing it right.
Please do click on the logo below and check out all the posts on the Queer Romance Month website.