Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Queer Romance Month


(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.


6 comments:

jeskpendragon said...

Wow, this is such a fantastic post, and really gets to the heart of why I so strongly identify with the word queer. I read a lovely post on tumblr a while back that of course I can't find now, but it basically explained queer folks as people who have rejected the concepts of the gender binary and the patriarchy, and who see the world and human gender and sexuality as the complex spectrum that it is. And while I will defend the importance of labels to the grave, I find that queer is a word that really transcends labels like LGBTQIA etc. It's a way of saying "I'm here, and I'm different than how society would like me to be, but I deserve to be equal just as much as anyone else."
Also, there will always be a special place in my heart for Not Gay as in Happy, Queer as in Fuck You. XD

kjcharleswriter said...

I love this. It's so absolutely what QRM is doing. " 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." Yes. That.

You should probably know that you made the QRM organisers cry with this. In a good way.

Thanks. :)

pjfaste said...

Omg, I love, love, love this post! You've made me cry here too. And I apologize for the length of this comment, but I really want to say this.

I'm not a person who identifies as LGBTQIA & thus with “queer” as a synonym for that, with regard to sexual orientation. I am – possibly – a Kinsey scale 1, but so vague & untested in ways I can’t explain without being even more TMI, that I’m not even sure how it works out in the “short-hand” of labels, to borrow an expression from Jordan Hawk’s QRM post. It doesn't seem quite right to call it “straight” but feels somehow appropriative or arrogant to call it anything else.

I guess I could identify as “Q for questioning”, but really, there's no question except when trying to come up with a name for it for someone else. Otherwise it’s just a part of me I accept without feeling the need to further explain or explore, being happily, monogamously married to a man I love.

I guess I could identify as “A for ally”; I certainly try to behave as one. But I've taken to heart (because I believe in them) some words of a dear, respected friend & feel that’s something best left to others to decide.

Yet, I feel so passionately about this post.

Mostly, that’s because of these two things you say about the word, “queer”, here: “It’s more like a statement of pride and an unwillingness to let society break you when they force you into a mould.”

And about the queer community: “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.”

This is the part that made me cry. Because that community feels like home. And those meanings of “queer” feel like me. The person who remembers how it feels to have people try to break you & want to wave your “strangeness” in their faces like a banner of defiance. The person sometimes judged as weird in a negative way, who cherishes the weirdness of others & struggles to embrace it personally, who believes words like “weird” and “queer” are just different words for “unique’ & “individual”. And beautiful.

I don’t mean appropriate or to dilute the meaning of “queer” or take anything away from queer people who want to keep the context of sexuality & sexual orientation front & center in use of “queer”. It’s just that the word has come to mean something personal to me now, also. Because it feels like, even if it’s about something else, not your sexuality but some other intrinsic part of who you are that doesn't fit some approved mold & even if you did get broken & have to awkwardly stick yourself back together, it feels like the queer community, the one I know anyway, is a place where that's okay.

Exactly as you say here: “There’s power in that. There’s a wonderful sense of acceptance in that. And there’s love in that.” Yes, yes, yes.

And as for this: “the people who organised this particular event here [QRM] (who, by the way, have turned out to be some of the loveliest people I've met in a long time).”

Aren't they, though? I couldn't possibly agree more :-)

Love, Pam/Peejakers

Kim Dare said...

Hi J :)

Thank you :)

It's always the same when you see a good thing on tumblr - the damn things vanish the next second, lol.

Labels are tricky. Sometimes I love them, sometimes I hate them.

In a strange way, I don't think of myself as queer, but I do think of myself as part of the queer community. Not sure how that works, lol. Still working out my thoughts on it, I guess.

I do like that T-shirt slogan - unfortunatly I can't find the first design I saw anywhere.

*Hugs*

Kim.

Kim Dare said...

Hi KJ,

I'm glad they were the good sort of tears, lol.

It really has turned into a special event. I think the organisers have a lot to do with that.

People are a lot more honest when they feel like it's safe to do that :)

*Hugs*

Kim.

Kim Dare said...

Hi Pam,

I'm glad you liked the post :)

I think the word queer can easily expand to include anyone who identifies with it for whatever reason. That's what's so good about it. You don't have to be X or Y or Z to have a place in it.

In the LGBT world, I often think there's this idea that bi people aren't "gay enough" to matter. But I get the impression that in the queer comminuty there's no one who's going to come up to you and demand you prove you're "queer enough" to count.

Queer seems like the word kinky to me. No one gets to tell anyone else whether or not they qualify for the label, or that they are or are not doing it right. (Although, there are always idiots who will try!) If someone claims it, and treats everyone else who claims it with respect, that's the important thing to me. Everyone's welcome :)

*Hugs*

Kim.