Why was this useage of "queer" offensive?

There was a modnote saying that a poster using the word was offensive. I’m not questioning the note ( I think) but more about why the mod felt it was so. More looking for education, I guess? It fell off to me, but I can’t quite put my finger on why.

My husband and I have noticed “queer” being used lately in places where it’s definitely not meant to be offensive, but it’s still very jarring to hear it tossed about! Has it been “reclaimed”? I don’t expect we’ll ever want to use it anyway.

Modding was correct in my opinion. If it needs explaining …

“Inter-racial couples” – neutral descriptor which could be used in any context.

“Queer” – non-neutral, a slur turned into a term of defiant pride by those to whom it referred, avoided in many contexts such as mainstream media, sociological writing, legal documents. Often still used as a slur by the benighted.

See the difference?

By the way, ads such as these are not trying to educate. They are trying to sell things. It happens that being seen as inclusive of minorities sells things right now. That’s for reasons.

To a certain extent, it has, though there are many who are still offended or insulted by the word. Depending on who you talk to, the “Q” in the acronym “LGBTQ” may stand for “queer,” “questioning,” or both.

In the context used in the modded post, it sure looks like it is being used offensively.

I got the flag, I debated if a note or warning was merited. I checked some things on the board and Googled queer. First thing in the definition was OFFENSIVE. So based on this, I issued the warning. Context was the most important part of my decision.

Obviously I am willing to listen to why I might be wrong.

Indeed, unambiguously so. A totally appropriate Warning.

I think the moderation was accurate.
The response to the moderation sort of surprised me as the poster claimed that being older made it harder to know that such usage would be off the table. If anything, I’d say that older people would be more aware of the offensive slant of the word versus younger who might be of the generation embracing it.

I think it’s an age issue. I grew up in an era when queer was definitely a derogatory term. That’s ingrained in me. So I find it jarring when I see people call themselves queer or use it in other clearly non-derogatory contexts. And I don’t use the word myself.

It’s certainly prudent to be cautious about the use of any reclaimed word when you are not a member of the group reclaiming the word.

I’m uncomfortable using terms like “LGBTQ” because of the past usage of the terms in a negative way. Instead I use words like “inclusive”, “diverse”, “welcoming”, etc to indicate inclusion and acceptance.

(I have no problem with those who want to reclaim and use those terms to label themselves.)

I don’t use it myself either, and also grew up in an era when it was wholly derogatory. However, I only find it jarring per se when it is clearly used in a “reclaiming” context, because the vast majority of instances of supposedly “reclaiming” a term carry the connotation of “let’s face it, that’s what you really think I am, amirite?”

However, I have heard it in a non-derogatory context so often that it is not quite jarring to me. Sometimes the Q word is the word that fits best to refer to a subset of people (or a particular person who does not want to be classified any other way.) I would still try to restrain myself from using it personally in that context, lest anyone take offense.


I’m the one who got issued the warning – my first, BTW.

I’ll repeat my response to the mod:

“Uhhh … I had no idea. What should I do now?

Maybe us old people need an official list of banned words???

Does it matter if I am queer???”

I say it all the time and so do most of my close friends. So should only old queers get warnings or only young queers?

I am truly baffled.

I have no issue with the moderation. I was more confused if the usage of the word “queer” was the issue or the way it was used, which felt dismissive.

In the post in question, the word “queer” was used as a noun. I don’t recall ever seeing it used as a noun as anything other than a slur. It’s analogous to “gay” in this respect.

“He’s a gay”
“He’s a queer”
Unambiguously offensive, even without other context.

Whatever the merits and controversy over its use and precise meaning as a reclaimed word, I’m pretty sure there’s consensus that it’s always an adjective. (Its use an an adjective does not preclude that it might still be a slur, of course - that would depend on context.)

Does it matter whether the word is used as a noun or an adjective? (ETA: Written before seeing Riemann’s post above)

That’s what it was that I couldn’t quite get. Thank you.

As an outsider looking in on the LQBTQ+ community, I have only heard it used as an adjective, as in “I’m going out with a bunch of queer kids this evening.

I’ve never heard it used as a noun in the way turble did. Observe:

“I’m going out with a bunch of queers this evening.”

Much worse. A lot of style guides recommend only using the adjective “Jewish” and not the noun “Jew” for similar reasons. Somehow, in our language, transitioning a potentially offensive word from adjective to noun gives it power.

I believe you. From a linguistic standpoint I think the speed at which the word has been reclaimed is fascinating, but also that it’s put it into a state of flux that makes it difficult to gauge. Modding your usage as offensive appears to be an error on the right side of caution, imho.

Seriously? You’ve been warned for using a slur, and you come into the ATMB thread and just continue to do so?

The only caveat that occurs to me for its use as a noun is that I’m sure I’ve heard people refer to themselves sardonically as “an old queer” or something like that, or perhaps under very restricted circumstances to a close friend - but always clearly in a joking sardonic manner.