On Our Use of The Word Queer Going Forward

This is a statement regarding The Pride Collective's use of the word 'queer' going forward.

 

Throughout much of The Pride Collective’s history, the term “queer” has often been used as an umbrella term to describe the Collective’s community members, events, and politics. Our intentions with using this term were (1) to be inclusive of genders and orientations that do not identify with the LGBT acronym, (2) to express that our politics do not align with single-issue “gay rights” organizing, and (3) to recognize that for many, our genders and/or orientations are fluid and complex.

 

Recently, many members of our community一both within and outside of The Pride Collective一have expressed their concerns regarding our use of “queer” as an umbrella term. As a student-run resource group that is explicitly organized for all genders and sexual/romantic orientations, we recognize the impact that this term has on community members who need safe and inclusive spaces on campus.

 

The term “queer,” which was originally used to describe behaviours that were “strange” or “not quite right,” eventually became a slur to describe people who are gender non-conforming and/or experience similar-gender attraction. While “queer” has been reclaimed as a self-identifier by some members of our community, many people do not wish to reclaim this slur due to the historical and ongoing violence and trauma that are attached to it.

 

We recognize that imposing a slur, as an umbrella term, onto an entire community is harmful to those who cannot or choose not to reclaim it. Many people who have complicated relationships to this term, and who are constantly called “queer” through its use as an umbrella term, feel that they are not allowed to be upset by it. We want to make space for these complicated relationships by challenging and reducing our use of it as an umbrella term in our organizing.

 

Additionally, we recognize that “queer” is primarily used in a Western context, and that the faces of the “queer community” are often overwhelmingly white. The Pride Collective is not exempt from this, especially as we are organizing on stolen and occupied xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) land. In an attempt to be more intersectional, we as the Pride Collective acknowledge that we need to make a greater effort to confront the overall whitewashing of the LGBTQ+ community and eliminate the use of this term as an umbrella term. Racial representation within the community is a huge issue as the general image people tend to picture when visualizing LGBTQ+ as a whole is primarily white and often dismisses minorities. In an attempt to acknowledge diversity within the community and promote POC representation, it is important to be intersectional in the terminology we use and to create safer spaces for dialogue. Minority representation within the community is often deep rooted in imperialism, blatant racial stereotyping, and fetishization and for this reason, many LGBTQ+ POC feel uncomfortable when this word is used while navigating identity terminology. For these reasons, it is imperative that we reduce our use of the word ‘queer’ as a blanket term to bring out awareness and work against homonormativity to create social change.

 

We hear and appreciate the concerns that our community members have made regarding the use of this term, and we apologize for the assumptions that we have made when using it as an umbrella term. Moving forward, The Pride Collective will be working to make tangible changes in the ways that we use “queer,” in the hopes of creating a safer, more inclusive, and more accessible space for all genders and orientations on campus. Our goals and plans for the future include the following:

  1. To reduce or eliminate our use of “queer” as an umbrella term to describe our events as much as we can. We are currently in the works of changing the name our biweekly Queer Movie Nights to ‘Pride Movie Nights’, and we hope to implement alternative language in many more of our events

  2. To look for language that does not assume the identities of our community (ie. using “all genders and orientations” instead of “the queer and trans community”)

  3. To be mindful of how we use this term not only in our organizing, but in our everyday interactions within the Pride Collective space

  4. To recognize that the term is still important to many people as a self-identifier and a marker of politics, and to not police self-identification as such. While reducing our use of the term as an umbrella identifier, we aim to be simultaneously mindful of the different relationships that people have with this term

  5. To challenge the whiteness of this term and how it relates to whiteness in The Pride Collective

  6. To be more accountable to our communities and acknowledge when our work is harmful

  7. To advocate for more respectful uses of this term in the wider UBC community

 

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions regarding our use of this term and our efforts to reduce it, please send us a Facebook message or email us at prideubc@gmail.com.