“Queer” is a word with an evolving history, and a word whose potential reclamation for the positive is discussed today.
My searching shows that “queer” is of Scottish origin and in 1508 meant “strange, peculiar, eccentric”. That’s how it was defined to me by my dad when I was 11 and he was insulting a pair of men holding hands with one another. Contrary to his negative intention, I was attracted to and bonded with the word and sent my psychic support to the men. There’s the acknowledgment of my bias with the word.
“Queer” was written as a verb in 1812 and meant “to spoil, ruin”, and changed what I think to be a somewhat positive original meaning to an obviously negative one. About 100 years later, around 1935, “queer” began to be used as a noun in replace of “homosexual” and was based off of the verb. This is where the unfortunate history of the word really began.
After making “queer” a synonym for “homosexual”, the word began to take on a variety of slightly different negative meanings. “Mentally unbalanced or deranged” is a nod to homosexuality being treated as a psychiatric disorder until 1973. “Not feeling physically right” and “of questionable character” are two others.
It’s currently a controversial term. Some argue that it has too much negative connotation to be used while others (laregly activists) have been using it as an inclusive word for gay/lesbian/transgender/pansexual/intersex/asexual/other non hetero-normative communities.
My position on the word has remained in support of it, even given its degraded past. What do others think?