Originally published on gentnormal.com
February 21, 2017
Because language and desire are the two concepts more defining, more mesmeric, more powerful on this wobbly planet. To desire- be it a desire for justice, freedom, love, flesh or any other ideal or thing- is to measure one’s pulse. Language, much like desire, is simply another gadget we use to give meaning to these knots and moving parts we have floating inside.
My most memorable meeting of language and sexuality came during college. You might imagine that attending a clothing-optional, liberal university might lead to such minglings. I was first introduced to the idea of queer sexuality while pouring over Simon de Beauvoir, Emma Goldman, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler and the likes. The language gave me freedom in knowing there are others who think and yearn similarly. To find oneself between the commas, parentheses, and periods of queer heroes is akin to breathing in and realizing you’ve suddenly acquired an extra set of lungs.
Many years later, while writing an article, Nuria (my companion and translator) and I searched high and low for references on if/how to translate the word “queer” into Catalan and found only one resource that suggested the word “bord”. It was apparent that there are almost zero Catalan online publishings that include the term and/or concept of ‘queer’, making the translation and dissemination of information difficult. But the beauty of the written Catalan language deserves the beauty of queer culture.
So was born this small project: to contribute to the centering of queer voices in Catalan writing in whatever modest way. Catalan is not my mother tongue, but it is a language I love and respect. As I continue to learn the language, I want to be a part of its future and lexical evolution. That the simple act of typing the word queer over and over again (queer! Queer!! QUEER!) amongst more ‘familiar’ Catalan words could serve to change history.
Where there is abyss, there is abysmal space waiting to be filled. Luckily, being queer is spatially infinite; each person has the breadth and liberty to define their sexuality in whatever terms they please. Since the essence of queer is not having one single definition, I have relied on the brilliance of others as primary sources to highlight this magnificent diversity. In hopes that the next person who happens to Google ‘queer’ might find acceptance, joy, information, excitement in their own language.
Let this be the humble catalyst of many, many, many more queer-centered, queer-lead Catalan conversations. But for now, here’s 8 People from all over the world, who happen to be queer, answering the following two questions:
How do you define being queer?
What is the sexiest thing about being queer?
Jess, Communications Worker & Organizer & Queer Femme Lesbian Trans Woman
I define being queer as working to love and relating to people outside of heteronormativity, and since that’s wrapped up in other systems of violence and oppression, I think it means that it calls & pulls me into challenging racism, capitalism, and patriarchy, too. In a more simplified way, it’s about sexuality and gender outside of straight / heterosexual relationships and the gender binary. For me, specifically, I’m not just queer- I’m a trans woman who is a lesbian, a woman who loves other women. And queerness is one of my favorite parts of me- I would never want it to go away. The homophobia and transphobia- yes, but never the queerness or my trans experience.
The ways that sex and loving feels like these brief and magical moments of freedom – of knowing that we trusted our longing and our fullest selves in the face of fear and a world that tells us that we don’t – and shouldn’t – exist. And just the sheer joy that comes from those moments and how it radiates out. The full-bodied smiles we share when we find each other, are in community, and share some of those magical moments with each other. And also, just queers are the sexiest people ever.
Laila Nur, Independent Musician & Community Organizer. Queer co-parent, radical Black lover. Muslim trouble-maker & semi-visual artist. Frontman of Laila Nur & the Love Riot [LNLR].
Queer is defined as the strange, odd and unusual. This label was forced onto the “homosexual” community because these people loved and lived outside of what would be considered normal or acceptable. As a black American Muslim who’s always been treated as strange, odd or unusual, it’s a framework I know very well. After identifying as a lesbian for many years, I eventually accepted that my identity as a lesbian, which I still claim, fits so naturally within the unnatural- the queer umbrella. It gives me space to wear skirts or boxers, bald head or dreadlocks, to romantically love whoever I please and from wherever they identify, whether woman, man, cis, trans, pansexual. Queerness is so much more than who you sleep with, it’s how you live, perform life, and most importantly, how you co-exist with love, respect & full agency of other folks. That’s how I define it.
Charlie (they/them pronouns), Social worker, With dreams of one day going into space! Also would be happiest eating pizza for every meal every day forever. (*Should I be more serious?*) Also really into water and has goals of touching as many bodies of water on this planet as possible.
I define queer, for me, like subjectively, as happening to not feel like, or identifying with, what is considered the norm or standard for sexuality and gender within western culture. It means existing (in gender and sexuality) beyond the scope of how most of us are taught is possible, or can exist… beyond what we’re taught is real and, incidentally, what isn’t real. It means debunking the notion/myth that there are binaries, that certain bodies equate to certain genders, who in turn are attracted to specific bodies/genders.
One of the sexiest things about being queer, I think, is how strong I feel sometimes for persevering, and proud of myself for being attuned to who I am in a world that predominantly invalidates a core part of who I am. I think that awareness and ability is privileged; and I’ve had a lot of access and opportunities to gender-affirming environments and medical treatment and things not afforded to everyone, and I try to be mindful of those layers as much as I can. But I do think it’s sexy to have an existence that inherently smashes some oppressive structures just by waking up every day and entering the world each morning, and I find strength in that fact.
Gigi, Graphic Designer & Developer, No one is free until we are all free
Identifying as queer to me means holding contradictions and existing in more than one plane. It’s about my sexual orientation, it’s about my gender identity, it’s about being a first generation U.S’ian, it’s about being a white latinx.
The sexiest thing about being queer is about transcending societal norms on what it means to be sexy!
Pascale Vallee, 30, Wellness Specialist for the Disabled Community of Philadelphia, PA. Yoga Instructor, Power Lifter, Writer, Organizer, Lover.
The easiest answer I can give is: not heterosexual. Many people think a person can be either straight or gay, a boy or a girl. Anything in between those two ends of the spectrum is queer.
The sexiest thing about being queer is realizing that I can do and be whatever feels right. I don’t have to have only certain types of sex, or flirtations, or romantic encounters. Learning about and exploring the mind and body of someone else and finding out what is similar and different, to me is sexy. Being able to constantly learn new ways to make love and be intimate is sexy. Not being boxed in by expectations or what you were taught in school is sexy.
Francesca, Architect without borders (Arquitectes Sense Fronteres)
Queer as a state of mind; where acceptance and love is above any gender defining boundary. Hence, allowing yourself to love another for who they truly are, at the present moment. My statement: Queers, fucking people’s brains, not their gender identities 😉 (lame joke..)
We ‘usually’ know what we like… Who has more experience than yourself with yourself? But of course, you don’t know until you try it…. Want to come over for dinner? 😉
Iruka, age 29, language teacher, I still don’t know what I’m doing with my life
I am not the best with terminology and I don’t really use any adjectives to label my sexual orientation. However, If I had to define the term queer, I would say: it is the “I follow my heart type of person”.
I am not sure if we’re talking about sexy (sexual) or sexy (funky/fun) but I guess I am gonna try with both. So one of the sexiest things about being queer is: that there are no boundaries (someone deciding who you should or shouldn’t like) and it is liberating. And, the other type of sexy, I believe it is exciting the fact that you are not gonna eat watermelon for the rest of your life, you have a whole bunch of fruit to choose from and each fruit has it’s own special flavour.
Sergi Ros, Designer and Motion Creative
I wouldn’t define myself as queer, but I have a queer attitude in the sense of embracing however people choose to be without tags, acknowledging that we are ever evolving/transforming beings. #growing #positive #multipotential
To me queer is a position of gender identity in response to a heteronormative, patriarchal and phallocentric society. It’s not defining oneself under woman or man, and it’s not defining any sexual preferences. At the end of the day, to me, being queer is a term to define a decision of respect towards any choice of representation, role, identity, posture, or whatever you want to call it.