A derogatory word used to describe a person who is a homosexual, used in a demeaning manner.



An insulting term, referring to those who act differently, or have different sexual desires / practices than what is considered the normal majority.

Used also to denote, in a demeaning sense, homosexual males, who exhibit a more feminine persona.


First noted in the 16th Century, it is derived from the German word (quer) which merely denoted being at right angles, transverse. Generally it became noted to refer to simply something out of the ordinary, or not quite 'normal' or 'right'.

It was also applied to those whose behavior was off, such as those with mild mental disorders, or acting inappropriately according to the norms of the times.

In the UK, around 1811, the term 'in Queer Street' was in reference to someone being in financial difficulties.

History (Legend): Believed to have first been used, in reference to homosexuality in the late 19th century, in a letter from John Sholto Douglas to his son Lord Alfred Douglas.


To call someone 'queer' in reference to their sexual behavior, is to imply that somehow, what they do is wrong, and strange.

It basically is a slur, as if the act is that being performed by some deviant, or bad person.

In addition, it has the connotation of making the other feel like they are abnormal, that they are defective in some horrible way.

This is especially painful to a minor, who is already questioning the feelings, and can make them feel worse, than they already feel. Use of such words, can lead to long lasting pain.

Practice (Associated Acts):

The term, as being derogatory is being reclaimed by some LGBT activists, to help in making it acceptable, rather than as an insult.

Also, many in the LGBT community believe that the term is far more acceptable than 'gay' as it is more inclusive, and hence have adopted 'Q' as being the word of choice.

Not all agree, so there is still a great deal of ambiguity about its use. In many instances, when used by one who is not heterosexual, it can less of an insult, as more of a symbol of pride. Though when used by Heterosexuals it is still perceived to be inflammatory.


Many of those who are attempting to reclaim the word 'Queer' do so to avoid sexual labels. They are in fact, using the word to denote merely those who have different sexual preferences, than the so called 'straight majority'.

In addition, they do not necessarily apply the meaning to just those who have same sex relations, but to those who have different sexual tastes, that are not accepted by the more 'conservative straight society'.

It is an attempt to refer to different sex other than being 'deviant' or somehow, negative. Queer sex does not, in their definition, imply homosexuality only, nor bisexuality. Simply different sex.

Other meanings

To imply that something is not ordinary, off kilter in that it is different. When describing one's behavior, as being not their usual self, they are often referred to as 'acting queer' in a non sexual connotation.

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