Queer is an identifier for individuals who are not exclusively heterosexual in their sexual orientation,[1] who use it in reference to their gender identity and/or gender expression (as a standalone term or part of another like genderqueer),[2][3] or who are fluid in their identities, as well as an umbrella term for the entire community.[4] It is also used instead of lesbian, bisexual, or gay by some people who find those terms too limiting or loaded with connotations that do not apply to them.[2]The "Q" in LGBTQIA+ and similar acronyms commonly means Queer.[1] As a reclaimed word, it has been used in fights for LGBTQIA+ rights and liberation[5] as an inclusive and sometimes defiant term.[4] PFLAG and GLAAD are two of the organizations that recommend only using it for people who self-identify as queer because it has varying meanings and is not universally accepted.[1][4] In addition, the term may be used in preference to other identifiers by members, for a variety of reasons.[6]

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Originating in Scottish in the 1500s, queer originally meant "strange," "odd," "peculiar," or "eccentric." In 1781, it grew to mean "appearing, feeling, or behaving otherwise than is usual". It began to be associated with homosexuality in 1922 as an adjective, and a noun in 1935.[7]



We're here! We're Queer! Get used to it!

Rallying chant, Queer Nation

By the late 19th century, the word queer had gained a connotation of sexual deviance, and was typically used as a pejorative term in reference to feminine men or men who engaged in same-sex relationships. Throughout the 19th century and 20th century, the use of queer as an identity within the LGBT+ community varied.[8]

An early example of this usage by the LGBT+ community was by an organization called Queer Nation, which was formed in March 1990.[9] In June 1990, a leaflet was distributed by Queer Nation at a pride march in New York. It was signed anonymously as having been written by "Queers".[10] They explained the adoption of the label Queer in a paragraph:

"Every gay person has his or her own take on it. For some it means strange and eccentric and kind of mysterious [...] And for others "queer" conjures up those awful memories of adolescent suffering [...] Well, yes, "gay" is great. It has its place. But when a lot of lesbians and gay men wake up in the morning we feel angry and disgusted, not gay. So we've chosen to call ourselves queer. Using "queer" is a way of reminding us how we are perceived by the rest of the world."[10]

There was a shift in the gay community in the early 2000s as queer identity was often associated with a radical political stance, particularly because it was reclaimed by queer individuals of color, gender non-conforming people, and others whose mere existence challenged the social norms. It must be noted that some disapprove of the use of queer as an umbrella term, citing the role it played in dividing the LGBTQIA+ community by political opinion, gender, age, class, and other major factors.[11]


Queer Flag

A queer flag, made by DeviantArt user pastelmemer

While there is no official flag for queer identity, many have been proposed. Notable among them are a multi-colored queer flag designed in 2015 by Pastelmemer on DeviantArt[12] and the purple chevron flag, which was designed in 2016 by Tumblr user bizexuals.[13]

The multi-colored queer flag features pinks and blues next to each other to represent same-gender attraction. The orange and green stripes represent non-binary genders. The black and white stripes represent the asexual, aromantic, and agender spectrums.[12]

Chevron Queer Flag

The chevron queer flag, made by Tumblr user bizexuals

The chevron queer flag uses lavender colors due to their historical association with the LGBT+ community, the chevron shape for its non-straight lines, and its off-white color in reference to white light, which is a combination of all colors of the rainbow. Sensory issues were considered when designing this flag, thus the off-white background color and the rejection of a previously proposed flag.[14][15][16]


The word "queer" has been used as a slur against LGBTQIA+ people. Although it has since been reclaimed by queer people, acceptance of the term is not universal.[1]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Glossary of Terms: LGBTQ" by GLAAD on GLAAD Media Reference Guide – 11th Edition. Published 2022. (Archived on 2024-04-11)
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Glossary of Terms - Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Queer" (original link down) by GLAAD on GLAAD Media Reference Guide - 10th Edition(Archived on 2022-02-03)
  3. "Gender Census 2021: Worldwide Report" by Cassian on Gender Census. Published 2021-04-01. (Archived on 2021-11-21)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "National Glossary of Terms" by PFLAG on <>(Archived on 2024-02-20)
  5. "Queer" by The Trans Language Primer on The Trans Language Primer(Archived on 2021-11-05)
  6. "Coming to an Asexual Identity: Negotiating Identity, Negotiating Desire" by Scherrer, Kristin on <>. Published October 1, 2008 by National Center for Biotechnology Information. (no backup information provided)
  7. "Etymology, origin and meaning of queer" by etymonline on Online Etymology Dictionary(no backup information provided)
  8. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 by Chauncey, George. Published 1994 by BasicBooks. (web archive)
  9. "Queer Nation NY History" by Queer Nation NY on <>(Archived on 2021-12-14)
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Queers Read This, a leaflet" by Queers on <>(no backup information provided)
  11. "Must Identity Movements Self Destruct? A Queer Dilemma" by Joshua Gamson, Oxford University on <>(no backup information provided)
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Queer(2)" by Roswell (as Pastelmemer) on Pride-Flags. Published 2015-08-17. (no backup information provided)
  13. "Untitled post" by el (as bizexuals) on maybe the blood in the flower is a god's. Published 2016-10-05. (no backup information provided)
  15. "Proud and Supported: Definitions and Beyond" on <>. Published February 2022. (no backup information provided)