Every time I tell our story, and I say that I have two queer daughters, I have to add a disclaimer. Usually something like, “that’s the phrase they chose.” If I don’t, it is inevitable that I will get confronted on my use of the word queer.
It is an immediate reminder that while we may have come so far, we have so far to go. Why should a label matter so much? If you knew my two daughters, it would help you understand. They are loving, kind, selfless, spiritual human beings. Why should it matter if they are straight or lesbian or bisexual or transgender or queer?
When I was growing up, the term queer was derogatory. It was a word you used with the intent of conveying harm, of inflicting a wound. But times have changed, attitudes have changed, that term has changed. It is now a word that is used with the intent of conveying individuality and beauty.
I think we all would benefit greatly from being a little queer, outside the norm, outside the box, outside the labels.
In food, labels can identify what it is that you don’t want in your body. Maybe the same is true with people. Labels identify who you don’t want in your life.
How sad for humanity.
You know what I think the problem is? And as a straight white male, this is an answer I give with the utmost authority: We need to listen more.
If we stop and listen, we would hear the beauty in the individual lives of our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer children; we would hear the terror and fear in the voices of the 25% of the LGBTQ homeless youth who became homeless the very same day they came out to their christian parents; we would hear the calls for help from those struggling with self-harm and substance abuse as a result of family rejection; we would hear the desperate cries from the 70% who attempt suicide.
And when we hear a word like queer, instead of seeing a label or someone different, we would see a neighbor, a fellow human being, a child of God.
Someone who is loved, worthy. Someone who belongs.
Are you listening?