Lately I’ve seen a “Q” added to the end of “LGBT” in articles about the gay community. I’m guessing it stands for “queer,” but isn’t “queer” just a generic term that covers lesbians and gays?—Harold Lay, Vancouver, WA
WW’s copy desk agrees with you: The “Q” stands for “queer.” However, I’ve always thought it was “questioning,” since it’s hard for me to see who’d identify as “queer” who isn’t already covered by “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual” or “transgender.” And lest you think I just made up “questioning” (like so many of my peyote-fueled musings in this space), Jim Radosta, gay journalist extraordinaire and former editor of Just Out, backs me up. Kinda.
“I say it stands for ‘queer,’ but you’ll get different answers from different people,” says Radosta. “For some, it’s ‘questioning.’” He added that for some gays and lesbians, especially the older generation, “queer” is still a polarizing term. Fuzziness over what the “Q” stands for finesses some of that dissent.
I asked Radosta if “questioning” might be seen as more inclusive, allowing straights who “question” traditional gender roles to claim membership in the LGBT-plus club.
“There are some people who admire aspects of gay culture, and emulate them,” sighed Radosta, as I discreetly turned down the Scissor Sisters CD playing on my stereo. “I call them ‘strays.’” It’s a portmanteau of “straight” and “gay,” aptly evoking a lost puppy confused by his own erection. (Female strays are “strykes.”)
The Q Center, an LGBTQ community center on North Mississippi Avenue, went so far as to enshrine Q-vagueness as policy upon opening in 2007, opting to “let people define it as they see fit: questioning, queer, quick, quirky.” I’m not sure I’d want to have the word “quick” thrown around in connection with my sexuality, but there it is.