Queer is an identity that can be claimed by anyone who falls on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. The word queer appeared in the English language around the year 1500, meaning “strange, peculiar, odd, eccentric.” Starting in the 1700s it began to mean “suspicious, doubtful, counterfeit”, such as in the phrase “shove the queer” meaning “to circulate counterfeit money”. By 1922, queer was being used to mean homosexual, but nowadays the meaning is much broader.
The word was widely used as a slur, and still sometimes is today, but also has a long history of being used as a positive self-identifier, especially by people who:
- have a complicated identity that is difficult to explain with a single term
- have an orientation that cannot be explained with common terms like gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, etc.
- are unsure of their identity, but know they aren’t straight/cisgender.
- are not straight/cisgender but do not want to label themselves with a more specific term.
- reject labels altogether
- are more politically-minded
- seek to stand out/be flamboyant rather than conform closely to cisheteronormativity
One of the first flags created specifically as the “queer flag” was created by tumblr user pastelmemer/pastelroswell on or before August 17, 2015. The shades of pink next to each other and shades of blue next to each other represent same-gender attraction, the orange and green are for nonbinary people, while black and white are for asexual, aromantic, and agender spectrum people.