Words and Names

Of all the letters in the LGBT… acronym, of all the labels pushed together in our movement, I identify with queer the most. I like it because it’s so non-specific and flows better off the tounge than all the letters. It also has the advantage that it’s been taken back. Perhaps it is unfair that I use it when others might still be hurt by the term. In my circle, another word was and is the preferred slur, and so I’m not so personally stung by it. I haven’t the courage to attempt to redeem that one, and when I see others doing so it hurts somewhat, so perhaps it’s a bad choice.

But mostly I love the entymology. Literally, queer just means strange. I’m strange. I’ve known this for longer than I understood anything about gender or sexuality. I publicly identfied as weird for years, never, until recently, making the connection to queer. My social media bios describe me as atypical, which really just means strange and fond of big words. There’s a sign on my door that says Curiouser and Curiouser, as if it were a lawfirm or haberdashery or some such, but is really just an Alice reference that, once again, just means strange.

When I was born, I was given three names. All of which came, one way or another from my father. I never much had a problem with my name, rare enough to be interesting, not so weird as to cause me much trouble. But, as generally happens, I was given a few more: shortenings, elongations, pronunciations altered by another language and the facinating, haphazard, process that is childhood language aquisition. I added a few more of my own devising, finally settling on one that was globally unique (if a little lengthy) which can be a very handy thing in a digital age.

But then there are others. Ones I picked up here and there that I didn’t use. Couldn’t use. Girl names. The list is fairly long. By mixing and matching, the number of combination could be quite large, but most of them are already paired up in ways that I like. Eventually I settled on two. Which I got from my mother (and she from hers). She didn’t exactly give them to me, she was saving them for a girl. A girl that never was. My sister is quite glad she didn’t get them, and none of my other siblings have any fondness for them either. But I loved them and so I held onto them.

And so, when I finally came out, as I sifted through the names I’d aquired over the years, looking for something that fit better: two names rose to the top. Names that had never been selected for this use. But I loved them more, they sounded better, they had history, they were selected by the previous generation, they had connections.

But perhaps I’ve chosen wrong. Since then, those connections have, on more than one occasion, been weaponized against me. These names have been used to attempt to shame me for standing up. For being out. For being proud. So perhaps I’ve chosen wrong … the rest of the list is still there … if I need it …