Queer” is a word with a complicated modern history – both used in a defiant chant originated by LGBTQ rights activists more than a quarter century ago to confront bigotry, and hijacked by hate-mongers doubling down on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

While we have been using the “Q” in much of our work for years, HRC has now officially embraced the word’s positive evolution, joining other advocates, supporters and new-generation activists who are taking back “queer” from those who still seek to use it as a slur.

“We celebrate the journey of this word, and our movement, reclaiming with others what was once used as a cudgel against us, and recognizing the reality of how more and more LGBTQ people identify themselves,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.

In HRC’s groundbreaking 2012 survey of self-identified LGBTQ youth, hundreds of respondents used “queer” to describe their sexual orientation or "genderqueer" to describe their gender identity, and many others wrote in their own descriptions of more fluid identities. The reality captured by the survey prompted HRC to begin using LGBTQ in its youth-related programs and work, including HRC Foundation’s annual Time to Thrive conference for teachers, counselors, social workers and other adults who work with LGBTQ youth.

“Queer” serves as an umbrella term that encompasses many people as it intersects with sexual orientation and gender identity. It includes anyone who does not associate with heteronormativity, rather they have non-binary or gender expansive identities.


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