LGBTQ+ Identity and Our Relationship With the ‘Queer’ Word
On the Road to Understanding“The queerness doesn’t matter …”It was a line of poignant simplicity and truth, and it was attributed to the character Dorothy in the fifth of the Oz books written by L. Frank Baum in the early 1900s.
The scene within that book involved another primary character, one named (perhaps ironically) Polychrome, who made the observation to Dorothy: “You have some queer friends, Dorothy.” To which Dorothy replied: “The queerness doesn’t matter, so long as they’re friends.”
Decades later, this phrase resonated uniquely within the gay community, particularly among the military that were serving in WWII.
Often far from home and in a strange culture, these soldiers, who could never acknowledge that they were gay in those times and circumstances, felt especially alienated, anxious, alone. And so they reached out to one another with a private phrase – an underground coded message – and “friends of Dorothy” were able to find each other.
In today’s culture and vernacular, the term “queer” is gaining popularity and propriety – being reclaimed, embraced, socially accepted – especially within the queer community itself. It is a term that includes a broad spectrum of all non-normative-gender persons: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer.
The purpose of this book is to pull back a long-overused curtain, and to lift up a part of our society that has been hidden behind it for far too long.
From my “friends of Dorothy” who brought their courage and their stories to this work, I was enlightened, informed, and moved to tears often. But we also laughed together over shared experiences and absurdities. I was frequently angered and just as frequently delighted. My heart was both warmed and broken. And in the end, I was overwhelmed with the sheer bravery of it all. The kindness and generosity of spirit. The determination. The forgiveness. The insight and understanding and hope for things to come.
I am incredibly humbled to be able to call the people in this book my friends – no longer defined as my “friends of Dorothy,” simply my friends.
I hope after you’ve seen their faces and become immersed in their stories, you will feel the same. Perhaps we can all embrace the truth: “The queerness doesn’t matter.”
Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Advocate Contributors