scholarship challenge

Okay! Pride Month is Coming up; why I identify with “Q”, and won’t call that Q-word ‘a slur’

(That Q-Word Redacted for this post, so that I can talk to about the word without using the word – yeah, it’s awkward, but I’m trying to talk  specifically to the people who’re afraid of it)

If you find that word hurtful, and ask me to tag my posts so you don’t have to stumble across it, I can do that. That’s like telling me you’re allergic to eggs. If I invite you over for lunch, I will make sure not to let eggs cross your lips, even through cross contamination.

But telling me that the Q-word is nothing but a slur, and that there “is no ‘Q’-community,”  That’s like telling me “Hens do not exist.” When we raised chickens for eggs through most of my childhood (true fact about me, btw).

And, just in case there are folks reading this who believe chickens are cryptids, here’s a handful of primary-source descriptions of various “Q-Studies” programs at colleges around the United States:

California University at Northridge: College of Humanities

The program explores how heterosexism, heteronormativity and transphobia intersect and collide with national, ethnic, racial, class and other identifications, fostering a community of learners who grapple with issues of diversity, gender, sexuality and social justice.

Denison College (Columbus, Ohio)

To that end, q-studies examines the cultural, social and political implications of sexuality and gender from the perspective of those marginalized by the dominant sexual ethos. It explores the ways that culture defines and regulates sexuality as well as the ways that sexuality structures and shapes social institutions.

Hampshire College (Amherst, Massachusetts)

Q-studies at Hampshire utilizes gender theory/philosophy, historical analysis, critical race theory, and contemporary critique to further the discourse on queer identity and community, as well as notions of q-ring heterosexualized relationships and identities. Courses and projects within q-studies focus on the law, family structure, media representations, public health, religion, the arts, cultural studies, sexuality, and biology.

Oregon State University

Q-Studies teaches students, through theory and practice, to:

  > Recognize and articulate entwined relationship between heterosexism, patriarchy, gender regimes, racism, classism, colonialism, and xenophobia
   > Critically engage oppression and inequality through intersectional analyses in scholarship
   > Practice tactics of intervention in their scholarship and activism that challenges all systems of oppression and inequality
   > Interrogate one’s own multiple and shifting social locations in relationship to intersecting systems of power
   > Practice social justice and transformation through scholarly, artistic, and organizational projects that engage both the OSU campus and local, national and international communities.


While it was originally used as a derogatory word for people who might identify as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender, LGBT communities and grassroots movements reclaimed the [Q-Word] in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The claiming of the [Q-Word] is meant to disrupt simple identity categories and challenge ideas of “normal.”

Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT)

As an interdiscipline, Q-Studies focuses not only on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans) lives and communities, but more broadly on the social production and regulation of sexuality and gender. It seeks intersectional, social-constructionist, and transnational understandings of sexual and sexualized embodiments, desires, identities, communities, and cultures both within the U.S. and beyond.


As a direct result of student activism, Wesleyan made its first faculty hire in Q-Studies in 2002. Students in Wesleyan’s Q - Alliance lobbied the administration, secured faculty support, and staged a kiss-in in front of the admissions office.

So, you see – the Q-Word has long been used for a lot more than an isolated individual’s personal sexual orientation and / or gender identity. And it’s been so widely used, over the course of the last generation, because it’s useful.

Yes: it’s a hard word. And yes, it’s a crooked word (it’s basically a word that means “crooked”).  It is, frankly, a linguistic crowbar. And you know what crowbars are really, really good for? Open doors that have been nailed shut.

And there are a lot of doors that have been nailed shut, over the course of history. I’m not giving up a tool that was invented to rectify that state.

[Edited to add: I was so hungry when I posted this, I forgot to answer the question posed in my title. *ahem*

I identify by means of the Q-word, because I’m asexual in an aggressively heterosexual world.

But I would still identify by means of the Q-word if I were heterosexual because I’m disabled in an aggressively ableist world, and in this world, the cultural norm demands that disabled bodies are stripped of sexuality (and also adulthood, and the granting of consent).

So I’d find use for the Q-word from whichever end I pick it up.]

(Works cited / Sources [warning: that word not redacted, there)