What is Queer
Queer is a term that has come to be used by many in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender circles as shorthand for "lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. Queer as I use it in these pages attempts to not set limits or to categorize those who are queer. Some of my queer friends are in life relationships with people of the same gender, some with life relationships with people of the opposite gender, some are not in life relationships at the moment. Some of my queer friends reject the concept of gender altogether as a social construct, not useful for anything other than determining which set of societal roles you've got to overcome in order to be yourself. For me, the beauty of the term queer is that it's impossible to define. When I say, "I'm queer," most people assume that means that I am gay. Friends who are queer and in heterosexual relationships tell me that it messes with people's minds something awful to hear them say, "I'm queer," and then later to meet their heterosexual partner. Queerness for me is more about social identity than it is about gender identity or sexual orientation. Queer folk are at some fundamental level incompatible with the day-to-day functioning of "normal", or "straight", society.
An excellent place to start reading to understand the academic thinking behind the term queer is with Annamarie Jagose's "Queer Theory: An Introduction" - check her book out at your local library. One of the articles from her book is excerpted in the Australian Humanities Review, here's a brief quote:
Broadly speaking, queer describes those gestures or analytical models which dramatise incoherencies in the allegedly stable relations between chromosomal sex, gender and sexual desire. Resisting that model of stability — which claims heterosexuality as its origin, when it is more properly its effect — queer focuses on mismatches between sex, gender and desire. Institutionally, queer has been associated most prominently with lesbian and gay subjects, but its analytic framework also includes such topics as cross-dressing, hermaphroditism, gender ambiguity and gender-corrective surgery. Whether as transvestite performance or academic deconstruction, queer locates and exploits the incoherencies in those three terms which stabilise heterosexuality. Demonstrating the impossibility of any "natural" sexuality, it calls into question even such apparently unproblematic terms as man and woman.
Excerpted from Annamarie Jagose's article "Queer Theory"
As I am not the arbiter of queer, this is not an authoritative answer to the question, "What is a Queer?" Queer's not an exclusive club, and we don't check plumbing at the door. If you say you're queer, welcome to the family!