‘Quare’ Studies, or (Almost) Everything I Know about Queer Studies I Learned from My Grandmother1

E. Patrick Johnson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


The following comments indicate something of the nuanced nature of the term queer: I’m more inclined to use the words ‘black lesbian, ' because when I hear the word queer I think of white, gay men. (Isling Mack-Nataf; quoted in Smyth 1996, 280) I define myself as gay mostly. I will not use queer because it is not part of my vernacular - but I have nothing against its use. The same debates around naming occur in the ‘black community.' Naming is powerful. Black people and gay people constantly renaming ourselves is a way to shift power from whites and hets respectively. (Inge Blackman; quoted in Smyth 1996, 280) Personally speaking, I do not consider myself a ‘queer’ activist or, for that matter, a ‘queer’ anything. This is not because I do not consider myself an activist; in fact I hold my political work to be one of my most important contributions to all of my communities. But like other lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered activists of colour, I find the label ‘queer’ fraught with unspoken assumptions which inhibit the radical political potential of this category. (Cohen 1997, 451).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Ashgate Research Companion to Queer Theory
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781317041894
ISBN (Print)9781315613482
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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