Posted by: Rainbow411 / GSHRadio on 11/07/2017

Queer Signs And What They Tell Us

Queer Signs And What They Tell Us

By: Oliver Stabbe, ContributorResearcher, linguaphile, and 2017 Point Scholar 10/31/2017 01:07 pm ET Updated 6 days ago 

Photo: Oliver Stabbe 

My American Sign Language (ASL)* and Deaf studies classes created a strong foundation for learning ASL. Classes can only go so far in teaching real-world vocabulary, however. While my professors may believe that it is crucial to teach the sign for “onion” so I can feed myself, I find it more important learn the sign for “gay” so that I can ask a random Deaf stranger wandering the streets “hey, I’m lost, where’s the gay parade?” I would choose a parade over onion rings any day. The only place that I felt I could appropriately learn these terms was by socializing with my LGBTQ Deaf and signing peers.

While my professors may believe that it is crucial to teach the sign for “onion” so I can feed myself, I find it more important learn the sign for “gay.”

Throughout my immersion in the Deaf community, I feel like I have been collecting these signs and developing my own personal understanding of what they represent. Like English, the words and signs we use to identify and describe ourselves have power for ourselves, our audience, and our culture. As our words and signs change, they embody shifting individual and social representations of LGBTQ identities. When we step back and take a moment to analyze these signs, we can develop a deeper understanding of how our understanding of LGBTQ identities and discourse have evolved. One such example of a highly variable sign is “queer.” Here are a few examples of variations to describe this identity.

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