The Significance of Queer Linguistics

When one thinks of the social movement of gay rights, it’s easy to correlate progress with the increasing visibility of homosexual couples. For example, it’s becoming commonplace to see gay couples on TV shows such as Modern Family. Although incorporating couples like this into Hollywood helps recognize this culture, they are almost always painted in a positive, problem-free fashion. In Modern Family, for instance, Mitch is a lawyer. Furthermore, he and his husband have successfully adopted two children. Unfortunately, many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans individuals aren’t this lucky, and there are other areas of LGBTQ culture that are being ignored. In, “Queer Linguistics Matter,” Siobhán McGuirk and William Leap stress the overlooked significance of queer linguistics in improving gay rights.

Other cultures around the globe demonstrate a clear relationship between LGBTQ rights and language. For example, Sweden has added a gender-neutral word to their dictionary. This shows their cultural acceptance of transgender individuals. Sweden is definitely moving forward in terms of gay activism whereas here in the United States we seem to be regressing. Last year, the last two remaining lesbian and queer bars went out of business. Therefore, one can draw the conclusion that individuals were too ashamed to go to these bars due to our culture’s views of an ideal relationship between a man and a woman. Furthermore, both of these bars were located in San Francisco, a place in the United States known for being a liberal state. This truly reflects our nationwide problem with acceptance and awareness of LGBTQ culture considering a generally accepting state cannot sustain a gay bar.

Nonetheless, our nation is not entirely hopeless of gay activism. Each year at American University, the Lavendar Languages and Linguistics Conference takes place. Here, anyone can present ideas or simply listen to LGBTQ linguistics. In fact, the ideas that have been presented at this conference have contributed to studies on language and sexuality. Anthropologists have found that LGBTQ language consists of “defiance, celebration, and refusal.” This is interesting considering, as noted in, Queer Language Matters, these three descriptions may not always mix well. Finally, individuals have formed connections and networks as a result of the conference, and can share and spread their ideas in hopes of an improvement for gay rights.