Category Archives: PTS 101

It’s been a year since blog editor Riley Evans posted this glossary of queer terms. For anyone who hasn’t already read it, it’s definitely worth a review.

Queerism

What’s up, Queer Ottawa?

Naming is a creative endeavour, and often the best names come from the blending of multiple concepts into a cohesive whole. However, the exact mental process is something that only the namer themselves knows. So, something I’ve had a lot of questions about regarding the blog is the title. Namely, how did Queerism come about as a name, and what exactly does it mean? Well, I’ve finally gotten my act together for long enough to answer that question.

Queerism was honestly not my idea or my first choice. I sat down with PTS’s executive director, Claudia Van Den Heuvel, and the executive assistant, Kayla Miller, in Claudia’s office to discuss the name of the project. We ended up throwing our four best options on a piece of paper and conducting a mini focus group. Claudia’s name of choice, Queerism, was unanimously preferred. I blame it on the fact that…

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PTS Workshops

PTS provides many educational workshops for schools, community groups, service providers and corporations. With our history of experience with sexual and gender diversity for over twenty-five years we provide a number of different workshops on a variety of queer topics. We are always open to doing specialty workshops however our current list includes:

Special Presentations

PTS is also open to giving special presentations on Queer issues. If you can think of it we could probably do it just give us a shout about what you are looking for.

Creating Safer Spaces

Creating Safer Workspaces

This workshop will discuss the issues of GLBT and queer inclusiveness. We will discuss how to make your organization welcoming to queer people, especially queer youth through the use of language and, safer space campaigns. The purpose is to dispel myths of queer people and discuss the real world challenges of making your organization an inclusive space for clients and staff.

Facing Bullying

This workshop designed for educators teaches educators about the realities of homophobic and transphobic bullying in their schools. It discusses how to identify queerphobia, address it and in future help prevent it. The goal is to empower educators to feel comfortable addressing queerphobic bullying in order to make their schools safer for rainbow youth. The goal is to make schools a safer space as well as ideally an inclusive space for all youth.

Making it Better

This workshop addresses how youth can address queerphobia in their schools. It will go into concrete ways to react when one experiences or sees another experiencing queerphobia. It also discusses initiatives and campaigns that can be put into place in one’s school.

TransAction

TransRealities

At this workshop, we’ll be discussing the terminology in the world of transsexual and transgender identities and experiences through two approaches.  1:  we’ll show the difference between sex and gender and the many misconceptions of these terms through various interactive approaches such as: story-telling, group work and games; 2: we’ll be discussing how trans people navigate through medical and social services and how clarity of terminology can improve quality of services.

Throughout, there will be open dialogue from transsexual and transgender men and women on their experiences in life, the challenges they face and how they celebrate these

Queer Women’s Health & Sexuality

Mental Health and Queer Women

This workshop takes a look at mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse found in the queer community.  We examine statistics and try to decipher the reason behind them.  In addition to this, we will discuss ways to cope with such disorders.

Physical Health and Queer Women

This workshop will examine the physical health issues that women in the LBTTQ community face as well as the challenges of the lack of knowledge of medical professionals about sexual orientation and how to treat patients of sexual minority groups, and the importance of support systems.

Other Workshops

Poly & Relationship Styles

Ever wanted to understand how someone can love multiple people without cheating? Come check out the wild world of polyamory and other forms of relationship styles where people will have one, none or multiple romantic and/or sexual partners in a consensual manner. Its all about love baby and lots of it and, a little bit about sex too.

Heteronormativity

Patriarchy, misogyny, fascism, xenophobia, phalocentricity, heteronormativity… all super awesome words right? [And all super long]. But, seriously, what do all these concepts actually mean? How do they relate to each other and contribute to our oppression? Come discuss the perceived privileges of being a hetero, living in a hetero world – H E T E R O – O – O

To book a workshop email  HYPERLINK “mailto:education@ptsottawa.org” education@ptsottawa.org or call 613.563.4818.

PTS Services: QPOC-IT

My first meeting with the QPOC-IT discussion group was certainly a positive experience.  The setting was welcoming and intimate; everyone there had similar intentions of accessing a safe space in order to discuss issues important to them, network, and form friendships. Since this was our first meeting, the facilitator began by asking us, “‘what does the term ‘“person/people of colour’” mean to you’?” The answers were varied, bringing up both negative and positive definitions of the words. Based on the rich conversation that ensued, it’s safe to say that it’s a loaded term.

POC can be used as a safety blanket to enclose all people of colour when people are unsure what to label someone as, this way avoiding an awkward corrections. “‘This label is something mainly seen in the western world,”’ mentions a group member, “a citizen from any African country would not describe themselves as a person of colour necessarily”.” The term seems to perpetuate a racist binary between those who are “‘of colour’” and those who are white when employed to group all non-white persons together.  This homogenization of people of colour leads to the erasure of differences between cultures and people, making separate struggles seem meaningless.

With this being said, the term can have a positive connotation too, when used to create a sense of community. It can be regarded as an act of solidarity between queer people of colour, as  our communities often do not accept us due to homophobia and clashes between generations and classes.

In light of this, the facilitator asked another question:.

“How can we support each other, in this new found community of queer, coloured folk?”

Support is essential for us, as there are other systems of oppression are at work within the queer community. Many of us feel as though the gay community is largely a white community where queer QPOC’s needs are not always validated.

The fetishization of people of colour, in which people of colour are considered sexual objects for exploitation, is too real to some of us and the lack of understanding people have of personal oppression makes it hard for people of colour to even want to date within the gay community. Some people of colour feel that these gaps in understanding disallow for the kind of connection achieved through dating someone else of colour; sometimes it’s easier to be with someone you can relate to, who can validate your experiences as they have experienced them too.

Support is an ongoing need that will continue to be addressed and no doubt discussed again in the future. We have only scratched the surface of the topics QPOC-IT and its members want to discuss as we continue to meet. Intersectionality, fighting oppressions not as individual issues but as a unit, was brought up as a future topic. If you think this is a group that interests you, we welcome anyone to come participate or observe our interesting talks!

–Angela Guerrero

The group runs on the last Tuesday of every month. Follow @PTSottawa on Twitter for reminders and updates.

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June 18: Poly and Relationship Styles Workshop

PTS is launching a new workshop with our Education Programs on Polyamory & Other Relationship Styles!

June 18th: 5:30pm – 7:00pm @ PTS, 251 Bank Street Suite 301
Come join PTS as we launch this new workshop to discuss the diversity of relationship styles and how to respect a diversity of relationship styles including polyamory, monogamy, polyfidelity, monoamory, polygamy and much more! People familiar and unfamiliar with these styles very much welcome!

Suggested Donation of $5 for community members and $25 for service providers. PTS education and discussion group volunteers get in for FREE! Please register by emailing education@ptsottawa.org by noon on June 18th.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/239099176201576/

-Jade Pichette

Education Programs Coordinator, PTS

 
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Queer-Representation from Across the Pond: BBC’s Sherlock.

There is a history of Queer-representation on Western airwaves, and it has evolved as the years have rolled by. Recently though the community is getting a good deal of support from an unlikely source: BBC’s Sherlock – a modern reimagining of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series – comes off as more Queer-friendly that you would imagine upon first watching. Though the series isn’t based on relationship drama and exploring sexuality, the message is positive nonetheless.

Sherlock Holmes (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), is written and played as asexual. True to Doyle’s oringal, Sherlock seems to be indifferent to romantic and sexual entanglements. Behold a breath of fresh air; in nearly every other modern adaption of the tale, Holmes has found himself entangled (usually with Irene Alder) so it’s nice to see a series where Doyle’s characterization is respected and run with.

Shelock’s asexuality isn’t just in my head or brushed aside by the writers in favor of crime fighting and mysteries. At one point in the first season, Sherlock says over dinner with John Watson that he considers himself “married to his work,” as well as that when it comes to relationships they “aren’t his area.” In the unaired pilot, the statement was furthered by the declaration that “everything else is transport,” referring to the fact that he believes his body as merely support for his brain. The trend continues when Sherlock spurns John’s attempts at dating a woman named Sarah as “Dull. Predictable. Boring”; instead focusing all his attention on solving the cases he loves.

Upon further examination, he seems to spurn romantic attraction in general. A secondary character, Molly Hooper, has something of a schoolgirl crush on Holmes and thus lets him get away with murder at her workplace (St Bartholomew’s Hospital’s mortuary): flogging fresh cadavers with a riding crop, stealing body parts to help solve his cases or complete his experiments, as well as using technology he otherwise wouldn’t have access to. He, on the other hand, deliberately misunderstands when Molly asks him out for coffee (as asking for a coffee order) and puts her under his microscope, as it were, by pointing out her flaws and motivations in a dick-ish manner, often in front of other people for maximum effect.

However, in the second season episode “A Scandal in Belgravia,” it is proven that Sherlock is not completely immune to attraction, asexual or not. This is the episode where Irene Alder (in this version a wealthy dominatrix) is introduced, and it is quickly apparent that Sherlock is fascinated with The Woman (the title that he bestows on her – as in she’s the only woman that stands out, the one person he things of when the word “woman” comes up in conversation – as he did in Doyle’s work). But it is an intellectual attraction – she bests him, plays him like a violin, gets him to commit an act of treason, and he still rescues her from her own execution thousands of miles from London when it would have been safer and easier for her to die. The attraction, however, is never consummated, and it is said that Alder doesn’t flirt with Sherlock, so much as at him, as he never responds.

While relationships, sexual or otherwise, are not the focal point of Sherlock, they do feature in it. John dates Sarah in the first season, and one episode is centred on Sherlock crashing their date. John goes on to date three more women off-screen, with the last of which dumping him in the second season premier, affecting his behaviour for the rest of the episode. Molly, the woman who was interested in Sherlock, briefly dated Jim, a man from her work in an attempt to get over Sherlock. Jim turned out to be a violent psychopath named Moriarty, that is to say, Sherlock’s infamous nemesis, but the fact remains that the relationship happened. Greg Lestrade, Sherlock’s ally from the police department, has an ex-wife that he’s trying to get back on friendly terms with, and Lestrade’s minions are shown to be having a sexual relationship. Sherlock, on the other hand, has never hinted through action, word or subtext, to have been involved with anyone. He keeps himself separate from that aspect.

Sherlock is not a show based around sexuality or finding yourself, coming out or making a statement, its two men being awesome and solving crimes, tearing round London and laughing like loons. It’s about the growing, platonic relationship between a modern-era Holmes and Watson. But it gets at an interesting, rarely-touched on aspect of the Queer community. And that’s worth a look, in my books.

–Jenna Gordon, from Peterborough

Introduction to Shame and Sexuality

Dear beloved avid readers, supporters, and general inquirers,

My name is Joshua Hummel and I have been asked by PTS Executive Assistant Kayla Miller to create a new workshop called Shame & Sexuality for September of 2012. The new workshop will focus on the two core concepts that are indicated by the workshop’s name. It will consist of eight sessions that are two hours in length and each session will place emphasis on a particular topic on shame as it relates to sexuality. While the project is currently in its preliminary stages as I figure out the most important topics that need to be covered in each session, Kayla and I have agreed upon an initial five:

* Shame & Orientation

* Shame & Sexual Activities

* Shame & Consent

* Shame & Non-Conformity

* Shame & Expression of One’s Identity

These initial five topics may be subject to change as they are debated and scrutinized. However, those who are considering whether or not to take this workshop when it is finalized can expect some elements that are certain to be present in the workshop. The workshop will mostly be approached from a social and psychological angle with contributions from other related disciplines. The workshop is going to be professional and research-based while simultaneously interactive, explorative, and fun. The goal of the workshop is to be informative and also self-fulfilling. Individuals who take the workshop will learn about research conducted on each topic and they will also be exposed to philosophical debate and general conversation as part of the interactive exercises in Shame & Sexuality. The atmosphere will be intellectually stimulating while also being light, funny, co-operative, and group oriented. Members will be encouraged to make friends and contribute to the discussions as they occur but must remain respectful and considerate to others at all times.

If anyone is interested in helping me with this project they are welcome to contact me at jjjosh_hummelll@live.com

I am looking for creative, outgoing, fun, and intelligent collaborators who are passionate about PTS and professionalism.

Cheers.

— Joshua Hummel, PTS Volunteer

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Book Review #2

Lifting Belly (1953)

Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein’s whimsical poetic sound is a delight. The author abandons creating a discernible narrative, instead glorifying in the clamor of words that flooded her head. The poem has a rhythmic feeling, much like inhaling and exhaling. The repetition of the poems title adds to the melodic quality of the work.

If you are a poetry fanatic, I highly recommend this read. If you are looking for a stylistically innovative work, I also think you should check this out. If you want to read something that feels like cuddling, this is your book of poetry!

But what of Gertrude Stein, the person? Stein is one of the first openly lesbian poets of American literature. Her honesty was a catalyst for other queer poets to begin making space within literature for their experience. The Kelly McGinnis Library has Gertrude and Alice by Diana Souhami, if you are interested in the biographical details of one of America’s most unique poets, and her partner, editor and muse, Alice B. Toklas.

–Fern Burge: Queerism Blog Team

PTS OFFICIAL DEFINITIONS: A Glossary

These are the official definitions with which PTS defines all of the following terms. Any issues or discrepancies can be reported to executive.director@ptsottawa.org.

SEX (Anatomy)
A.K.A – Genotype
A term used to describe a person’s physical sex. It is defined by one’s genitalia (i.e. penis, vagina, testicles, ovaries, etc.), secondary sex characteristics (i.e. breasts, prostate, etc…), sex hormones (i.e. androgens and estrogens), and chromosomes. A person’s sex is categorized as male, female, or intersex.

GENDER
A.K.A – Phenotype
A term used to describe the combination of a person’s internal gender identity (as a man, a woman, or gender-queer) and outward gender expression (as masculine, feminine, or androgynous). Gender is a social construct, meaning it does not exist naturally but is created. It can conform to society’s expectations of anatomy and gender congruity or transcend them. Gender can be fluid or fixed. It can be assigned or changed.

HOMOSEXUAL
A term used to describe a person who is attracted (emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and/or physically) to another person of the same gender. This is often referred to as a same-sex relationship, attraction, or partnership. However, it should be noted that the use of sex in this term is inaccurate as gender determines orientation, not physical anatomy.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION
A term used to describe the direction of a person’s emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and/or physical attraction toward members of the same, opposite, or all genders. This includes Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Asexual, Pansexual, Pomosexual, and Omnisexual orientations.

GENDER IDENTITY
A.K.A – Sub-conscious Sex, Sexual Identity
Is the first of the two aspects, which make up gender. Our gender identity is our own sense or conviction of being a man, a woman, or gender-queer (both or neither). Most people have a gender identity, which is congruent with their physical sex. However, some do not.

GENDER EXPRESSION
Is the second of the two aspects that make up gender. Gender expression is the outward manifestation of our gender identity. However, some people do not have an expression in alignment with their identity (within a medicalized model, this is called Gender Dysphoria or Gender Identity Disorder). It is how we present and interact with the world around us. Gender expression is defined by the mannerisms we use, the roles we take, and how we dress. It is how we represent our behaviour as masculine, feminine, or androgynous.

GENDER-QUEER
An umbrella term for people with gender identities that do not fit the gender binary of masculine and feminine. While gender-queer identities vary, the most commonly used are being both a man and a woman, being neither a man nor a woman, or as a gender outside man and woman (a third gender). The one commonality that unites all gender-queer people is their rejection of the notion that there are only two genders.

GLBTTQ
An acronym used to identify people in the rainbow community. This acronym stands for; gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, two-spirit, and queer.

GAY
A term used to describe a person who identifies as a man and has (or desires to have) emotional, intellectual, spiritual and/or physical relations with another self-identified man. With less frequency, the term gay is used to describe all people who do not fit a heterosexual orientation or as a designation of the rainbow community. It should be noted that this term when used as an umbrella term, excludes, silences and further marginalizes the rest of the rainbow community.

MSM (men who have sex with men), MLM (men loving men)
Men who engage in sexual activities with other men but may not identify as gay/bisexual/bi-curious/or queer.

LESBIAN
A term used to describe a person who identifies as a woman and has (or desires to have) emotional, intellectual, spiritual and/or physical relations with another self-identified woman.

WSW (women who have sex with women, WLW (women loving women)
Women who engage in sexual activities with other women but may not identify as lesbian/bisexual/bi-curious/or queer.

BISEXUAL
A term used to describe a person who has (or desires to have) emotional, intellectual, spiritual and/or physical relations with someone of the same or other gender.

BI-CURIOUS
A term used to describe a person who has a persistent desire to have emotional, intellectual, spiritual and/or physical relations with someone of the same or another gender.

TRANS
An umbrella term used to describe people who display any type of gender diversity or undergo gender and/or sex transition.

TRANSGENDER
A term used to describe a person whose gender identity and gender expression do not align based on society’s expectations that that all aspects of gender should be congruent. A common term to express this concept is gender fluidity.

CISGENDER
Cisgender is a term used to describe people whose gender is not fluid; their gender identity and gender expression line up based on society’s expectations that all aspects of gender should be congruent.

TRANSSEXUAL
A term used to describe a person who experiences a transition from one sex to another. They will usually seek (or desires to seek) medical intervention (such as Hormone Replacement Therapy, Sex Reassignment Surgery, etc…) and/or alter their physical appearance to align their physical sex to their correct gender.

CISSEXUAL
Cissexual is a term used to describe people whose gender and sex have always lined up, and have not had any transsexual experiences.

TWO-SPIRIT
A term used to describe Aboriginal people who fulfill one of many mixed genders. Traditionally the roles included wearing clothing, and performing the work of any gender. The term usually implies a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit living in the same body.

QUEER
The literal definition of the term ‘queer’ is synonymous with being different and originally held negative connotations. The term was reclaimed by the GLBTTQ community and is now used to describe all people who do not fit a heterosexual orientation and, in some cases, those who are transsexual or transgender.

QUESTIONING
A term used to describe a person who is unsure of their orientation and/or gender identity.

INTERSEX (Disorders of sex development)
A term used to describe people who were born with a combination of male and female anatomy. This can include a combination of genitalia, secondary sex characteristics, hormones and chromosomes. A person who is intersex will most often identify as a man or a woman. However, their gender identity is not always in alignment with their predominant sex.

ASEXUAL
A term used to describe a person who has no apparent sexual attraction, but may desire to have emotional, intellectual, spiritual relations with another person. It should be noted that there are varying biological and psychological reasons for a person to identify as asexual, which may include: dissatisfaction with one’s genitalia, psychological barriers to intimacy and intercourse, and/or having no sexual attraction towards others.

PANSEXUAL
A term used to describe a person who has (or desires to have) emotional, intellectual, spiritual and/or physical relations with another person, regardless of sex, gender identity or gender expression.

POMOSEXUAL
A term used to describe a person who rejects the use of labels, which identify orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

OMNISEXUAL
A term used to describe a person who is attracted to all things, including people, animals, inanimate objects etc.

MONOGAMOUS
A term used to describe a person who has (or desires to have) emotional, intellectual, spiritual and/or physical relations with one partner at a time.

POLYAMOROUS
A term used to describe a person who has (or desires to have) emotional, intellectual, spiritual and/or physical relations with multiple partners at a time.

HOMOPHOBIA
Homophobia is the irrational fear, aversion to, or discrimination against a person or group of people, based on their perceived or disclosed orientation(s) as homosexual, or as internalized homophobia in oneself. Homophobia exhibits itself socially; as fear of knowing, befriending, or associating with people who are homosexual or perceived to be homosexual. It exhibits itself institutionally; by refusing to provide homosexuals access to services that are provided to heterosexuals, providing services differently to people who are homosexual (or perceived as homosexual) than to people who are heterosexual, or actively rejecting their rights and equal treatment to those of the heterosexual public.

HETEROSEXISM
Heterosexism is the assumption that every one is heterosexual. It is a form of oppression that targets gays, lesbians, and bisexual people. Heterosexism confers rights and privileges to heterosexual people that are denied to gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.

TRANSPHOBIA
The fear of those who are perceived to break or blur stereotypical gender roles, often expressed as stereotyping, discrimination, harassment and violence. Transphobia is frequently directed at those perceived as expressing their gender in a transgressive way, those who defy stereotypical gender norms, or those who are perceived to exhibit non-heterosexual characteristics regardless of their actual gender identity or sexual orientation.

CISSEXISM
Cissexism is the societal-wide tendency to view transsexual experiences and sex embodiments as being less legitimate than those of cissexuals – that is, nontranssexuals.

BIPHOBIA
Biphobia is the fear of, discrimination against or hatred of bisexuals (although in practice it extends to pansexual and asexual people too). It need not include homophobia or heterophobia, because there are stereotypes that are specific to bisexuals.

HETERONORMATIVE
A term used to describe the marginalization of lifestyles that do not conform to societies expectation of congruity between physical sex and gender. Instances of this include the idea that people fall into two distinct categories of sex (male and female) or gender (man and woman), that sexual and marital relations are “normal” only between people of different sexes and only with one committed/married partner at a time, and that each sex has certain “normal” roles in life. The hetero-normative view is that physical sex, gender identity, and gender expression should always align to either all-male or all-female cultural norms.
With Heteronormativity comes privilege and assimilation. It stigmatizes anybody in society that deviates from this model and is often the cause of societies’ perception of abnormal, immoral, illegitimate, and ultimately unworthy in another human being.

 

Acknowledging the Aces in the PTS Deck

In life there are aces in every deck, and the Queer community is no different. Asexuality is a sexual orientation along with its more well-known cousins, be it bi or pan, straight or gay or pomosexual. Though asexuals are less visible than their cousins in the Queer community and more likely to be forgotten or skipped over when it comes to the awareness of the general public.

PTS defines asexuality as the following:

A term used to describe a person who has: a) no apparent sexual attraction, but may desire to have emotional, intellectual, or spiritual relations with another person; b) a lack of emotional connection to sexual acts but still engages in sex with partners; c) a lack of desire for or to instigate sex, though they may engage in sexual acts with their partner. It should be noted that there are varying biological and psychological reasons for a person to identify as asexual, which may include: dissatisfaction with one’s genitalia, psychological barriers to intimacy and intercourse, and/or having no sexual attraction towards others.

The main difference between sexual dysfunction and asexuality, I’ve heard said, is the attitude towards it. Those who see it as a problem look for solutions, those who don’t, don’t look for needless treatment.

Asexuals still have meaningful, fulfilling relationships—even if you don’t have an interest in sex that doesn’t mean you can’t like romance or cuddling, or emotional intimacy with another human being. Like most things this varies from person to person, an entire rainbow in shades of grey.

Asexuals may not face discrimination or prejudice to the degree of some other members of the Queer community, but they have to struggle for visibility outside of the own private circles; they have to fight for visibility in the public eye, make themselves known as a bona fide sexual orientation in a way that people of other sexualities don’t have to.

Unfortunately, there are those that believe that asexuals shouldn’t be associated with the GLBTTQ community, that they have a completely separate hierarchy of needs and desires and should not latch onto a previously established movement for publicity alone. “No one cares that you aren’t having sex,” I’ve heard said, along with the ever-memorable, “I didn’t know you existed.”

Because asexuality is only for amoebas, am I right? Ergh.

The general belief in some fractions of the community is that because those that identify as asexual have not faced the same discrimination and prejudice, and have not had to fight for equal rights as other queer people, they should not be welcome in the same spaces. Others believe that asexuals are all survivors of abuse, that they have intimacy issues. Or that asexuals are only the way they are because they haven’t met the right person, or just haven’t had an orgasm.

Even a vocal minority of the Ace community opposes inclusion in the GLBTTQ. The general thought is that if they go to Queer group meetings for support, they aren’t getting it. They also don’t want to associate or be labeled as something they aren’t.

Here at PTS, we welcome Aces under the GLBTTQ banner. Queer is an umbrella-term after all, a catch-all. And who knows, maybe you’ll see an Ace social/ discussion group being hosted in our new building, or a facts/fiction pamphlet on our table. But until then, just know that aces from every deck are welcome here if you need someone to talk to.

 

–Jenna Gordon

 

FURTHER READING:

http://www.asexuality.org/home/overview.html
http://www.apositive.org/
http://www.asexualexplorations.net/home/
http://www.ace-book.net/

Queerism: The OFFICIAL Definition

What’s up, Queer Ottawa?

Naming is a creative endeavour, and often the best names come from the blending of multiple concepts into a cohesive whole. However, the exact mental process is something that only the namer themselves knows. So, something I’ve had a lot of questions about regarding the blog is the title. Namely, how did Queerism come about as a name, and what exactly does it mean? Well, I’ve finally gotten my act together for long enough to answer that question.

Queerism was honestly not my idea or my first choice. I sat down with PTS’s executive director, Claudia Van Den Heuvel, and the executive assistant, Kayla Miller, in Claudia’s office to discuss the name of the project. We ended up throwing our four best options on a piece of paper and conducting a mini focus group. Claudia’s name of choice, Queerism, was unanimously preferred. I blame it on the fact that I was the only person in the office wearing a tie. Other tie-wearers would have appreciated the sleek professionalism in my name. My objections aside, I eventually did the smart thing—shut the hell up and did what my boss told me to. So the name was Queerism.

My initial reaction to the word was the same as many of yours: what does it even mean? I couldn’t just leave a giant loose end like having a name that doesn’t mean anything. That would be entirely unprofessional, which is clearly not how I want to operate… well, anything. Ever. So I set upon hashing out a definition.

The struggle was finding out where to start. This was the name for a major component of PTS’s web presence, an all important part of any organization’s public image. Or at least I like to think it’s important. The point being, I needed somewhere to start, and there were way too many options. There are so many different areas of queer life, so many different avenues and side streets of queer culture to explore. How could I come up with a definition that encompasses everything that is intrinsically queer?

Then it hit me like a linebacker blitzing up the middle.

What about a definition that, rather than highlighting the actual content, highlights its queerness? Something that describes those little things that we do that makes the rest of the world do a double-take. That’s who this blog is for: every gay man who drops a “that’s what he said” joke; every genderqueer person who has to explain “ze” or “they” as a pronoun; every bi or pan teenager who’s been told it’s just a phase. This blog is for you, and I want the name of this blog to describe all the little things that each of us go through on a daily basis.

So I came up with this:

Queerism: The little intricacies of life, history and social interaction that differentiate queer people from the rest of heterosexual, cisgendered/sexual society.

I think it’s the perfect definition to bring us all together and set us apart from everyone else. As much as we’d like to fit in sometimes, I think it’s even more important to be proud. It’s my little way of making the blog say “we’re here, we’re queer, fucking deal with it.”

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Yours entirely,

–Riley Evans, head writer/moderator of Queerism