Few things are as changeable as politically correct language. Originally, queer had no sexual connotation at all; it merely described something “out of alignment” or “unusual.” Then sometime in the early twentieth century, the word became an offensive slur referring to homosexuals, especially men who were the receptive partners in anal or oral sex. (Curiously, in those days, the “penetrators” were considered “straight.”) Over the last twenty years or so, queer became the homosexual community’s term of choice for people who are not heterosexual. There’s probably a strain of righteous indignation in all this. “You want to call us ‘queer’ because of our sexual orientation and your own ignorant fantasies of what that means,” they seem ...

Get OtherWise now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.