We have talked about the word "queer" a bit on WC back in 2006 and then 2010, but it is 11 years later - and that is, the use of queer for gays and lesbians. Back in 2006, I had said it was like the N word to me. Now, you hear it all the time, including on the the TV and radio. Does anyone know why its meaning has changed? Wasn't it at one point not an appropriate word? I'd love to know the history of it.
It seems to have been (successfully) reclaimed. In the late '80s and early '90s ( started to hear the slogan: "We're here; we're queer; get used to it!"
Wasn't it at one point not an appropriate word?
It was used pejoratively. Its cognate in German is [quer 'diagonally'. Pretty much any word can have pejorative connotations dictated by usage. For example, a common (derogatory) term in German for a male homosexual is schwul. Literally it means 'sultry, hot and humid'. (I have posted elsewhere on the interesting evolution of gay from the late 18th century as a term for prostitutes through to a term for homosexuals. It has been successfully reclaimed and is now the standard term in many European languages without derogatory connotations.