Famed humorist and writer David Sedaris really doesn’t like the term “queer”. Or at least, he has no desire to apply it to himself.
On a segment for CBS Sunday Morning yesterday, he set out his reasons, explaining why he doesn’t feel the need to rebrand himself yet again and questioning some of the people adopting the term “queer” for themselves.
You can watch below.
“I never liked the term ‘coming out.’ Still, I did it. This was back in the 1970s. Now I’m having to do it all over again,” he began. “I’m 65 years old. I’ve been with the same guy for 31 years, and on this day I am announcing to the world that I am straight.”
“I haven’t met anyone else, haven’t fallen in love with a woman. I’ve simply done fighting the term ‘queer.’ What bothers me is not that it used to be a slur. I just don’t see why I have to be rebranded for the fourth time in my life.”
He continued, “I started as a homosexual, became gay, then LGBT, and now queer. And for what? Why the makeovers? And what will it be next?”
“I read an interview with a woman who identifies as queer because she’s tall. That’s it — she’s never had a relationship with another woman, doesn’t care to for all I know. So, what does it mean that we’re both suddenly queer? I’m not tall. Just the opposite. There are parking meters that stand higher than I do.”
Sedaris concluded, “It no longer matters what you are in practice, just how you identify. I’m going with heterosexual because, like the words Jewish or female, it rarely if ever changes. I need a resting place, and this is as a good a one as any.”
Sedaris published his first collection of essays and short stories, Barrel Fever, in 1994. His next book, Naked, in 1997, was the first of several New York Times bestsellers. Much of his work is autobiographical. He was born in New York but since 2019 has lived in England with his partner: set designer and painter Hugh Hamrick.
Sedaris’ comments prompted a divided reaction online, from some claiming he knew nothing about the meaning of “queer” to those who welcomed his stance.
— Queer Doctor 🏳️🌈 (@InclusiveLucie) October 16, 2022
“Queer” has a very specific meaning. It stands in opposition to material reality and in favour of performative struggle. That’s why straights are now identifying their way in–“I have fluorescent hair, I am queering the binary of blonde and brunette!!”
— truisms are true (@TruismsT) October 16, 2022
Amen! The irony in all of this is that it’s supposed to be a rejection of “binary” — yet each label, in itself, is actually binary: you’re gay or not gay, you’re gender-fluid or not, etc. Any label is just putting someone into a box they will never completely fit in.
— Catherine Gulsvig Wood (@crgulsvigwood) October 16, 2022
I understand his concept, not his outcome.
Words matter. Labels too. Sure they evolve and change. I think that’s the very basis of growth too. This however to me is a disservice to all who struggle with correct terms and identity.
— Louie Schutz (@unklelouie1) October 16, 2022