Monday, February 9, 2009


I really wanted to write something for "Body 2 Body: Writings on Alternative Sexuality in Malaysia". And although I know both of the editors, Jerome Kugan and Pang Kee Teik as friends to the point I may eventually submit my entry, I am however disturbed by the following lines from their “submission guideline”:

1. Writings should depict QUEER or alternative sexuality in Malaysia, or of Malaysian QUEERS' experience in the world.

3. QUEER includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, transvestite, TRANSGENDERED, intersexed.

At line no. 3, once again the word "transgender" was placed with an incorrect “–ed”, and "transvestite" is supposed to be a subset of "transgender", but was placed along with the line of words as a separate entity. Even if that was so (unfortunately it is not), "transsexual" was missing from the line of words. As a matter of fact, a classic "transsexual" is never comfortable with neither "transsexual" (still known medically as a mental health condition) nor "transgender" (because the other subsets of "transgenders" are different from "transsexuals"); because it takes away the nature of their sexual identity. Some choose "transgender" as a less medical and politically correct term, but most just belong to that label to have a social identification that they can present to the public, rather than who they really are. But I am not going to go into that.


queer•er, queer•est
1. Deviating from the expected or normal; strange: a queer situation.
2. Odd or unconventional, as in behavior; eccentric. See Synonyms at strange.
3. Of a questionable nature or character; suspicious.
4. Slang Fake; counterfeit.
5. Feeling slightly ill; queasy.
6. Offensive Slang Homosexual.
7. Usage Problem Of or relating to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgendered people.
1. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a homosexual person.
2. Usage Problem A lesbian, gay male, bisexual, or transgendered person.
tr.v. queered, queer•ing, queers Slang
1. To ruin or thwart: "might try to queer the Games with anything from troop movements . . . to a bomb attack" Newsweek.
2. To put (someone) in a bad position.

I find the word "queer" probably the most disturbing word describing the LGBT community that I never use. As an adjective, it reduces the nature of LGBTs as a mere nurtured behavioural and societal issue. As a noun, it is meant to be used to negatively label LGBTs. Its continuous use, such as in this submission call for Body 2 Body and a host of other media and written communication forms, is actually wrong and it would only serve to detatch ourselves from our nature, being comfortable with our sexual orientation or accepting of our gender identity. We may say that we are reclaiming the use of the word for ourselves. But why use this word “queer”, that blatantly labels us as “weird”? Why are we using a word that would further discriminate ourselves from the general public?

The word "queer" represents the very separation between us being normal and being different. Have we forgotten how painful it is for people to call us "weirdos"? Are we going to proudly call ourselves something like "queer"'s closest synonym, “strange”? Just observe the use of the similar term within the advertisement for Body 2 Body, and think carefully whether it is acceptable.


1. Writings should depict strange or alternative sexuality in Malaysia, or of Malaysian stranges' experience in the world.

2. Possible Genre: fiction, true life accounts, essays, memoir, excerpts from novel or play. We do not accept verse.

3. Strange includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, transvestite, transgendered, intersexed.

4. Possible topics: coming out, forced out, going back in, love found, love lost, love squandered, encounters with homophobia, trying to go straight, married life, being friends with a strange person, being seduced by a queer friend, self-loathing, acceptance, religion, family, work, HIV, studies, activism, etc.

5. Writers can be Malaysian or non-Malaysians. Writers can be strange or straight.

So, since some of us do so openly accept the word "queer" to describe us, why not use the word "strange" then? Oh, both "strange" and straight nearly sounds the same, perhaps by using "strange", we could actually be three or four alphabets away from being known as straight. Hurrah! (Well, just a thought). And "queer" just means basically that, queer. That is why we should stay the hell out of using that word and should not even call ourselves or the LGBT community that.

Queer Theory may be forming a strong movement, but if we were to continue labeling ourselves with a word that de-generates the LGBT movement from within, a word that is so readily used by the majority section of society to alienate us into boxes that do not fit us, a word historically invented to just mean "abnormal", then there is no way even by Queer Theory we should reclaim the word, because of its true definition. So am I going to write for Body 2 Body? Probably will, but I would need to call and ask Jerome if a transsexual can be involved in this, since (separately) only "transvestite" and "transgender-ed" are invited. And if people still choose to use a term that defines me as "fake" or "unusual" I would say, sorry, I am really not QUEER.


nakedwriter said...

it could be because we're trying to reclaim the word, queer.

Yuki Choe said...

As I had mentioned here, we should be careful of which words to reclaim especially such as "queer".

I mean (to be blunt), "shit" is "shit", and people can call it "stool" or whatever; but we cannot reclaim the word "shit" to describe ourselves when the meaning is all negatively afixed since the beginning of its use.

Amir said...

I look forward to your contribution!

You like Kenny G - that's queer enough for us!

JK said...

Actually, why not contribute a piece that discusses labels and words and misuses and abuses of language within the LGBTiQ world?

Yuki Choe said...


Thanks. A lot of straights like Kenny G too, so are they strange? :-)


I already have an idea for a short story. I may submit two if you wish, or perhaps I combine both?