What’s been queered?

How much has the term, and concept, of queer penetrated the discourse of sexuality, politics and identity?

In the overall use of the terms queer sexualityqueer politics, and queer identity, according to the Google ngrams database of American English usage, queer politics occurs most often, and queer sexuality is last.

queer-useSource: Google ngrams.

On the other hand, as a fraction of references to politics, identity, and sexuality respectively — what you could call the relative penetration of queer — the order is different: queer sexuality has most successfully entered the discourse on sexuality, with queer politics and queer identity quite behind in their relative niches:


Source: Google ngrams.

(In all of these I used both capitalized and un-capitalized versions. Follow the links to modify the codes yourself.)

5 thoughts on “What’s been queered?

  1. “Queer” is an academic term that is roundly rejected outside of the elite ivory tower. Most gay people still view it as a term of derision and definitely have not “reclaimed” it as the radicals in the 1990s attempted. Queer Nation was a polical flop – it lasted less than 2 years and was mired down in the factionalism of radical left politics. Queer Theory is a product of it times – when postmodernism was riding high in the humanities – that it has not translated well into other areas. It is unknown outside of a very few privileged academic circles and most people familiar with it find it absurd on its face. Most gay people find the notion that they are mere “social constructions” of modern capitalism insulting to say the least.


  2. Also, I am not quite sure what the purpose of the ngrams search was? If you ran one comparing the use of the term “queer” to “gay” I think you find queer is a pretty marginal term at best.


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