We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it: slogan used by members of the LGBTQ+ community, made popular by the Queer Nation collective in the 1990s.
Queer Nation: New-York based collective of activists, founded in 1990. Its main goal was to fight against attacks on LGBTQ+ people, due to the spread of the HIV epidemic and the political situation in the USA. The activity of Queer Nation coincided with the popularisation of LGBTQ culture by individual such as Madonna (Vogue, ballroom culture) and Cyndi Lauper (charity work).
Queer: non-heteronormative, non-cisgender, belonging to the LGBTQ+ community. In the humanities, the term refers to studies of the social dimension of gender and sexual identity. In popular culture, the term has been adopted early—albeit with a more nuanced meaning—and became particularly popular in the 1970s and 1980s, coinciding with the “disco era” and the activity of pop and rock artists such as Aerosmith and Boy George.
Non-binary: term used to denote persons who do not identify clearly as man or woman. Non-binary people often prefer to be addressed with the they/them personal pronoun. One of the most popular non-binary people in music is the electronic music producer Arca.
Transgender, transsexuality: inclusive definition of persons whose gender / sexual identity is not consistent with the gender assigned at birth. Often, those people opt for transitioning, a process consisting of gender correction, both legally and physically. A transgender icon of classical music is Wendy Carlos, author of music notably to Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.
Drag queen/king: a person performing a stage act consisting of playing an exaggerated role, most often of the opposite sex to their biological sex. Exaggeration most often focuses on appearance and/or behaviour, adding a humorist edge to drag performances. A widespread form of drag play is lip-sync. The most widely known international drag artists include RuPaul, Divine, Lillyn Brown, and Landon Cider. In Poland, these include Kim Lee and Twoja Stara but also Eugeniusz Bodo in Leon Trystan’s lm One Floor Up.
Queer is strangeness. Queer is breaking convention. It is an approach, a way of life, a way of asserting and accepting one’s identity, sexual orientation, and body that does not fit with the established social forms. These are also crucial issues of generally positioning oneself versus the world.
In this context, what is queer music? From our perspective, musical form is intrinsically linked to identity and the everyday experience of its authors. Queer music transcends existing borders, conventions, solutions, and so forth. It is different, both in sound, form, and broadly conceived aesthetics. With time, it is adapted into popular and high music, becoming an element of the surrounding reality. Thus cultural history cannot be written without queer and all of the above-mentioned phenomena. Not just because queer music is relevant in itself. Firstly, this music is about the people: authors belonging to the LBGTQ+ community, continuously fighting for their visibility in the social and political discourse. Queer music may not be simplified to mere adjectives and nouns: to decode it, you need an individualised queer point of view, adapted to each creative individual standing behind it.