“Queer” has become a ubiquitous term in quotidian, scholarly, mass media, and political discourses to characterize and name things, relationships, situations, practices, and bodies from TV shows such as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy to academic endeavors such as queer studies. Its pervasiveness has resulted in messy contexts and situations as it is deployed in multiple and oftentimes contradictory ways. In its various uses, “queer” is and can be a vernacular word, a political idiom, and an academic field of study. The crux of the contentious nature of “queer” is whether the right question is “what is queer?” or “what does ‘queer’ do?” Is “queer” about ontology, identity, and being, or is it about processes, mechanics, and/or frameworks of analysis? “Queer” is necessarily about both aspects or dimensions.

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