The word 'queer' has made an interesting journey, since although most people realize that the adjective was originally just a synonym for strange or abnormal, recently, it is rarely used in that context. Now, queer is intended as an umbrella term that argues for no fixed meanings in relation to gender and hence, a general term that embrace people from all walks of life - lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transvestites, transsexuals (Creed, 2004, p124; Doty, 1998, p.149). In this essay, we will explore the much contested notions on gender and identity through a queer lens and illustrate the concepts through the films, Boys Don't Cry (Kimberley Pierce, 1999) and The Crying Game (Neil Jordan, 1992).
Queer theory fundamentally emerges from lesbian/gay/bisexual (LGB) studies' attention to the social construction of categories of non-normative expressions of gender and sexuality (Doty, p.148). But while LGB studies focused largely on questions of homosexuality, queer theory expands its realm of investigation.
Queer theory looks at, and studies, and has a political critique of, anything that falls into normative and deviant categories, particularly desire, sexual activities and identities (Creed, p.125). The word 'queer', as it appears in the dictionary, has a primary meaning of 'odd,' 'peculiar,' 'out of the ordinary,' and queer theory concerns itself with any and all forms of sexuality that are queer - the binary opposites of the society's pre-determined definition of normative behaviors and identities. Thus queer theory expands the scope of its analysis to all kinds of behaviors, including those that are gender-bending as well as those which involve "queer" non-normative forms of sexuality. Although queer has been associated most significantly with lesbian and gay subjects, its critical framework also involves topics such as cross-dressing, hermaphroditism, gender ambiguity and gender-corrective surgery (Jagose, 1996, p.3).
The concept of 'queer theory' provided a distinctive...