After I had written the seventh draft of my memoir, I decided I should probably try to figure out who my audience for this book might be. I figured PFLAG would be a great start, and then as a I researched similar organizations, I found COLAGE. I started to get excited. When I was a kid, I couldn’t imagine that there was an organization for kids like me, who had a gay parent or two (or more). We were alone, isolated, in our own kind of closet. Down that rabbit hole, I learned the word “queerspawn” to describe children whose parents are LGBTQ.
I texted my sister.
“There’s a word for us. QUEERSPAWN”
“Cool!” Then immediately, “Also, weird. Not sure how I feel about that word.”
I’d had the same reaction. I was glad there was a name for us, I just wasn’t sure that was the name I wanted to use. I didn’t mind the “queer” part. Like I said, we lived in a closet too, so I felt an affinity for the word, even if my sexual orientation is heterosexual. “Spawn,” on the other hand, makes me think of what grows in the stomachs of people who have been colonized by the Mother in the Alien movies. Spawn sounds like airborne pathogens or insect larva. I know that it means “offspring” but it sounds like a villainous version of that. Queerspawn sounds like a word that gay people who don’t like children might have made up.
“Should we invite Pat and Chris to the BBQ?”
“Yuck, no. They might bring their queerspawn.” Followed by a fake gagging sound.
A lot of people like the word, though. COLAGE sells T-shirts that say “Queerspawn,” and other writers have used the word in the titles of their books. I don’t blame them; being named is a way of having identity and making connections to other people while still celebrating one’s uniqueness. It’s a broad enough term to cover a lot of people, but it’s still specific to mean what it means. I wish I could use it.
Should I take ownership — pride — in the term, or can I think of a better one? I’ll be thinking about this for Pride Month, or probably longer.
MEMOIR WRITING PROMPT: Recall a word name that you’ve been called, good or bad, and write about it, and how that name affected you.