Once upon a time, queer simply meant strange*.
Then it came to be used as a derogatory term for homosexual (adjective or noun).
Later it came to be worn as a badge of honor by the Lesbian/gay community, as an umbrella term. My gay and Lesbian friends proudly included themselves under the "queer" banner.
As the TFD Collins dictionary notes:
Although the term queer meaning homosexual is still considered highly offensive when used by non-homosexuals, it is often used by homosexuals themselves as a positive term, as in queer politics, queer cinema.
I kind of understood it up to this point, the point where there were only four initials in "LGBT". If someone was queer it meant they were covered by one of those letters.
Now we see "LGBTQ" and other variations. I've polled my gay friends again about the "Q" and haven't received a consistent response about what it means. In fact, responses are all over the map. (N.B. Sometimes there also seems to be an "I" category now as well, but we'll call that out of scope for the purposes of this query.) A few have said the "Q" simply means "questioning," but they admit that it also means genderqueer and a few other variations (the distinctions of which are unclear, at least to me).
Now I see it being used in a somewhat different way in Stack Overflow's Developer Survey Results 2018.
The second category says it covers the "Bisexual or Queer" group. What, I want to know, is that?
- Is it distinct from gay or Lesbian? If so, why? Has "queer" as a banner term been appropriated by another group, or been jettisoned by the larger LGBT community?
- Does it have something to do with bisexuality? If not, why is it grouped there?
- Does it mean something else? If so, what?
*Purists, pedants and prudes may not like it, but words do change meaning over time. For example, "cheap" now means inexpensive or shoddy or tawdry where originally it simply referred to a market, or a transaction at one. I feel strange nowadays using queer to mean strange or odd, so much so that when I mention Haldane's famous quotation, "Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose," I will usually change "queer" to "strange" in order to prevent digressions, snickers, and jokes.