The Dictionary of the Queer International, compiled and edited by Yevgeniy Fiks, was published in 2020 by Publication Studio Guelph, an entity affiliated with Musagetes and ArtsEverywhere. Responding to the editor’s open call, people around the world submitted words and phrases in forty languages, representing nearly every major linguistic family. The dictionary retained the eccentricities, nuances, and linguistic particularities of each submission in its original language, often without an English translation. The reader’s experience is much like that of Lewis Carroll, imagining Alice into being on a “golden afternoon.”
The Dictionary compiles real and imaginary queer defense fusion-languages to propose a vision of international, intersectional, and non-hierarchical queer culture. Some of the words and phrases are highly local, while others have been taken up by region after region, like tea along the Silk Road. Some words were born yesterday, some are as old as lavender, and others are just now being exhumed by linguists.
The Dictionary is a manifestation of queer language in “internationalist universality” as opposed to “neoliberal globalization” — a vision of an international queer language of multi-locality and horizontality rather than of globalized appropriation, extraction, and exploitation.
The personal stories, linguistic histories, and cultural narratives that were commissioned for this series were imagined by the editors to breathe further life into the Dictionary, and to gesture toward the realization of an internationalist solidarity infused with the struggles, histories, desires, and exuberances of queer life and language everywhere.
– Yevgeniy Fiks and Shawn Van Sluys
Header illustration by Hagra
The emergence of queer terminology in a language as gendered as German calls for creative appropriation and disruptive recombination.
Finally becoming comfortable saying “I am a lesbian” in Poland, Zohar Weiman-Kelman unpacks layers of meaning in the Yiddish words for queer identity.
Mavi Veloso’s queer trans language is always in flux, twisting Brazilian Portuguese and English phrases into new contortions that coat the tongue in a queer kind of gloss. Listen as she performs an essay-poem (or something like that). Supplemented by a queer abécédaire.
Moving back to Beirut after years abroad, Omar Mismar chats with a young barista to discover a new generation of local queer language.
Tracing the linguistic roots of queer Kyrgyz words, Temir Kalbaev describes their evolution in media and academia from pejorative slur to human rights activism.
In Latvia, the black carnation is much more than a flower. Kārlis Vērdiņš traces the symbol from private gay gatherings to tabloid scandals to contemporary pride.