A piece I wrote for Coastal Braid, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia’s Queer and Trans magazine.
“The first time I remember hearing the word queer was in my nanny’s smoky basement apartment.
You see, my dad’s mother was born and raised in Reserve Mines, one of 18 children. Long after she moved to the mainland to live with my aunt, her Glace Bay accent and vernacular stayed put. It was never just “Jesus”, but always “Jesus Mary and Joseph” and I don’t think I ever heard my nanny, or her siblings, pronounce the “t” at the end of the word what, ever.
My Nanny used queer as a descriptor for just about any inanimate object (“pass that queer thing over there”) or person (“he’s a queer one”). In the first case it was used when a word escaped you, it could be a stand in for the salt, a lamp or the remote control. In the second case it was used in the more Oxford Dictionary sense of the word; it meant strange, different, a little bit off. My mother’s mother in Sydney referred to people as “a queer little duck”.” CONT’D