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'Queer-pas-gay' identity meaning explored as bell hooks dies aged 69

Amber Peake December 16, 2021
01/20/99 Black feminist Bell Hooks during interview for her new book. Said the feminist writer who a
Photo by Margaret Thomas/The The Washington Post via Getty Images

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It has been announced celebrated feminist author bell hooks has sadly passed away aged 69. News of her passing was confirmed in a statement by her family on Wednesday, 15 December.

As many remember the late author and activist’s life and work, some have wondered what bell hooks meant when she identified herself as “queer-pas-gay“.

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Author bell hooks identified as ‘queer-pas-gay’, but what does it mean?

Those familiar with French will recognise that pas translates to ‘not’ in English, meaning “queer-pas-gay” would translate as “queer, not gay”. That could therefore suggest hooks identified more with being queer than gay.

Hooks explained more in a 2014 discussion: “I came up with this (queer-pas-gay) with one of my colleagues where we were saying that all of our lives we’ve experienced ourselves as queer.”

More recently, queer has been reclaimed by those in the LQBTQ+ community as an umbrella term for non-conforming sexualities and identities.

While it also represents its own sense of community, as per Cosmopolitan, the openness of the term allows individuals to interpret it how they wish.

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How did bell hooks define queer?

Author bell hooks previously opened up on what being queer meant to her in a conversation with The New School in 2014 entitled Are You Still A Slave? Liberating The Black Female Body.

In the discussion, she explained that, to her, being queer wasn’t about sexual partners but a reflection of finding a community you fit in with.

She explained: “As the essence of queer, I think of Tim Dean’s work on being queer and queer not as being about who you’re having sex with – that can be a dimension of it – but queer as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and it has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live.”

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Did she ever marry?

Esteemed author bell hooks never married, although she did have relationships throughout her life.

In her book All About Love: New Visions, which was published in 2000, she mentions a partner as she discusses their separation after 15 years together.

In more recent years, hooks revealed she was single as she opened up on her love life during an interview with Shondaland in 2017.

She told the publication: “I don’t have a partner. I’ve been celibate for 17 years. I would love to have a partner, but I don’t think my life is less meaningful.”

Why does bell hooks spell her name in lower case?

The Washington Post reports that although the author was born Gloria Jean Watkins, she wanted a way to honour her maternal great-grandmother. She wrote dozens of books using her great-grandmother’s name but didn’t capitalise it as she hoped to “keep the public’s focus on her work”.

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Amber is an entertainment journalist with a love for anything showbiz, celeb or reality TV. After graduating with a degree in Journalism at Brunel University she became a Showbiz Reporter at Express.co.uk. Having written for both HITC and The Focus, Amber is now a staff writer for The Focus covering the latest celeb and entertainment trends.