Queer is an inclusive term for people of a minority sexual orientation or gender identity, such as gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender and transsexual people. In this usage, it is usually a synonym of such terms as LGBT or lesbigay. Often, it carries the connotation of being oppressed merely for being who they are, and of including anyone who transgresses heteronormativity.
The term is often uppercased when referring to an identity or community, rather than merely a sexual fact (compare the capitalized use of Deaf), a usage some regard as pretentious and elitist.
Historically, the term was an epithet for gay men, bordering on profanity. Since the term originated, and in many circumstances persists, as a homophobic slur, and because another common meaning of the word is "strange", many members of sexual minorities do not favour its use. On the other hand, many people identify primarily as Queer rather than gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.
The term first attained common usage during the 1980s, when it was popularized by the activist group Queer Nation.
Queer studies as an academic discipline is now established at many universities.