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Tenderqueer is a contentious slang term used to describe an emotional LGBTQ+ person with a sensitive and openly emotional disposition who uses their knowledge of social justice language in order to be insincere or avoid accountability for their own actions. However, the word "tenderqueer" has been discussed in popular culture since at least 2012 when it was first used as an aesthetic signifier for "femininity" and "softness." The term's definition has become subject to debate after it gained wider popularization on Twitter and pop culture. Another phrase used in conjunction with the word tenderqueer is "Steven Universe Gay," a phrase also associated with young queer people who have particular clichéd interests.
According to a 2018 article in Guts Magazine, the tenderqueer hashtag on Tumblr can be traced back to the year 2012. It was initially used by LGBTQ+ people engaging with pastel and floral aesthetics, as well as text posts about "vulnerability, coping, and feelings."
On September 30th, 2014, Tumblr user @bubbly-suffer-girl posted a reply to an anonymous user asking what "tenderqueer" means, gathering over 80 notes in over eight years (seen below).
According to Wiktionary, the word tenderqueer has also been used in a non-derogatory, self-descriptive manner by various LGBTQ artists and activists in the 2010s (seen below).
On February 12th, 2017, Twitter user @morganmpage posted a tweet acknowledging the negative connotations behind the word tenderqueer, gathering more than 90 likes in over five years (seen below, left). On August 10th, 2018, Twitter user @gnostiquette posted a tweet about how "tenderqueers" are the queer equivalents of "nice guys," adding that it is dangerous to accidentally stigmatize "niceness." The post gathered nearly 100 likes in roughly four years (seen below, right).
On October 31st, 2019, Twitter user @hologramvin posted a tweet with their definition of "tenderqueer," becoming the first tweet using the term to gain over 1,000 likes in over three years (seen below, left). On January 11th, 2020, Twitter user @agenderbird posted a tweet about "tenderqueers," gathering over 7,000 likes before making their account private (seen below, right).
On November 25th, 2020, Substack user dollyrose posted a now often-quoted substack post titled, "The Cursed Privilege of the Tenderqueer: And Why You Should Cultivate Some Resilience in Order to Avoid Becoming One" (seen below).
In August 2022, the word "tenderqueer" came under renewed interest after news emerged that Ana Mardoll, a person many described as a "liberal tenderqueer," worked at weapons manufacturing company Lockheed Martin. The word also saw renewed interest after Twitch streamer Keffals accused tenderqueers of lodging unfounded criticisms against her.
 Guts Magazine – The Cultural Politics Of Softness
 Tumblr – bubbly-suffer-girl
 Wiktionary – tenderqueer
 Twitter – morganmpage
 Twitter – gnostiquette
 Twitter – hologramvin
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Feb 21, 2023 at 05:36PM EST
Feb 21, 2023 at 04:40PM EST
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