Towards a (re)solution
So what’s the T, Mama Schlomo? Is you is or is you ain’t a queer?
I is. But I feel pretty confident in saying that I am, for lack of a better term, queer.
Queer was supposed to be the solution, and now it seems like just another problem. No one believes in the power of words more than me – and I think queer has had most of the wind knocked out of its sails.
Gosh you guys, remember when we all started saying “umbrella term”? When I was 18, I thought there was so much room under that umbrella! I thought we could all huddle all nice and safe under the umbrella and mix and mingle and dance a little and maybe, idk, have a refreshing spritzer and talk about the weather – ya know, the rich white heteropatriarchy – and then bring it on home with maybe like a nice noodle dish.
All right, it was a really well equipped umbrella.
But thinking we could all have a dance noodle party under the umbrella was probably about as silly as thinking that we could all fit under the umbrella in the first place.
I know I say this over and over again. If it would fit on a button, I would probably make it and stick it on my tote bag. But here I go again:
The only thing that will advance our causes is coalition building. To quote myself:
Everyone who doesn’t have missionary position at-least hypothetically reproductive (no barriers, no birth control) sex with one and only one married heterosexual cisgender partner has a legitimate claim to queerness.
I find myself at the same impasse with queerness as I do with feminism. Which is not shocking, considering they are both things I am desperately passionate about and entangled with that have been near monopolized by racist, classist academic systems.
It is perfectly clear to me that the choices are blowing open the systems or blowing them off.
Part of me wants to build an infinite addition on that umbrella.
And part of me wants to tell that umbrella to stick it where it’s happiest – where the sunshine of full equality don’t shine.
I know I’m not the only one. I know I’m not the only one because feminists call womanists traitors for not playing within the system. I know I’m not the only one because any queer who questions queerness gets labeled queers’ least favorite word – gay.
I know I’m not the only one because thousands of you have passed this series around to your friends and said, “look, hey, that thing we’ve been talking about? We’re not the only ones!”
My poor boyfriend asked me the other night (well, tonight, but you’ll be reading this three days in the future) what I was thinking, and I told him about this series.
Or more accurately, I thundered on about all the things I had been writing about, all the wrongness I see in the contemporary queer dialectic.
He asked me the question I initially asked myself, and the question I know I’m opening myself up to:
“Do you think you’re just saying that because you don’t want to be part of the norm?”
But doesn’t the question say everything?
Queer is the new norm for LGBTQIA people who stand in opposition to the monied white male interests of the Human Rights Campaign.
Just because queer is a new norm doesn’t mean it isn’t a norm.
Remember that quote from “QUEERS READ THIS“? Let’s revisit it.
Being queer means leading a different sort of life. It’s not about the mainstream, profit-margins, patriotism, patriarchy or being assimilated. It’s not about executive directors, privilege and elitism. It’s about being on the margins, defining ourselves; it’s about gender-fuck and secrets, what’s beneath the belt and deep inside the heart; it’s about the night.
If there’s one thing I still firmly agree with, it’s that queers should be using their outsider status to reconsider institutions. I said over and over again when I was still firmly entrenched in radical queerness that the time the gay rights movement invests in fighting for marriage equality would be better spent developing new queer modes of life.
But life is only The Raspberry Reich for white kids with trust funds and copies of The Little Red Book.
Marginalized peoples can’t eat political purity for dinner. They can’t feed it to children their partners aren’t allowed to adopt.
Queer studies used to be figuring out tactics in an all-out battle for our lives.
Now it’s biphobic people in an arms race to see who can claim they supported Cynthia Nixon first.
I’ve got a big appetite and a bigger mouth still, but this is by far the most I’ve ever bitten off. I am going toe to toe with the very notion of queerness.
I am actually, factually suggesting that there will come a time when I don’t call myself queer anymore.
I believe queers should use their outsider status to reconsider institutions. And now I’m reconsidering the institution of queerness.
Where will you go?
Where will I go? I don’t know. But I didn’t like being asked that by a boyfriend trying to convince me I couldn’t leave him, and I don’t like it from the queer establishment.
Not having a prefab social identity to step into is no longer a good enough excuse for a default reactionary identity.
A list of things I’m not is not an identity. Nor is my desire to not be known as those things.
This is not a call to action. I do not call on other queer people to denounce queer identity, if for no other reason than I don’t have an answer to ‘what do you call yourself now’?
Well, there’s at least one other reason. Everything I’ve said is based on my experience of the contemporary queer dialectic. I don’t want to force my experience or perspective on anyone else any more than I want the gay rights movement or radical queers to force their experiences and perspectives on me.
I want – or wanted – so desperately to believe that queerness and feminism were for everybody. But with each day that passes that seems more and more like a slogan designed to keep people in line while creating the perfect out for institutionalized privilege to not examine itself.
I pledge allegiance to no flag, choosing instead to believe in my own ability to function as a morally reasoning human being with a system of values placed above any party line.
Thoroughgoing adherence to any system means compromising with its dominance hierarchy, and honey, I ain’t no chicken.
I go with a whisper (okay, a 4000-word whisper), and not with a bang. Maybe that’s just the kind of person I am. I go away quietly from queer – to study it from a distance? to finally say goodbye?
Time will tell. But the question must first be asked to be answered.
Big Mama Schlomo
That about wraps it up! Thank you to everyone who has read this and Tumbl’d it and passed it around to friends and said such nice things. You all give me hope for change. For those who’d like to stick around, my next posts will be about gay allies in a post-gay world and – what else? – coalition building. – Big Mama Schlomo