Queerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put another way, we are not yet queer. We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality. We have never been queer, yet queerness exits for us as an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness’s domain. Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present. The here and now is a prison house. We must strive, in the face of the here and now’s totalizing rendering of reality, to think and feel a the and there. Some will say that all we have are the pleasures of this moment, but we must never settle for the minimal transport; we must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new world. Queerness is a longing that propels us onward, beyond romances of the negative and toiling in the present. Queerness is that thing that lets us feel that this world is not enough, that indeed something is missing. Often we can glimpse the worlds proposed and promised by queerness in the realm of the aesthetic. The aesthetic, especially the queer aesthetic, frequently contains blueprints and schemata of a forward-dawning futurity. Both the ornamental and the quotidian can contain a map of the utopia that is queerness. Turning to the aesthetic in the case of queerness is nothing like an escape from the social realm, insofar as queer aesthetics map future social relations. Queerness is also a performative because it is not simply a being but a doing for and toward the future. Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world.
—José Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (via laurenmeasure)
Rest in power, José Muñoz
By Simon Moritz
Graduate student, writer and queer activist living in Paris
April 17, 2013
I am not quiet during sex. I communicate my desires and ask the same of my partners. I believe that this not only creates a safe sexual environment but makes for the most pleasurable experience for everyone. If I’m making sounds that aren’t words, that more or less means I’m having a good time. People generally respond well to this type of nonverbal feedback; I’ve only had one person object to my use of nonverbal expression, and that was Peter.
Peter is a gay man I slept with once. I met him in a gay bar when I was living in New York, and I thought he was perfect. He worked with homeless queer youth. He had a dog. He was a little taller than average, and stocky, wearing jeans, a T-shirt and Puma high tops. He was bearded. He said things like “you’re so unlike everyone your age” (he was 11 years older than I) and “I never go home with anyone the night I meet them.” When he did come home with me and we were naked in my bed, he kissed my neck, and I moaned, high-pitched and breathy. He stopped, looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t do that. It’s faggy.”
Now, this was several years ago, and I hadn’t yet learned that people like Peter are to be either ignored, laughed at or taught, so I became a caricature of “not faggy”: I grunted (no more moaning), I pretended that I wasn’t hurt by what he said (feelings are for girls, as I recalled learning during childhood), and I tried to act as masculine as possible, because that is the opposite of faggy, the opposite of the femme gay man who gestures, speaks quickly in a high-pitched voice and says “darling.” I became that silly thing because I wanted Peter to love me.
He stood me up on our next date, and I never heard from him again.
Eventually surpassing the typical “what did I do wrong?” stage of self-hatred, I asked myself, “What does it mean that Peter called me faggy for expressing pleasure?” And so I learned that people like Peter are part of a larger problem: pervasive misogyny.
Typically we say that “fag,” “sissy,” “nancy,” “nelly” and “fairy” are homophobic words, and although they certainly are used to perpetuate homophobia, they are not homophobic in and of themselves; the usage of any of these words as slurs usually targets people with male-sexed bodies who do not act sufficiently masculine. They prize masculinity by demonizing femininity. This is probably rooted in some outdated, essentialist reading of gender where women are biologically the weaker, pathetic sex, but we know today that in addition to being totally offensive, gender essentialism is more or less bullshit, because women can vote and work and beat men into submission, and men can cook and clean and stay at home with the kids. But although it was relatively easy to deconstruct the misogyny in Peter’s abuse, getting to the root of why a man, while lying naked with another man and kissing him, would call that man’s expression of pleasure too gay is a more complicated subject. I would suggest that Peter calling me faggy is part of a larger queer cultural heritage.
Queer people live in a constant narrative of struggle; today we struggle for legally recognized marriage, and in 2003 we struggled for the right to have consensual sex, but 60 years ago queer role models fought for the right to exist in public or private. To gain those rights, they used an effective strategy called assimilation, which dictated that queer people look and act as much as possible like straight people. The Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis both did it intentionally in the ’50s, and it was probably the most aggressive option to say “we are normal, just like you” at a time when police were encouraged to raid gay bars, arrest patrons and publish their names and faces in the newspaper the following day. However, “just like you” literally bleached queer people of color from the movement and rendered trans people invisible, because “just like you” referred to white men in power and their wives who had the sway to validate any queer identity legally. Assimilation was successful in that discrimination against LGBT people is now illegal in many forms, but it also created an “acceptable gay man,” and he was white and masculine and certainly did not say “darling.” It also created and validated a favorite excuse for anti-gay bigotry, “I’m fine with gay people as long as they don’t flaunt it,” because suddenly there were gay people who were not “normal.” “Normal” gay men today ape that heterosexual excuse for bigotry by blaming “abnormal” gays for the the maltreatment of gays as a whole.
Peter is a “normal” gay man, so when my behavior started to drift outside “normal,” he reprimanded me much in the same way that police officers, gym teachers or parents might have done in the ’50s (and today, to be fair). And although the ’50s were over 60 years ago, that attitude remains pervasive: Look at any on gay dating website or smartphone app and you’ll see our twisted heritage as “preferences” based on a hierarchy of who can pass as a successful straight man: “Looking for masc, musc, no femmes, white only.” Though the irony that none of us is straight does not escape me, I’d like to focus more on how regressive this is; we are literally contributing to our own oppression by upholding this bizarre heritage of misogyny created in the ’50s.
So let’s make life easier on all queer people and stop mimicking the worst parts of heterosexism. Who knows? We could even begin to support each other. How revolutionary.
A longer version of this blog post appeared in French in Congrats! Magazine.
Follow Simon Moritz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/simonmprojects
YES THIS IS SO FUCKING GOOD
welcome to the queerfabulous tumblr : ohthentic.tumblr.com
Rachel Blau Duplessis, “Drafts” (from Draft 2)
Visual AIDS presents For The Record, an exhibition and broadside project by fierce pussy for the 24th annual Day With(out) Art, on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2013.
For The Record
fierce pussy for Visual AIDS. Curated by Risa Puleo
November 23-December 13, 2013
Reception: Saturday, November 30, 5-7 PM
Printed Matter, 195 10th Avenue, NYC
For the Record mourns the loss of friends, family, lovers, artists and activists during the AIDS crisis and engages in a dialogue about the erasure of personal and collective memories from the historical record through this loss. Through poignant and powerful variations of the phrase “If he/she/they were alive today…,” fierce pussy explores the daily aspects of living not only with HIV/AIDS, but as a person in the world, and asks viewers to extract their own memories to consider our personal and social relationship to the AIDS crisis in the present.
fierce pussy’s installation at Printed Matter uses the site as a newsstand, a site of information, discourse and exchange to engage in a dialogue about the AIDS crisis past, present and future, displayed the broadsides in Printed Matter’s windows as front pages of the daily news. Take-away versions of the broadside as well as a postcard/ sticker version will also be available at Printed Matter.
For the Record, is a new iteration of their 2010 project Get Up Everybody and Sing, originally conceived for the White Columns presentation of the exhibitionACT UP NEW YORK: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987 – 1993 (Carpenter Center of the Arts, Harvard University and White Columns). fierce pussy would like to thank Denniston Hill, where they had a residency that provided them the time to work intensively on the project. fierce pussy has continued to engage in a reclaiming of language and public space with installations and exhibitions in galleries and museums.
Museums, universities, activist organizations, art institutions and individuals across the country are invited to download fierce pussy’s broadsides and display them in their venues, creating simultaneous presentations of For the Record to forge national solidarity around the ongoing AIDS crisis.”
DOWNLOAD “For The Record” here: