queer radicalism

gay rights vs gay liberation

I keep coming across pieces about the U.S. “LGBT” movement’s history that talk about how, during the 70s especially, one core idea of the movement was that gender and sexuality would, should, get blown wide open

That ultimately pretty much everyone was bisexual underneath; that gender itself was a big nonbinary mess; and everyone would be able to be their true bisexual, often genderqueer self after the revolution. We wouldn’t have or need the gender binary anymore. 

This was a much more natural belief at the time, because gay and lesbian and bi and ace had been thought of as essentially different genders. Because “normal” was two binary sexes, with two corresponding binary genders, which were attracted to each other, and would act on that attraction to make more little normal people. This was the function of society, the thing that gave women any value, the whole point of life.

From “Identity and Ideas: Strategies for Bisexuals,” an essay by bi activist Liz Highleyman in Bisexual Politics: Theories, Queeries, and Visions (1995), which I need to quote from more extensively but not rn:

“As the social movements of the early 1970s fell apart or lost their radical edge in the 1980s, the gay liberation movement, now known as the gay and lesbian movement, followed suit.”

This sentence puts it in a nutshell, I think. There was a really concrete shift, from radical “liberation” from the system for everyone, to acceptance from the system for these two groups.

“There was a growing emphasis on an identity politics model that likened gays to oppressed racial and ethnic minorities. Sexual identity was increasingly seen as an immutable characteristic without sweeping social or political ramifications. The movement became more focused on civil rights and assimilation into mainstream society.”

 It wasn’t an accident, that shift away from the overlapping bi/trans/intersex politics and bi/trans/intersex paradigm*. It was extremely deliberate.

It must have seemed like an easier sell to the straight world, which I can understand. I’m sure a lot of people thought that this strategy would benefit everyone.

But not only does it leave many of our issues completely ignored or actively erased, it’s also a model that can never work for us.

This just kind of jelled for me for the first time, reading this. It’s much harder to see if you don’t know about both models, at least for me. I tend to believe the “no no, we’re for you too!” without thinking about how and why that hasn’t been working.

The civil rights/assimilation model is very rooted in the whole idea that “the only thing that’s different about us is which gender we love!” It’s the we’re just like you model. It works pretty well for fitting-into-society stuff: marriage, health care, employment rights, military service, media representation. Stuff that straight people have, so they can go, “okay, I see how you’re like me, it seems unfair and terrible that you shouldn’t have these things too!”

It works really fucking badly for stuff where we are not like them.

The problem is actually that it works really fucking badly for stuff where we do not fit into the gender binary.

That’s the specific way the system demands that we Be Like Them. It treats everything else, everything that isn’t being a binary sex/gender and wanting a binary sex/gender, as a freakish and in-valid choice, and punishes us for it.

The only progress we’ve really seen is that sometimes, it’s not seen as a Bad Freakish Choice to want the “wrong” binary gender, and very occasionally, it’s not seen as a Bad Freakish Choice to be the “wrong” binary gender.

A lot of the trans movement’s progress has come from doing the same thing the gay and lesbian movement has done: “look at us, look how gender-normative and binary-gendered we are, look how we just want to be a normal gender and love a normal gender. Nothing threatening going on here!”

It works. I’m not going to knock that. People use this shit because they are fucking desperate and fearing for their lives.

But it also means those of us who can’t say “we’re just like normal people” become ballast.

You know: the stuff you throw overboard so your hot air balloon can take off.

I think this is what’s at the core of “ace discourse,” “sga discourse,” and all those other gatekeeping arguments. 

The system only, conditionally, grudgingly, gives certain rights, in some places, to the minority of us who have convincingly argued that we’re Just Like Them. It is exceedingly clear to those people that mixing with non-approved groups puts not only those limited civil rights, but also the entire model used to win them, in danger. 

It’s a choice. We all face it. If you identify more with the need for all those normal rights – or with the oppressions around being, or being into, into the wrong binary gender – or you just see that this model is working for some people and you want it to work for you – then you’re likely to cast your lot with the binary-gender-based “gay rights” model, which means you’re likely to take a “gatekeeping” tack. 

If you identify more with the need for total freedom from the rules of the binary gender system, for whatever reason – and you’re not put off by the fact that we don’t have a working political model around that – then you’re likely to cast your lot with the “gay liberation” model, which means you’re likely to take the “radical inclusion” tack that’s inherent to that model. 


* (I don’t think there was an intersex movement at the time; intersex people are still incredibly silenced by not only the media but actively, intentionally, by the entire medical industry. But it is an explicitly intersex-friendly and very ace/aro-friendly model, in a way that the existing model has definitely not been.)

Now Presenting: Brujos

BRUJOS IS A QUEER-OF-COLOR, RADICALLY POLITICIZED WEB SERIES FOLLOWING FOUR GAY LATINO DOCTORAL CANDIDATES–THAT ARE ALSO WITCHES. THEY NAVIGATE MAGIC, SEXUALITY, AND SURVIVING A WITCH-HUNT LED BY A SECRET SOCIETY OF WHITE HETERONORMATIVE MALE DESCENDENTS OF THE FIRST NEW WORLD COLONIZERS.

Installment 1: The Devil

Episode 1: Aries

Episode 2: Taurus

Episode 3: Gemini 

Episode 4: Cancer

TV can be art. TV can be revolutionary. TV can be popular entertainment AND incite critical dialogue. Audiences are hungry and intelligent enough for challenging work. This describes the philosophy behind BRUJOS, a counter-hegehmonic web series. Produced by Open TV (beta), conceived, written and directed by Ricardo Gamboa and to be shot by cinematographer Ben Kolak, BRUJOS is a queer-of-color web series.

BRUJOS blends the Latin American soap opera, American sitcom, and critical theory as it follows a coven of four queer Latino doctoral candidates as they learn magic, indulge in nightlife, navigate intimate relationships, and write seminar papers all while trying to survive a witch-hunt. These young protagonists confront histories and realities of racial and gendered inequality as they battle the secret society of white, heteronormative male descendants of the first New World colonizers behind the witch-hunt. Twelve, seven-minute episodes corresponding to signs of the zodiac cycle have been developed through queer men of color testimony; interviews with actual practitioners of divination and magic, i.e. psychics, santeras, tarot readers, etc.; and with academics of cultural studies, performance studies, and queer theory.

BRUJOS addresses the current the landscape of television: Gay men and people of color are more apparent than ever in mainstream television. Sitcoms like “Blackish” and “Fresh Off The Boat” depict families of color attaining the American dream. Programs such as “Looking” and “Modern Family” feature middle and upper class white gay men searching for love or functioning as an all-American family. While these shows are representational achievements, they are not revolutionary ones.

In these cases, ethnic, racial and sexual minorities are portrayed in ways that support dominant culture, narratives, values and relationality. Commercial television studios and networks preoccupied with “scale” and “big data” seldom produce aesthetically or politically challenging work to secure mass viewership. This only further marginalizes non-normative people who’s lives, realities, and stories do not fit within their depictions and who devise new ways of being under the pressures of inequality that are never affirmed.

Moreover, Chicago has become a hotbed for television production. However, series such as Chicago P.D. reiterate stereotypes of people of color as criminals. Mega-hit EMPIRE provides more complex portrayals but it’s get-rich-or-die-trying messaging is consistent with popular culture. Too often work that offers alternative images, narratives, and values is not seen as viable by mainstream producers.

For such reasons, Stephanie Jeter moved from big budget television producing to assume a critical and creative approach to television production. Jeter’s commitment to working with independent artists led her to BRUJOS. BRUJOS was conceived by Ricardo Gamboa, an award-winning “artivist” committed to creating work outside institutional frameworks. Gamboa began development for BRUJOS in 2014 through informal interviews with queer Latino men and healers and psychics.

For a while now, I have been trying to wrap my head around why it is exactly that so much of the language and norms associated with the contemporary transgenderist movement bother me. I already know what my feminist concerns are with the very concept of being ‘born in the wrong body,’ but there was something more irritating and upsetting about the ways in which the words ‘woman’ and ‘man, ‘male’ and ‘female’ were being policed within the leftist community, which I’ve only recently been able to articulate.

The words ‘woman’ and ‘man’ (and their derivatives—men, manly, women, womanly, womanhood, etc.) are some of the most necessary, commonly used and understood words in the English language. If you were to learn English, whether as a baby learning their first language or as a student of ESL, these words would be among the first words you would ever learn. And these are ordinary words we all use every day—nouns (and adjectives) we use so frequently that they merit their own matching pronouns (he and she, his and hers, etc.) There is a commonly understood definition to these words which I would say 99% of English speakers all over the world understand, and it is this: man refers to adult male people, that is to say adults of the sex that have penises and testicles and who do not get pregnant, ever; woman is an adult of the sex that has a vagina and develops breasts, and though not every woman is capable of giving birth to children, and though no post-menopausal women can conceive naturally, all children are gestated and birthed by women and it is women who possess the only body parts necessary for pregnancy and childbirth, even if some of those parts in some women may not function fully.

Transactivists would disagree with much of this, but the point I’m making right now is that that factually is how 99% of English speakers understand the words ‘men’ and ‘women’ and their derivatives. The vast majority of English speakers, do not say ‘woman’ and actually mean “a group of people with any combination of genitalia and secondary sex characteristics, all of whom identify with some non-definable, nebulous concept of womanhood.” These words have meanings which have been unchanging for a long time, which carry a lot of emotional and cultural baggage (all of which it is important for feminism to unpack). But transactivists pull the rug out from under you by redefining words already in popular use, implying that even as people use these words with a certain common meaning in their minds, they actually mean a different thing, a thing which the common English speaker may not even understand; and that, in fact, these worlds have always meant what transactivists say they mean. That is to say that transactivists retroactively re-define the words ‘man’ and ‘woman’ such that they imply a 16th century person saying ‘man’ meant “adult with any combination of genitalia who personally identifies with the concept of manhood and manliness”; and that though literally no 16th or 17th or 18th or 19th and most 20th century people ever understood the difference between biological sex and gender, nor believed that one could choose which restrictive gender roles to fill based on an internal, private conviction rather than the one assigned to them at birth, those people, all throughout time and across the world, always either knowingly used language in a pro-transgender way, or was merely incorrect in their language use, even though these words were mutually understood to hold certain meanings by every single person who spoke English.

It is a deeply prescriptivist view of language which grants a tiny and elite group of academics situated in a certain point in time total authority over an entire language. I disagree with prescriptivism on a personal level, and that is a topic for another discussion, but even most linguistic prescriptionists would not retroactively and dramatically change the definition of the most commonly used and understood words in a language such that not only does the meaning become unrecognizable to the great unwashed masses who use the word every day, but even to elite academics from merely a few years ago. If transactivists want to have a word that describes a class of people who may hold any combination of genitalia and sex characteristics but whom all personally identify with manhood, or with womanhood, they can make up a new word, but what I firmly object to is the arrogant and condescending re-definition of the most basic words in the English language, words which 99% of people understood to mean a certain thing, and which transactivists now insist means something else, and has always meant something else. This linguistic disorientation quickly shuffles around words and definitions so nebulously and obscurely that transactivists simply refuse to define certain words in concrete terms, or describe them in terms that are a blatant tautology (i.e. a woman is someone who identifies as a woman, and they do so because they identify with womanhood, an experience defined by lived by anyone who identifies as a woman), or describes certain words as being only understandable by certain people (like ‘internal gender identity,’ some kind of immaterial, spiritual sensation that has nothing to do with gender stereotypes but which apparently most people such as myself never experienced), or defines certain words only to revoke the meaning of those words under certain circumstances (e.g. Joan of Arc, who referred to herself as a woman, used the word ‘woman’ to mean ‘biological female’ even though ‘woman’ means ‘person who identifies with womanhood’ but actually Joan of Arc was a transman and this particular case of language use is an exception).

Sometimes I want to ask transactivists and people who believe in gender as an immaterial, spiritual property: to what end is this hijacking of a language as it is commonly understood by the majority of its speakers? Does it bother you at all that the back-and-forth redefining of words, always retroactively changing the meaning of certain words or completely withholding the definitions of other words, is entirely characteristic of an Orwellian means of disempowering people by robbing them of the language used to articulate their own thoughts and experiences? Does it disturb you that language is how people structure much of their own thoughts, and when you muddy the waters of linguistic meaning and censor the use of certain words in their common context (e.g. don’t say women menstruate! don’t say mothers are the ones to give birth!) you gaslight people into wondering if their own thought system is organized enough for them to formulate an opinion of their own? The intentional creation of chaos, obfuscation and misunderstanding in genderist postmodern queer theory was supposed to be liberating, but instead it has provided the perfect weapon to the kinds of subtly abusive people who gaslight others and use constantly shifting linguistic norms to police group behaviour, to isolate and exclude certain people on a whim, and to render the articulated experiences of huge swathes of people meaningless, incorrect or deliberately misinterpreted.

My Solarpunk Manifesto

My solarpunk is not just about flower-covered fashion and far-off futures.

My solarpunk is about sustainability, about community, about anti-capitalism. It encompasses ecofeminism, afrofuturism, radical queer politics.

My solarpunk is about urban gardening and renewable energy, about food sovereignty, and public transportation. It’s solarpunk to take the bus. It’s solarpunk to buy used clothes.

My solarpunk rejects current notions of “environmentalism” that place rich, privileged people at the top. My solarpunk realizes that it is the rich that create environmental disasters and the poor that suffers. My solarpunk realizes that radical change will not come from the corporations, but from the bottom up, from the inner cities and the reservations and the slums.

My solarpunk stands with indigenous sovereignties, with reproductive justice, with antiracism, with anticonsumption, with unions, with liberation theology.

My solarpunk realizes that the world is deeply, deeply flawed. But my solarpunk believes that there is hope, and that hope will come from the communal, not from the corporate.

Modern feminism is essentially feminism for men.  Men are literally catered to in every way possible and centralized and focused in every conversation.

Porn, prostitution, the sex industry, modern feminism advocates for it because it’s overwhemingly men who benefit

Trans “rights” to sex-segregated spaces?  Overwhelmingly men (males, this includes transwomen) benefit from additional resources, spaces, etc originally meant for women.

Gender “inclusive” language pertaining to reproductive rights? Men benefit: women can no longer complain that pro-birth stances hurt women: because, dontcha know that men can get pregnant too?!

It’s entirely for male benefit.  All of it.  Liberal feminism shouldn’t even be called feminism when it sugar-coats and coddles men and protects their precious feelings.

The queer approach which celebrates the “performance” of gender and its diversity necessarily maintains the two genders in circulation. Rather than eliminating dominant and submissive behaviours, it reproduces them. Thus those queer theorists and activists who seek to perform gender can be seen to be gender loyalists with a stake in the maintenance of the gender system of male supremacy.
—  Unpacking Queer Theory Sheila Jeffreys
Wink, Blink, and Nod

With a hat-tip to @terrie01, I think we’ve finally got some words to use for the frustration many of us feel about so-called “queer representation” these days.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad to start seeing the back of the dead queer trope. But I’m not exactly jumping for joy at the replacement trio.

The Queer Wink: One step up from queerbaiting, this trope gives off a subtle, coded statement that yes, you’re right, there’s queer here, and it’s not just conspiracy theorists saying that. I mean, nothing like actual daily life queer, but at least there’s confirmation of the baiting for those who look hard enough. Look, a rainbow in the background! That’s good, right? Right? >.>

The Queer Blink: It’s the first! The first what? The first openly pan demi-woman on this particular network! Where? There! For just a second there, in the shot at 33:09. That one line in the fourth book about an ex. The third panel of page twelve. Totally obvious, great representation! The creators and publicists will now spend all their time talking about this in every interview, because they’re that awesome and we should all know it. >.<

The Queer Nod: At the very end, after fans have sweated blood and tears to keep going, there’s a scene. It’s a brief scene. There are no words. But there, in that moment, at least one major character is revealed to be almost-certainly-queer, if we assume things that cisstraight people assume about queerness but keep our queer goggles on at the same time. The creators wanted to do more, of course, but the network/producers/publishers wouldn’t let them. So they did it at the end, when there could not longer be consequences for their activism! Aren’t you glad you waited 5 seasons for this one moment of holding hands/half-hug/kid-safe and fully ignorable expression of same-gender affection? ;_;

So yeah, I guess the last couple years have been better than the dreck we deal with most of the time, but I saw better in the 90s, yo. I’m not about to go around thanking anyone for a wink, blink, or nod. I get that purse-string control is a beast, I do. But don’t hop into an interview and tell me you’re doing something for me if your “representation” falls into one of these categories. They are just pipe dreams. I’m a human being, and I expect to see no less than other human beings like me and mine in our media. If you can’t or won’t do it, I’ll go to the people who will.

And y’all wonder why fandom is so huge. Seriously?

do anti-terfs not see how evil and blatantly homophobic it is to tell lesbians that the word for females who like females is “a transmisogynist”?

can they not comprehend that they’re literally saying that females being homosexual (a natural state) is inherently bigoted because it doesn’t fit perfectly with their ideas of gender identity (a social construct)?

every time someone claims that a woman only being attracted to women/females/vulvas/whatever you wanna say is bigoted, they’re openly promoting homophobia, and all i can see as the end goal of this movement is that they want all homosexual females to hide their homosexuality and accept males into their sexual/romantic lives.

homosexuality is not and never will be bigoted. it isn’t progressive to tell a lesbian that she’s a “transmisogynist” because she isn’t attracted to males. it’s homophobia hidden under faux progressive bullshit.

anonymous asked:

Mogais: "our queer ancestors fought tooth and nail for the normalization of "queer" Also mogais: *create MOGAI as a 'more inclusive' alternative to LGBT*

They just don’t understand what queer theory is or what implications and connotations the word “queer” has. “Queer” has always been a political term, used by more radical LGBT activists to signify a distinction between moderate/liberal politics and radical/revolutionary politics. HIV/AIDS activists, prison abolitionists, anti-imperialists, etc, would all use “queer” to distance themselves from white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal hegemony. 

But this history is missing from the way the term “queer” is used now, largely because of neoliberal social justice which advocates for “inclusivity” all the time regardless of context. People who think that “queer” is about parsing a “radical” sexual orientation from a “regressive” one are fundamentally misunderstanding the political utility of the term, and the historical context from which it emerged. “Queer” has always been a slur, but its political reclamation was meant as a “fuck you!” of sorts to cishets, especially when gay and bi men and trans women were dying and the government was doing nothing to help LGBT people. 

Now, though, because so many LGBT youth are completely disconnected from LGBT history (and public schools typically don’t incorporate LGBT liberation as part of history classes), they think “queer” is a replacement for “sexually fluid” or “open” or “modern”. That’s why they think “queer” is a better term than lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans. In actuality, the way it’s used now does not signify whether you’re a marxist and anti-imperialist or a liberal. Plenty of liberals and marxists alike use the term, for different reasons. Thus, I’ve noticed that in primarily white social justice/white LGBT circles, “queer” has lost its specific political utility because it’s become mired in intracommunity identity politics. 

Of course some cishets also try to capitalize on this transformation by shoving themselves under the “queer” umbrella (cishet asexuals, kinksters, polyamorous men, etc). 

There are also some valid arguments for why some LGBT people self-identify with the word queer: genuine political self-reclamation, a word that encompasses your questioning identity if you don’t know exactly who you are, a word for trans/nonbinary people who don’t have clear-cut terminology to conceptualize their erotic/sexual relationships. I know some people in my life - lesbians, gay and bisexual men, trans people, nonbinary people, bisexual women, pansexual women - who call themselves “queer” all the time. 

The problem is, though, that these sincere reasons are obscured because so many people take a sanctimonious and self-aggrandizing approach to “queer”. People either believe that it’s a completely useless and insignificant word and that if you’re LGBT and identify with it that you’re “fake”, or they ignore that it is a slur that carries with it traumatizing history and that to this day, it’s used as a homophobic slur against LGBT people. In the latter category, too, those people also try to advocate for post-modern “everyone should be as enlightened as me and use the term Queer for everything in their life, or they’re all not as intellectual or progressive as me”. So the discourse on “queer”, its history, and its usage, becomes lost within these arguments. 

Another problem I have with the word “queer” is that people seem to think that only bi women are responsible for its misuse. Of course there are bi women who harmfully idealize the term without understanding its gravity or impact, but this problem is not limited to bi women, and as I said earlier, “queer” as a slur is targeted toward all LGBT people, which means that all LGBT people have the potential to reclaim it and all LGBT people have the potential to misuse it. And trust me, I have seen multiple LGBT people who aren’t bi women misuse the term or falsify the history surrounding it. 

So “queer” and “mogai” symbolize attempts to parse a non-existent, identity politics-based, neoliberal difference between “regressive” labels and “open-minded, progressive” labels, all grounded in the blind inclusivity approach that I mentioned early on. Yet within the community, they’re also used to group some LGBT people into the “good, radical, authentic” category, and the “fake, bad, deceptive” category, which to me is hilarious because even as people try to argue against making this word more significant than it is, they themselves make it significant by lashing out viciously at others and centering their argument on the word “queer”. 

The word “queer” has a specific history, but it also has a lot of historical and modern pain within it. And as I’ve always said, my stance on it is neutral. I respect those who hate the term and do not want to be called it (because of trauma or exasperation or respect for the specificity of language), and I respect those who self-identify with it and have reclaimed it for themselves. I only balk when cishets use the term or, worse, when they call me queer, and I also get irritated when people think that “queer” is a more radical term than the labels within the LGBT acronym, and when people blame one portion of the community for certain problems with the term and ascribe roles based on who likes the term and who doesn’t. 

youtube

Even though the rumour is that they are no more, seeing AyaBambi gave me hope that love and art are synchronized. Being queer/bi/femme/Native I never felt represented….Even with others that skirt the outside of NORM/BEIGE I felt alien. But seeing their VOGUE, ANGULAR HAIR, FASHION, PDA, POPPING, STYLE/LOVE/FEARLESSNESS made me feel proud to be me. I felt unified with the parts of me that sometimes felt foreign. I’ll ALWAYS love AyaBambi for that. I wish the two of them all of the luck in the world.

-nicbeeartistry