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‘Nobody’ means ‘nobody’

28 Nov

Obviously I was APPALLED by what happened in last week’s Glee (spoiler alerts for those of you who are ridiculous and aren’t up to date with it). Finn OUTED SANTANA during a corridor slanging match (which he was totally losing, of course) and my mouth literally hung open. For one, Santana is all that is good in the world: you don’t fuck with her. For another, what the fuck. What the FUCK. Because nobody deserves to be outed.

A lot of other people felt this way but, unfortunately, my Tumblr feed seems to be full of people who have responded to this saying, ‘nobody deserves to be outed … except these people with whom I take issue.’ It’s fucking everywhere and, you guessed it, it pisses me off.

The argument runs that, if you’re in a position of power and you use this power to promote anti-queer behaviour and rhetoric and you also happen to be pretty into queer behaviour in your private life, then the basic rules of respect and space that we fight for every other queer person to have access to no longer apply to you. You’ve opted out – or, to put it more accurately, a buttload of other people have decided that you’ve opted out. Apparently, under these circumstances, it is not only reasonable but NECESSARY for others to out you, to shut you up, to put you in your place. It is, it seems, necessary for queers to become tyrants in order to deal with you.

Except I think it fucking isn’t. I am not saying I don’t understand: of course I understand the desire for retribution, the hunger for justice, the fury with hypocrisy, the urgency of our cause. These are things I feel pretty much every day. But part of undertaking a code of queer ethics (or, really, any ethics worth the time of day) involves not just doing shit because it satisfies a pretty basic whim then justifying it with some poorly thought-out ‘them and us’ bullshit. Are we aiming for queer liberation? Then we need to work towards everyone being on the same team. We need to stop seeing people who disagree with us and even oppress us as totally ‘other,’ because they’re not going anywhere: we need to see them as human beings with whom we hope to have things in common – like, y’know, respect for other people. And you can’t really encourage real respect by eschewing it in your own approach.

Furthermore, I’m sure I don’t need to repeat that old quote about what the master’s tools do to the master’s house – and disregarding others’ rights to privacy is totally one of the master’s tools. I don’t want that shit in my revolution (or slow-burning period of change). I don’t want to presume to decide who “deserves” rights and who does not – I think that’s actually really fascist, and so I’m not doing it, and I’m not okay with other people doing it, either. In fact, I’d go as far to suggest that outing someone is an act of homophobia: it totally disregards their right to have a non-normative sexuality and functions as an action with the intent of making a spectacle out of the person’s sexual difference. Even if you leave aside how problematic that is in itself, within the context of a queer liberation movement it becomes even worse. It’s idealistic, but I genuinely believe that the movement promoting sexual inclusion is *right* and we don’t need any extraneous tyrannical bullshit to prove it. It’s a long battle, but I want to do it honourably, without ripostes that essentially amount to ad hominem arguments. I really think we’re better than that.


A short blog about how I feel about nouns

18 Nov

I don’t know that I want to use identity signifiers any more. I feel like saying things like ‘I am queer,’ ‘I am a feminist,’ ‘I am a vegan,’ ‘I am polyamorous’ functions as a get-out – like, if I say I am these things then it’s as though I believe I don’t have to back that up with actually doing these things.

I’ve long felt disinclined to identify as a lesbian, or as a woman: these are not things that I am. Neither, now, are the things I listed above, even though by contrast I feel entirely committed to them as ideologies. But that’s the point: they are ideologies, and they affect how I behave, and that’s how you tell that I’m into them. It’s not that I am queer; it’s that I do queer: I advocate for it, I consider it, I use it as a filter through which I encounter the world and decide how to interact with others. I think, particularly with an identity word as inherently unstable as ‘queer,’ it would actually be quite inappropriate for me to use language that implies that I embody it over an extended and potentially infinite space of time. At the moment, writing this, I am doing queer. Just now, when I ate tomato soup with a piece of bread for tea and intentionally consumed no animal products, I was doing veganism. Later on, when I invariably have a go at someone on the internet for using problematic language, I will be doing feminism. But to say I am these things could mean that I might not have to do these things, and I don’t ever want to be lazy enough to allow myself a way out.

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