Sunday, October 26, 2008

are you queer?

"Are you queer?" The question came so unexpectedly. I looked at him and was silent, unable to speak. I wanted to formulate a coherent sentence but the stark absence of response was so loud; a growing silence. I couldn't think. The silence where an easy response should've been had hijacked my cognitive mechanisms. I blurted without knowing exactly what was going to come out. "No. No, I'm not." He nodded, hands in pockets. No change in his expression, no change in his slumpy relaxed demeanor. "Huh," he said and then strolled casually away from our table to tend to the other patrons.

It bothered me. Why did I answer that way? Why did the question throw me so far off balance? And, of course, there was my usual qualm: why are we so entrenched in these categories? Though, as far as categories go, I must say, I like "queer" more than any other.

Queer: strange or odd; tilted away from perpendicular; an ill fit with regards to the norm. To "queer" something is to ruin it, spoil it, pull it away from perpendicular, or to simply make it odd or strange.

I wanted a do-over. I wanted a rewind button. I wanted to say, "Yes. Totally queer. Not straight, not gay. But definitely queer."

I understand the utility of the categories. For the sake of lubricating our interactions we insist on reducing one another to caricatures according to some arcane schema. In courtship and love, in touching and especially sex, we are forced to preconsider all of the possible interactions one might have with another human being, gauge how we are likely to feel in a preponderance of possible cases, and then carve the result into our skins, providing the defining term, the essence of our identity, to others upon request.

For me this is a pressing concern. And here is why: these categories are the most useful, they are invaluable, in the pursuit of using someone else as a means to one's own self-oriented end. In a world in which people are ends unto themselves, in which the joy is in engaging another and the sharing of oneself, in such a queer world, preemptively and severely constraining the dynamics, the gestures, the movements, the values, and worst, the possibilities by the invocation of categories is not only unnecessary it is a subtle tyranny.


piiopah said...

for more on the issue of the preemptive constraining process see my post on actuaries posted FEB 12 of this year

luxelife said...

heya pii.

glad to see you're still alive and kicking on here. i enjoy reading your thoughts and outlook on these things. i wish i could be there to be involved in a discourse about them, but alas & alack...

on that note, i'm sorry i didn't get to see you before i left. i sure wish i had! that was a hectic time...and mostly out of my control.

keep in touch, okay? my own semi-infrequently updated blog can be found at (i'm trying to do better about updates, being overseas!)