(Made this rebloggable because it’s too good to not have on my blog.)
This. So much THIS.
"Remember there are like a billionty colors in the rainbow, and only the mantis shrimp can see them all."
Personally, I have a hard time separating my queerness from my general sense of Otherness. I was Other before I even thought much about gender and sexuality, and this Otherness also encompasses more aspects of myself than my gender and/or sexuality. And I’m certain that I have NOT chosen this general Otherness.
Would I choose it, knowing what I know today? Yes. Because as painful as never quite belonging to any identity group is at times (and it is), I have also come to highly cherish the half-inside/half-outside perspective and the freedom this Otherness brings. I am a better critical thinker and a better problem-solver because of it. It enables me to see (or create) possibilities and opportunities where others only see chaos and disorientation and dead ends. More poetically spoken, it enables me to see a few more colors than the average person (although not quite as many as the mantis shrimp).
I definitely chose to LIVE a queer life, though, and do so every single day, and to me that is what counts. I claim queer culture and history as “my” culture and history, I insist on being included in everyone’s idea of LGBTQ people, no matter how conventionally feminine I may look and no matter how much my partner is read as male and no matter how much we are read as straight, alone or together. I choose to speak up, to come out, to resist people’s attempts to “straighten” me in their minds as much as I can, over and over again, including in LGBTQ spaces. And as much as I struggle with LGBTQ communities at times, at the end of the day, this is still where my loyalties lie.
To me, the argument that “we were born this way, we had no choice, therefore you can’t discriminate against us” is a dangerous one. Because what if we DO have a choice? What if queerness is a lot more like religion in that we are able to convert from one to another (and yet another, if we so choose) at any point in our lives?
It also is an incredibly dated argument because it stems from the end of the European 19th century, when the academic discipline of sexology began establishing itself (and thus needed a clearly defined object of study) and when what used to be a sin and/or a crime that everyone could potentially commit was culturally redefined as a type of PERSON with a specific set of characteristics (“the homosexual”). This cultural shift in the thinking about same-sex sexuality and cross-gender behavior also enabled queer people (who had a lot of different labels back then that fell out of use later, so “queer” is actually the wrong term to use here but I’m still using it for brevity’s sake) to come together AS queer people and begin fighting for civil rights (most importantly, for the decriminalization of men having sex with men). That’s how old this political strategy is. And while it was useful back then, it still also contributed to defining some queers as “less queer” (e.g. feminine women who had sex with women) and therefore more easily “curable.” And as femmes and bisexuals of any gender (and probably masculine gay men, too) can tell you, we’re still suffering the repercussions of this construct over a hundred years later.
In other words, “sexual orientation” is no less culturally constructed than “race” is. And interestingly, both of these concepts came into existence about the same time, when it seemed useful for people in power to “scientifically prove” that there are more and less human humans and that the “more human” ones were “rightfully” exploiting the “less human” ones and that they were even doing so for their own good. So this is another reason why I’m side-eyeing the “born this way” argument and this is another reason why I find it important to fight for the right of “equally human” humans to make whatever choice they want about their (consensual) sexuality and/or gender. Because for me that’s a fundamental part of being both fully human and a full citizen (of a democratic country): the ability (and right) to MAKE CHOICES about my life.
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