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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Disobedient Queers and The Abolition of Straight Normativity

I heard that you wanted to know what it felt like. You didn’t want to hear more about the words, the labels or the identities. You didn’t want the Trans 101, the umbrella terms, the carefully constructed sentences meant to include everyone and exclude nobody. You didn’t want the mental processes, the noise, the endless seesaw of indifference and argument and negotiation, the droning background buzz. You wanted to know what it was to be, to feel, like this. Like me.

Here is what I know. I would very much like to be normal but I do not want to change. That statement, for me, is what it means to be an anti-assimilation queer. I would like to be considered normal, but it is the world that I would like to see changed. I would like other people to change, to become more like me. As a minority, the utilitarian philosophy opposes me. It is me that should change, according to the dominant logic. It is me who should become more like them. That is the most efficient way for us all to fit together.

I disagree because I have convictions. I am not interested in obedience. I’m sorry that they have been so socialized into complacency, but I am not. My convictions tell me that the way I am: brilliant, colorful, in some ways totally fearless—this is the way more people should be. My convictions tell me that queer people have something special, are something special.

I used to fit in better, okay? I used to do what they wanted, before I even knew that they wanted it. I used to go about my life as if I was just a little bit different, but not a lot different. I walked where I wanted to walk. I went to whatever parties I wanted. I participated, I wrote, I shared myself and my life. I printed up little zines and left them around town, with my email address on them, sharing myself with the world.

vanessa capshawA lot of people get punched and threatened and cornered and hated, but unless it happens to you for a particular reason, it’s not the same. I used to share myself with the straight cisgender world and I got punched and threatened and cornered and hated and hate-mailed, and I knew why. There were no random acts of violence.

And I watched my friends get beat up and yelled at and fired and assaulted and – we all knew why. It wasn’t like all of our oppressors were just having a bad day.

They didn’t want us around. That’s why I want them to change, to become like me.

I know they can never really be like me, because they won’t experience as much fear, and they won’t be punched and threatened and cornered and hated and hate-mailed while all the while knowing exactly why. They will always be untested and they will have stars in their eyes because to them, being queer will be beautiful and being black will be like a hot dark sky with a milky moon hanging still and bright and being undocumented will be fierce and being disabled will be heroic. So they won’t really know anything but our very best loves and our very finest lies.

But I’ll still love them, untested in battle as they are. I’ll still welcome them.  And when that happens, when they have finally abolished normality as we know it and crossed the great abyss into no-man’s land, when straightness has fallen from the sky like a sun and taken its place in a vast stretch of planets from here until eternity, then, I will give up this pain, this fear that sits curled up in my stomach like a wild animal, I will smile and get on with my life.


Artwork by Vanessa Capshaw
Capshaw writes, “My work involves the creation of characters and egos that experience alienation and isolation from the objective world. These characters are physical manifestations of my own consciousness: they are crass, they are vulgar, they are obscene, and through my artwork, they become human. They are not looking for redemption, they merely want to tell their stories and be understood.” See more at batastrophe.com.

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