A few weeks ago a friend and I are
talking about movies. "Have you seen this or that?" "You should
go see this movie," and so on. After a while the seemingly inevitable question
comes up: "Is there any gay content?" This gets me thinking about queer
culture and "our" culture in general. Most of the movies we discussed
were typical Hollywood schlock which often doesn't appeal to me. He asks about
the gay content as though it is the deciding factor on whether or not the movie
will be good, or if he will pursue it. The conclusions are drawn ahead of time
based on the fact that there may or may not be queers in the film. I find this
somewhat interesting and possibly a little sad. I'm not sure what to make of the
comments. I find myself asking the same thing of other movies. I find myself seeking
out ANY movie for queer content. I end up watching bad movies that I normally
wouldn't give a second thought to because I hear there is queer content. I feel
like I settle for less because it gives a small sense of relationship. A small
sense of identity. A hope that there is something I can identify with in a queer
I find myself doing the same thing when I go out. When I'm at a show, when I'm
at the library, when I'm at an art opening, reading a magazine and on and on and
on. I look for something or someone queer to talk to, to reach out to, to relate
to. I look for the smallest signal, the little hint, the tell tale signs. I seek
out anything that might tell me that someone or something is queer or at least
queer positive. Scratching at every scrap that comes my way in search of some
sort of queer identity, some sort of relation.
I have difficulty imagining living in a culture where I feel constantly represented.
I wonder what it is like to be straight and be able to identify with most of what
out culture is about. This is not to be confused with wishing I was straight.
I just wonder if anyone really feels "in place" in this society we live
in. The media does not represent men and women as they are, the media doesn't
represent different races and religions as they are and they surely do not represent
differing sexualities and genders as they are. Is this even a possibility? A desire?
There are not many queers involved in the "punk" scene, at least not
where I live. Counterculture does not seem to offer much in terms of safety for
queers of all kinds or even some kind of understanding or relation. There is always
talk of fighting homophobia but not much talk of loving (or even having sex with)
homophiles. It is wonderful and important to have straight allies but it is not
the same as having queer allies.
And more lines are drawn.
I find there are certain things that, as a queer, effect me more than a straight
person. For example, this almost universal queer theme that most of "us"
seem to go through. We are rejected by our biological families and are forced
to make our own. Our friends become our families and we have no choice but to
hold on and to cherish them. Most queers know and deal with rejection and alienation
on a constant basis while some straights don't ever think twice about it.
I turn to mainstream gay culture in search of a relation to something bigger.
In search of a connection. In search of an identity. I don't find it. I have to
wonder if I even want to be part of this identity. While I may like Madonna from
time to time she is not my idea of a role model. While I like to shake my rump
from time to time dancing is not my social life. While it may be fun to get snazzied
up from time to time the idea of waxing or shaving my chest is unappealing to
me. I don't have the cookie cutter "gay" body. I don't have the designer
Versace clothes. I don't have all the latest dance music hits. None of these things
really interest me but I find myself settling for it, looking for it. I find myself
settling into a "culture" that I don't want to be a part of. Convention?
Convenience? Control? While I look for a community of sorts I don't want to slip
into the cracks. I don't really care about gay marriage while you can still be
jailed for assfucking and because "we" are NOT "just like them."
I don't want that. When I hear that phrase all I can think of is "why yes,
we ARE classist, racist, sexist, (insert finger pointing here), jerks."
Instead of buying into some sort of queer culture that isn't about me I opt to
make my own. I make my own space. I queer my own territory. I make my own presence
according to my standards and ideas. I don't want to be part of the media machine,
I want to make my own. This is largely what my art/ life seems to be about. Making
my own space; asserting myself and communicating my thoughts and ideas.
Don't feel represented by the mainstream? Assert yourself and your views. Make
them heard. Don't feel like you are in a queer positive space? Disseminate propaganda
that might make someone think. I once plastered the city with signs that made
me feel a little more comfortable in this place. I made a bunch of signs that
exclaimed, "support your local homosexual," "queer sex! you don't
know what your missing," and "dykes and fags unite!" While the
posters didn't stay up long, their presence was not unnoticed. I heard comments
from several people about them and they got people thinking. I figure that I can't
be the only one who doesn't belong to "gay culture," the only one that
feels isolated. I am reminded of that Team Dresch song: "I think of all the
freaks and I don't want to miss this." We are not as powerless as we imagine.
We have voices. We don't have to be scared because we are scary.
I get to thinking of this comment that is frequently thrown around; "I don't
have a problem with queers, but why do they have to shove it in our faces?"
I guess I have to shove it in your face because I don't want you to assume I'm
straight. I shove it in your face because I want you to think. I shove it in your
face because I need to make my own space and because there already is a space,
every space, for straight folk. I throw it in your face because I feel ignored,
devalued and misinterpreted. My "throwing it in your face" is more about
making my own identity than it is about trying to convert you. Even though I AM
on the lookout for new recruits.
Another thing I think about is this idea that "I am my sexuality." That
I am who I fuck, who fucks me or that I have reduced myself to my sexual preferences.
While I can't deny that my sexuality is huge part of my life and who I am, it
is does not define the entirety of my existence. At times I can feel myself beginning
to lose sight of this fact. This relates back to the point about searching out
queer identity in a culture I don't like. I am so underrepresented that I often
feel forced into over-representing myself. Being as out as I possibly can. Wondering
how I can be out to every person that comes into my work, to every person I walk
by on the street. I become so obsessed with language and definition and identification
and sexuality and gender that I overlook other important issues. I guess this
is all about trying to uncover who I am and what I'm about. It's about creating
my own reality and living in a world that I (helped) create.
My sexuality can relate to essentially every aspect of my life and often does.
I often feel isolated and set aside but a lot of this has to do with how I act
and interact with the world I live in. I usually keep myself a fair distance from
mainstream society. At the same time I get tired of hearing queers constantly
go on about how they are so depressed and alienated and on and on. (And what am
I doing now?) We need to discuss these things, but hopefully we don't end up locking
ourselves into ghettos in order to have the relationships and communities we want.
We drown ourselves in queer "only" culture. We constrict ourselves by
only holding hands in the "gay" parts of town. We cling to the drivel
Hollywood spews. "We play the roles that they designed us." We talk
of how hard things are. And they are difficult, but "we" have to learn
to work beyond that.
I need to create and celebrate my life and dreams rather than constantly trying
to "educate" people about homophobia and heterosexism. This need/ desire
partially ensures the fact that "we" stick to "our" queer
only spaces. In these spaces we can rightfully assume (for the most part) that
people are queer positive and don't have to deal with or worry about being "ourselves."
We can be who we are without worrying about being judged on who we have sex with,
but what about how we dress or what our bodies look like? Is it that much different
from straight society? Pick up any queer magazine and you'll see what I'm talking
about. The body images that are expected, that are required.
And it is hard. And we continue to struggle.
We can't forget the good things we have. We can't focus only on the hard times.
I have heard countless times during the debate over biology and sociology the
phrase "if people had a choice to be gay, who would choose it?" When
we say this stuff we re-enforce the myth that being queer is bad; that given the
choice we would all be straight. That the struggles aren't worth it, that we can't
come out on top (or bottom of you prefer.) I say the struggle is worth it, that
the journey can only help us understand one another, that we MUST keep fighting
and searching, that we need to take more control over our lives and decisions.
"Burn the lie."
By the time you read this I will
likely have moved to Toronto. As of yet I do not have a fixed address so you'll
have to try and get in touch with me through email. If you are interested I
have a web page (be warned there is a lot of nudity.) If you don't have access
where you live most places have computers at the library that you can use. If
you have tried to get in touch with me in the last while and haven't heard back
it is likely because of the move and not because I threw your letters away.
I apologize in advance and would encourage you to write again. I have also run
out of copies of Eightfold Path 5 some time ago so please don't write requesting
copies. In the shuffle I managed to send off my master copy so I don't even
have my own copy. Until next time.
Take care of yourselves.
Anyone in Toronto/ area want to get