adj.: 1. differing from the usual or
normal: PECULIAR, STRANGE
HETEROSEXUAL, or any
combination of predetermined
sexualities 3. COUNTERFEIT
n: one that is queer.
In a culture that bases itself on binaries I find it increasingly difficult to stake out an identity that I feel comfortable with. From the moment of birth we are forced into a culture that attempts to define us according to its specifications: man or woman, heterosexual or homosexual, producer or consumer, and so on. All of these categories deny human experiences and variations within them. In reality, our lives constantly change. What is defined now as one thing can have completely different implications in another decade or country.
The idea that is at the forefront of these thoughts is the hetero/ homo dichotomy and its effects on our lives. I do not fit into the heterosexual category so society and my thoughts plop me conveniently into the homosexual category. I am told that in order for me to fight for queer rights that I should tell people that my sexuality is biologically determined, that I was "born this way." I can't. That is like saying that I was born with an unwanted affliction and assumes that it is necessary and even desirable to become heterosexual.
Sexuality is not an innate orientation as most would believe, but rather a preference that in some way biology may play a role in defining. Having said that I am still trapped. If I claim that being queer is a social construction I am to deny my body and biology. However, if I acknowledge biology, my sexuality is defined from a determinist perspective. I won't let that happen. Is the struggle for queer rights any less valid if people choose their sexuality?
We do not know what it means to choose heterosexuality. No one ever has to justify being straight or defend it as biological or chosen. If society weren't so heterosexist, no one would care about why people are queer. And we wouldn't be killing ourselves trying to live in predetermined categories.
In order for appreciation of queer sexuality, people need to recognize the possibility that they are not heterosexual, and not necessarily homosexual, but a complex combination of both ends.
I do not want anyone to accept or tolerate queer sexuality. Tolerance and acceptance stigmatize being queer into a problem that needs to be tolerated or accepted. It doesn't take any courage to be homophobic in a society that hates queers and ignores variability.
In the end, I am
left in the dark drowning, searching for a reality. I have no answers,
only questions and define myself in oppositional terms. Is it possible
to have a positive and accurate queer identity in a society that is both
heterosexist and homophobic? Is trying to do so only an attempt to
conform to unacceptable social ideals? Is it more important to break
down heterosexuality rather than basing an identity on a notion of other?
Is there such a thing as queer identity?
*Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality?
an essay by Carole Vance.
*Homosexual Identity, Essentialism
an essay by Jan Schippers.
*Queer by Choice.
A large portion of this project deals with the (ab)use of language. Both language and defined sexuality are social constructs that have certain limitations. Humans use both in attempts to provide definitions as to who we are. The idea of labelling one's self as queer, heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, etc. is an attempt to define one's self by sexuality. Problems arise when people are forced or force themselves to forge an identity that society opposes with language and definitions maintained by that same society. Language is an attempt to define the undefinable and art dares to cross the boundary into non-verbal expression.
Language often creates an imaginary us/ them dichotomy that serves to protect people from what they perceive as the other, or as something existing outside of their realm. Our use of language, labels, categorizes, marginalizes and degrades those who are not heterosexual. If we consider words that replace queer we are left with words that define queer sexuality as deviant or add rather than a celebration. Language such as: fag, dyke, butch, femme, flamer, muff diver, cock sucker, etc., are words used by a society which attempts to control those it sees as abnormal, and ignores all variations of sexuality other than hetero.
The hetero/ homo opposites are reductive, totalitarian, static definitions. They create impossible ideals because so few people are exclusively attracted to males or females. In fact, I would dare to say that there are as many different sexualities as there are people. A fully realized hetero or homosexual preference requires one to disassociate with the other and dictates that people are either one hundred percent hetero or homosexual.
Same sex attraction,
intercourse, and interaction are real things that exist. there is
an idea that these thing comprise a sexual identity that is separate and
different from opposite sex attraction, etc. The two are thought
of as polar opposites. The idea of sexual identity is just that,
an idea. Sexuality and all of its variations are real, but hetero
and homosexuals are not. Such ideas keep people in line and provide
restrictions so that one is definitely not mistaken for the other.
To assume that hetero and homosexuality are real is to assume that sexuality
is static and unchanging, having the same cultural values across the universe.
However, this is not the case. Sexuality is dependant on time,
culture and place.
Queer By Choice(?) Survey
Please respond to any or all of the following questions. You may remain as
anonymous or as identified as you like. Thank you for your co-operation.
1. Do you consider yourself to be a
man or a woman? Please explain.
causes people to be sexually attracted to the opposite sex? To the
3. According to popular research done
by Alfred Kinsey approximately 10 percent of the population is homosexual.
Do you agree or disagree with this statement? If you disagree, what
percentage of the population do you think is homosexual?
4. According to popular research done
by Alfred Kinsey sexuality exists on a continuum ranging from exclusively
heterosexual to exclusively homosexual and all variations in between.
Do you agree or disagree with this statement? What percentage of
homosexual are you? (if any, go to 4a.)
4a. Do you like being queer?
(lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning, undecided, undefined)
Would/ can you change?
5. Did you choose or discover your
sexuality? Why? At what age?
6. What do you think about lesbian,
gay, bisexual, etc. people? Do they have the same rights as
heterosexuals? More? Should they be allowed to kiss in public,
get married, adopt children, baby sit?
7. Do you think heterosexuals should
accept queers? What should/ could be done to/ for queers if they
should not be accepted?
8. Do you think that there is a "cure"
for heterosexuality? Homosexuality? Is there a need for one?
9. Additional comments, conclusions,
observations, ideas, etc.