Queer Theory concluded
g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Sun Apr 28 01:45:42 MDT 1996
The contradiction between queer and gay is on one level that between the
establishment and the young turks. To that extent my sympathies are with the
queers. Thye have shaken up the gay establishment and I am enough of a
liberterian to think that's not a bad thing.
However there is a theoretical dimension to distinction and that mirrors the
old debate between constructivism vs essentialism and there are also echoes
of earlier debates such as nurture nature. Queers tend to emphasise thae
social construction of sexuality and attack any notion that thre could be a
biological basis to sexuality as "essentialist." That within postmodernist
thought is *the* insult.
I have no particular position on whether there is a biological basis to
homosexuality or not. Perhaps they will discover a gay gene. If they do I
would not fancy its chances of survival, but at heart I think the search for
the gay gene is the ultimate in reductionist. Vulgar materialism redux.
What is more interesting for me is to plot the political differences between
the queer and the gay wings of the movement. I have already indicated that
in the USA queer = activist. I applaud that. But here in Australia
especially during the time of the ALP there simply was not the same scope or
need for activism. the minister for health was at least gay friendly and
the AIDS epidemic was handled in a manner which saved many lives.
Besides the gay movement has made a lot of progress with the politics of
recognition. Only Tasmania still criminalises homosexualilty and that is
about to change. There have been other issues raised such as the
legalisation of gay marriages, superannuation rights, more
anti-discrimination legislation, action on anti-gay violence. These will
now be put in cold storgage for the durationof the Conseravative government
in all probability.
The queers have no counter agenda to this. Their "happy limbo of
non-identity" is as I have tried to show a post-structuralist paradox. We
cannot have not have an identity. But one should be fair here. They will
continue to advance the rights of other groups whoare not covered by the
queer agenda e.g. transexuals, lesbians & bisexuals.
What strikes me however that we are very close to the end of gay politics.
The complete gay program could be fulfilled without a great deal of bother
to any government. In other words the politics of recognition could be
played out to its full. Capitalism would of course survive. Gays would
still suffer, but they would not suffer as gays. That suffering would be due
directly to the fact that the politics of redistibution have taken a
backseat to the politics of recognition for a very long time.
What I am suggesting here is that gay politics is actually close stagnating
and to advance from the present impassse, where the politics of
recognition dominates we will have to come to terms with other issues and I
feel that these are race and class. My own personal preferences are for the
kind of radical politics advanced by the Latin-American performance artist
The latter is struggling for what he terms a new internationalism based on
the "border citizens" of the world. "These are Latinos, african-americans,
native Americans, gays, and feminists who are establishing cross-cultural
alliances with one another, the performance activists, the non-aligned
intellectuals and journalists; the psot earthquake Mexico City rockers,
poets and cartooinists; the "Third World collectivies in Europe and the
Latin American conceptual artists and writers." (Gomez-Pena, 1991:43)
Altman, D. Queer versus Gay, Outrage, June 1993,:46-47
Bad Object choices, Queer Film & video, Seattle: Bay Press, 1991
Buber, M I and Thou, New York, 1970
Foucault, M. The history of sexuality V 1 1990
Fuss, D. Essentially Speaking, London:Routledge, 1989
Harris, W. Gay Lobby Rejects transexuals, Campaign, June 1993: 6
Nichols, s. The ins and outs of outing, Outrage, October 1991: 22-23
Plummer, K. (ed) Modern Homosexualities:Fragments of gay and Lesbaian
exprience, routledge, 1992
Ruby rich, B. New queer cinema, Sight & Sound, v 2, No 5, Sept 1992: 30-39
Simon, A number of queers, LA Weekly, May 21-27, 1993:10
Watney, S., Homosexual, gay or queer? Outrage, April 1992:18-22
BTW What remains to be done are posts on the Necessity of Homophobia and
Progressivism in the Bolshevik Republic and then I will have to get back to
earning a living- wailing of course.
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