The Cambridge Companion to Queer Studies 9781108699396

This Companion provides a guide to queer inquiry in literary and cultural studies. The essays represent new and emerging

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The Cambridge Companion to Queer Studies
 9781108699396

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Chronology compiled by erin grogan

Constructing a chronology is in many ways a normalizing practice. Chronologies imply a linear notion of time where the past leads into the present and sets the conditions for the future. Yet, as the Introduction to this volume discusses, the “queer” of queer studies often means thinking and acting in ways that are positioned as nonnormative. Thus, a queer critique might understand time as looping and folding, zigging and zagging, circling back, and moving sideways. In opposition to linear conceptions of time, such a queer temporality recognizes how the violence of the past continues to reverberate in the present – for instance, through the ongoing legacy of slavery and the enduring structures of settler colonialism. Although linear notions of time imply a narrative of progress (that is where we used to be, but this is where we are now), a nonnormative notion of queer temporality acknowledges the curves between the past and the present. Though the chronology presented here is printed on the two-­dimensional page, the events it depicts exist in four dimensions, moving forward and backward, up and down, through time and space. Envisioning these events in four dimensions is a critical practice of hope for queer futures, where this chronology offers a “backward glance” that for readers may become a “future vision.”1 The works selected for this “backward glance” are theoretical, literary, and cultural works in queer studies, as well as political events that informed their creation. Canonical and avant-garde works are interlayered; fiction is interspersed with theory. Because of the limited scope of this timeline, many of the political events selected occurred in the United States, though these events reverberated globally and were shaped by international political conditions. Beginning at the turn of the twentieth century, many of the events in the first half of the chronology outline the political conditions and activist movements that created the conditions of possibility for the theoretical, literary, and cultural works in the second half of the timeline. Thinking queerly, these historical events, activist xiv

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movements, and theoretical, literary, and cultural productions are intertwined and cannot be neatly separated from each other. Together, these juxtapositions construct a chronological collage of contemporary queer literary and cultural studies. 1897 Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds, Sexual Inversion 1897 The Scientific-Humanitarian Committee is founded by Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin to advocate for same-sex legal rights. 1905 Sigmund Freud, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (published in German; followed by revised editions) 1914

Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons

1918

Willa Cather, My Ántonia

Magnus Hirschfeld founds the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft 1919  (Institute for Sexual Science) in Berlin. 1926 Wallace Thurman, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Gwendolyn Bennett, Aaron Douglas, Richard Bruce, and John Davis, eds., Fire!! A Quarterly Devoted to the Younger Negro Artists 1928

Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness Virginia Woolf, Orlando

1929

Nella Larsen, Passing

1936

Djuna Barnes, Nightwood

1946

Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding

1947

Fireworks, dir. Kenneth Anger

1948 Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, and Clyde E. Martin, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms 1950 The Mattachine Society, a gay rights or “homophile” ­organization, is founded in Los Angeles. 1952

Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

1953 Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, Clyde E. Martin, and Paul H. Gebhard, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female

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1955 Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization The Daughters of Bilitis, one of the first lesbian rights organizations in the United States, is founded in San Francisco. 1956

James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems

1957 Allen Ginsberg’s Howl obscenity trial and court decision People of the State of California v. Lawrence Ferlinghetti 1963

John Rechy, City of Night Flaming Creatures, dir. Jack Smith

1965

My Hustler, dir. Andy Warhol

1966 Stokely Carmichael uses the term “Black Power” to describe the political and social movement for black racial pride. The Compton’s Cafeteria Riots in San Francisco, led by transgender women, drag queens, and gay sex workers, protest police raids and arrests. Georges Canguilhem, The Normal and the Pathological (published in French) 1967 Portrait of Jason, dir. Shirley Clarke Charles Ludlam founds the Ridiculous Theatrical Company in New York. 1969 The Stonewall Riots in New York, led by queer people of color and drag queens, bring national visibility to LGBT political defiance of police harassment and arrests. Midnight Cowboy, dir. John Schlesinger 1970 First Women’s Studies program in the United States founded at San Diego State University. The Lavender Menace protests the lesbian-exclusionary stance of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and publishes the manifesto the “Woman-Identified Woman” under the name Radicalesbians. Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera co-found Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), an activist organization that provided housing and support to homeless queer youth and sex workers in Lower Manhattan. 1972 Guy Hocquenghem, Homosexual Desire (published in French)

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1973 The American Psychological Association (APA) votes to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). 1974

Dyketactics, dir. Barbara Hammer Female Trouble, dir. John Waters

1975 Gayle Rubin, “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex” 1976 Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction (published in French) 1977 Jeffrey Weeks, Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain from the Nineteenth Century to the Present Combahee River Collective, The Combahee River Collective Statement Maria Irene Fornes, Fefu and Her Friends Mario Mieli, Homosexuality and Liberation: Elements of a Gay Critique (published in Italian) 1979  An estimated 200,000 people demonstrate at the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights to end discrimination based on sexual orientation. 1980  Adrienne Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” Signs WOW Café, a feminist performance space featuring avant-­garde work, is founded in New York by Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver. Gay Left Collective, ed., Homosexuality: Power and Politics 1981 Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color First medical publications recognize the cluster of immunodeficiency symptoms that come to be recognized as HIV/AIDS. Jeffrey Weeks, Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality Since 1800 1982 Gloria T. Hull and Barbara Smith, All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name Alice Walker, The Color Purple Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States uses the term “AIDS” for the first time.

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xviii  1983

chronology John D’Emilio, “Capitalism and Gay Identity”

1984 Gayle Rubin, “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality” Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches Samuel R. Delany, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand 1985 Ronald Reagan uses the word “AIDS” for the first time after thousands of deaths from AIDS in the United States alone. 1986 Joseph Beam, ed., In the Life: A Black Gay Anthology 1987 ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, is founded in New York to demand a response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Hortense J. Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” Diacritics Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza First national conference in the United States on queer studies hosted at the Lesbian and Gay Studies Center at Yale University. Leo Bersani, “Is the Rectum a Grave?,” October 1988 Samuel R. Delany, The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village Pat[rick] Califia, Macho Sluts Douglas Crimp, ed., AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism The World Health Organization (WHO) observes the inaugural World AIDS Day on December 1. 1989 Tongues Untied, dir. Marlon Riggs First Gay and Lesbian Studies Department in the United States founded at the City College of San Francisco. Jennifer Miller founds Circus Amok, a queer circus-theater company providing free public art.  Looking for Langston, dir. Isaac Julien 1990 A conference at the University of California–Santa Cruz, organized by Teresa de Lauretis, is titled “Queer Theory.” Queer Nation founded by AIDS activists in New York. Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity  Robert Mapplethorpe obscenity trial and court decision Cincinnati v. Contemporary Art Center Paris Is Burning, dir. Jennie Livingston Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet

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1991 Essex Hemphill and Joseph Beam, eds., Brother to Brother: New Writings by Black Gay Men Poison, dir. Todd Haynes David Wojnarowicz, Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disinte­ gration Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color,” Stanford Law Review A special issue on “Queer Theory: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities,” edited by Teresa de Lauretis, is published by differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies  The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies is founded at the City University of New York and is the first university-based LGBTQ scholarly research center in the United States. 1992 Monique Wittig, The Straight Mind and Other Essays (individual essays published previously) The Living End, dir. Gregg Araki  Sandy Stone, “The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto,” Camera Obscura Essex Hemphill, Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry Lesbian Avengers founded in New York. Ruby Rich coins the term “New Queer Cinema.” 1993 Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues Henry Abelove, Michèle Aina Barale, and David M. Halperin, eds., The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” Duke University Press launches Series Q, edited by Michèle Aina Barale, Jonathan Goldberg, Michael Moon, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. First issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies published. Michael Warner, ed., Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory Jonathan Goldberg, ed., Queering the Renaissance 1994 Go Fish, dir. Rose Troche Susan Stryker, “My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage,” GLQ Eileen Myles, Chelsea Girls Pedro Zamora, a Cuban-American, becomes one of the first gay men living with AIDS to appear in mainstream media through MTV’s The Real World.

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chronology 

 InQueery, InTheory, InDeed: The Sixth North American Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Studies Conference is hosted by the University of Iowa and is the final national queer studies conference in the series begun at Yale in 1987.  Milk of Amnesia, written and performed by Carmelita Tropicana, directed by Ela Troyano 1995 Gayatri Gopinath, Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures R. Zamora Linmark, Rolling the R’s 1996

The Watermelon Woman, dir. Cheryl Dunye Judith Roof, Come as You Are: Sexuality and Narrative Leo Bersani, Homos

1997 Cathy Cohen, “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?,” GLQ Saidiya V. Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and SelfMaking in Nineteenth-Century America 1998 David L. Eng and Alice Y. Hom, eds., Q&A: Queer in Asian America J. [Jack] Halberstam, Female Masculinity 1999 José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics Paula A. Treichler, How to Have Theory in an Epidemic: Cultural Chronicles of AIDS Eli Clare, Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation Michael Warner, The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life 2000 Siobhan B. Somerville, Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture Black Queer Studies in the Millennium Conference held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Cindy Patton and Benigno Sánchez-Eppler, eds., Queer Diasporas José Quiroga, Tropics of Desire: Interventions from Queer Latino America 2001 Licia Fiol-Matta, A Queer Mother for the Nation: The State and Gabriela Mistral David L. Eng, Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America

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 Inderpal Grewal and Caren Kaplan, “Global Identities: Theorizing Transnational Studies of Sexuality,” GLQ 2002 ACT UP Oral History Project begins documenting interviews with members of ACT UP. 2003 Kandice Chuh, Imagine Otherwise: On Asian Americanist Critique Sylvia Wynter, “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/ Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation – An Argument,” CR: The New Centennial Review Roderick A. Ferguson, Aberrations in Black: Towards a Queer of Color Critique 2004 Lee Edelman, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive 2005 Eithne Luibhéid and Lionel Cantú Jr., eds., Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossings Brokeback Mountain, dir. Ang Lee E. Patrick Johnson and Mae G. Henderson, eds., Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology 2006 Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle, eds., The Transgender Studies Reader Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others 2007 David Valentine, Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category Heather Love, Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History Jasbir Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times 2008 [Paul] B. Preciado, Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era (published in Spanish)  Transsomatechnics: Theories and Practices of Transgender Embodiment, an international transgender studies conference, is hosted by Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.  Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, “Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic: Queer Imaginings of the Middle Passage,” GLQ E. Patrick Johnson, Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men in the South, An Oral History 2009 Season One of RuPaul’s Drag Race airs on LOGO TV Tim Dean, Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity

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xxii 

chronology

2010 David L. Eng, The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy Darieck Scott, Extravagant Abjection: Blackness, Power, and Sexuality in the African American Literary Imagination Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, eds., Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire 2011 Nicole R. Fleetwood, Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness Mark Rifkin, When Did Indians Become Straight? Kinship, the History of Sexuality, and Native Sovereignty Qwo-Li Driskill, Chris Finley, Brian Joseph Gilley, and Scott Lauria Morgensen, eds., Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature 2012 Robert McRuer and Anna Mollow, eds., Sex and Disability Sharon Patricia Holland, The Erotic Life of Racism Mel Y. Chen, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect  US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves use of Truvada for preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in adults who are HIV negative. 2013 TC Tolbert and Trace Peterson, eds., Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics Alison Kafer, Feminist, Queer, Crip  Marlon M. Bailey, Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit 2014 Amy Villarejo, Ethereal Queer: Television, Historicity, Desire Janet Mock, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More Kai Ashante Wilson, The Devil in America First issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly published. Audra Simpson, Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States  Juana María Rodríguez, Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings  Saylesh Wesley, “Twin-Spirited Woman: Sts’ iyóye smestíyexw slhá:li,” TSQ

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 Chronology

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2016 North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signs House Bill 2 (HB2), restricting transgender people from accessing restrooms in the state. Sara Ahmed, “An Affinity of Hammers,” TSQ Moonlight, dir. Barry Jenkins Trans* Studies: An International Transdisciplinary Conference on Gender, Embodiment, and Sexuality at the University of Arizona is one of the first international conferences focused on trans* studies. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity E. Patrick Johnson, No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies 2017 Eli Clare, Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure North Carolina repeals portions of HB2, one of the most restrictive bathroom bills in the United States. Eric Plemons, The Look of a Woman: Facial Feminization Surgery and the Aims of Trans Medicine C. Riley Snorton, Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, Ezili’s Mirrors: Imagining Queer 2018  Black Genders 2019 Toby Beauchamp, Going Stealth: Transgender Politics and U.S. Surveillance Practices

Note José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York: New York University Press, 2009), 4.

1

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Introduction Siobhan B. Somerville

This Companion provides a guide to queer inquiry in literary and cultural studies, a wide-ranging and porous area of study that has been especially generative for the larger interdisciplinary field of queer studies over the last three decades. The essays gathered here represent work in queer literary and cultural studies in the vital present, generated with an impulse to suggest new and emerging areas of inquiry, including trans studies as it is entangled with and adjacent to queer studies. All of the essays are original, written expressly for this publication by both established and newer voices in the field. Rather than being organized around a set of literary texts defined by a particular theme, literary movement, or demographic, this Companion foregrounds a queer critical approach that moves across a wide array of literary traditions, genres, historical periods, national contexts, and media including print, tv/film/video, digital media, and performance. At this point in the history of the field, no single book could hope to provide an exhaustive account of the capacious project that is queer ­literary and cultural studies. Instead, this Companion familiarizes readers with some of the field’s the most salient debates, concepts, and i­nterpretive strategies, with special emphasis on those that have shaped current c­ ritical practices within the field, along with suggestions for further study for those who want to deepen their understanding beyond this ­collection of essays. Most broadly, this text has four key, often overlapping, aims: (1) to represent the diversity of approaches, scholars, and contexts that have shaped the field, both theoretically and demographically; (2) to ­familiarize readers with the history of queer literary and cultural studies, as well as the most current debates and emerging areas of study; (3) to p ­ rovide ­examples of queer approaches in action, through each c­ ontributor’s readings of c­ ultural texts from different historical periods, genres, and national contexts; and (4) to highlight areas of particularly dynamic queer inquiry, rather than to draw clear boundaries around a coherent theoretical framework, set of textual objects, or single critical approach. 1

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siobhan b. somerville

But what is queer literary and cultural studies? Introducing the field is a daunting task, not only because such a varied array of scholarship has been pursued, debated, and published in this area of study over the last thirty years or so, but also because the field has been characterized by two fundamental aspects of queer critical practice that thwart any attempt to define its parameters: a deep, as yet unresolved (and probably unresolvable) contradiction in the meanings of “queer” itself, and a determined refusal to decide ahead of time what does or does not fall within the purview of queer studies. This Introduction briefly discusses these aspects of the field and then provides an overview of the essays themselves, suggesting their shared interests and diverging viewpoints.

Queer Subjects/Queer Critique Two distinct (and seemingly contradictory) ways of thinking about the “queer” in queer studies have emerged in productive tension over the past few decades. In one use of the word, queer works as an umbrella term for a range of sexual and gender identities that are not “straight,” or at least not normative. In a second sense, queer functions more as a verb than a noun, signaling a critical stance – productively corrosive at times – that is ­skeptical of existing identity categories and more interested in understanding the production of normativity and its queer companion, ­nonnormativity, than in delineating any particular population. Although queer critiques of normativity have often been tethered to sexuality and gender in some way (hetero- or homonormativity), some of the most ­powerful work in the field argues that queer approaches help us understand normativity in any sense, based on interlocking categories of ­difference and power, including race, caste, indigeneity, gender, class, nation, and ­religion.1 This Companion does not resolve these tensions within the field and, as you read the essays, you will encounter multiple senses of queer, whether as an umbrella term, as a critique, or otherwise. By now, in the early decades of the twenty-first century, the term “queer” has become a familiar one, widely circulating in popular culture and in everyday speech and typically carrying some sense of inclinations that are linked to sexuality or gender. The current familiarity and ­ubiquity of “queer” – its friendliness for some – mark a dramatic shift from the late 1980s and early 1990s, when what we now call queer studies began to emerge as an academic field. At that time, the term still carried a stinging sense of stigma, built on several previous decades of wide use as a homophobic slur. Public discourse was characterized by pervasive

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Introduction

3

homophobia and racism fueled by fear, at a time when the Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS/ HIV) epidemic was killing tens of thousands per year in the United States alone and ­devastating communities across the world. (In 1994, more than 3 ­million people were diagnosed with HIV globally. Since 1996, every year, more than 1 million people in the world have died from HIV/AIDS.2) In  the face of the ­stigmatizing power of “queer,” the term began to be used in the late 1980s and early 1990s to signal a political stance of both ­solidarity and defiance, disrupting polite discourse and refusing to be shamed into silence. Grieving, angry, and frustrated by the hostile ­political climate, while simultaneously insistent on the public value of pleasure and ­sexuality, those who self-identified as “queer” often felt that they had little to lose and everything to gain by reclaiming the term and, thereby, ­defusing its power to injure. As Jeffrey Escoffier and Allan Berubé wrote in 1991, “queer” s­ ignaled a politics that was “meant to be confrontational – opposed to gay assimilationists and straight oppressors while inclusive of people who have been marginalized by anyone in power.”3 As the term began to circulate more widely in the 1980s and 1990s, something called “queer studies” began to glimmer on the horizon. Queer became attached to the field of lesbian and gay studies, which had already emerged, still in its nascent form, in the 1970s, often through the work of independent scholars who pursued groundbreaking research with little institutional support or recognition.4 “Queer,” as an umbrella term, was often used interchangeably with lesbian and gay, but it seemed to offer a more elastic container that could capture a range of variations in sexual practices and identities that did not conform to legible heterosexuality, as well as those that did not necessarily line up with “lesbian” or “gay” ­identities, either. As Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in 1991, “The new mestiza queers have the ability, the flexibility, the malleability, the amorphous quality of being able to stretch this way and that way. We can add new labels, names, and identities as we mix with others.”5 Echoing this emphasis on suppleness and variation, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick noted, in a now widely quoted passage from her 1993 essay “Queer and Now,” that “queer” could refer to: The open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning when the constituent elements of anyone’s gender, of anyone’s sexuality aren’t made (or can’t be made) to signify monolithically. The experimental linguistic, epistemological, representational, political adventures attaching to the very many of us who may at times be moved to describe ourselves as (among many other possibilities)

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4

siobhan b. somerville pushy femmes, radical faeries, fantasists, drags, clones, leatherfolk, ladies in tuxedoes, feminist women or feminist men, masturbators, bulldaggers, divas, Snap! Queens, butch bottoms, storytellers, transsexuals, aunties, wannabes, lesbian-identified men or lesbians who sleep with men, or … people able to relish, learn from, or identify with such.6

As both Anzaldúa and Sedgwick’s comments suggest, the sheer pleasure in proliferating new sexual names and subjects was something valuable and newly possible in the space cleared by the word “queer.” In literary and cultural studies, queer approaches have focused not only on the authors, characters, or formal aspects of various texts, but also, importantly, on the reader. Drawing from and critiquing reception studies and theories of spectatorship, a significant body of lesbian/gay/queer/ trans scholarship has asked what difference the gendered sexuality of the reader or spectator – a “queer eye,” perhaps – makes to the meaning and significance of any particular text. Sedgwick, for instance, situated herself as “a perverse reader,” whereas Anzaldúa reflected on the way that sexual, racial, gender, and class identity might significantly shape her readers’ experiences of her own texts. But Anzaldúa refused any simple correspondence between social or sexual identity and readerly position: [A]s a reader, I usually have more in common with the Chicana dyke than I do with the white, middle-class feminist. I am in possession of both ways of reading – Chicana working-class, dyke ways of reading, and white middle-class heterosexual and male ways of reading. I have had more training in reading as a white, middle-class academic than I do reading as a Chicana. Just like we have more training reading as men.7

In film studies, scholars such as Patricia White considered the complex interactions of fantasy, desire, and identification that might account for a lesbian spectator in studies of classical Hollywood cinema, whereas other critics, like Alexander Doty, explored both how “self-identified gays, ­lesbians, bisexuals, and queers” read and use popular cultural texts and how anyone, regardless of “a person’s declared sexual and gender allegiances” might adopt “reception positions that can be considered ‘queer’ in some way.”8 By 2005, J. Jack Halberstam explored the p ­ ossibility of a “transgender gaze” that allows film audiences “to look with the ­transgender character instead of at him.”9 Another body of scholarship has studied how reading, listening, or watching can be understood as queer when the desires and pleasures they enact are deemed excessive, as in the case of fandom.10 Theories of identification have been central to these accounts of reception and spectatorship, along with the concept of disidentification

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Introduction

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developed by performance studies scholar, José Esteban Muñoz, whose widely influential work has been especially generative for queer of color critique. For Muñoz, disidentification describes a process by which the “phobic object, through a campy over-the-top performance, is reconfigured as sexy and glamorous, and not as the pathetic and abject spectacle that it appears to be in the dominant eyes of heteronormative culture.”11 Notably, Muñoz described disidentification as “a survival strategy” for queers of color and other minority subjects, one that was “not always an adequate act of resistance” per se.12 As versatile as “queer” can be as an umbrella term, this use also has its drawbacks. In particular, it can produce too reductive an account of the normative category(ies) against which it is posed. In her now-classic essay, “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?,” first published in 1997 and widely reprinted since, ­political ­scientist Cathy Cohen challenged the tendency to understand “queer” in opposition to “straight.”13 This binary, she argued, overlooked the fact that not all heterosexualities historically have been afforded the privilege of normative status. Cohen urged her readers to consider how race has ­functioned to mark some heterosexualities as suspect, even criminal, pointing to the examples of the US history of legal prohibitions against interracial heterosexuality, and the stigmatization of unmarried women of color who receive public assistance to support their children. Cohen cautioned readers not to rely on sexual identity or practice alone for understanding how power is distributed. Instead, drawing on i­ntersectional analysis from women of color feminisms, she argued for the importance of distinguishing heterosexuality from heteronormativity, which she understood to be as much a racialized concept as a sexual or gendered one. Describing a historically specific relation to power, rather than an ­identity per se, “queer” has been deployed in this way by a broad array of interdisciplinary queer studies scholars (such as Cohen) to challenge ­identitarian frameworks. Such approaches have been central, for instance, in the study of periods and contexts in which sexuality and desire ­cannot be described according to the “modern” regime of sexuality described in The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault, who asserted that the notion of sexual identity (or orientation) is a relatively recent invention.14 Dislodging the presumption that “lesbian” or “gay” are the p ­rimary objects of study, queer approaches make visible broad variations of sexual practice and self-understanding in various historical and cultural contexts in which such concepts of sexual identity have no equivalent or would be a­nachronistic. As Jonathan Goldberg and Madhavi Menon write,

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“To queer the Renaissance would thus mean not only looking for alternative sexualities in the past but also challenging the methodological orthodoxy by which past and present are constrained and straitened.”15 In turn, across various historical periods and cultural contexts, including nonwestern contexts, a range of work in literary and cultural studies has used queer approaches to investigate temporality and history itself and has sought to account for “queer ways of being in time,” in the words of medievalist Carolyn Dinshaw.16 As the field has deepened its skepticism toward identitarian models over the past three decades, a frequent refrain has been a refusal to ­delineate the “proper objects” of queer analysis.17 In their 1995 essay, “What Does Queer Theory Teach Us about X ?,” for instance, Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner challenged an emerging tendency to assume that queer theory could be systematized and applied across an array of interchangeable objects of study (the “X” of their title).18 Instead, they considered the openness and uncontainable aspects of queer commentary as its strengths: The failure to systematize the world in queer theory does not mean a commitment to irrelevance; it means resistance to being an apparatus for falsely translating systematic and random violences into normal states, administrative problems, or minor constituencies.19

In a related argument, Roderick Ferguson has cautioned against a “will to institutionality” that would contain the field within disciplinary norms “founded on divisions between legitimacy and illegitimacy.”20 Any attempt to introduce the “field” of queer studies here will thus be inherently partial, given this recurring refrain not to presume ahead of time what methods or objects might constitute a queer project.

The Essays This companion is organized into four sections – Genealogies, Confluences, Representation, and Key Words – that situate queer literary and cultural studies within broader interdisciplinary queer studies contexts, as well as within the specificities of the fields of literary and cultural studies. Although this organization aims to provide some possible paths through the essays, they are also meant to be undone and reorganized according to the reader’s interests and desires. The first section, “Genealogies,” includes two essays that trace the intellectual and political conditions of possibility for the emergence of what we now call “queer studies,” describing the theoretical and activist

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influences that shaped the development of the field. In “Genealogies of Queer Theory,” Kadji Amin advocates a “promiscuous understanding of genealogy” (25) to make visible the heterogeneity of the field that we now understand as “queer theory.” Outlining the contributions of three theorists – Judith Butler, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Michel Foucault – whose work is frequently invoked as foundational to the field, Amin then offers a panorama of alternative genealogies of the field, primarily through histories of deviance studies, queer of color critique, and more recent ­developments such as black antihumanism. Keguro Macharia’s essay on “Queer Writing, Queer Politics: Working across Difference” brings ­attention to the emergence of queer collectivities during the same period, focusing on organizing efforts and writing by queer people of color, especially feminists, during the early years of the HIV/AIDS crisis. As he argues, through writing and filmmaking, lesbian/feminist women of color and black gay men forged models of working across differences that were crucial to political organizing during this period and that point to the ongoing need for new scholarship and activism focused on the labor of care. The second section, “Confluences,” takes up a set of critical intersections that have produced new and distinct areas of inquiry in their own right, including queer of color critique, queer indigenous studies, queer disability studies, trans studies, and queer ecologies, each of which has shaped and been significantly shaped by scholarship in literary and ­cultural studies. In “Convergence, Dissymmetry, Duplicities: Enactments of Queer of Color Critique,” Chandan Reddy notes that, if queer theory can be understood to turn on the axis of normativity, then queer of color critique takes up investigations of power that foreground both normalization and domination. He posits queer of color critique as the “critique of critique,” which is an effort that produces new practices of social theory and that “works parasitically to undermine our inherited division of knowledges” (60). Reflecting on the emergence of the distinct field of queer indigenous studies, June Scudeler’s essay on “Queer Indigenous Studies, or Thirza Cuthand’s Indigequeer Film” traces a genealogy of queer indigenous studies through the work of Thirza Cuthand, a Plains Cree lesbian who has been making self-described “indigequeer” films and videos since the early 1990s. Foregrounding Cree concepts in her analysis, Scudeler highlights how Cuthand uses humor and experimental techniques in her films to create a sense of community for queer indigenous people. In her overview of “Queer Disability Studies,” Alison Kafer focuses on the performances of artist

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Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, a participant in Sins Invalid, an activist organization focusing on disability arts and justice. Exploring the key word “crip” and its relationship to “queer,” Kafer examines how artists and scholars have put disability at the center of queer studies and, in turn, have brought a queer-critical lens to ­understandings of ­disability as both identity formation and critical practice. In “Transgender Studies, or How to Do Things With Trans*,” Cáel Keegan traces the history of transgender studies and its relationship to the field of queer ­studies. Drawing on the work of Janet Halley and Susan Stryker, Keegan traces key points of congruence and tension between the two ­methods, showing how each problematizes and sharpens the other’s claims. Keegan concludes the essay with a trans* reading of John Carpenter’s science fiction horror film, The Thing (1982). Nicole Seymour’s essay on “Queer Ecologies” reflects on the uneven d ­ evelopment and critical recognition of work that has brought queer theory together with ecological concerns and asks what new possibilities trans ecology might offer. Reading Edward Abbey’s now now-classic novel of the environmental movement, The Monkeywrench Gang (1975), against a more recent poem by Latinx trans poet Oliver Baez Bendorf, Seymour investigates the ­productive instability of “nature” in these t­ extual representations of gender and race. “Representation,” a word that has both the aesthetic and political meanings, is the title of the third section, in which the essays foreground queer approaches to genres and topics that are specific to literary and ­cultural studies: poetics, narrative studies, popular culture, performance, and d ­ igital media. In “Queer Poetics: Deviant Swerves, in Three,” Ren  Ellis Neyra plays on the sharp turns of desire that often propel queer poetics, leading the reader through a zigzagging landscape of rhythm, sound, pleasure, and desire. Enacting their own queer poetics, Ellis Neyra moves through and is moved by the theory and poetry of writers including Lucretius, Drake, Lisa Cohen, Tommy Pico, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler, José Esteban Muñoz, Fred Moten, carl phillips, and Renee Gladman. Writing on “Queer Narrative,” Anne Mulhall surveys queer narrative theory, focusing not only on specific genres familiar to LGBTQ representation, such as the transition autobiography and the coming-out narrative, but also on the broader narrative arcs – such as “progress” – that shape and are shaped at different scales of ­storytelling, whether focused on the individual, the “community,” or the nation. Drawing from the recent political example of the 2015 campaign for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the Republic of Ireland, Mulhall considers the staying power of ­certain

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­ arratives of lesbian and gay identity in contemporary ­neoliberal contexts. n In “Trace a Vanishing: or, Queer Performance Study,” Nadia Ellis reflects on queer performance studies and the particular weight and meaning of disappearance in the ­context of queer of color performance. Modeling an expansive method of reading queer of color performance in a variety of texts, Ellis traces the long history of ­enactments of vanishing, from the nineteenth-century fugitive slave ­narrative of Ellen and William Craft, through ­t wentieth-century films such as Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason (1963) and Jennie Livingston’s Paris Is Burning (1990), to more recent queer “sound makers” like Mykki Blanco and Frank Ocean. In her essay on “Queer and Trans Studies in Pop Culture: Transgender Tripping Points in the Carceral State,” Erica Rand foregrounds queer popular culture through a case study of the television soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful and its ­portrayal of a transwoman of color. Enacting the theoretical labor and pleasure that fans often perform, Rand plays with this televisual text at the overlaps between transfeminist politics and queer reading, rewriting it to align more fully with a vision of her own desire: “consistent attention to gender and sexuality as always formed, presented, and apprehended in relation to race, class, economic status, nationality, ethnicity, ability, and other matters, in ways both obvious and subtle” (179). In “Queer Digital Cultures,” Kate O’Riordian traces the ­convergence of queer and digital culture since the 1980s, by highlighting a series of major shifts that have occurred over the last few decades: from textual to audiovisual interfaces, from subcultural to mainstream LGBTQ representation, from utopian political and aesthetic aspirations to increasingly commercialized ventures, and from open-ended identity play to consumer authentication and cultures of surveillance. The ­historical emergence of intertwined queer and digital cultures, O’Riordan suggests, has been characterized by the oscillation between desires for utopian alternatives and anxieties about predefined relations of power. The fourth section, “Key Words,” highlights three critical terms – ­diaspora, kinship, and region – that have been particularly useful rubrics in queer literary and cultural studies in recent years. Essays in this section explain how these concepts have been deployed in queer studies scholarship, as well as how queer approaches have transformed understandings of these terms in the broader fields of literary and cultural studies. Martin Joseph Ponce’s essay on “Queer Diasporic Crossings and the Persistence of Desire in The Book of Salt” explores the spatial and temporal dynamics of Monique Truong’s 2003 novel, which reimagines expatriate modernism through the eyes of Bình, a character based on a Vietnamese cook who worked in the

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household of the well-known modernist couple, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, in Paris in the 1920s. Ponce focuses on the significance of The Book of Salt’s speculative literary approach to the past and its emphasis on the subjective self-representation of this queer diasporic figure, whose desire suspends any linear narrative of migration and return. In his essay on “Diaspora, Displacement, and Belonging: The Politics of the Family and the Future of Queer Kinship,” Richard T. Rodríguez explores contemporary understandings of “translatina k­ inship” in the 2010 film documentary, I Am the Queen, which documents Puerto Rican trans beauty contestants in a Chicago neighborhood whose community is under constant threat of displacement through the forces of gentrification. Noting that the idea of a “kinship” relation is often ­distinguished from that of the genealogical notion of “family,” Rodríguez insists that there is significant overlap between the two, particularly in queer of color contexts. In her essay on “Queer Critical Regionalism,” J. Samaine Lockwood focuses on a short story in which a character fixates on a queen of a different sort, Queen Victoria. Providing an overview of the emergence of critical queer regionalism over the past few decades, Lockwood enacts a comparative and transnational approach to region that focuses not only on sexuality but also race and imperialism. She reads nineteenth-century writer Sarah Orne Jewett’s curious short story, “The Queen’s Twin,” emphasizing the story’s ways of imagining queer ­possibility and mobility for white women in an age of US urbanization and imperial expansion. As these wide-ranging essays demonstrate, there is no single way to “do” queer studies. Reflecting existing asymmetries in the field and, of course, my own scholarly location (and the vagaries of the editing ­process), this Companion is admittedly largely focused on the United States, but not exclusively so. When I approached different authors to invite them to contribute, I gave them a broad sense of how they might shape their essays around specific topics, but I also left them a great deal of autonomy in determining the direction of their work. As a result, their ideas have organically generated new connections that exceeded my expectations and readers may easily discover alternative groupings. For instance, although Reddy’s essay announces its topic as queer of color critique, this approach is prominent throughout the volume and one could build a large section of the book around essays that focus on queer of color and trans of color representation. Likewise, a significant number of essays in this volume ­foreground the authors’ investigations of the relationship between queer and transgender studies, focusing on trans as both an identity and a ­critical mode.

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Queer Companion I have spent most of this Introduction providing an overview of queer literary and cultural studies and the essays assembled here. But, reading queerly as I tend to do, I want to take a moment before I end to pause on the word “companion” in this book’s title. The word denotes, of course, the larger series of which it is a part (and preexists my role as ­editor). It would be easy to skip over it because “companion” appears in the titles of ­several ­hundred volumes in the series and obviously means “guidebook” or “reference work.” To my ear, however, it also conjures associations that are distinctly queer, far from utilitarian or obvious, and potentially full of pleasure. I like thinking about this book in all the senses of “companion” that the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) offers. It is first defined as a relationship of habituation – of simply spending time with one another – which the dictionary links to being “a friend.”21 But “companion” can also refer to a person who accompanies another on a journey, suggesting a relationship that exists not only in time but also in space and movement. Or, signaling a shared purpose against a common foe, “companion” sometimes refers to a “fellow soldier” (in an army of lovers, perhaps?), a “comrade,” or a “knight.” Alternatively, it can refer to a convivial buddy who is with you for the sheer fun of it: “a reveler, a carouser.” A “companion,” in an old legal sense, can refer to a colleague at work, a coworker in an office setting, for instance. But it also refers to a loved one at home, that is, a “spouse,” a “lover,” or a “partner” in a “­longstanding relationship.” (For many of us, this phrase carries the echo of “longtime companion,” which bears painful memories of homophobic cultural denial because it was used frequently as a euphemism for lover or same-sex partner in obituaries during the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.) But you can also have a fling with a companion: the term, the dictionary tells us, also means “a short-term sexual partner” or “an escort.” And it can describe a relationship with nonhuman loved ones, too, because it is frequently used to refer to pets, our “companion animals.” An ­ambiguous relationship of service and affection, “companion” often describes a caregiver whose status blurs the lines (and reveals the gendered biases of the OED): “a person (usually a woman) employed to live with another and provide company and assistance, and (typically) who is treated more as a friend than an employee.” Hmm. Two of my favorite meanings of “companion” shuttle between the Earth and the skies. In astronomy, companion can refer to a satellite of a

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planet, circling and tethered to its object by nothing more than the forces of ­gravity. (These companions can be lifesaving, apparently. A  recent study determined that “for certain planets about the size of our own, the gravitational pull of an outer companion planet could generate enough heat … to effectively prevent [its] internal cooling, and extend the inner world’s chance at hosting life.”22) Moving back to the surface of the Earth, in ­agricultural contexts a companion refers to “a crop grown in close association with a different crop, usually for the improvement of yield.” (Cabbages might be companion crops to turnips, and banana trees might ­ istant or be the companion crop to cacao trees.) These relationships – d nearby; distinct but complementary; dependent on the same air, water, soil, or gravitational pull; interdependent and mutually ­reinforcing – have a certain romance. I like to think that they might describe how the ­writing in this book – this Companion – is positioned in relation to your own queer thinking and writing, dear (queer?) reader. Finally, in the ­collective ­making of this ­volume, the contributors have become ­companions of ­various sorts – and we invite you to be our companion, as you explore queer literary and cultural studies and as your own thinking, whether cosmic or earthly, generates new possibilities.

Notes As many have argued, queer studies need not be tethered primarily or exclusively to sexuality. Instead, the full potential of queer critique is to ­dislodge “the status of sexual orientation itself as the authentic and centrally ­governing category of queer practice, thus freeing up queer theory as a way of ­reconceiving not just the sexual, but the social in general.” Phillip Brian Harper, Anne McClintock, José Esteban Muñoz, and Trish Rosen, introduction to “Queer Transexions of Race, Nation, and Gender,” special issue of Social Text, vols. 52–53 (1997): 1. 2 AIDSinfo, UNAIDS, accessed January 31, 2019, http://aidsinfo.unaids.org/. 3 Jeffrey Escoffier and Allan Bérubé, “Queer/Nation,” OUT/LOOK: National Lesbian and Gay Quarterly, vol. 11 (1991): 14. 4 See, for example, the influential work of Vito Russo, The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies (New York: Harper and Row, 1981); and Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (New York: T.Y. Crowell, 1976) and Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary (New York: Harper and Row, 1983). 5 Gloria Anzaldúa, “To(o) Queer the Writer,” in The Gloria Anzaldúa Reader, ed. AnaLouise Keating (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), 174 n 1. 6 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Queer and Now,” in Tendencies (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993), 8. 1

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Anzaldúa, “To(o) Queer the Writer,” 171–2. Patricia White, unInvited: Classical Hollywood Cinema and Lesbian Representability (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999); Alexander Doty, Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), xi. 9 J. Halberstam, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (New York: New York University Press, 2005), 78. 10 On forms of fandom across various media, see, for example, Lisa Cohen, All We Know: Three Lives (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2013); Wayne Koestenbaum, The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality and the Mysteries of Desire (New York: Vintage, 1993); Alexis Lothian, Old Futures: Speculative Fiction and Queer Possibility (New York: New York University Press, 2018); and Mel Stanfill, “Orienting Fandom: The Discursive Production of Sports and Speculative Media Fandom in the Internet Era” (PhD diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2015). 11 José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 3. 12 Muñoz, Disidentifications, 5. 13 Cathy J. Cohen, “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” GLQ, vol. 3 (1997): 437–65. 14 Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon, 1978). 15 Jonathan Goldberg and Madhavi Menon, “Queering History,” PMLA, vol. 120, no. 5 (2005): 1609. 16 Carolyn Dinshaw, How Soon Is Now? Medieval Texts, Amateur Readers, and the Queerness of Time (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), 5. See also Elizabeth Freeman, Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010); Carla Freccero, Queer/Early/ Modern (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006); and Halberstam, In a Queer Time and Place. 17 See especially Judith Butler’s insistence that the field of lesbian/gay/queer studies not construct itself against feminist studies in her essay, “Against Proper Objects,” differences, vol. 6, nos. 2+3 (1994): 1–26. 18 Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner, “What Does Queer Theory Teach Us about X?” PMLA, vol. 110, no. 3 (1995): 344. 19 Berlant and Warner, “What Does Queer Theory Teach Us about X?” 348. 20 Roderick A. Ferguson, The Reorder of Things: The University and Its Pedagogies of Minority Difference (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), 225. 21 Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. (2014), s.v. “companion,” accessed January 25, 2019, www.oed.com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/view/Entry/37402?result= 1&rskey=tEH48r&. 22 Peter Kelley, “Companion planets can increase old worlds’ chance at life,” UW News, July 31, 2014, accessed February 2, 2019, www.washington.edu/ news/2014/07/31/companion-planets-can-increase-old-worlds-chance-at-life/. 7

8

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chapter 1

Genealogies of Queer Theory Kadji Amin

To perform a genealogy of queer theory need not require going in search of origins that legitimate and stabilize the field. “The search for descent is not the erecting of foundations,” Foucault writes, “on the contrary, it disturbs what was previously considered immobile; it fragments what was thought unified; it shows the heterogeneity of what was imagined consistent with itself.”1 Genealogy reveals the element of chance that allowed certain theoretical schools to become central to the field; it exposes the incommensurable fractures between different theories within the field and, at times, within the work of a single theorist. Perhaps most excitingly, genealogy allows for the formation of new roots to the side of those canonized for “founding” a field. This chapter begins with a section on “Inception” that assesses the influence of three major figures through which the field was conceived – Judith Butler, Eve Sedgwick, and Michel Foucault – as well as psychoanalytic theory. Butler, Sedgwick, and Foucault demonstrate the element of chance in genealogy: They all wrote their most canonical queer theoretical texts before the inception of a field called “queer theory” and were retrospectively claimed (almost instantaneously in the case of Butler and Sedgwick) as founders. The first section asks what theoretical orientations each of these figures brought to the field of queer theory and how those orientations influenced later queer theorists. I understand “­influence” in various ways – as self-conscious citation and intellectual debt, as largely uncited methods and habits of thought, and as critical divergence, in which the critique of a theorist generates a new body of work. The second section, “Alternate Genealogies,” focuses on queer theorists who self-consciously sought alternative intellectual roots for the field and claimed new founding figures, largely in a bid to center racialized populations and/or geopolitical locations outside Europe and North America. This chapter leaves out many names and intellectual schools; in this short space, it cannot possibly give an exhaustive account of every “turn” in the history of queer inquiry or every important queer theorist. 17

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Its ambition, instead, is to simultaneously account for the generativity of particular theorists and theories – sometimes for critics whose political stakes and objects of study could not be more different – while leaving the field open to the claiming of new genealogies. But first, a word about the intrinsic difficulty in defining queer theory or the field of Queer Studies to which it gave rise. It is worth remembering that queer theory emerged in the US academy during the 1990s as a theoretically oriented disruption of “normal business in the ­academy”2; it was never intended to found a field of study. Despite its anti-­institutional ethos, queer theory was crucially informed by three aspects of the ­institutional context of the US academy during the 1990s. First, the “­identity knowledges” of Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Latino Studies, etc.3 – all of which emerged from social movements of the 1960s – had recently been institutionalized within the academy. This institutionalization sparked a series of critiques of the constitutive limitations of institutionalized, ­identity-based fields of study. Emerging at a moment when these critiques were hotly debated, queer theory did not seek to become an identity knowledge among others, nor did it demand institutionalization. To the contrary, it articulated a critique of settled identities and assumed a posture of resistance to institutionalization and academic disciplinarity. Queer theory’s most original move was to describe itself as a form of “subjectless critique” that, unlike the identity knowledges, could not be defined by its object of study.4 However, queer theory’s star-studded and intellectually dazzling debut quickly eclipsed and partially absorbed the still-emergent field of Gay and Lesbian Studies. The result was that queer theory became at once a sophisticated critique of identitarian knowledges emphatically not defined by the study of gays and lesbians, and it became one of the major sites for the study of (homo)sexuality and gender transgression in the US academy. This paradoxically identitarian anti-­ identitarianism remains a central tension within contemporary queer theory and Queer Studies. The second major way in which the state of the US academy shaped queer theory was the fact that the 1990s were the heyday of “high” theory in the humanities. Queer theory immediately and promiscuously pillaged the various forms of theory in ascent at that moment and put them into transformative contact with dissident sexualities. Finally, queer theory was initially housed primarily within English departments. When Queer Studies later solidified, it inherited from queer theory the following set of tensions: an antidisciplinary orientation emerging primarily from the disciplinary location of the ­humanities; an anti-identitarian ethos uneasily paired with an overall focus on dissident sexualities and LGBT

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identities; and an institutionalization of humanities theories over objects, areas, periods, or methods that, paradoxically, had the effect of marginalizing certain objects, areas, periods, and methods. For these reasons, queer theory and Queer Studies remain hotly contested sites of inquiry. Given the fact that they were largely institutionalized through theory, rather than objects, a genealogy of the theories that inform queer theory seems like a good place to start.

Inception Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990) was written before the inception of queer theory as an antifoundationalist feminist approach to “sex.”5 Specifically, it contributed to debates within feminist scholarship about how to conduct feminist inquiry while thoroughly critiquing all essentialisms, including those that ground the category “woman.” Gender Trouble’s import for queer theory was solidified by Butler’s famous use, toward the end, of the drag queen as the key figure that subversively reveals the performativity of all gender – that is, the fact that gender’s apparent solidity and binary structure are i­llusions derived from compelled and reiterated performances of gender ideals. Gender Trouble was hugely influential throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, giving rise to a wave of scholarship analyzing the performativity of various forms of social identity and assessing the subversive potential of particular performative iterations. Gender Trouble may still be the queer theoretical text most likely to be read by those situated outside the field; it is certainly the most-read work of queer theory in translation. Despite its continuing status as the exemplification of “queer theory,” it is no longer at the origin of current trends within the field. Butler’s influence has gone more underground. Her signature remains present within queer theory’s antifoundationalist and anti-identitarian bent: its deep suspicion of settled social and sexual identities. We might locate Butler’s legacy in the queer method, borrowed from poststructuralism, of unsettling and subverting binaries, and in the tendency to put more political weight on moments of slippage, fluidity, and subversion that call entire ontological systems into question than in the goal-oriented, intentional, and effective mobilization more conventionally understood as “politics.” Nevertheless, in queer theory today, Butler’s profound antifoundationalism is as apt to pose a problem as to be seen as a resource. Butler may currently have the most citational life in those movements of thought directly opposed to the anti-essentialism of

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which she is one of the most sophisticated exemplars: affect theory, new materialism, and transgender studies. The move, on a number of fronts, to take bodies, biology, materiality, and affect seriously, not as limitations, but as more vital and even more “queer” than the critique of essentialism could admit, is indebted to Butler in its very departure from the forms of suspicion she exemplifies. Like Butler, Sedgwick published her landmark queer theoretical text, Epistemology of the Closet, in 1990, before the inception of the queer theory that the text was immediately taken up as exemplifying.6 Epistemology was written specifically as a work of “antihomophobic inquiry” within gay literary studies.7 Its “Introduction: Axiomatic” asserts that homosexuality is crucial to a contradictory series of epistemological binaries foundational to Western modernity. This strong argument for the epistemological significance of homosexuality within something so grand as “Western modernity” was, undoubtedly, what catapulted Sedgwick to prominence within queer theory. However, Epistemology is also an exuberant look at just how incoherent modern constructions of homosexuality actually are. This is one example of the unsystematizability of Sedgwick’s thought: it cannot be distilled into singular analytic or argument without doing ­violence to the textures and surprises of her writing as well as of her objects of study. For many queer scholars today, Epistemology’s objects of study are a negative reminder of the white and cisgender gay male, as well as canonical and literary origins of queer theory. Despite this, Sedgwick’s ­orientation toward unsystematizable complexity continues to prove a source of renewal to contemporary queer critics. This orientation has been carried forward by Sedgwick’s student, José Esteban Muñoz, and an entire cadre of queer and queer of color critics interested in the generativity of l­iterature, performance, and art practices as sites of queer (of color) world-making, reparation, and alternatives. Sedgwick appeals to the desire to bypass or supplement strong theories with vast diagnostic power in favor of a multitude of “weak theories,” including affect theory, that stay close to the textures of the everyday.8 Foucault, on the other hand, exemplifies the “paranoid criticism” that Sedgwick critiques as dominant within politicized humanistic ­scholarship. He is the theorist of what have become three key terms within queer ­theory: sexuality, normativity, and biopolitics. His History of Sexuality: An Introduction (1976) identifies sexuality as a key switchpoint of modern biopower – a means of simultaneously disciplining the individual body and controlling populations on the biological level of birth,

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fertility, and death.9 Queer theory needed Foucault’s theoretical cachet to establish ­sexuality, not as some giggly, private joke, but as a ­consequential ­technology invested with the gravitas of modern biopower itself. Along with sexuality, Foucault influentially identified norms, normativity, and normation – based on the development of the nineteenth-century ­science of statistics and invention of the “population” as a statistical entity – as crucial ­modalities of modern power. Recently, Robyn Wiegman and Elizabeth Wilson have argued that “normativity” rather than sexuality occupies the definitional center of queer theory.10 As a form of “subjectless critique,” “queer” refers not to LGBT, but to whatever subverts, resists, or creates alternatives to various forms of normativity. They argue, however, that this shorthand definition of queer as antinormative is actually anti-Foucauldian, since, as a statistical average, the norm already contains and modulates all variations. Norms, in this statistical sense, cannot be opposed or resisted. Statistical norms, however, may be distinct from the forms of normalizing power that queer theorists seek to analyze and oppose.11 Regardless, critical reflection on the proliferation of binaries, within queer scholarship, that oppose a queer term to a normative one does seem warranted within the field, as does further work parsing and multiplying kinds of relations to normativity beyond opposition and resistance. “Biopolitics,” along with “necropolitics,” Achille Mbembe’s term critically reorienting biopolitics toward the power to kill, is increasingly being centered by queer work on race, homonormativity, and geopolitics.12 For such scholarship, biopolitics and necropolitics name racialized technologies of control over life and death within which sexuality is a key node. By foregrounding biopolitics and necropolitics, this body of scholarship reframes sexuality as a technology of race rather than as, in and of itself, a point of potential resistance to normativity. Foucault famously premised his analysis of power on a critique of psychoanalysis and the “repressive hypothesis.” Nevertheless, in one of many interesting contradictions, Foucault’s position as one of queer ­theory’s major progenitors is matched by the prominence of psychoanalysis as a major strand of queer theory. This is partly because, along with poststructuralism, psychoanalysis was a major form under which “high t­heory” circulated in the US academy during the emergence of queer theory in the 1990s. It is also because psychoanalysis offers one of the most compelling modern accounts of sexuality and subjectivity. Queer theoretical engagements with psychoanalysis have been diverse, from Judith Butler’s ­theorization of how prohibited same-sex love is melancholically

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incorporated as the gendered ego to Muñoz’s formulation of “disidentification” as a queer of color tactic for creatively reworking exclusionary dominant ideals.13 Queer theorists tend to read psychoanalysis against the grain – particularly given psychoanalysis’s colonialist inheritance, focus on bourgeois nuclear families in Europe, and emphasis on “normal” ­trajectories of gendered and sexual development. Perhaps most strikingly, queer theorists have used psychoanalytic accounts of jouissance and the death drive as resources to theorize the ways in which sex shatters subjecthood, identity, relationality, and linear temporality. For Leo Bersani and Lee Edelman, queers bear the symbolic burden for the ways in which jouissance and the death drive, respectively, threaten subjectivity in general.14 Both theorists have been critiqued for installing a presumptively white gay male subject at the heart of their theorizations of queer sexuality. This critique has itself generated queer of color scholarship that inhabits black sexual abjection and explores the ethical potential of the stereotype of the Asian American man as a ­bottom.15 A critically reworked version of psychoanalysis, in sum, has offered queer and queer of color critics a means of thinking through the possibilities of sex as a form of negativity and a means of shattering, debasing, and abjecting the self.

Alternate Genealogies Queer theory’s antidisciplinary stance has sometimes made it difficult to address the fact that the field has developed its own normativities and produced its own marginalizations. It is glaring, for instance, that the theorists, theories, areas, and objects of study taken up as “queer theory” during the field’s inception were white and Euro-North American. It can be less obvious, to those of us whose disciplinary training is in the humanities, that much of what is recognized as queer theory has predominantly emerged from humanities departments and prizes humanistic methods, theories, and habits of thought. As queer theory develops into Queer Studies – a more genuinely interdisciplinary field – it must reckon with the exclusions inherent in what have been claimed as its founding theoretical genealogies. Increasingly, scholars have been responding to these exclusions by seeking new theoretical precursors for their work, as well as rediscovering early queer theorists who have not always received credit as “founders” of the field. Heather Love argues that midcentury deviance studies contributed to the inception of queer theory but was incorporated and largely forgotten, rather than being hailed as a founding genealogy.16 Social

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scientists influenced by midcentury deviance studies, such as Esther Newton (1972) and Gayle Rubin (1984), conducted groundbreaking scholarship on sexual subcultures before the inception of queer ­theory and under institutionally difficult conditions.17 Although some of their insights were absorbed by subsequent queer theorists, the genealogy of their thought in deviance studies and the social sciences more broadly was largely cast aside. Love’s centering of deviance studies as a social scientific genealogy of queer theory reveals the field’s occluded grounding in the critical humanities. Queer humanities scholarship is more likely to be classified as Queer Studies and as theory, whereas queer social science and historical scholarship is more likely to be classified as Sexuality or LGBT Studies and seen as contributing examples rather than theories. This disciplinary divide tends to reinforce the existing marginalization of work on the Asias, Latin America, and Africa in Queer Studies, given that much scholarship on sexuality in these areas is conducted within the social sciences, especially cultural a­ nthropology. As a result, the existing sense that area studies scholarship, as well as scholarship conducted in non-European (and even non-English) languages is “­specialized” and generative of examples rather than theories or epistemologies is compounded by the tendency to dismiss empirical methods as disciplinary, naïve, and uncritical.18 Could centering midcentury deviance studies indirectly spur a methodological opening of queer theory to scholarship on other geographical areas? Queer of color critique was a theoretically diverse enterprise from the start. Among other intellectual traditions, Muñoz drew from utopian Marxism and Sedgwickian reparative reading, Roderick Ferguson from Marxism and the critique of sociology, and Chandan Reddy from legal studies and the critique of liberalism.19 Despite its intellectual heterogeneity, queer of color critique was drawn together at its inception by its explicit claiming of women of color feminism as its theoretical genealogy. Women of color feminism was the inspiration for two of queer of color critique’s lasting interventions: intersectionality and, relatedly, the expansion of “queer” to include heterosexual but nonheteronormative racial formations. “Intersectionality,” first theorized by legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw, but present in prior US women of color thought, is an analytic that parses concatenated vectors of social power – including race, class, and gender – by centering figures, such as black women, who tend to fall through the cracks when a single mode of power is under ­analysis.20 Queer of color analysis contributes to this project by proposing, as Ferguson writes of Reddy’s work, “that racist practice articulates itself

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generally as gender and sexual regulation, and that gender and sexual differences variegate racial formations” and by centering racial formations for queer theorization.21 Hence, queer of color critique, along with work on queer diasporas, also necessarily articulates a critique of the unmarked white (and often, gay cisgender male) basis of certain queer theorizations. This critique has been deepened by queer native and disability scholarship, which reveals and seeks alternatives to the unacknowledged role of settler colonial and ableist logics, respectively, within queer theory. Queer of color critique’s second major intervention is the move to include h ­ eterosexual, but nonheteronormative racial formations within the purview of queer theorization. Queer of color critics argue that, because racialized cultures have been constituted as sexually aberrant and materially excluded from the achievements that define heteronormativity – including property ­ownership, citizenship, and/or self-sufficient nuclear family formations – racial formations are nonheteronormative and should occupy the center of intersectional queer theorizing. Queer of color critique’s claiming of women of color feminism as its genealogy has lastingly transformed queer theorization. However, women of color feminism is not a unified or unproblematic genealogy for queer theory. As Sharon Holland has noted, the internal complexity and dissonance of black feminism – for instance, Audre Lorde’s suspicion of BDSM and critique of pornography – was not engaged by early queer of color critique, though new work by scholars like Ariane Cruz is beginning to change this.22 Although the tensions between a version of feminism that prioritizes the issue of sexual violence against women and a version of queer theory that champions marginalized sexual practices and subjectivities have been well-explored, potential sites of discord between women of color feminism and its (largely celebratory) queer of color uptake have not received the same attention. One underexplored dissonance, for instance, is the fact that some versions of women of color feminism rely on a standpoint epistemology that prioritizes the marginalized knowledges of women of color, whereas the anti-identitarian, psychoanalytic, Foucauldian, and poststructuralist genealogies of queer theory all tend to cast doubt on the foundation of epistemic authority on identity.23 Queer of color critique is an entry point into an important question: What would vocabularies, epistemologies, and genealogies of queer theory look like that emerged from racialized cultures or marginalized geographic locations? E. Patrick Johnson’s use of the African American vernacular “quare,” Kale Fajardo’s Filipinization of “kweer,” and the Queer/Cuir/Cuyr

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Americas Working Group’s hemispheric exchanges all work to ­provincialize “queer” and to reground queer epistemologies in ­marginalized locations.24 Such a project is inspired by another ­intellectual genealogy – one which focuses on the hierarchies of power and scale that inform translation within the academy, provincializes particulars that accede to the status of universals (“queer” itself might be one such ­universal), and analyzes ­translocalizations of “global” vocabularies. This multisited intellectual genealogy has roots in postcolonial and area studies, comparative literature, and transnational and diasporic modes of analysis. Another approach is to mine “queer” itself for the racial and geopolitical histories it c­ onceals. Gloria Anzaldúa’s “La Prieta” (1986) contains the first printed use of “queer” as a theoretical term evoking a sense of racialized/sexual Latina borderlands abjection.25 Nevertheless, Anzaldúa is not regularly recognized as a founder of queer theory. Finally, as with queer of color critique’s claiming of women of color feminism, another strategy is to hail, as queer theorists, authors who were not intentionally writing as part of a queer theoretical tradition. As we have seen, Foucault, Butler, and Sedgwick all wrote their major queer theoretical texts before the inception of queer theory. These works were intended to contribute to other scholarly debates rather than to found a field, and their interventions were not, moreover, anchored by the term “queer.” Genealogy is always disparate; it indexes the work of chance as well as relations of power. What makes something a foundational queer text is the fact that it is taken up as such and used to found bodies of queer scholarship. Such a promiscuous understanding of genealogy might serve as an impetus to scholars seeking queer epistemologies in authors and geopolitical locations that have not, thus far, been central to queer theorization. One stunningly successful example of a rerooting of queer theory in an alternate genealogy is recent queer and trans scholarship under the sign of what could be termed black antihumanism.26 This emergent body of scholarship is more likely to take up Frantz Fanon, Hortense Spillers, or Sylvia Wynter as its foundational theorists than Sedgwick, Butler, or Foucault.27 Moreover, it begins from a different ontological ­premise than queer of color critique. Black antihumanists center their queer and trans readings less on intersectional analysis than on the fungibility, ­dehumanization, and ungendering of the black body under chattel slavery and, more broadly, within the Western metaphysical and medico-­scientific tradition. Without a doubt, this body of work has successfully animated an alternative genealogy and a new theoretical lexicon for black queer and trans studies. In a striking departure from

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most queer theorization to date, for instance, “normative” and “nonnormative” are not ­necessarily anchoring concepts. For black antihumanists, the position of the slave is not that of a human bearing a nonnormative racialized sexuality or living in nonheteronormative social formations. Instead, the position of the slave is that of the nonhuman thing, the exchangeable commodity, and the border between the human and its animal others. As a result, the slave cannot be disciplined by normalizing power or counted among the statistical gradations of normative and nonnormative. Here, too, however, there are important disagreements – between Afro-pessimists who seek no ­horizon of future becoming and scholars who forecast the ­elaboration of new genres of the human; between thinkers who map the  relation between blackness and other modes of racial formation and those for whom blackness is a unique and incomparable ontology of race; and between theorists who root a new genealogy of queer and trans becoming in blackness and those for whom blackness is incommensurate with queer and transgender as versions, however nonnormative, of the human. These important debates are just beginning to get underway.

Conclusion A genealogical approach demonstrates that queer theory has always been a promiscuous borrowing, reworking, and interested claiming of disparate theoretical traditions. As such, scholars might rework queer theory by rerooting it in its own forgotten genealogies as well as in alternate theoretical traditions. To say this is not, however, to claim that queer theory is infinitely mobile and open to redefinition. I have argued elsewhere that queer theory bears the trace of its discursive travels and of the intellectual genealogies that have most repetitively defined it.28 These genealogies cannot simply be cast off, for they have come to shape some of the key sensibilities, methodological moves, and scholarly orientations of queer theory. If Queer Studies is to become a genuinely interdisciplinary field, it is critical to multiply its theoretical genealogies. However, this process of multiplication will inevitably give rise to both dissonances and resonances with the habits of thought and feeling that had previously shaped the field. Investigating the source of these dissonances and amplifying the resonances should be part of the work of claiming alternate theoretical genealogies for queer scholarship.

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Notes Michel Foucault, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” in The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon, 1984), 82. 2 Michael Warner, Introduction to Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), xxvi. 3 Robyn Wiegman, Object Lessons (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), 1n. 4 David L. Eng, J. [Jack] Halberstam, and José Esteban Muñoz, “Introduction: What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now?” Social Text 23, nos. 3–4 (2005): 10. 5 Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990). 6 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990). 7 Sedgwick, Epistemology, 14. 8 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 136. 9 Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, vol. 1, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage Books, 1990). 10 Robyn Wiegman and Elizabeth A. Wilson, “Introduction: Antinormativity’s Queer Conventions,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 26, no. 1 (2015): 1–25. 11 Samuel A. Chambers, “On Norms and Opposition,” No Foundations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Law and Justice 14 (2017): 1–26. 12 Achille Mbembe, “Necropolitics,” trans. Libby Meintjes, Public Culture 15, no. 1 (2003): 11–40; Jin Haritaworn, Adi Kuntsman, and Silvia Posocco, eds., Queer Necropolitics (New York: Routledge, 2014); Jasbir Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007). 13 Judith Butler, “Melancholy Gender/Refused Identification,” in The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997), 132–50; José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999). 14 Leo Bersani, “Is the Rectum a Grave?” October 43 (1987): 197–222; Lee Edelman, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004). 15 See Darieck Scott, Extravagant Abjection: Blackness, Power, and Sexuality in the African American Literary Imagination (New York: New York University Press, 2010) and Nguyen Tan Hoang, A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), respectively. 16 Heather Love, “Doing Being Deviant: Deviance Studies, Description, and the Queer Ordinary,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 26, no. 1 (2015): 74–95. 1

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Esther Newton, Mother Camp: Female Impersonators in America (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1979); Gayle S. Rubin, “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality,” in Deviations: A Gayle Rubin Reader (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011), 137–81. 18 Anjali Arondekar and Geeta Patel, “Area Impossible: Notes toward an Introduction,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 22, no. 2 (2016): 151–71. 19 José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York: New York University Press, 2009); Roderick A. Ferguson, Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004); and Chandan Reddy, Freedom with Violence: Race, Sexuality, and the U.S. State (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011). 20 Kimberle Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color,” Stanford Law Review 43, no. 6 (1991): 1241–99. 21 Ferguson, Aberrations in Black, 3. 22 Sharon Patricia Holland, The Erotic Life of Racism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), 65–93; Ariane Cruz, The Color of Kink: Black Women, BDSM, and Pornography (New York: New York University Press, 2016). 23 Lynne Huffer, Are the Lips a Grave?: A Queer Feminist on the Ethics of Sex (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013). 24 E. Patrick Johnson, “‘Quare’ Studies, or (Almost) Everything I Know about Queer Studies I Learned from My Grandmother,” in Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology, ed. E. Patrick Johnson and Mae G. Henderson (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), 124–57; Kale Fajardo, “Kweer Filipino Seamen Rocking the Boat: Racialized and Classed Homoerotics in Paul Santa Ana and Allen Dizon’s film ‘Marino’ (2009)” lecture, The Pratt Institute, New York City, February 27, 2018; María Amelia Viteri, “Intensiones: Tensions in Queer Agency and Activism in Latino América,” Feminist Studies 43, no. 2 (2017): 405–17. 25 Gloria Anzaldúa, “La Prieta,” in This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, ed. Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, 4th ed. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2015), 198–209. 26 See Treva Ellison et al., eds. “The Issue of Blackness,” special issue, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 4, no. 2 (2017): 159–321, and Amber Jamilla Musser, Sensual Excess: Queer Femininity and Brown Jouissance (New York: New York University Press, 2018). 27 Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. Richard Philcox (New York: Grove Press, 2008); Hortense J. Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An  American Grammar Book,” Diacritics 17, no. 2 (1987): 64–81; Sylvia Wynter, “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, after Man, Its Overrepresentation—An Argument,” CR: The New Centennial Review 3, no. 3 (2003): 257–337. 28 Kadji Amin, “Haunted by the 1990s: Queer Theory’s Affective Histories,” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 44, nos. 3–4 (2016): 173–89. 17

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Further Reading Cohen, Cathy J. “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 3, no. 4 (1997): 437–65. Epps, Brad. “Retos y riesgos, pautas y promesas de la teoría queer.” Debate Feminista 18, no. 36 (2007): 219–72. Foucault, Michel. Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–78. Edited by François Ewald, Alessandro Fontana, and Michel Senellart. Translated by Graham Burchell. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Jagose, Annamarie. “The Trouble with Antinormativity.” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 26, no. 1 (2015): 26–47. Manalansan, Martin F., IV. Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003. Rubin, Gayle. “Geologies of Queer Studies: It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again.” In Deviations: A Gayle Rubin Reader, 347–56. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011. Salamon, Gayle. Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. Snorton, C. Riley. Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017. Stoler, Ann Laura. Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995. Warren, Calvin. “Calling into Being: Tranifestation, Black Trans, and the Problem of Ontology.” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 4, no. 2 (2017): 266–74.

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chapter 2

Queer Writing, Queer Politics Working across Difference Keguro Macharia

For close to a decade, Kenya’s sexual and gender minority activists and sex workers have organized a public march on World AIDS Day, December 1, using the occasion to highlight antiqueer and anti-sex worker ­d iscrimination.1 Unlike in the United States, Kenya’s sexual and gender minorities do not commemorate the Stonewall uprising, the occasion celebrated by Pride marches across the United States.2 Instead, World AIDS Day has become the occasion to affirm gender and ­sexual minority lives and practices. Given that Kenya’s penal code still ­criminalizes “­u nnatural acts” and sex work, and that difference from gender norms is highly policed, World AIDS Day is an occasion when gender and sexual minorities in Kenya can assemble in public without facing harassment from police and the public. Beyond ­protesting ongoing discrimination, participants in the march carry banners that read “Lesbian Rights are Human Rights,” “Sex Worker Rights are Human Rights,” and “Trans* Rights are Human Rights.” These banners c­ ontest legal and conceptual paradigms that confer social and political ­legibility to those who identify as hetero-reproductive men and women.3 Moreover, these banners are contesting the very nature of the human: instead of asking for tolerance, they are challenging how personhood is understood and practiced.4 I open with this distinction between Pride celebrations and World AIDS Day to mark two trajectories for organizing and cultural productions of sexual and gender minorities. One increasingly dominant trajectory has focused on visibility and legislative gains, taking the central problem of modern organizing to be recognition by the state.5 The key words for this trajectory have been “tolerance” and “acceptance,” and its central achievement has been legalizing gay marriage. The second trajectory has insisted that assimilation into the mainstream retains gendered, sexed, sexualized, and embodied hierarchies and, instead, demands a complete transformation of social and political systems.6 Within this 30

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organizing, the divide between the two trajectories was marked by the (first) AIDS crisis, when the dreams of assimilation marked by increasing legislative gains were met by state negligence. Focusing on the United States, sociologist Deborah Gould writes that the “government of a wealthy, ostensibly ­democratic country” was “unmoved by the deaths of hundreds, thousands, and finally hundreds of thousands of its own inhabitants, largely because the overwhelming majority of them were gay and bisexual men, and the others were seen as similarly expendable: drugs users as well as poor men and women, a disproportionate number of whom were black and Latino/a.” The US government, she continues, demonstrated “aggressive i­ndifference” and “extreme negligence.”7 Contemporary queer politics and cultural production as a response to state indifference and neglect emerged during this period. Even though the term “queer” has long been used to describe deviations from societal norms, especially deviations in gender, sex, sexuality, and personhood, it assumed its contemporary meaning as a term of political organizing and cultural production during the (first) AIDS crisis in the United States.8 Following historian and activist Martin Duberman and author and activist Sarah Schulman, I focus on 1981–1995 as the period of the (first) AIDS crisis, broadly, from when an unidentified condition affected and started killing large numbers of gay and bisexual men, to when an effective treatment regimen was identified in 1996.9 One further note before I proceed: AIDS was devastating. Samuel Delany wrote, “as I finish the proof corrections for the Grafton edition of [the novel] Flight from Nevèrÿon (July 1988), there have been over seventyfive thousand cases of AIDS reported in the United States, about half of whom are dead. In Spring of ’84 I could write that personally I knew no one with the disease. Today it is the single largest slayer among my friends and acquaintances.”10 The deaths of multitudes of cultural producers and activists, often compounded by the destruction of their work by grieving families and friends – sometimes from homophobia and sometimes from ignorance – made already vulnerable lives and products even more ­vulnerable and ephemeral. In a speech in 1992, poet, novelist, and scholar Melvin Dixon warned, “we are facing the loss of our entire generation. Lesbians lost to various cancers, gay men lost to AIDS.”11 Accompanying these deaths, Dixon noted, was “the chilling threat of erasure.”12 Without an active community to nurture small, independent presses and to engage in the acts of reviewing, buying, citing, teaching, and circulating queer works, those works risked going out of print and being ­forgotten. Addressing the effects of AIDS not only on individuals but also on a generation of writers

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and readers, Dixon offered a grim vision of queer culture’s present and future, one marked by fractured and absent relations, socialities, memory, and history. This chapter has a dual purpose: to foreground the innovative and ­radical forms of world imagining and world making by women of color feminists and black gays and lesbians that circulated during this period and to mark the difference that AIDS made in shaping queer cultural ­production and activism. The form of this chapter follows what might be the most visible aesthetic symbol from the AIDS crisis: the quilt.13 Rather than attempt to map a linear narrative with clear cause and effect, I juxtapose multiple scenes from this period, deliberately inverting how queer history is typically narrated. Dominant queer scholarship often tracks ­histories of white subjects, most often men, and women of color and black gays and lesbians appear much later in these narratives, often as supplements and not core members. By foregrounding women of color and black gays and lesbians as key players in this chapter, I show how women of color and black lesbian and gay writers and activists were at the forefront of forging a practice of working across difference that became invaluable in the context of AIDS and that shaped queer organizing in this period. Although it has been rendered invisible in accounts of politics and culture, care work was central to their practices of working across difference, and I conclude this chapter by gesturing toward that care work.

Feminist Difference Three key feminist works ushered in the 1980s: This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa (1981); All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies (1982), edited by Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith; and Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984), a collection of Audre Lorde’s essays. Within popular accounts, these works are framed as responses by women of color to the white, middle-class bias of second-wave feminism. Yet, positioning these works primarily as responses effaces their innovative practices of world imagining and world making, practices that anticipated and were part of emerging queer activism. Each of these texts works across difference, a practice I elaborate on when I focus on Audre Lorde in this essay. For instance, This Bridge and Some of Us Are Brave use the anthology form, highlighting multiple voices from different women and combining disparate genres: the academic essay, the interview, visual images,

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autobiographical reflections, poetry, and the manifesto. The Combahee River Collective’s “A Black Feminist Statement” appears in both works, creating a shared language that bridges the different ambitions of each work. Some of Us Are Brave positions itself as a founding text in black women’s studies, and This Bridge positions itself as a work about and for US third world women. However, in their introduction, Hull and Smith write, “originally, we had thought to make this book, not ‘Black Women’s Studies,’ but ‘Third World Women’s Studies.’ It became apparent almost immediately that we were not equipped to do so.”14 This Bridge, with its focus on US third-world women, shares the same ambitions as Some of Us Are Brave. In the preface to This Bridge, Moraga describes the conditions that inspired and demanded the book: “What was once a cutting edge, ­growing dull in the too easy solutions to our problems of hunger of soul and ­stomach.”15 Moraga expresses the widespread disillusionment experienced by women of color as they tried to engage with a range of movements, i­ncluding male-dominated leftists, patriarchal antiracist movements (Black  Power, for instance) and mainstream feminist ­movements. Reflecting on This Bridge in 1983, Moraga notes that the book departed from previous works by women of color that “focused almost exclusively on relationships between the sexes.” In contrast, This Bridge “concentrated on relationships between women.”16 She notes, “we are not so much a ‘natural’ affinity group, as women who have come together out of political necessity,” adding that “the need for a broad-based US women of color movement capable of spanning borders of nation and ethnicity has never been so strong.”17 Moraga’s notion of coming “together out of political necessity” (rather than identification per se) would characterize the queer tactics of organizing in response to AIDS. In a recent assessment of This Bridge, Sandra Soto describes how the ­collection “prioritized cross-racial solidarity among women of color by bringing together under one cover the writings of Latinas, Indigenous women, Black women, Asian American women, and mixed-race women, many of them lesbians.”18 It is not simply that the collection assembled these different women, Soto argues, but that it gathered them under the ­designation “‘U.S. Third World Feminism’: that jarring oxymoron ­scrambles inside and outside by unstitching the cartographic seams that violently uphold the fantasy of U.S. exceptionalism.”19 As Soto points out, “U.S. Third World Feminism” has not had the same legibility and ­longevity as “women of color feminism” as a term of organizing and cultural production.20 Indeed, Moraga acknowledges the difficulty of that designation:

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keguro macharia The dream of a unified Third World feminist movement in this country as we conceived of it when we first embarked on the project of this book, seemed more possible somehow, because as of yet, less tried. It was still waiting in the ranks begging to take form and hold. In the last three years [since 1980] I have learned that Third World feminism does not provide the kind of easy political framework that women of color are running to in droves. … The idea of Third World feminism has proved to be much easier between the covers of a book than between real live women. There are many issues that divide us; and, recognizing that fact can make that dream at times seem quite remote.21

Yet, Moraga concludes on a hopeful note: “as This Bridge Called My Back is not written in stone, neither is our political vision. It is subject to change.”22 If third-world feminism did not provide an easy or convenient way to forge relations across women of color in the United States, it expressed, rhetorically, affiliations within and beyond the United States. Moraga’s coeditor, Gloria Anzaldúa wrote, “we have come to realize that we are not alone in our struggles nor separate nor autonomous but that we—white black straight queer female male—are connected and interdependent. We are each accountable for what is happening down the street, south of the border or across the sea.”23 Anzaldúa visually enacts that connectedness and interdependence by not dividing “white black straight queer female male” with any punctuation. That interdependence was crucial because thirdworld feminism named those trying to survive US imperialism. Two key concerns emerge from This Bridge: interdependence was necessary if those who lived as “third world” within and beyond US borders were to survive and, second, that interdependence required ­working across difference. The leading theorist and practitioner of working across difference is Audre Lorde, especially in Sister Outsider. As with Some of Us Are Brave and This Bridge Called My Back, Sister Outsider combines multiple genres, which is a strategy that formally enacts working across difference: it contains fifteen essays, some drawn from diary entries, others transcripts from talks delivered at academic conferences, and still others that had appeared in academic journals. “An Open Letter to Mary Daly” and “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” appeared in This Bridge Called My Back. Across these various communities, which include literary scholars, women historians, and radical women of color, Lorde poses the problem of difference. Lorde acknowledges that difference is “threatening,” and, in an interview with Adrienne Rich, asks, “how do you reach down into threatening difference without being killed or killing?”24 Lorde works against

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tendencies to ignore difference in the name of political expediency, to dismiss ­difference in the service of constructing academic theory, and to advocate tolerating difference in the name of community b­ uilding. She writes, for instance, “it is a particular academic arrogance to assume any discussion of feminist theory without examining our many ­differences, and without a significant input from poor women, Black and Third world women, and lesbians.”25 Nor is it enough to acknowledge or to celebrate difference. Lorde insists that differences have to be named and examined. She writes, “certainly, there are very real differences between us of race, age, and sex. But it is not those differences between us that are separating us. It is rather our refusal to recognize those differences, and to examine the distortions which result from our misnaming them and their effects upon human behavior and expectation.”26 Naming and examining differences and distortions are crucial to the shared work of survival. Left unacknowledged, unnamed, and unexamined, difference could be weaponized, destroying political affinities and movements. Lorde offers several examples of such destruction: white professional women against domestic workers, many of whom were women of color; black US ­soldiers against the people of Grenada; black male activists and intellectuals against black feminists; black heterosexual women against black lesbians; and white lesbians against black lesbians.27 Working against weaponized difference, Lorde instead frames difference as a creative source of ongoing energy. Difference is “a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic.”28 For Lorde, effective collective action depends on “the interdependence of mutual (nondominant) differences.”29 Interdependence sustains community, and Lorde writes, “Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression. But community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist.”30 Shared oppression and vulnerability are not enough to sustain political and social movements. Interdependence, affinity, and community emerged from working across, and not ignoring, difference. By mapping the relations between interdependence and (­nondominant) differences, Moraga, Anzaldúa, and Lorde provided rich conceptual tools for the emergence of queer organizing and cultural production. This early work was deliberately international from the start: US third-world feminism critiqued US imperialism as it manifested itself domestically and internationally, seeking common cause with other freedom-seeking movements willing to work across (nondominant) differences. Within this

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particular trajectory of queer organizing and cultural production anchored in working across (nondominant) difference, political affinities with the wretched of Earth were taken as a foundational element. Although their work is too often left out of histories of early queer organizing, black and lesbian women of color were at the heart of imagining this trajectory. Tongues Untied In the late 1970s and early 1980s, black gay culture assumed new forms, inspired by black feminist and women of color organizing and collectives.31 Poet Adrian Stanford published Black and Queer (1977) and Sidney Brinkley published the first issue of Blacklight (1979), the first periodical dedicated to black gay and lesbian lives and concerns in Washington, DC.32 In 1978, a coalition that included Billy Jones, Gil Gerald, Darlene Garner, and Renee McCoy created the National Coalition for Black Gays (NCBG)33; in 1979, NCBG helped to organize the first National Conference of Third World Lesbians and Gays, where Lorde was the keynote speaker, and organizations in attendance included “the Combahee River Collective, a black feminist group from Boston; Salsa Soul Sisters from New York City; the Bay Area Gay Alliance of Latin Americans; and Lambda of Mexico City, which includes members of the Mexican Trotskyist party, the PRT”34; in 1980, Fred Carl, Anthony Q. Crusor, and Isaac Jackson formed the Blackheart Collective, which edited a short-lived journal; in 1982, Essex Hemphill and Larry Duckett founded Cinqué, a group that performed choral poetry35; in 1986, Joseph Beam edited and published In the Life, the first anthology of black gay men’s writing; in 1986, the Other Countries Collective, dedicated to workshopping and publishing work by black gay men, was created in New York, and in 1988, it published its first anthology, Other Countries: Black Gay Voices; and in 1986, poet Essex Hemphill published Conditions, his first full-length collection of poetry. I offer this incomplete list of organizations, collectives, events, and publications to indicate the rich terrain from which Marlon Riggs’s groundbreaking film Tongues Untied (1989) emerged and to which it contributed. It was also within these networks that relations of care and obligation circulated. Tongues Untied opens with a repeated invocation – “brother to brother, brother to brother” – and works through the politics and aesthetics of difference as it moves through collective and individual stories of black gay life.36 Reflecting on the film, Riggs notes that it was “motivated by a singular imperative: to shatter America’s brutalizing silence around matters

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of sexual and racial difference.”37 Much like This Bridge Called My Back, Tongues Untied foregrounds the role of difference. In one brief scene, two participants note that different black gay geographies organize and practice collectivity in different ways. Some spaces have houses led by mothers and organize balls, whereas others do not.38 The documentary moves between individual and collective stories, using autobiography, individual and group poetry, and dance to map black gay life and death. Toward the end of the documentary, a collage of obituaries is featured, showing the ongoing devastation of the AIDS crisis. By 1996, the documentary’s most famous participants, Marlon Riggs and Essex Hemphill, had died from AIDS-related complications. From one perspective, Tongues Untied is a love letter that documents forms of black gay world imagining and world making amid devastation. About forty minutes into the fifty-five-minute documentary, the focus changes from demonstrating how black gay individuals build individual and community resources to showing black gay engagement with other communities. Footage shows a public march, though the date and exact location of the march are not specified. Three banners are shown. The first reads, “Black Men Loving Black Men is a Revolutionary Act,” a quotation taken from an essay by Beam. The second banner names the organization Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD), an organization founded in 1986 by pentecostal minister Rev. Charles Angel. And the third banner reads “Other Countries,” the literary collective. The juxtaposition of these three banners within the same public space indicates the connections among the cultural, the social, and the political. The public march and the forms of cultural production that preceded and followed it were not simply assertions of pride or identity. Instead of simply occupying public space, these artists and activists were generating geographies they could inhabit.39 The AIDS crisis is not absent from Tongues Untied: in addition to a collage of obituaries, Riggs, looking directly into the camera, states that he has a “time bomb” in his blood. However, this time bomb is juxtaposed against multiple other vulnerabilities in the documentary, including antiblack racism, black nationalist homophobia, religious homophobia, antiblackness within white gay communities, and economic precarity. As Hemphill writes: Some of the T cells I am without are not here through my own fault. I didn’t lose all of them foolishly, and I didn’t lose all of them erotically. Some of the missing T cells were lost to racism, a well-known transmittable disease. Some were lost to poverty because there was no money to

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keguro macharia do something about the plumbing before the pipes burst and the room flooded. Homophobia killed quite a few, but so did my rage and my pointed furies, so did the wars at home and the wars within, so did the drugs I took to remain calm, cool, collected.40

If, as I have suggested, Tongues Untied was a love letter, it was a love ­letter written within and to an uncertain future, a letter that imagined the forms of collectivity it documented might survive in some form, but also, a letter written in the midst of an epidemic that was ravaging already vulnerable populations. Even though Moraga and Anzaldúa’s phrase “U.S. Third World Feminism” does not appear in Tongues Untied, and, indeed, women of color and lesbians are not highlighted in the documentary, the forms of world making and world imagining in Tongues Untied, attentive to ­vulnerability and difference, are clearly inspired by and indebted to previous cultural and intellectual production by lesbians and women of color. Queers Read This According to historian Martin Duberman, by the end of the 1970s, the radical ambitions of gay liberation in the United States had been muted, and “most gay people remained closeted and apolitical.”41 As Duberman notes, in the early seventies, prominent gay movements sought to ally themselves with antiracist and anticapitalist groups, including the Black Panthers and the Puerto Rican Young Lords.42 Yet, as with the mainstream feminist movement, the most prominent gay organizations and social venues remained overwhelmingly white and indifferent to critiques of their racist biases. Rather crudely, although the Stonewall rebellion of 1969 had been started by drag queens and trans* individuals, many of whom were people of color, organizing after Stonewall bifurcated along class, gender, and racial lines. Let me be careful here. It is not that women of color and black gays and lesbians were not involved in ongoing organizing. Instead, their work was obscured by “racism and elitism within the movement.”43 The (first) AIDS crisis reshaped existing organizing. In June 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report that described five cases of a “rare lung infection, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), in five young, previously healthy, gay men in Los Angeles.”44 The men had additional ­conditions that ­indicated their immune systems were not working. This story was c­ overed by the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, and the San  Francisco

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Chronicle, and soon after, doctors from across the United States reported similar cases to the CDC. By the end of 1981, there had been a total of 270 reported cases of severe immune deficiency among gay men, and 121 of those affected had died. In May 1982, an article in the New York Times referred to the condition as “gay-related immunodeficiency” (GRID). Even though that name was never official and was used only for a few months, a lasting association had been established between ­gayness and disease, as seen in two other designations that circulated: “gay ­cancer” and  “gay plague.” The New York Times article forged a connection between GRID and lifestyle choices. It noted, for instance, that “the median ­number of lifetime male sexual partners for affected homosexual men was 1,160, compared to 524 for male homosexual men who did not have the syndrome” and that there was “more use of sexual stimulants and illicit drugs among the GRID patients.”45 By the time the CDC named the condition acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in September 1982, a firm association had been established between something known vaguely as “the homosexual lifestyle,” a blend of promiscuity and illicit drugs, and AIDS. In 1986, Cindy Patton wrote that “mainstream press reports sounded as if AIDS was something you got for being gay.”46 This association between the homosexual lifestyle and AIDS directly shaped responses to the epidemic, especially from conservative politicians and commentators. Conservative US senator Jesse Helms said, “the l­ogical outcome of testing is a quarantine of those infected.”47 Conservative ­columnist William F. Buckley wrote, “everyone detected with AIDS should be tattooed in the upper fore-arm to protect common needle users, and on the buttocks to prevent the victimization of other ­homosexuals.”48 Conservative televangelist Jerry Falwell said, “AIDS is God’s ­judgement of a society that does not live by His rules.”49 In December 1983, a c­ ongressional committee released The Federal Response to AIDS, a report that noted the failure of the US government to invest “sufficient funding in AIDS ­surveillance and research.”50 It was not until September 1985, four years after the epidemic had started, that US President Ronald Reagan mentioned AIDS publicly. Feminist, cultural theorist Paula Treichler writes, “it was widely believed in the gay community that the connection of AIDS to homosexuality delayed and problematized virtually every aspect of the country’s responses to the crisis. That the response was delayed and problematic is the conclusion of various investigators.”51 There was, Sarah Schulman writes, “mass indifference” from “­government, families, and society.”52

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It would be nice – even empowering – to claim that faced with “mass indifference” and active hostility from “government, families, and society,” differences of gender, race, sexuality, sex, and class disappeared, and queer organizing named a postdifference way of interacting and being. And, in fact, this is the position adopted by the Queers Read This pamphlet, distributed during a 1990 Pride Parade: “Queer, unlike GAY, doesn’t mean MALE. And when spoken to other gays and lesbians, it’s a way of ­suggesting we close ranks and forget (temporarily) our individual differences because we face a more insidious common enemy.”53 Against the richness with which Lorde imbued the term “difference,” the pamphlet narrows the idea of difference: “we are most hated as queers for our sexualness, that is, our physical contact with the same sex. … Our difference, our otherness, our uniqueness can either paralyze us or politicize us.”54 By the end of 1989, the number of reported AIDS cases in the United States had reached 100,000.55 “For the last decade,” the pamphlet reads, “they [the government, straight people] let us die in droves.”56 Queers Read This expressed the anger and frustration experienced by many who watched lovers, friends, and acquaintances suffer and die while an indifferent and hostile government did little. I address the pamphlet here because it articulates a clear break from a previous gay and lesbian strategy based on legislative gains and acceptance by a mainstream. Distributed almost ten years into the AIDS crisis, the pamphlet named “straight people” as the “enemy,” arguing that alongside homophobia, heteronormativity endangered queer lives, as seen most dramatically by the many losses to AIDS.57 This queer politics was exciting, as political scientist Cathy Cohen notes: “For some of us … a challenge to traditional gay and lesbian politics was offered by the idea of queer politics. Here we had a potential movement of young antiassimilationist activists committed to challenging the very way people understand and respond to sexuality.”58 Yet, Cohen writes, “instead of destabilizing the assumed categories and binaries of sexual identity, queer politics has served to reinforce simple dichotomies between heterosexual and everything ‘queer.’ An understanding of the ways in which power informs and constitutes privileged and marginalized subjects on both sides of this dichotomy has been left unexamined.”59 Contemporary queer politics, argued Cohen, had “deviated significantly” from the “radical intersectional left analysis” of “lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgendered people of color during the 1970s and 1980s.”60 Although distancing itself from mainstream gay and lesbian politics, which focused on assimilation, the queer politics

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of the early 1990s had also distanced itself from the radical internationalism advocated by women of color feminism. Simultaneously, the theoretical and political utility of concepts such as US third-world feminism and difference had become illegible within queer cultural production and activism.

Care Work Sarah Schulman recalls massaging a friend’s feet in the hospital, and the friend explaining to his mother, “‘that’s what we do for the dying.’”61 She writes, “as each person died they would pass on their IV stands, shower chairs, bedpans so that others would not have to buy them new again each time.”62 But she notes that it is difficult to write about AIDS and care, and loss, especially because most of the stories from the first AIDS crisis are stories of loss, filled with “immeasurable” pain: “The impact of these losses requires a consciousness beyond most human ability. We grow weary, numb, alienated, and then begin to forget, to put it all away, just to be able to move on.”63 In these too-brief moments, Schulman describes the forms of interdependence and care work that emerged during the AIDS crisis. Care work is exhausting and unsexy: cooking and cleaning, visiting hospitals, and planning funerals. Yet, it is this very work of radical interdependence among vulnerable and minoritized groups that multiplies opportunities for survival. Saidiya Hartman has recently said, “care is the antidote to violence,” and this was an ethic central to queer activism and cultural production.64 Care work has not been a key term for queer studies, but it is impossible to discuss the period of the first AIDS crisis without mentioning the often invisible labor of care. The cancer and AIDS Dixon mentions meant that already vulnerable queer communities had to engage in care work. This care work had gendered implications, as an anonymous woman mentioned to Delany: “‘what really angers me about the AIDS business is that women, we, find ourselves again in the position of helping men. Out of the goodness of our hearts. … Where were they when we were fighting the health-care system because of what it routinely did to women? Nowhere, that’s where. … It pisses me off to find myself in the Helpmeet Business again.’”65 Care work – the Helpmeet Business – rarely falls into the categories of political organizing or cultural production. Although groups such as the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) founded in 1982 and AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) founded in

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1987 foregrounded care work as part of their missions, most care work, especially by women, is invisible and unrecognized.66 This care work also had implications for cultural production and political activism. While it is impossible to be definitive about the forms of cultural production and political activism that would have been possible had the AIDS crisis not happened, it is worth speculating, briefly, about the effects of care work and mourning during this period. Certainly, women engaged in “the Helpmeet Business” were less visible during and after this period. Care work is physically and emotionally exhausting. And the effects of care work linger. I suspect that mourning, melancholia, and trauma became key terms in queer studies because that work was written by those deeply affected by the AIDS crisis.67 Care work was an essential element of queer survival and queer world making that deserves more attention. More than twenty years after Samuel Delany wrote that AIDS was “the single largest slayer among my friends and acquaintances,” he published Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders, a novel that imagines a world where care was the central response to the AIDS crisis, especially care toward those populations deemed most disposable, the poor and black. The novel is set in an imagined community, the Dump, established by an eccentric billionaire to provide sanctuary to the most vulnerable. As the character nicknamed Shit explains, Mr. Kyle, the Dump’s benefactor, “got a’ office in Hemmings, where they interview you and everything. You just gotta be gay and homeless and not smoke. And black, pretty much mostly. … If you’re some serious alcoholic or drug addict, you gotta go into rehab for three months. They pay for that, too.”68 Those living in the Dump are required to have regular HIV tests and to share their test results with their sex partners. Given such care, the poor, the homeless, the drug addicts and alcoholics, those most vulnerable to AIDS, survive the crisis, with a character like Shit living well into his eighties. Against the truncated lives of the (first) AIDS crisis, Through the Valley plots rich models of interdependence, filled with sharing food and housing and erotic experiences, a world where, following Lorde, difference is experienced creatively, enabling mutual survival and, beyond survival, pleasure. Although Through the Valley reaches back to the 1980s to imagine a world that extends beyond that period, it also speaks to the multiple global AIDS crises represented by World AIDS Day, crises across different geohistories, crises that still require radical acts of world making, world imagining, and care to make queer lives more possible and livable.

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Notes I use the awkward “sexual and gender minority activists” as opposed to the more familiar LGBTIQ to leave open possibilities for political and social affiliation and self-identification that may not map neatly, if at all, to LGBTIQ. 2 World AIDS Day was conceived in 1987 by staff from the World Health Organization (WHO) and first observed in 1988. See Olivia B. Waxman, “‘We Need A Day.’ Meet the Man Who Helped Create World AIDS Day,” Time, November 30, 2017, http://time.com/5042176/world-aids-day-2017/. 3 For an argument specific to Kenya about how personhood is wedded to hetero-reproductive gender and sexuality, see Keguro Macharia, “Queer ­ Kenya in Law and Policy,” in Queer African Reader, ed. Sokari Ekine and Hakima Abbas (Nairobi: Pambazuka Press, 2013), 273–89. 4 Samuel Moyn argues that many groups in the global south use human rights instruments to contest state repression. See The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012). 5 For a brief history of legislative gains prior to the decriminalization of ­sodomy in the United States, see Patricia A. Cain, “Litigating for Lesbian and Gay Rights: A Legal History,” Virginia Law Review 79, no. 7 (1993): 1551–641. 6 See Gayle Rubin’s invaluable mapping of the sex hierarchy, especially her discussion of “the charmed circle” and “the outer limits.” “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality,” in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, ed. Henry Abelove, Michèle Aina Barale, and David M. Halperin (New York: Routledge, 1993), 13. 7 Deborah B. Gould, Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP’s Fight Against AIDS (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 45. 8 For a useful introduction to the term “queer,” see Siobhan B. Somerville, “Queer,” in Keywords for American Cultural Studies, ed. Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler (New York: New York University Press, 2007), 187–91. Different geohistories have their own periods of the AIDS crisis – it maps differently in Uganda and South Africa, for instance. It is more accurate to speak of different waves of the AIDS crisis, even in the United States. 9 Martin Duberman, Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS (New York: The New Press, 2014); Sarah Schulman, The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013). On the problem of the end of the (first) AIDS crisis, see David Román, “Not-About-AIDS,” GLQ vol. 6, no. 1 (2000): 1–28. 10 Samuel Delany, “Appendix A: Postscript,” in Flight From Nevèrÿon (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1994), 363–4. 11 Melvin Dixon, “I’ll Be Somewhere Listening for My Name,” Callaloo vol. 23, no. 1 (Winter 2000): 81. This Callaloo article reprints a speech Dixon delivered at the OutWrite 1992 conference. 12 Dixon, “I’ll Be Somewhere,” 82. 1

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On the AIDS quilt, see Peter S. Hawkins, “Naming Names: The Art of Memory and the NAMES Project AIDS Quilt,” Critical Inquiry vol. 19, no. 4 (1993): 752–79. 14 Gloria T. Hull and Barbara Smith, “Introduction: The Politics of Black Women’s Studies,” in All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But  Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies, ed. Akasha (Gloria T.) Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith (New York: The Feminist Press, 1982), n.p. 15 Cherríe Moraga, preface, in This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, ed. Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, 2nd ed. (Boston, MA: Kitchen Table, 1983), xiii. 16 Moraga, “Refugees of a World on Fire: Preface to the Second Edition,” in This Bridge Called My Back, n.p.; emphasis in original. 17 Moraga, “Refugees,” n.p. 18 Sandra K. Soto, “Experience, Difference, and Power,” in The Cambridge Companion to Lesbian Literature, ed. Jodie Medd (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 46. 19 Soto, “Experience,” 47. 20 Soto, “Experience,” 57n9. 21 Moraga, “Refugees,” n.p.; emphasis in original. 22 Moraga, “Refugees,” n.p. 23 Anzaldúa, “Foreword to the Second Edition,” in This Bridge Called My Back, n.p. 24 Audre Lorde, “An Interview: Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich,” in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press, 2007), 107. 25 Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House,” in Sister Outsider, 110. 26 Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference,” in Sister Outsider, 115. 27 See “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism”; “Grenada Revisited: An Interim Report”; “Sexism: An American Disease in Blackface”; “Scratching the Surface: Some Notes on Barriers to Women and Loving”; and “Open Letter to Mary Daly,” in Sister Outsider. 28 Lorde, “The Master’s Tools,” 111. 29 Lorde, “The Master’s Tools,” 111–12. 30 Lorde, “The Master’s Tools,” 112. 31 For important histories to this moment, see Kwame A. Holmes, “Chocolate to Rainbow City: The Dialectics of Black and Gay Community Formation in Postwar Washington, D.C., 1946–1978” (PhD diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011), http://hdl.handle.net/2142/26383, and Eric Garber, “A Spectacle in Color: The Lesbian and Gay Subculture of Jazz Age Harlem,” in Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, ed. Martin B. Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Jr. (New York: Dutton, 1989), 318–31. 13

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Chasen Gaver, “Blacklight Monthly Focuses on Black Gay Community,” Washington Post, December 3, 1981, www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/​ 1981/12/03/blacklight-monthly-focuses-on-black-gay-­community/b48e604dee37-4d3e-b912-eb61a6bce02d/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.5cf71e033866. 33 Sidney Brinkley, “The National Coalition of Black Gays and Lesbians: Making History,” Blacklight, accessed January 16, 2018, www.­blacklightonline.com/ ncblg1.html. 34 Robert Crisman, “History Made: First Lesbians/Gays of Color Conference,” Freedom Socialist Party, Winter 1979, http://socialism.com/fs-article/ history-made-first-lesbiansgays-of-color-conference/. 35 Duberman, Hold Tight Gently, 34–5. 36 Tongues Untied, directed by Marlon Riggs (San Francisco: Frameline, 1989), DVD, 54:53. 37 Marlon Riggs, “Tongues Re-tied? Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Speaks For a Group Mainstream America Would Prefer to ‘Erase,’” Current, August 12,  1991, http://current.org/1991/08/tongues-re-tied-filmmaker-marlon-riggsspeaks-for-a-group-mainstream-america-would-prefer-to-erase/. 38 On ballroom culture, see Marlon M. Bailey, Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013). 39 Katherine McKittrick argues that faced with multiple forms of displacement and erasure, black women cannot simply inhabit inhospitable g­ eographies. Instead, they generate the geographies they can inhabit. I adapt her ­formulation here. See Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006). 40 Essex Hemphill, “Vital Signs,” in Life Sentences: Writers, Artists, and AIDS, ed. Thomas Avena (San Francisco: Mercury House, 1994), 54–5. 41 Duberman, Hold Tightly Gently, 10. 42 Duberman, Hold Tightly Gently, 81. 43 I take this formulation from the “Combahee River Collective Statement.” In context, it reads, “A Black feminist presence has evolved most obviously in connection with the second wave of the American women’s ­movement beginning in the late 1960s. Black, other Third World, and working women have been involved in the feminist movement from its start, but both ­outside  ­reactionary forces and racism and elitism within the movement itself have obscured our participation.” Combahee River Collective, “The  Combahee River Collective Statement,” in Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology, ed. Barbara Smith (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000), 265. 44 “A Timeline of HIV and AIDS,” US Department of Health and Human Services, accessed January 20, 2018, www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/­ history/hiv-and-aids-timeline. The brief narrative that follows draws from this resource. The resource offers a more extensive timeline and narrative than I can provide. 32

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Lawrence K. Altman, “New Homosexual Disorder Worries Health Officials,” New York Times, May 11, 1982, www.nytimes.com/1982/05/11/science/newhomosexual-disorder-worries-health-officials.html. 46 Cindy Patton, Sex and Germs: The Politics of AIDS (New York: Black Rose Books, 1986), 6. 47 Douglas Crimp, “AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism,” October 43 (Winter 1987), 8. 48 Crimp, “AIDS: Cultural Analysis,” 8. 49 Crimp, “AIDS: Cultural Analysis,” 8. 50 “A Timeline,” US Department of Health and Human Services. 51 Paula A. Treichler, “AIDS, Homophobia, and Biomedical Discourse: An  Epidemic of Signification,” October 43 (Winter 1987), 50; emphasis in original. 52 Schulman, Gentrification of the Mind, 5. 53 Anonymous Queers, “Queers Read This,” June 1990, www.qrd.org/qrd/misc/ text/queers.read.this, 10. 54 Anonymous Queers, “Queers Read This,” 10. 55 “A Timeline,” US Department of Health and Human Services. 56 Anonymous Queers, “Queers Read This,” 12. 57 Anonymous Queers, “Queers Read This,” 2. 58 Cathy J. Cohen, “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?,” GLQ vol. 3, no. 4 (1997): 437. 59 Cohen, “Punks,” 438. 60 Cohen, “Punks,” 446. 61 Schulman, Gentrification of the Mind, 60. 62 Schulman, Gentrification of the Mind, 64–5. 63 Schulman, Gentrification of the Mind, 66. 64 Hartman offers these comments during a salon to celebrate Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake. Christina Sharpe et al., “In the Wake: A Salon in Honor of Christina Sharpe,” February 7, 2017, Barnard Center for Research on Women, YouTube, 1:34:40, www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGE9oiZr3VM. 65 Delany, Flight from Nevèrÿon, 223; emphasis and ellipses in original. 66 Jon Greenberg explains that the acronym ACT UP came first and then words were found to fit it. “ACT UP Explained,” ACT UP, accessed January 10, 2018, www.actupny.org/documents/greenbergAU.html. ACT UP and GMHC maintain active websites that map their histories. See www.actupny.org/ and www.gmhc.org/. 67 See, especially, Ann Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003). 68 Samuel R. Delany, Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders (New York: Magnus Books, 2012), 120. 45

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Further Reading ACT UP Oral History Project, accessed June 1, 2018, www.actuporalhistory.org/ index1.html. Bost, Darius. Evidence of Being: The Black Gay Cultural Renaissance and The Politics of Violence. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2018. Cohen, Cathy J. Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999. Crimp, Douglas, ed. AIDS: Cultural Analysis, Cultural Activism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1988. Ekine, Sokari, and Hakima Abbas, eds. Queer African Reader. Nairobi: Pambazuka Press, 2013. Hoad, Neville. African Intimacies: Race, Homosexuality, and Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007. Munro, Brenna M. South Africa and the Dream of Love to Come: Queer Sexuality and the Struggle for Freedom. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. Treichler, Paula A. How to Have Theory in an Epidemic: Cultural Chronicles of AIDS. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999. Woubshet, Dagmawi. The Calendar of Loss: Race, Sexuality, and Mourning in the Early Era of AIDS. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015.

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chapter 3

Convergence, Dissymmetry, Duplicities Enactments of Queer of Color Critique Chandan Reddy

A certain duplicity adheres to any enterprise that seeks to offer a definitive account of queer of color critique. For queer of color groups and ­formations – by which I mean emergent and highly differentiated nonwhite racialized subjectivities and collectivities constituted by and through gender and sexual perversities and nonnormativities – disturb in their very diversity and multiplicity any singular or definitive account of queer of color critique, its function, meaning, and purpose. Yet, by connecting critical traditions forged within the validated apparatuses of knowledge, such as the university, with the diverse “subjugated k­ nowledges” of ­racialized communities heretofore located dramatically outside those apparatuses, queer of color critiques trouble the separation of subjects from objects of study, and they disturb the isomorphism among state power, disciplinary knowledges, and collective social forms – such as nation and family – that have been at the core of even the radical traditions of political agency and critique in the west. That is, as a form of critique concerned p ­ recisely with the variously visible and invisible but pervasive social violences and regimes of power made permissible through the stabilizing inclusion of previously excluded racialized subjects and objects of knowledge into the social structures and division of knowledge that have organized the west, queer of color critique will necessarily frustrate the desire for conclusive definition or determinative pronouncement of its scope, archives, and practices. Following Roderick Ferguson and José Esteban Muñoz, the scholars whose works and interventions most pointedly ­created this distinct critical space, queer of color critique might be thought of not as issuing from a distinct identity or singular standpoint but rather as a critical ­preoccupation, whose operation can take up diverse forms, methods, and domains, one that approaches queer of color subjects and desires within a genealogy of what is rendered unthinkable, inconsequential, ­easily disposable, or inhuman when material social differences are restrictively included into 51

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western institutions. As such, queer of color critique emphasizes the varied agencies, relationalities, and cultural morphologies that exist in the interstices or thwart the very social forms that even r­adical and oppositional social struggles rely on for their definition over time and their broadening social legibility, creating new conceptions of politics and the social.1 Queer of color critique emerged from within and across the epistemic fractures created by a set of projects late in the twentieth century – such as queer studies, postcolonial studies, ethnic studies, indigenous s­tudies, and feminist studies – that forcibly made visible the western settler-­ colonial white-male heterosexual social order that both liberal and radical ­critiques privileged and perpetuated or ignored, such as the open secret of ­pervasive racial and colonial sexual violence that defines the pleasures, prerogative powers, and just memories of universal “man” and citizen. In the United States in the 1990s, queer of color formations disclosed the whiteness and western-centrism of feminist and queer formations and the  ­heterosexuality of antiracist and postcolonial frameworks of power and history. Furthermore, the broad cultural vitality of queer of color ­formations in the 1980s and 1990s – in domains such as popular culture, alternative political organizing, and street action – was in marked contrast to their marginalization within English and literary studies, the fields out of which queer studies originally formed. They thus exposed the ­overdevelopment of literary institutional, aesthetic, and “discursive” conceptions of “culture” at the center of queer critique. That is, queer of color formations forced an interrogation of queer studies’ own ­structural complicity with the racialized institutional and property order of US ­society whose pervasive structuring and violent liberal heteronormativity it sought to contest.2 In this sense, queer of color formations ­interrogate queer critiques that privilege textuality over bodily performance, high art over popular and material culture, institutional and discursive orders over material processes, and the national “community” over subcultures, immigrant dwellings, urban-racialized communities, prisons, and t­emporary shelters.3 As a contribution to left critique, queer of color formations – ­disproportionately subject to impoverishment, state dependency, wagetheft, and work in the informal economy – expanded the terrain of anticapitalist critiques beyond a focus on exploitation through waged work. As Cathy Cohen argues, these formations demand attention to the co-constitutive weave of normalizing power, examined by ­poststructuralist queer critiques, with social and state dominative powers, the focus of women of color and third-world feminist critiques of heteropatriarchy,

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the “feminization” of transnationalized labor, and state and carceral ­management of de- and postindustrialization.4 That is, furthering women of color, black feminist, and third-world feminist activist projects and knowledges, queer of color critique highlighted connections between new and advanced forms of exploitation, dispossession, and accumulation and the social forms, such as family and household, that facilitated and ­simultaneously made invisible the subjects at the source of these different repertoires of accumulation. Relying on these forms often burdened and even violated diverse queer of color socialities.5 Furthermore, queer of color groups forced a rearticulation of “racial formation” theory by stressing the multiplication of racializing procedures and objectifications beyond “directly” racializing discourses and institutions, marking “gender” and “sexuality” as constitutive, if distinct, loci of racialization.6 To the extent that queer of color formations in the 1990s were ­constituted in their confrontation with an unprecedented expansion of global civil society institutions – what some have termed “the nonprofit industrial complex” in the United States and a core feature of what we now ­designate as “neoliberalism” – they challenged racial formation ­theory’s state-centrism and US national framework.7 The US state’s long history of claiming a racial right or sovereign prerogative to kill, banish, or exclude the racial other was rearticulated since the 1980s as a ­delegative power of the racialized middle classes to lead, control, abandon, cage, or extinguish nonheteronormative working-class, immigrant, and poor people of color during the US wars on drugs, racialized and immigrant motherhood, and HIV-positive communities.8 As the racialized middle classes expanded civil society institutions to assert political voice and ­challenge previous forms of social exclusion from the 1970s onward, queers of color, like other subjects caught within institutions of reform, care, and social provision, opened a new horizon of political contestation forged at the intersection of normalization and domination that defied their silencing and objectification.9 Finally, given the historical conditions of its emergence, queer of color critique defies divisions such as “domestic” and “foreign,” “nation” and “empire,” or “police” and “military,” that would occlude the deployment of “sexuality” as violent method, practice, enjoyment, and colonial and racial trope across those putative divisions. Queer of color discourses and activism emerged at the start of the 1990s in the milieu of various forms of state violence: on the one hand, the Gulf War (during which pervasive discourses of sodomizing Saddam Hussein and all noncompliant Iraqis iterated orientalist fantasies of US military dominance that supported the hawkish

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“foreign” policy of US neoconservatives) and the reopening of military bases once used for the humanitarian violence of indefinite imprisonment of HIV-positive Haitian refugees at Guantánamo Bay, and, on the other hand, urban police violence against black and Latino ­communities – made visible by the Los Angeles uprising of 1992 – that frequently used rape, torture, and sodomy as both a threat and a practice to demonstrate its racial and masculine impunity.10 For queer of color c­ ritique, US wars in the Middle East, which have been ceaseless and ongoing since its inception, are intimately connected to the so-called “domestic” wars on drugs, single motherhood, and HIV. Together, they have created an archipelago of state-repressive apparatuses across “police” and “military” institutions in which those designated as “populations” that threaten or impede US political and economic advantage globally and the rights of security for asset-owning US citizens are forced to live under conditions of a permanent and ­arbitrary state of siege.11 Queer of color formations, then, yield no single or unified conception or narrative of critique. Instead, these formations point us toward ­enactments of critique that disrupt the unitary forms that seek to ­control and bind historical thinking, cultural and political meanings, and ­sociality, such as “citizenship,” “state,” “nation,” and “culture,” stressing instead the cross-racial and transnational relationalities that are often forgotten or made invisible by national modes of knowing.12 For queer of color c­ ritique, race, gender, and sexuality are investigated as unstable social marks ­constituted by the flux and changes in the settled and contingent configurations of the state-nation-capital nexus that structures social and political modernity. By queer of color critique, then, we mean to mark the ways in which queer of color formations and groups force a rethinking of the p ­ ractice of social and cultural critique itself, one that stresses questions of ­convergence, dissymmetry, and duplicity in relation to modern power and the institutional modes of knowing and thinking out of which political and social critique is produced. By convergence, I mean to stress the ways in which different, noncorrespondent forms of power constitute collective social existence and systems of economy. Though unitary concepts such as “the state,” “citizenship,” or “nation” tend to emphasize questions of inclusion and exclusion, queer of color desires often yield “mixed” s­ubjectivities and formations of legal and “illegal” personhood, of licensed and unverifiable genders, of mixed ­hepatitis and HIV ­statuses, and of state-enforced and state-terrorized ­pregnancies and family f­ormations. As such, they indicate a contemporary

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modernity that disrespects the very divisions of citizen and noncitizen, sovereign and nonsovereign, that have governed and given impetus to ­movements for social inclusion. Although queer critiques have tended to stress ­productive forms of power, such as those we associate with western scientific and medical institutions – and the normative violence such power unleashes – they have tended to occlude the persistence of and connections among racial terror, imperial war making, and settler occupation as productive power’s ongoing conditions of possibility. Convergence draws attention to the logics and cultural ideologies that link and fasten together seemingly antithetical or disparate apparatuses such as policing, immigration control, and social service provision. It is neither the violence of differential inclusion nor the cruel expansion of residual heteropatriarchal and racial-nationalist or religious-supremacist orders that shapes collective social existence, but rather their strategic convergence into an unstable complex of exploitation, theft, domination, abandonment, incapacitation, and murder that marks our contemporary modernity. Last, convergence indexes Roderick Ferguson’s seminal and field-setting definition of queer of color critique as an “interrogat[ion] of social formations as the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and class, with particular interest in how those formations correspond with and diverge from nationalist ideals and practices.”13 Convergent and nonaligned apparatuses of power, order, and domination structure queer of color social conditions, producing dissymmetry across cultural styles and productions. That is, dissymmetry marks the ways in which queer of color politics, cultural identities, and ­embodiments are diversely manifested in the social field and are irreducible to a single political voice, however broad, or a unified structure of gender and sexual discernment and cultural-historical experience, defying demands for transparency, uniformity, essence, development, and identity – e­ vidence of what queer of color theorist José Muñoz termed the disidentifications at the source of queer of color “semipublics.”14 Modern theories of social oppression – whether addressing sexism, racism, transphobia, etc. – have tended to stress a determinate subject of oppression, who is violently ­targeted, repressed, or even produced by that oppressive force. Yet, queer of color experiences with violence and oppression integrate and exceed these accounts of social oppression. For many, it is their cultural foreclosure from the institutions, structures, and logics that define a “structure in dominance,” that leave queers of color vulnerable to conditions of unsheltered exposure in one instance and to violent social and material enclosures in other instances.

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Against theories that stress an isomorphic correspondence between context and social identity, queer of color critique pursues the ­dissymmetries of racialized sexuality, defying procedures that would prematurely close or fix an originating context. That is, the varied, incongruent, and contradictory ways in which queerness is articulated, enacted, or relationally felt within, among, and as queer of color formations reveal important gaps in our accounts of our own past and social context, pointing to the stillunvoiced histories of that past and the constructedness of our contemporary context. Furthermore, queer of color formations open a horizon of critique marked by an aesthetics and politics of duplicity, both in the sense of material infidelity to demands for unity, essence, and ­authenticity characteristic of modern social and cultural politics and in the sense of duplicating or necessarily risking the reproduction of the very modern forms and structures that these formations exploit for their own cultural existence – a difficult and inconclusive mode of life.

The Duplicity of Critique What does it mean to posit queer of color critique as the critique of ­critique? The question itself creates a kind of troubling duplication, suggesting an enmeshment in critical traditions at once enabling and v­ iolently limiting, where the indispensable labor of rational and systematic thought can in the western institutional setting reanimate the liberal-racist and settler-­colonial dispositions foundational to those systems of thought – ­dispositions that in our moment allow for the “sanctioned ignorance” of the neocolonial relations and conditions that sustain national modernity and western ­citizenship as the universal or normative shape and form for social, scholarly, and political inquiries and struggles.15 In this sense, queer of color critique asks how our inquiries and objects might shift and appear to us when the implicit national framework that gives terms such as “­bodies,” “drives,” or “sexuality,” their meaning and analytical value are surfaced, crossed, and disorganized. It figures a practice of d ­ issymmetrical critique that encourages unexpected connections among histories, ­practices, and contexts devalued by an understanding of the “global” and “political” determined by national sovereignty.16 To the extent that queer of color formations are constituted through regimes of desire that create “mixed” social milieus of citizen and noncitizen, of gender certitude and gender no-conforming, of settler and indigenous, and of those made to live and those let to die, queer of color critique forces new practices of social theory.

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To understand why it is so difficult for social theory to think across domains divided by the binaries of citizen and noncitizen and of s­ overeign and nonsovereign, we must investigate the liberal origins of social ­critique. The tradition of critique we inherit as institutional intellectuals emerges from the liberal tradition’s suspicion of the European religious state.17 For liberalism, the goals of modern critique are to limit and interrogate the reach of authoritarian and theocratic dogmas, popular and reactionary common sense, and all varieties of state-based or state-­ sanctioned ­pseudo-morality in order to establish and protect the ratio­ niversal sphere within which the authentic political struggles of nal and u the properly “human c­ ommunity,” bound by linear progressive time, can commence. Conceived in a relation of exchange, liberal critique sketches the limits of state ­authority and its powers of encroachment in civil and private life, declaring as illegitimate and “illiberal” those acts of state power, seizure, or control that extend beyond their legitimate jurisdiction and purview – whenever, that is, that state authority demands obedience and assent capriciously without reason, legitimate cause, or foundation. In exchange, liberal critique rigorously demarcates the limited zones and spaces of life that “belong” to “human freedom” and “human progress” and, as such, must remain open for public reflection, debate, contestation, and transformation. In other words, for classical liberalism, limiting the jurisdiction of a critique’s application to its “proper” scope allows it to claim a decisive freedom from a priori demands for social obedience by violence-possessing bodies such as the state. That is, for liberalism, the rigorous self-limitation of critique’s force, its policing of the boundaries of its meaning, reference, and application, and its active withdrawal of its scope into clearly demarcated venues of agency, such as the public sphere is paradoxically the source of its oppositional force in relation to sovereign authorities. As Kant argued, man’s awakening to his revolutionary potential and ­universality – for which he offered the motto sapere aude or dare to know – conditioned both freedom and the state.18 Modern critique in this sense exists as a kind of contract with state power, one that gathers up and demonstrates its force through reflexive practices that constitute the subject’s own self-transparency that it offers in exchange for negative rights from the state, such as academic freedom, whose laws it obeys and legitimacy it respects.19 The liberal nation-state and universal citizenship are the lasting legacies of this critique. Yet, the abstract universality of the citizen that constituted liberal critique’s ­revolutionary force created gendered norms of public and private spheres, racialized modern social practices – such as pregnancy, mothering, sexuality, etc. – and violently

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enforced the property rights of settler and colonial society through legal and aesthetic forms of civilization. In the era of twentieth-century welfare-capitalism in the west, both new social movements and what is often derisively called “identity ­politics” inherited this tradition and structure of thought and politics, even as they sought to bend liberal critique toward social equality and forms of society unimaginable to liberal thinkers. As “new” subjects of politics, twentiethcentury social movements possessed the force, temerity, and courage to address the state, contest its laws, and impugn its motives in part by simultaneously turning toward their “own” constituencies, p ­ olicing the boundaries of identity and membership, and limiting the scope of practices included within their account of freedom, working within and seizing the social forces through which such acts of definition and self-limitation ­circulate. Black power, lesbian separatism, and gay revolution, each express a central aspect of this logic of critique, forging attitudes of militancy and coalition between one another through distinct social standpoints. These movements contested material dominations unrelieved by l­iberal legal enfranchisement, in part, through insurgent seizures of the n ­ ormalizing social forces that developed through welfare-capitalism. In this sense, the force of critique emerges from prior acts of self-­curtailment, limitation, and definition of collectivities and groups into “community,” a force that is then directed as heroic courage against sovereign bodies such as the racial or patriarchal state. These revolutionary critiques – for whom liberation and not “social inclusion” are the goal – maintain a d ­ isposition toward both transparency and a unitary subject in their quest for social and collective freedom, creating radical formations and attitudes that simultaneously build courage, powers of judgment, ways of ­valuing (and devaluing) ­ abits and structures “selves” and “others,” while also supporting existing h of negation, violence, or exclusion for those relationalities that exceeded sanctioned forms of relatedness created by new social ­identities. That is, radical critiques did more than “speak truth to power”; they also promoted modes of “self ” and “community” that broke with the racial and gendered logics of liberal society that advantaged white, male personhood and denied the social and historical experience of these “new” political subjects. Yet, these radical social movements relied on frameworks that transformed the inequalities and differences that persisted beyond l­iberal inclusion into universal or rational categories – such as “women” or “gay” – to demand a different kind of society and a more e­ galitarian (­antiracist, feminist, antihomophobic, and redistributive) state. As Judith Butler elegantly pointed out in her field-defining work, Gender  Trouble, these

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“new” political subjects defined through universal, unitary, and ­rational categories of d ­ ifference stigmatized forms of relatedness that d ­ isorganized the ­emancipatory ­totality these movements sought to create. In its manifold and diverse expressions, queer of color critique has from its inception sought to interrogate precisely this fulcrum of ­critique, i­nvestigating those zones and spaces of racialized life that fall across, below, or outside the zone of universal “human” freedom and progress. It h ­ ighlights the mechanisms and technologies of power by which ­norm-based oppositional politics can contribute to the further ­marginalization of subjects defiled by the very norms that place oppositional subjects within social imaginaries of progress and global freedom. For example, for diverse antiracist movements throughout the 1960s and 1970s transgender, ­disabled, and variously nonmodern queers of color were ­subject to norms that deepened their exposure to violence, stigmatized their modes of relatedness, and devalued their knowledges. Norms of gender, race, and bodily difference become the source for making ­commensurate the diverse worlds of racialized domination and historical experiences to the abstractions that organize the social totality, consigning practices, ­relations, and subjects that disturb such acts of commensuration to violence and f­orgetting.20 Indeed, norm-based social orders often recode the forms of marginalization they produce as the result of the marginalized’s own moral and physical filth or defectiveness.21 For queer of color critique, the challenge is to renovate social critique in ways that disrupt its commensurate-making technologies and to engage the countermemories that are forged in and against such practices of commensuration. Even as social critique addresses itself to the fundamental divisions that create and sustain capitalist relations of ­production and profit, it must constantly interrogate the received categories of its critique lest it further the stigmatization and erasure of those relationalities that sustain and make possible the named social world of which those categories are a part. Agonistic and normative conceptions of social opposition restrict our sense of the “­political” to those spaces, zones, and practices that social critique ­systematizes, enfranchises, and circulates. Furthermore, since the 1990s, egalitarian and emancipatory social critiques in the west have been further challenged and disorganized by a changing economic context. As postindustrial economies, western societies addressed the “stagflation” that diminished profits through diverse economic and geopolitical strategies that disrespected the principle of national sovereignty, withdrew from the social compact of the welfare state, and innovated social and technological instruments that exploited

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and accumulated through diverse repertoires of economic, bodily, and earthly partition, extraction, differentiation, and dispossession.22 Referred to as “neoliberalism,” these practices troubled social critique’s focus on the nation-state as the locus of economy and social reproduction. Police violence and incarceration, war and militarism, health and medical ­ ­systems, immigration and refugee camps, treaty lands and municipalities, and work that spans the formal and informal economy, all converge in the making of queer of color social formations and activist responses under neoliberalism. By integrating and exceeding prior modes of social critique, queer of color critique can be particularly important in generating a different understanding of the political subject, one that withdraws from the demands to stipulate a determinate, national, “universal,” or unitary “we” to reconceive the “social” against the different and numerous material partitions, divisions, and asymmetries that give free subjects the ­franchise of wholeness and self-knowability only through the stigmatization, disqualification, and forgetting of other modes of relatedness. Queer of color critique, then, seeks not to establish the terms for its “own” institutional space or identity as much as it works parasitically to undermine our inherited division of knowledges that expand the franchise of transparency and wholeness entrusted to free subjects. Instead, it forges pathways between privileged and ignored, certain and stigmatized knowledge in anticipation of a university “to come,” when those generationally outside the US university’s fortress walls (as part of the material infrastructure of ongoing settler dispossession, criminal incapacitation, and citizenship identification and control) are “included,” if only as indebted objects of predatory tuition. It undermines the discrete appearance of queer of color “identities” in the interest of leaving open and unclosed antiracist fields of knowledge such as ethnic, area, and indigenous studies, refusing their premature normalization of objects and methods of study. Such acts are the source of a different kind of “courage,” one that speaks back to power sometimes; walks away at others; has obligations toward those made more marginal by one’s own conditions of flourishing and resistance; organizes for the collective good in one’s workplace, neighborhood, or distant prison; and sometimes steals a credit card to throw a ball in memory of the slain and lost.23 The challenge for queer of color critique is fomenting forms of courage and virtue that do not reproduce charismatic leadership structures or the dispositions of directive intellectuals whose class privilege, cis-gender embodiments, and citizenship status enable strong alignments with extant structures of knowledge for the elucidation of the social totality. Indeed, it might require rethinking

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political “courage” itself to include a wider array of dispositions such as grief, loss, shame, perversion, and pleasure as sources for critical attitudes that exceed liberal and radical conceptions of engaged social critique and the limited field of the “political” they enfranchise, secure, circulate, and expand through state apparatuses that violate and stigmatize our ­varied relatedness.

Notes See José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999) and Roderick Ferguson, Aberrations in Black: Towards a Queer of Color Critique (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003). 2 See David L. Eng, J. Jack Halberstam, and José Esteban Muñoz, eds., “What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now?,” Social Text vol. 23, nos. 3–4 (Fall–Winter 2005): 1–17. In their Introduction, the editors frame diverse work in queer of color, queer diaspora, and queer religious studies as an ­interrogation of what they term “queer liberalism,” which they ­understand in part as naming the broad repertoire of cultural and institutional ­practices – such as queer critical engagements with US and western literary ­canonization – that continue to privilege the national subject over those constituted and determined by US empire, the citizen over the diasporic subject, and white masculinity over the shadowed gendered and sexual others that masculinity cannot acknowledge yet depends on. In that issue, see especially the essay on “Race, Violence, and Neoliberal Spatial Politics in the Global City,” by Martin F. Manalansan, IV, who engages the black and diasporic queer of color practices obscured even in queer critiques of heteronormative ­gentrification in New York City. 3 See Samuel R. Delany, Times Square Red/Times Square Blue (New York: New  York University Press, 1999), in which Delany argues that New York City’s gentrification, as part of the emergent property order of neoliberal financialization, produces, on the one hand, increasingly aesthetical, high art and museumized forms of gay and lesbian culture, and, on the other hand, the destruction of fragile material “cultural” infrastructures of adult theaters, red lights zones, and public and low-income “rent-based” housing, by which cross-class and cross-racial queer social existence and signifying practices once developed. 4 See for example, Cathy Cohen’s field-setting essay, “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?,” which builds on black feminist critiques of the pathologization of poor, black, single m ­ others as “welfare queens” that was central to the dismantling of the ­political consensus that secured the welfare state and allowed for the neoliberal state’s redirecting of social provisions into the private financial sector and the prison industrial complex. Additionally, women of color and Latina f­eminists in the 1

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1990s critiqued California’s demonization and pathologization of undocumented immigrant women as “using” their reproductive capacities to anchor and secure US citizenship, which resulted in further militarization of the US-Mexico border, where maquiladora labor expanded. The figure of the “undocumented pregnant woman” within the US public sphere obscured the gendered practices of hyperexploitation that rely on Mexican women’s “non-sovereign” labor in export processing zones as well as their nonnational “immigrant” labor in domestic work and other services sectors. See Cathy J. Cohen, “Punks, Bulldaggers and Welfare Queens,” GLQ vol. 3, no. 4 (1997): 437–65. On  a form of queer of color critique that centers Mexican immigrant women’s ­nonnational and nonsovereign conditions of work, sociality, and pleasure, see Lizeth Gutierrez, “Queer Chisme: Redefining Emotional Security in Josefina López’s Real Women Have Curves,” Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies vol. 42, no. 2 (Fall 2017): 111–38. See also, Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera The New Mestiza (1987; San Francisco: Aunt Lute, 1999). See also Rosa Linda Fregoso, MeXicana Encounters: The Making of Social Identities on the Borderlands (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003). 5 On the importance of social institutions such as the family or the ­household for new forms of accumulation, such as neoliberal globalization, and their production of and impact on queer of color subjects, see Chandan Reddy, “Asian Diasporas, Neoliberalism, and Family: Reviewing the Case for Homosexual Asylum,” Social Text vol. 23, nos. 3–4 (2005): 101–19. On the ways in which the US economy expanded its reliance on “heterosexuality” to configure state apparatuses such as immigration law and border control after the “official repudiation” of white supremacy, see Eithne Luibhéid and Lionel Cantú Jr. (eds.), Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship and Border Crossings (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005). See especially Siobhan B. Somerville, “Sexual Aliens and the Racialized State: A Queer Reading of the 1952 U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act,” pp. 75–91 in that collection. 6 For an elegant account of the ways in which gender and sexuality constitute sites of racial formation, see Grace Kyungwon Hong and Roderick A. Ferguson, eds. Strange Affinities: The Gender and Sexual Politics of Comparative Racialization (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011). 7 See Incite!, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017). See also, Soniya Munshi and Craig Willse, eds., “Navigating Neoliberalism in the Academy, Nonprofits and Beyond,” S&F Online vol. 13, no. 2 (2016), http://sfonline.­barnard.edu/ navigating-neoliberalism-in-the-academy-nonprofits-and-beyond/. 8 See Dean Spade, Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015). 9 See, for example, the activist statements of the Combahee River Collective and of the Gay Black and Latino writing collective, Other Countries. Combahee River Collective, Combahee River Collective Statement: Black Feminist Organizing in the Seventies and Eighties (New York: Kitchen Table: Women

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of Color Press, 1986); and Colin Robinson et al., eds., Other Countries: Black Gay Voices, A First Volume (New York: Other Countries, 1988). 10 Both before and after formal declarations of war in the Middle East and elsewhere, throughout the 1990s urban communities of color were subject to police torture in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, where threats of “sodomizing” victims were a tactic of control, a practice brutally revealed in the violent torture of Abner Louima. For  an account of the ­importance of this US “war”-machine both within and beyond the nationstate, see Trishala Deb and Rafael Mutis, “Smoke and Mirrors: Abu Graib and the Myth of Liberation.” Colorlife! Magazine (Summer 2004), www.alp.org/ colorlife/index.php. 11 For a critique of US exceptionalism and the ways in which it undermines and makes invisible precisely the links queer of color activists forged between US wars in the Middle East and US racial orders, see Jasbir Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007). 12 See Nayan Shah’s chapter, “Perversity, Contamination, and The Dangers of Queer Domesticities,” Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 77–104. See also Nayan Shah, Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality and the Law in the North American West (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011). 13 Ferguson, Aberrations, 149, n. 1. 14 Muñoz, Disidentifications, 1–34. 15 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999). 16 On the “global division of humanity” that is the condition of possibility for universal national modernity as the reigning global socio-epistemic order, see Lisa Lowe, The Intimacies of Four Continents (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015). 17 See Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 5. For Mahmood, engaging urban middle-class Egyptian women’s participation in the Islamic Revival movement transforms “ethnography” into a practice that “speak[s] back to the normative liberal assumptions about human nature against which such a movement is held accountable – such as the belief that all human beings have an innate desire for freedom, … Thus, my ethnographic tracings will sustain a running argument with and against key analytical concepts in liberal thought, as these concepts have come to inform various strains of feminist theory.” 18 See Immanuel Kant, An Answer to the Question: “What Is Enlightenment?” trans. H. B. Nisbet (New York: Penguin, 2013). 19 This is the outline of Kant’s argument in “What Is Enlightenment?,” and in his work The Conflict of the Faculties, the schema of which founds

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contemporary academic freedom, the claim that scholars’ extra-mural speech when conducted in the public sphere ought to be protected from censor and retaliation by authorities. See Immanuel Kant, The Conflict of the Faculties, trans. Mary J. Gregor (Omaha: University of Nebraska Press, 1979). 20 Jina Kim has recently suggested “crip-of-color critique” as an examination of the ways in which state power targets and debilitates distinct social ­conditions, racialized and gendered subjects, and relationalities, which it s­ imultaneously disavows through scientific discourse that recode social ­ formations as “­abnormalities” within the population. See Jina B. Kim, “Toward a Crip-ofColor Critique: Thinking with Minich’s ‘Enabling Whom?’,” Lateral vol. 6, no. 1 (2017), https://doi.org/10.25158/L6.1.14C. 21 C. Riley Snorton, for example, examines the ways in which “black” and “trans” are forcibly configured into reified differences, subject to the logic of exchange and interchangeability that privilege bourgeois man within a universal order of things and argues for a hermeneutics of impermanence, transitivity, and fragmentation to address the persistence of black diasporic countermemories that are created by and resist the social relations of exchange of modern racial capitalism. See C. Riley Snorton, Black on Both Sides: A  Racial History of Trans Identity (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017), 8. 22 For an account of the ways in which “postmodern” capital profits through the disorganization of the very social spheres described by liberalism and western Marxism as the hallmark of western societies’ capacities for self-­ rationalization, see David Lloyd and Lisa Lowe, “Introduction,” in The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997), 1–32. On the forging of a “queer decolonial femme” perspective on the extractive and dispossessive repertoires of late modern western capital, what Macarena Gómez-Barris terms the “life and death dialectics” that constitute contemporary extractive capitalism, see The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), xvi. 23 See Marlon M. Bailey, Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013), in which Bailey situates Black and Latino “balls” within a broader and continuous set of survival practices and political enactments of Detroit’s LGBT of color communities constituted through state abandonment, economic deindustrialization, impoverishment, and HIV exposure.

Further Reading Alexander, M. Jacqui. Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, Memory, and the Sacred. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005. Anzaldúa, Gloria, and Cherríe Moraga, eds. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Watertown, MA: Persephone Press, 1981.

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Driskill, Qwo-Li, Chris Finley, Brian Joseph Gilley, and Scott Lauria Morgensen, eds. Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2011. El-Tayeb, Fatima. European Others: Queering Ethnicity in Postnational Europe. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011. Gopinath, Gayatri. Unruly Visions: The Aesthetic Practices of Queer Diaspora. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018. Hong, Grace Kyungwon. Death beyond Disavowal: The Impossible Politics of Difference. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015. Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Trumansburg, NY: The Crossing Press, 1984. Stanley, Eric A., and Nat Smith, eds. Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex. Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2015.

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chapter 4

Transgender Studies, or How to Do Things with Trans* Cáel M. Keegan

Refuse closure, insist on situation, seek multiplicity. n. – Sandy Stone in response to the question, “How do we do trans* ­studies?” at the first International Trans* Studies Conference, September 7, 2016.

In 2014, the inaugural issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly marked the scholarly formalization of what has alternatively been referred to as “transgender studies,” “trans studies,” “trans-studies,” and “trans* studies.” Titled “Postposttranssexual: Keywords for a 21st Century Transgender Studies,” the issue presents readers with a new vocabulary staking out the parameters of the field’s inquiry, defining eighty-six terms core to its ­history and animating questions. Curiously, however, “trans” is not among them. Instead of offering a definition for this central referent, the journal provocatively excludes “trans” from its lexicon – an ­omission that calls for specific attention to practice in the field. As editors Paisley Currah and Susan Stryker write in their introduction to the issue, “although we retain transgender in the full, formal title of this journal, we invite you to ­imagine the T in TSQ as standing in for whatever version of trans- best suits you.”1 The editors thus entrust “trans” to practitioners of the field as an open question, even though the journal’s title claims it as an operative and defining term. The first issue of TSQ, therefore, enacts a method specific to transgender studies in which the journal’s ­authoritative stance is placed in immediate tension with the key referent’s slippery and open nature. Such paradoxical maneuvers are primary to transgender ­studies, which grows out of the strategies of resistance and self-fashioning by which trans people have existed both within and against the systems that have classified us. What, then, is the permutation transgender, trans, trans-, and/or trans* studies? Currah and Stryker are clear that the field itself is oriented against definitive answers to such questions. Yet, transgender studies does possess a history and an emergent set of critical methods, both 66

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similar to and yet divergent from the more institutionally embraced field of queer studies. Arising together from the political and cultural conditions of the early 1990s, the two fields share an interrelated and yet vexed ­relationship. Generally, transgender studies focuses on the examination and ­theorization of nonnormative genders, and queer studies assesses and analyzes nonnormative sexualities. Both fields are concerned with the social construction of identity and are often blended in the humanities, but transgender studies also possesses a broader interdisciplinary history in the social and medical sciences.2 Despite this wider scope, however, transgender studies has struggled along with queer studies to account for its implicitly white and western lens. Both fields share a general theoretical investment in poststructuralism (primarily the works of Michel Foucault and Judith Butler), and both are fundamentally concerned with the construction and enforcement of normative sex and gender systems. But while early queer studies assessed the binary of “modern homo/ heterosexual definition”3 as a major form of disciplinary power, foundational work in transgender studies investigated the deeper cultural and scientific constructions of man/woman and male/female on which sexual ­orientation depends for its recognition. This distinction in original focus is coincident with changes in sexology and psychology late in the twentieth century that separated sexual desire from gender identity,4 supporting the concatenation of “transgender” as an identificatory category based on sex ­assignment and gender expression.5 However, transgender and queer studies also problematize the neat separation of gender from sexuality – because sexual desire is often routed through gender recognition, and because sexual orientation as well as sex itself are primarily socially constructed through gender performance.6 The two fields are thus locked in a “critical ­relation”7 about the politics of sex, gender, and sexuality, in which each discourse problematizes and yet enlivens the other’s claims. As interdisciplines rooted in critical theory, transgender and queer s­ tudies both share a foundational critique of disciplinary power that undergirds their resistance to fixed methods and proper objects. Both also p ­ resent postmodern challenges to earlier, more positivist fields of study: Much like queer studies enacts a postructuralist break from the older field of gay and lesbian studies, transgender studies confronts p ­ revious “objective” medical and psychological accounts of transgender p ­ athology. However, unlike queer studies’ more deconstructionist stance toward identity, transgender studies places high value on the embodied, speaking transgender subject as the producer of constative self-­k nowledge. Moving  beyond nominal examination of the transgender object, ­transgender studies is

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an ­ interdisciplinary critical project that takes  up the subjectivities of ­transgender people to theorize a host of relations among gender, culture, science, knowledge production, and power. At its broadest, the field could arguably include any analysis that “disrupts, denaturalizes, rearticulates, and makes visible the normative linkages we generally assume to exist between the biological specificity of the sexually differentiated body, the social roles and statuses that a particular form of body is expected to occupy, the subjectively experienced relationship between a gendered sense of self and social expectations of gender-role performance, and the cultural mechanisms that work to sustain or thwart specific configurations of gendered personhood.”8 Although transgender studies possesses a wider interdisciplinary range, it is especially intertwined with queer studies in their shared attention to literary and cultural analysis: Textual interpretation has been central to each field, and key works in literary and cultural studies established both of their initial critical frames. Although transgender studies is undergirded by research in the social and medical sciences, it was work by literary and cultural theorists that produced the field’s constitutive interventions: Prompted by the militancy of the AIDS era, new praxes of trans self-­narration erupted out of the medical discourse that had ­previously ­overdetermined transsexuality, shifting the transgender body from the position of a medically created thing to that of self-author. Two  works crystallize this break and define the formal emergence of the field: Sandy Stone’s “The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto” and Susan Stryker’s “My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix.” Published only three years apart, these pieces form a call-and-response structure in which Stone’s demand that transgender people harness ­postmodernity to explode the medical concept of “the ­transsexual” and shatter gender into dissonant “spectra of desire”9 is taken up by Stryker, who assumes the metaphoric role of Frankenstein’s monster to tear apart the discursive structure of her own essay, articulating the ­previously ­inexpressible rage of transgender experience. Both pieces ­formally reinvent the genre of transgender autobiography, establishing attention to literary form and discursive location as central critical strategies in the field. Both texts also break from the sexological model of transsexual pathology to enact a new vocabulary around transgender difference, redefining it as a radically disruptive cultural and political force. Stone’s and Stryker’s essays inaugurated the “posttranssexual” period of transgender studies, during which trans scholars seized self-authorship in language, critiqued the systems that had produced transsexuality as

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a condition, and evaluated possible alliances with queer studies, which had begun a parallel project of deconstructing both heterosexual and gay and lesbian identities. Despite calls for its expansion by both queer and trans scholars,10 however, queer studies early in the twenty-first century remained primarily wedded to the investigation of sexuality, a schema in which transgender phenomena were often misapprehended through the field’s implicit privileging of sexual orientation.11 Although the fields ­theoretically overlapped, it was queer studies that was more centrally taken up in the academy, with transgender studies generally treated as a subfield and often relegated to the role of a fractious “special guest” within queer studies’ purview.12 The subsequent launch of TSQ (a title echoing GLQ) as the journal of record for transgender studies has released the field from its solicitation of queer studies – moving it from the d ­ iscussion of what ­transgender is (not transsexual and, perhaps, not queer after all) to the question of what transgender does or might do. The emerging wildcard formations trans- and trans* perform the referential o­ pening transgender studies has long desired from queer studies: No longer nominally attached to gender, trans-/* is now an “explicitly relational”13 and “­prepositional force”14 that expresses an infinite number of ­unfolding causal ­ connections between forms. This new wave of trans* theory, ­oriented toward “all  ­manner of unexpected becomings,”15 now marks a “postposttranssexual”16 era in which trans* studies finds itself positioned to offer queer studies its own terms of alliance. With its long-practiced attentions to the sensible, the material, and the futural, trans* studies now presents the recent p ­ henomenological, critical race, and utopian turns in queer studies a host of theoretical resources.

The Things between Us For all their similarities, transgender and queer studies nonetheless ­differ in crucial ways that place their key concerns and methods in ­critical tension. Contention between the fields is most apparent in literary and cultural studies, in which early disagreements over queer studies’ ­theorizations of the transgender body and the relative value of social construction as a central concept have not been fully resolved. Although most assessments of the two fields emphasize their inextricability, Janet Halley’s Split Decisions contains a singularly useful mapping of their early bodies as distinct lines of inquiry. Halley, a legal scholar, employs the conventions of courtroom procedure to demonstrate how in Second Skins, transgender literary theorist Jay Prosser conducts a cross-examination of Judith Butler’s queer feminism

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that places the investments of queer theory and ­transgender studies into paradoxical relation. The result is a ­distillation of the ­intervention transgender studies initially presented to queer theory: In privileging ­discursivity and performativity over ­interiority and materiality, queer studies overwrites the felt reality of transgender identification as a form of false consciousness.17 Prosser’s rhetorical move to defend the constative field of transgender desire – the wish to simply be a gender, rather than to perform one – asks us to “see the critical relation between all the oppositions that divide feminist queer theory’s desiderata from transsexuality’s.”18 Split Decisions interprets this paradox as Prosser’s intentional strategy, one in which queer studies is presented with the impossible task of confronting the material grounds of its own construction – a move similar to Stryker’s monstrous warning in “My Words to Victor Frankenstein” to “heed my words, and you may well discover the seams and sutures in yourself.”19 Halley’s mapping of the major investments of each “side” of this standoff in separate columns is perhaps the most definitive tracing of the two fields as opposed rather than complementary ­discourses.20 Split Decisions is filled with such confrontations, but Butler v. Prosser is the only instance in which Halley employs these typographical c­ olumns – a perhaps unconscious replication of the “mirror scene” Prosser a­ nalyzes in Second Skins. A foundational trope of transgender ­autobiography, the mirror scene is also a paradoxical form, in which the mirror reflects the improperly gendered image of “me/not me” to the transgender ­subject. Halley’s columns in Split Decisions thus crystallize Prosser’s use of the ­mirror scene to stage an inverted relation to queer theory, revealing p­ aradox as a foundational method in transgender studies. Like other methods emerging from within the field, this critical use of paradox is drawn directly from transgender experience: the impossible possibility of living one life in two genders or the illogical project of seeking to be ­recognized as a gender one already is. Paradox thus emerges as an early structural relation between queer and transgender studies, one that points to other lines of inversion. Perhaps the most politicized disagreement between the fields surfaces around the use of textual analysis as a shared technique: In its zeal to theorize sex and gender antinormativity, queer studies has often taken up t­ ransgender and  intersex bodies as textual “signs or allegories” of its t­heories.21 Transgender ­ scholars have presented vociferous opposition to queer studies’ reading of such bodies as case studies for its claims. For example, Jacob Hale’s “Suggested Rules for Non-transsexuals Writing about Transsexuals, Transsexuality, Transsexualism, or Trans” cautions theorists to avoid the “species of rehabilitation”22 by which transgender subjects

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have been a­nalytically ­conscripted into queer theory’s d ­ econstructivist project. The  ethics of interpretive practice – the question of “how to read”23 – is another ­primary point on which transgender and queer studies invert: Queer ­studies’ ­privileging of language over materiality has meant that it often interprets bodies as if they were texts, whereas transgender studies’ attention to ­corporeality means that it often treats texts as if they were ­bodies  – applying heuristic methods extracted from transgender ­phenomenology to textual objects themselves. If trans* is not like queer, then what (other) things can it do? In 2004, Stryker published a short article in GLQ titled “Transgender Studies: Queer Theory’s Evil Twin” in which she lamented queer theory’s inability to welcome transsexuality into its critical framework.24 Here again, we see paradox invoked in Stryker’s description of the fields as identicalyet-not in the correlation of twin to “evil twin.” However, an evil twin is not necessarily a flat negation of an opposing body. Rather, it is a physical copy produced by a parallel reality in which morality or natural law is radically scrambled. An evil twin is, thus, not subtractive, but supplemental, offering tools that a more normative discourse may render impossible to perceive. Stryker’s evil-twin metaphor illustrates how the fields operate in tandem – inversely and yet supplementally arrayed against the processes that would attach coercive or regulatory force to either of their value systems. Although any move to neatly separate the fields is largely rhetorical, a survey of their bodies might map their parallel investments as such: Transgender studies values

Queer studies values

Recovery

Failure

Self-revelation Ecstatics Transitivity Paradox Mutual constitution Reconstruction Materiality Situatedness Interiority Integration Concatentation/paratactics

World making Desire Refusal Promiscuity Assemblage Deconstruction Discourse Interpretation Style Shattering, loss Disorientation, backwardness

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What we find is not a confrontation in which one side must prevail but, rather, two variant strains of making meaning that contest but also inform and enrich one another. Much like gender transition itself, ­transgender studies is revealed here to have “more” body than is presumed by the ­epistemic frame of Halley’s narrower model. To (re)cite Halley here with a transgender studies gloss, “There is something thrilling about s­ eeing these new objects of desire come into view.”25 We might thrill to the revelation of transgender studies’ larger body because it presents to us e­xpressions of affect and vitality that queer studies – despite all its ­attention to ­normativity – has so far failed to put within productive reach. Or, we might thrill to see how transgender studies offers both a limit and a threshold to many of queer studies’ core interpretive methods, marking the transitive point where our sight wavers and new objects materialize on the horizon.

Trans*, Representation, and the Reading of Things Both queer and transgender studies have been fundamentally concerned with representation – the textual figuration of the desiring and gendered body – but this issue has been perhaps more fraught for trans identities, which exceed many of the formal representational frames of western c­ ulture. Since the mid-nineteenth century, transgender phenomena have generally been represented as things – indefinable and monstrous objects that threaten the taxonomies of the western scientific episteme. However, the twentyfirst century has seen an explosion of self-authored and ­nonstigmatizing transgender representations: As millennial ­transgender communities and politics diverged from gay and lesbian models, ­transgender activists and scholars developed a rich range of strategies for expressing trans ­identities and excavating transgender histories. A host of resulting “border wars” broke out as transgender activists and scholars contested queer ­interpretations of specific cultural texts and historical figures.26 Similarly, the history of gay rights was reshaped when historian Stryker discovered that a trans-led riot had taken place in San Francisco in 1966 – three years before Stonewall. This disclosure was its own form of trans cultural production, desubjugating the material history of transgender resistance from within a more privileged account of the gay rights movement. Such revelatory incursions have been a primary method by which transgender has established a space for itself inside the context of queer representation. However, trans has never been limited to the shape of queer figuration: By the second decade of the twenty-first century, transgender creators had produced signature work in nearly all avenues of cultural production.

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Although autobiography, portraiture, and documentary c­ inema have been the primary genres of transgender expression,27 these forms have ­radically evolved as creators have formally explored the diverse modes of trans identification that have proliferated since the turn of the  century. ­ The result is an era saturated with transgender visibility – a “­transgender ­tipping point”28 that would seem to signal improved ­ conditions for ­transgender life. However, violence against transgender people, especially trans women of color, has increased in the face of this representational wave – ­suggesting that media visibility may drive certain forms of raced and classed anti-trans violence. Transgender creators and scholars have recently raised this paradox, pointing to the limits of representation as a unifying political strategy.29 The rising critique of visibility politics signals a shift in transgender studies from representational analysis toward the question of what might make a practice or work thematically or ­formally trans.* Such ­inquiries release the field from a focus on transgender authorship alone, opening it toward interpretive methods that draw from the ­material experience of trans embodiment to reveal new meaning within and between forms. What previously unseen things might trans* studies recover? A brief reading of John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)30 demonstrates the field’s core commitments to “refuse closure, insist on situation, seek m ­ ultiplicity,” returning to the film’s body to reveal the mutual c­ onstitution of ­trans­phobic and AIDS-related panics during the early 1980s. Shortening the title of Howard Hawks’s The Thing from Another World (1951), Carpenter’s The  Thing activates a twin etymological history of the term “thing”: Often used to indicate an inanimate or unnamed object, the word thing also ­indicates “a meeting” or “a matter of concern” – a trans* point of ­encounter where meaning is in transition. Revealing ­connections between the ­seemingly unrelated blood logics of HIV ­infection and sex ­assignment, The Thing illustrates how the paranoid ­fantasies of the early AIDS ­crisis were linked with emerging discourses of medicalized ­transphobia. Although it contains no representations of ­persons with AIDS (PWAs) or transgender identities, The Thing ­nonetheless formally animates the sexual politics of the early Reagan era though a m ­ orphological aesthetic that connects the AIDS panic and transphobia as culturally subtending ­phenomena: The  film’s original tagline, “Man is the warmest place to hide,” eerily points to the shared logics of infiltration and passing that would define the transphobic and AIDS-phobic imaginary of the Reagan era. A reimagining of Hawks’s earlier McCarthy-period film, The Thing follows an isolated band of US researchers who encounter an alien life

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form in Antarctica. After a string of conflicts with the monster’s wildly permutating body, the men realize that the creature possesses the ability to assimilate living flesh and imitate its forms. “A figure for pure ­becoming,”31 the thing has traveled all over the universe and can morph into an e­ ndless range of interspecies shapes. Paranoia strikes the men as they realize the thing has consumed and copied some of their bodies. Eventually, they develop a blood test to identify the imitations, but it is (of course) too late. They turn on each other, and the film ends as their installation burns down with the thing still on the loose and global infection all but certain. Although readings of this plot as a cautionary AIDS tale are often dismissed as too pat, Carpenter was highly aware of the first stages of the epidemic, which broke into the US news cycle only eight weeks before he began filming.32 While it is not a conscious comment on AIDS, The Thing is nonetheless a cultural mirror reflecting the nationalist horrors of its historical moment: Not that the US was being invaded from without, but that there had been “a hallucination in (our) midst from the start.”33 Although it remains highly undertheorized, The Thing is nonetheless an aesthetic masterpiece, featuring practical special effects that are “revolting at the most basic level”34 – a reaction also invoked by defendants claiming “trans panic” as an excuse for murder. The film’s “sense-defying amalgamations”35 of flesh anticipate the retroviral qualities of HIV, while referencing the monstrously rearranged corporeality of the transsexual body. Predating Stone’s demand that gender be shattered and Stryker’s call to willful monstrosity, The Thing enacts a trans* body politics that “undoes the intelligibility of gender itself,”36 virally infiltrating and destroying the integrity of sexed morphology, replacing it with radically plastic ­copies. The thing’s ability to seamlessly mimic forms and identities updates Hawks’s Red Scare context with new evocations of both the “passing” transsexual and the undetectably infected PWA. These resonances in the film aesthetically capture a rarely analyzed historical juncture: The formal beginning of the AIDS epidemic and the withdrawal of transsexuality from federal Medicare coverage, which both took place in 1981 – one year before the film’s release. These twin events were refinements of the sexual eugenics that had regulated access to US citizenship since the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act.37 During the Reagan era, American PWAs and transsexuals would be abjected from within the body politic through a hygienic imaginary designed to purge them from social belonging and state investment. As it became clear that the genitals could be surgically

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altered, opponents of transgender rights shifted their definitions of sex from anatomical to chromosomal, claiming that no amount of m ­ edical intervention could “change” a body’s sex. Simultaneously, the state would withhold AIDS ­prevention funding, arguing that infection was the result of individual moral failure. A poster that appears on the wall during The Thing’s blood test scene perfectly captures these dual objects of the era’s ­paranoia: Picturing the slogan “They Aren’t Labelled, Chum” above a white woman announcing “I have V.D.!” the image crystallizes the period’s co-­constituted fears of the incorrectly labeled “passing” transsexual and the infected PWA. Revisiting The Thing through a formal trans* analysis thus makes the cultural unconscious of its historical period newly recoverable: Often unfavorably compared to the enchantments of E.T. (1982), The Thing is itself an “evil twin” that penetrates the Reagan era’s sunny facade, disclosing from within its guise the tightening blood logics that would organize US life and death late in the twentieth century.

Notes Susan Stryker and Paisley Currah, “Introduction,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1, nos. 1–2 (2014): 1. 2 See, for example, key works such as biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling’s Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (New York: Basic Books, 2000) and psychologists Suzanne J. Kessler and Wendy McKenna’s Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1978). 3 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), 1. 4 David Valentine, Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), 4. 5 Leslie Feinberg, Transgender Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1999), 5. 6 Judith Butler, “Imitation and Gender Insubordination,” in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, ed. Henry Abelove, Michèle Aina Barale, and David M. Halperin (New York: Routledge, 1993), 318. 7 Janet Halley, Split Decisions: How and Why to Take a Break from Feminism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006), 272. 8 Susan Stryker, “(De)Subjugated Knowledges: An Introduction to Transgender Studies,” in The Transgender Studies Reader, ed. Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle (New York: Routledge, 2006), 9. 9 Sandy Stone, “The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto,” in The Transgender Studies Reader, ed. Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle (London: Routledge, 2006), 231. 1

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David L. Eng, J. Jack Halberstam, and José Esteban Muñoz, “What’s Queer about Queer Studies Now?” Social Text 23, nos. 3–4 (2005): 1–17; Viviane Namaste, “Tragic Misreadings: Queer Theory’s Erasure of Transgender Subjectivity,” in Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 2000), 9–23. 11 Susan Stryker, “Transgender Studies: Queer Theory’s Evil Twin,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 10, no. 2 (2004): 214. 12 Hilary Malatino, “Pedagogies of Becoming: Trans Inclusivity and the Crafting of Being,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 2, no. 3 (2015): 399. 13 Susan Stryker, Paisley Currah, and Lisa Jean Moore, “Trans, Trans-, or Transgender?” Women’s Studies Quarterly 36, nos. 3–4 (2008): 11. 14 Eva Hayward and Jami Weinstein, “Introduction: Tranimalities in the Age of Trans* Life,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 2, no. 2 (2015): 196. 15 Stryker and Currah, “Introduction,” 9. 16 Stryker and Currah, “Introduction,” 3. 17 Jay Prosser, “Judith Butler: Queer Feminism, Transgender, and the Transubstantiation of Sex,” in Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 21–60. 18 Halley, Split Decisions, 273. 19 Susan Stryker, “My Words to Victor Frankenstein Above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage,” GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies 1, no. 3 (1994): 241. 20 Halley, Split Decisions, 273. 21 Heather Love, “Queer,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1, nos. 1–2 (2014): 174. 22 Jacob Hale, “Suggested Rules for Non-transsexuals Writing about Transsexuals, Transsexuality, Transsexualism, or Trans” (1997), accessed July 23, 2018, www.sandystone.com/hale.rules.html. 23 Alexander Eastwood, “How, then, Might the Transsexual Read? Notes toward a Trans Literary History,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1, no. 4 (2014): 591–2. 24 Stryker, “Transgender Studies,” 213. 25 Halley, Split Decisions, 270. 26 Particular critical flashpoints have emerged around the novels The Well of Loneliness (1920) and Stone Butch Blues (1993), the film Boys Don’t Cry (1999), and the historical lives of female-assigned people who lived as men – such as jazz musician Billy Tipton. A more recent controversy has erupted over white gay documentarian David France’s alleged theft of footage and ideas from black trans filmmaker Tourmaline. 27 Julian B. Carter, David J. Getsy, and Trish Salah, “Introduction,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1, no. 4 (2014): 470. 28 Kathy Steinmetz. “The Transgender Tipping Point,” Time, May 28, 2014. 10

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Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Johanna Burton, “Known Unknowns: An Introduction to Trap Door,” in Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017), xv–xvi; Eric A. Stanley, “Anti-Trans Optics: Recognition, Opacity, and the Image of Force,” South Atlantic Quarterly 116, no. 3 (2017): 618. 30 John Carpenter, dir. The Thing, 1982; Universal City, CA: Universal Pictures, 2005. DVD. 31 Eric White, “The Erotics of Becoming: Xenogenesis and The Thing,” Science Fiction Studies 20, no. 3 (1993): 401. 32 In the film’s 2004 DVD commentary track, Carpenter notes of the shoot, “At the same time, there was a little article in the paper I remember reading about some kind of new disease that was occurring. It was called AIDS, and people were dying. And it was a very weirdly similar dynamic to what we were doing, because you couldn’t tell who had it.” 33 Ric Gentry, “Interview: John Carpenter,” Post Script 34, no. 1 (2014): 7. 34 Anne Bilson, The Thing (London: British Film Institute, 1997), 47. 35 Ric Gentry, “Interview,” 3. 36 White, “The Erotics,” 400. 37 Siobhan B. Somerville, “Sexual Aliens and the Racialized State: A Queer Reading of the 1952 U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act,” in Queer  Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossings, ed. Eithne Luibhéid and Lionel Cantú (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), 76. 29

Further Reading Awkward-Rich, Cameron. “Trans, Feminism: Or, Reading Like a Depressed Transsexual.” Signs 42, no. 4 (2017): 819–41. cárdenas, micha. “Shifting Futures: Digital Trans of Color Praxis,” Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology 6 (2015). http://adanewmedia­.org/2015/01/ issue6-cardenas/. Chen, Jian Neo. Trans Exploits: Trans of Color Cultures and Technologies in Movement. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019. Colebrook, Claire. “What Is It Like to Be Human?” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 2, no. 2 (2015): 227–43. Crawford, Lucas. Transgender Architectonics: The Shape of Change in Modernist Space. New York: Routledge, 2016. Getsy, David J. Abstract Bodies: Sixties Sculpture in the Expanded Field of Gender. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015. Halberstam, Jack J. In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. New York: New York University Press, 2005. Halberstam, Jack J. Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018.

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Keegan, Cáel M. Lana and Lilly Wachowski: Sensing Transgender. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2018. Preciado, Paul. Testo-Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharma­ copornographic Era. New York: The Feminist Press, 2013. simpkins, reese. “Temporal Flesh, Material Becomings.” Somatechnics 7, no. 1 (2017): 124–41. Snorton, C. Riley. Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017. Stallings, L.H. Funk the Erotic: Transaesthetics and Black Sexual Cultures. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015. Steinbock, Eliza. Shimmering Images: Trans Cinema, Embodiment, and the Aesthetics of Change. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019.

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chapter 5

Queer Indigenous Studies, or Thirza Cuthand’s Indigequeer Film June Scudeler

Queer Indigenous studies is a new, but exciting, field, particularly because of the recent surge in Indigenous-authored and edited texts.1 2010’s GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies’ special issue, Sexuality, Nationality, Indigeneity, edited by Mark Rifkin, Daniel Heath Justice (Cherokee), and Bethany Schneider, and 2011’s companion volumes, Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature and Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature, initiated a critical mass of writing about queer indigeneity, particularly by queer and/ or Indigenous people.2 But situating the 2010s as the beginning of the field erases the critical path-clearing work of queer women like Beth Brant (Bay of Quinte Mohawk) and her 1994 collection Writing as Witness, that included twelve queer and lesbian women writers, and the 1986 special issue of the Canadian feminist quarterly Fireweed, co-edited by Connie Fife (Cree).3 These collections highlight the importance of literature, especially by queer Indigenous women, to establishing the field. Positioning the early twenty-first century as the “beginning” of queer Indigenous ­studies erases the vital writing of queer Indigenous women, a corollary echoed in the lack of critical attention given to self-described butch lesbian filmmaker Thirza Cuthand (Plains Cree). Cuthand has been making films since 1995, when they were sixteen.4 They explain, “at the time, there wasn’t a lot of work being made by ­teenage queers. It [Cuthand’s first film] got programmed in a lot of festivals internationally and kind of opened the door for more queers to make work. I did it so that other youth could feel they could make a film about their life without having a big budget or fancy camera or things like that.”5 Cuthand sometimes identifies as butch lesbian, sometimes as Two Spirit, and briefly considered being trans. This fluidity does not always fit into western conceptions of gender, but using nation-specific Indigenous methodologies, in this case, Cree, opens up more complex and a­ ppropriate understandings of Cuthand’s films. 79

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june scudeler

Examining three of Cuthand’s films using Cree methodologies, I will explore how queer Indigenous studies differs from whitestream LGBTQ+ studies.6 Cree scholar Priscilla Settee uses the term âhkamêyimowak, or the “persistence, that provides the strength for women to carry on in the face of extreme adversity … often using minimal resources to challenge oppressive structures and to create powerful alternatives in the arts, in education and in the workplace.”7 Although, in The Strength of Women: ahkamêyimowak, Settee does not mention queer Indigenous people, the difficulties that Cuthand faces trying to make her films in a racist, homophobic, and misogynist society are similar. Although Cuthand’s impressive oeuvre of films has recently made funding and teaching opportunities more readily available, Cuthand’s position as a bipolar filmmaker living on disability in Toronto makes filmmaking a challenge. However, they continue to make funny and provocative films that challenge preconceptions about queer Indigenous people. Before Indigenous people started producing cultural and critical work, anthropologist Walter L. Williams’ The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture, published in 1986, was one of the first ­comprehensive examinations of Two-Spirit people.8 Roscoe’s The  Zuni Man-Woman (1991) and Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America (1998) were anthropological accounts that used the term “berdache” to describe queer Indigenous people.9 Although Roscoe’s books are important parts of the field, in response to their continued and continuing erasure, queer Indigenous people coined the term “Two Spirit” at the 1990 Intertribal Native American, First Nations, Gay and Lesbian American Conference in Winnipeg. “Two Spirit” is a translation of the Anishinaabe term “niizh manidoowag,” highlighting how the term is inextricably tied to Indigenous ways of knowing and to grassroots activism. “Two Spirit” is a specifically Indigenous term that is different from “gay,” “lesbian,” “trans,” “bisexual,” or “queer.” Driskill defines “Two Spirit” as an “umbrella term for Native GLBTQ people as well as a term for people who use words and concepts from their specific traditions to describe themselves. Like other umbrella terms—including queer—it risks erasing difference. But also like queer, it is meant to be inclusive, ambiguous, and fluid.”10 Although the term is fluid, seeming to align it with queer studies, “Two Spirit” is firmly rooted within Indigenous c­ ommunities, whether urban or rural. According to Alex Wilson (Swampy Cree), “Two Spirit” is a “self-descriptor increasingly used by Aboriginal gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Canadians who live within a traditional Aboriginal worldview. It asserts that all aspects of identity (including sexuality, race,

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gender and spirituality) are interconnected and that one’s experience of sexuality is inseparable from experiences of culture and community.”11 Culture, community, and Indigenous ways of knowing are intimately woven together. Interweaving Indigenous ways of knowing – encompassing epistemologies, histories, stories, language, spirituality, legal systems, and artistic practices – with queer Indigenous studies is integral to Indigenous sovereignty.12 Previously, early settlers and anthropologists referred to queer Indigenous people as “berdaches,” which has been rejected as a term by queer Indigenous peoples because of its anthropological history and because the term refers to a male sexual slave. Indigenous bodies outside of settler conceptions of straightness are a threat to heteropatriarchy and the settler state. Craig Womack (Muskogee / Cherokee) observes that TwoSpirit people may be less visible than their white counterparts because of the “way that the queer Indian, even more than contemporary Indian culture generally, defies the stereotypes of the stoic warrior, the nature-loving mystic, the vanishing American.”13 He adds, “I would speculate that a queer Indian presence … fundamentally challenges the American mythos about Indians in a manner the public will not accept.”14 Clearly, Two-Spirit people disrupt stereotypes of what constitutes ­indigeneity. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Anishinaabe) states, “2SQ [Two-Spirit and queer] bodies and the knowledge and practices those ­bodies house as Indigenous political orders were seen as an extreme threat to settler society, sovereignty, dispossession, and the project of ­colonization, colonialism, and assimilation. The powerful relationships queer bodies house—consent, diversity, variance, spiritual power, ­community, respect, reciprocity, love, attachment—were the very first thing colonizers sought to eliminate.”15 Rather than seeing Two-Spirit people at the ­periphery of Indigenous self-determination, Simpson and other queer Indigenous ­people place Indigenous women and Two-Spirit people at the heart of Indigenous sovereignty. Wilson explains how Cree and other Indigenous people position an ethic of principled noninterference as a way of life, in which community members should not “interfere in any way with another person.”16 Moreover, principled noninterference would require family and friends to “respect and trust the choices [a Two-Spirit/indigenous GLBTQ] person makes,” providing a way for queer Indigenous people to be an integral part of community, rather than an anomaly.17 Jack Saddleback (Cree) also cites noninterference as integral to his experience growing up in a t­raditional family on Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis, Alberta: “as long as the

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child is happy, the community and the family are happy. … I was able to go about and be the gender-queer kid that I always was.”18 However, the imposition of christianity, particularly of residential schools in Canada and boarding schools in the United States, has profoundly disrupted Two-Spirit traditions.19 Residential schools, which status First Nations and some Métis and Inuit children were legislated to attend, were in operation from the 1880s to 1996 when the last school closed.20 Children were forbidden from speaking their language and culture, and physical, sexual, and psychological abuse was rampant. ­ Gender was strictly enforced; boys and girls were segregated. The resulting christian and government-imposed homophobia has devastated TwoSpirit traditions.21 Nevertheless, queer Indigenous people are an integral part of the resurgence and resiliency of Indigenous people. Of course, not all Two-Spirit people use the term. Cuthand’s decolonial imaginings are echoed in her creation of “­experimental [digital] autobiography” from a butch lesbian perspective.22 Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1978, Cuthand is a member of the Little Pine First Nation. Her mother is renowned artist Ruth Cuthand and her grandfather was the Reverend Stan Cuthand, who translated the Bible into Cree Standard Roman Orthographies. Her wry sense of humor and frank explorations of being poor, bipolar, Cree, and queer are both idiosyncratic and engaging. She incites laughter but then undercuts the humor with pointed and sometimes melancholic jabs of reality. The experimental nature of some of Cuthand’s videos, as Womack stressed previously, also undercuts stereotypical perceptions of who Indigenous people are and what Indigenous film should look like. ­ Imagining different stories, particularly of queer Indigenous people, is a powerful act of resilience and decolonization. Cuthand remembers, “even my grandma was an activist. There was fear of nuclear war back then, my grandma would take me to peace marches. She gave me the sense of the importance of doing activist work in the community”23; Cuthand’s films are part of this family history of activism. But how does Cuthand’s desire for social interaction and audience response, or what Lisa Tatonetti calls the “affective rhetorical circuit,” model Indigenous ways of knowing?24 Tatonetti employs embodiment rhetoric, “that visceral experience of knowledge bound to our particular bodies [that] can only exist in intimate relationships” to look for Two Spirit traces in Cuthand’s works.25 Likewise, Simpson asserts, “queer Indigenous bodies are political orders” that “house knowledge, relationships, and responsibilities.”26 Note that Simpson uses kinship terms

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like “relationship” and “responsibility” that echo the Cree concept of “­wâhkôtowin.” Similarly, Chelsea Vowel (Métis) explains how she sees kinship as the center of Indigenous life: “Attentiveness to kinship has the potentiality to free our communities from colonialism through the grounding of good relations.”27 Rather than using embodiment rhetoric to discuss Cuthand’s work, I argue that “wâhkôhtowin,” or kinship, interrelatedness, a sense of closeness or intimacy, and “miyo-wîcêhtowin,” or the principle of getting along well with others, good relations, and expanding the circle, anchors a specifically Cree reading of her work. Although Cuthand does not specifically use Cree terms in a lot of her work, she models Cree ways of knowing by searching for and creating communities of queer Indigenous people in her films. Shot on Hi-8, Cuthand’s first film, 1995’s Lessons in Baby Dyke Theory, debuts her signature mix of humor, irony, and pointed commentary. Film critic Peter Knegt, writing about the importance of LGBTQ+ film fests in Canada, remembers: The three noted Canadian film fests were products of the late 1980s and early 1990s, a time when LGBTQ people were coming together to fight for the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS—a disease that governments in Canada and other nations were tragically ineffective at fighting. LGBT film festivals (or gay and lesbian film festivals, which they were pretty much exclusively considered at the time) were born out of necessity, meeting a need for safe and concentrated spaces to share work whose existence countered the rampant discrimination being faced on every corner.28

Cuthand’s first film was released shortly before antiretroviral drugs were discovered. Although Cuthand does not explicitly say why she includes a humorous reference to dental dams in the film – “Maybe they’re all locked in their bedrooms trying to figure out how a dental dam works” – dams are a way to lessen the transmission of sexually transmitted infections during oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex.29 Cuthand’s advocacy of safer-sex practices is at the center of 2 Spirit Introductory Special $19.99 (2015).30 Although Cuthand does not self-identify as Cree in her first film, the inclusion of safer-sex advocacy in her films is directed at Indigenous people who still face higher incidences of HIV infections, illustrating how Cuthand supports queer Indigenous communities.31 Lessons is shot, acted and narrated by Cuthand, ending with handwritten credits in her notebook, emblazoned with a Dyke Visibility sticker. Chronicling the difficulties of being a teenage lesbian in the medium-sized prairie city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Lessons enacts

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“miyo-wîcêhtowin,” or good relations, as she humorously tries to create a community in her high school. She muses at the beginning of the film, “every day when I go to school, I notice that there are a lot less ­lesbians than I had envisioned the night before,” accompanied by a drawing of “My School Hallway,” a flat world of high school lockers and Barbie doll-like fellow students. Cuthand vacuums up the lesbian Barbie dolls, wondering plaintively “I wonder where they went.”32 Clearly, Cuthand is yearning for ­community in her school, especially of the erotic variety; she has her visions at night. She imagines the lesbians are at home watching Ellen, experimenting with dental dams, or on a cross-country adventure “stealing religious lawn ornaments” – a dig at the disastrous effects of colonization, particularly residential schools and Indigenous sexuality.33 However, Cuthand’s humor is undercut by her forlornly opening a kitchen cupboard stating, “or maybe they’re just hiding. I don’t blame them.”34 Cuthand highlights the difficulties faced by queer Indigenous youth, particularly ageism. A Barbie doll, on her Lever soapbox, lectures the queer Barbie, “yeah, you think it’s cool to be lesbian. You’re just trying to be trendy. Anyway, you’re too young to know.” The younger Barbie angrily retorts, “I don’t need this, you ageist bitch” kicking the Barbie from her pedestal.35 Clearly, the baby dyke is not too young to know her own mind, but there is an element of bravado to her takedown of the older lesbian. Cuthand tries to hide the vulnerability she feels at being a baby dyke, especially in a high school and city that do not welcome her. Cuthand dreams of “miyo-wîcêhtowin” as she imagines taking all the lesbians in her school on an all-expenses paid trip to Vancouver, where Cuthand would eventually live for a few years.36 But poverty, a theme in Cuthand’s work, in the guise of only having a five-dollar bill, quashes her fantasy up to a point. She hopes she can give them lollipops; instead the paper-doll lesbians walk away, Cuthand yelling, “come on, please, I’d do it for you!” after them.37 She is trying to create a community, but she is rebuffed; the only way she can envision community is by bribing the other imaginary lesbians in her school with a trip to Vancouver. Also, Cuthand’s inclusion of Barbie dolls, Ellen, and other contemporary items is not only humorous, but makes a political statement that Indigenous people are not stuck in the past but are vibrant and resilient people thriving into the future. In 2007, at the age of twenty-nine, Cuthand considered transitioning to male, choosing the name Sarain, which she would have been called if she had been born a boy, a process she chronicles in Boi Oh Boi (2012).38 Cuthand asks her “one-time, [high school] lover,” “Do you think I am

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butch or femme. … I really wanted to know.”39 This opening narration is juxtaposed with a grey sky, an indeterminate space that then shows Cuthand eyeing themself in the bathroom mirror, looking butch with short hair and black tank top, admitting, “I was clearly butch, but I hadn’t yet identified myself.”40 The viewer knows that Cuthand is indeed butch and is bemused that Cuthand is unaware. In her analysis of female masculinity in Boi Oh Boi, Tatonetti argues that Cuthand “interprets her gender explorations vis-à-vis the gaze of others.”41 Although Cuthand discusses reactions to her six-month flirtation with transitioning to a man, she is the only person we see on onscreen, except for her small dog, Little Mister. We  do not see Cuthand’s community, showing the process of deciding whether to transition, but her community still informs Cuthand’s ­decision-making process as she ruminates on transitioning. She performs various tasks during the video such as gardening and fixing her car to symbolize her uncertainty whether to transition to male. However, her decision to stay a butch lesbian undercuts the perceived ­gendered aspects of these tasks. As Cuthand sports a hilariously poorly glued-on moustache and negotiates tying a tie, she muses about trying to take up space differently but is not “interested in aping the more irritating aspects of men.”42 Cuthand emphatically rejects rigid gender roles, preferring a lazy version of butchness that is also impacted by poverty; she wants a suit but is unable to afford one. Cuthand explains at one point in the film that, when she was living as a trans man, her mother “refused to call me by my boy name, or my chosen pronouns. She basically ignored the whole thing.”43 However, although Cuthand’s mother might refuse to accept Cuthand as a trans man, by contrast, her mother invokes the Cree teachings of alternate gender roles in Indigenous communities: “My mom told me I would have been a third gender. … I think that’s how I own my butch identity now. I like the overlap between man and woman. The blurring of the lines. Becoming something totally different than man or woman. Owning my curves, my hardness and softness and gentleness. And yes, even for me, that ­f ierceness.”44 Cuthand moves to self-acceptance of her gender, aided in part by her mother’s positioning of her decision in Cree terms. Tatonetti explains “While Cuthand’s mother refuses to acknowledge her in a transidentified gender performance, she by no means refutes Cuthand’s performance of nonheteronormative gender; instead, she makes that embodied rhetorical act legible within a particular Indigenous context,” although I do not think performance is the right word.45 Rather, even though Cuthand is pondering whether to transition, which coincides with a

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manic episode, she can only make sense of her struggles to understand her gender identity through her mother’s Cree teachings. Allowing members of a community to be is a fundamental part of Cree and most Indigenous societies. Simpson emphasizes, “The job of everyone else is not to direct or control. … No one else has the right to interfere … unless it is causing great harm to someone else.”46 Cuthand’s mom uses stories as a way to help them discover themself, rather than being prescriptive, honoring Cuthand’s decisions. Cuthand enacts “wâhkôhtowin” in 2 Spirit Introductory Special $19.99 by including her friends in the film. Her Vimeo page declares, “don’t worry if you are just coming out as a 2 Spirited person, we have just the introductory special for you!”47 Shot like a late night TV commercial (the title is a tip-off), Introductory Special uses humor to highlight the isolation that Two-Spirit folks can experience, especially on reserves. Cuthand explains, “It’s hard to talk about serious issues and be funny at the same time. But in my culture, that’s the way we approach these issues. Humour is a coping mechanism for people who are oppressed: if you can laugh, you can survive. I’m Cree, and we laugh a lot. But basically, I can’t help it: I’m always looking for the joke.”48 Similarly, Dallas Goldtooth, a Mdewakanton Dakota and Diñe comedian and activist, observes, “I think comedy allows us to process information and experience, and in the case of reconciliation and trauma, in a different manner that provides some positive healing and provides a positive discourse on the subject.”49 Humor is not only a coping mechanism, but it is also political commentary, which Cuthand uses with skill. Her humor is double-edged because she includes Indigenous people who are in on the jokes and can sometimes cause discomfort in nonindigenous viewers. In front of a green scene of a prairie landscape of rolling hills, Cuthand asks her audience: New to the 2 Spirit lifestyle? Want to talk to someone in the spirit and the flesh instead of reading The Spirit and the Flesh? We have just the service for you! Call now and for only 19.99 a month we can provide you with instant unlimited telephone access to traditional knowledge and support. We also provide monthly gifts for subscribers, call now and we can hook you up with this beaded whisk! Perfect for DIY spankings and whipping up eggs the morning after your first snag!50

Accompanied by bouncy electronic music, Cuthand uses a mocking tone and drops Will Roscoe’s The Spirit and the Flesh unceremoniously to the ground, showing her preference for talking to real, live Indigenous

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people rather than reading anthropological accounts. In addition to emotional support, the Two-Spirit hotline also provides concrete help. Subscribers can receive a beaded whisk “perfect for DIY ­ spankings and whipping up eggs the morning after your first snag,” and other handy items like a lube mat to make sure your lube is not too slippery, a safer-sex kit (black gloves, condoms, and dental dams), and the everhelpful phone line. Although Introductory Special is certainly humorous, it is also grounded in “wâhkôtowin,” as Cuthand creates a supportive service for other queer Indigenous people. Cuthand states in the video: When I came out as a Two-Spirit, I didn’t even know what Two-Spirit meant. I tried everything. I hung out with white LGBT youth, but they didn’t understand my issues from a First Nations perspective. I read books, but there was no one to turn to with my inevitable questions. I wanted to attend Two-Spirit gatherings, but I was too young and too poor to be able to travel very far. I wanted to talk to an elder, but I didn’t know which elders in my area were safe to talk to because not all elders are Two-Spirit friendly.51

Cuthand is forming a much-needed community for Two-Spirit people that includes advice that helps those on isolated reserves and in cities. She is being a good relative to other Two-Spirit people by providing such vital information, especially for folks too poor to travel. The telephone hotline provides support, ensuring Two-Spirit people do not feel isolated: “People in love with your drag persona, but meh about your day-to-day persona? Aww, we’ve been there.” She also addresses some of the barriers and issues faced by Two-Spirit people: “Does your girlfriend get violent after too many drinks? We have just the elder to talk to and she won’t tell you it’s normal.”52 She offers help finding a friendly elder to Two-Spirit people because not all elders are sympathetic, which is a result of colonization, particularly of residential school and the forced imposition of ­christianity. 2 Spirit Introductory Special $19.99 includes Cuthand’s friends Elwood Jimmy and Tobi Caribou pretending to be customers, showing the importance of community. Cuthand’s use of “we” to describe themselves and other folks working at the hotline illustrates a collectivist striving to support and inspire other Two-Spirit people. Oji-Cree writer Joshua Whitehead explains why he refers to himself as both Two Spirit and indigiqueer: “to pay homage to where I come from, from Winnipeg, being kind of the birthplace of two-spirit in 1990. But I also think of Indigiqueer as the forward moving momentum for

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two-spiritness.”53 But actually Cuthand coined the term “indigequeer” in 2004 because she “liked the idea of Indigequeer. Because Queer is kind of a confrontational label, it’s one of those old reclamations that makes people uncomfortable. Indigenous isn’t a really confrontational label (although everything else about it is because we are all still all over the globe resisting) so putting the two together makes this word I really liked.”54 Cuthand’s films are not simply in reaction to colonization and homophobia but are integral part of “wâkhôtowin” as she creates community both for herself and for queer Indigenous people. Cuthand continues to inspire other queer Indigenous artists and t­ hinkers. In “What Do We Mean by Queer Indigenous Ethics?,” a ­conversation with nehiyaw-saulteaux-Métis curator Lindsay Nixon, Cree poet and scholar Billy-Ray Belcourt asks, “what are the objects of queer and trans Indigenous or two-spirit critique? … [Q]ueer Indigenous theory is also in a state of flux; it is at the end of one object world and at the door of another.”55 So, how does queer Indigenous studies enact futurity? What comes next for the field? Cuthand’s longevity as a filmmaker provides a compelling and essential answer to Belcourt’s ­musings. Queer Indigenous studies, as previously mentioned, is a new field, although, as Belcourt points out, it is established enough to move beyond representation to enacting a queer Indigenous studies that is not just theoretical but is m ­ eaningful beyond the academy and the art gallery. Moreover, the varying ways of naming the field – queer Indigenous, Two Spirit, indigiqueer/indigequeer – echo respect for how people choose to refer to themselves. Difference in opinion means the field is still ­growing and changing. Sharing stories and ideas around the kitchen table is an ­Indigenous-centered way of ­thinking about queer Indigenous studies. Rather than framing disagreements as conflict, the kitchen table means that everyone’s voice is different but equal. Of course, this is not always achievable, but it is a useful metaphor with which to discuss queer ­Indigenous studies in all its variations.

Notes For example, although Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology (1988), edited by Will Roscoe, included a variety of genres by Indigenous peoples, it was edited by a nonindigenous person. See Will Roscoe, ed., Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1988). 2 See Daniel Heath Justice, Bethany Schneider, and Mark Rifkin, eds., “Sexuality, Nationality, Indigeneity,” special issue, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 16, nos. 1–2 (2010); Qwo-Li Driskill et al., eds. Queer 1

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Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2011); and Qwo-Li Driskill et al., eds., Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2011). 3 See Beth Brant, Writing as Witness: Essay and Talk (Toronto: Women’s Press, 1994) and “Native Women,” ed. Ivy Chaske and Connie Fife, special issue, Fireweed 22 (1986). 4 The films discussed are available on Cuthand’s website: Thirza Cuthand, Thirza Cuthand: Filmmaker, Performance Artist, Writer, www.thirzacuthand. com/. 5 Kevin Griffin, “Art Seen: Thirza Cuthand Opens Up Her World at Queer Arts Festival,” Vancouver Sun, June 19, 2017, https://vancouversun.com/ entertainment/local-arts/art-seen-thirza-cuthand-opens-up-her-world-atqueer-arts-festival. 6 See, for example, Sandy Grande (Quechua), Red Pedagogy: Native American Social and Political Thought (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004): “Adapting from the feminist notion of ‘malestream,’ Claude Denis (1997) defines ‘whitestream’ as the idea that while American society is not ‘white’ in sociodemographic terms, it remains principally and fundamentally structured on the basis of the Anglo-European, ‘white’ experience” (9). 7 Priscilla Settee, The Strength of Women: Âhkamêyimowak (Regina: Coteau, 2011), iii. 8 Walter L. Williams, The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992). 9 Will Roscoe, The Zuni Man-Woman (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1991); Will Roscoe, Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998). 10 Qwo-Li Driskill, “Doubleweaving Two-Spirit Critiques: Building Alliances  between Native and Queer Studies,” in “Sexuality, Nationality, Indigeneity,” 72. 11 Alex Wilson, “N’tacimowin inna nah’: Coming in to Two-Spirit Identities” (EdD diss., Harvard University, 2007), i. 12 I define “sovereignty” as an assertion of Indigenous cultural, political, and artistic lifeways. Imagination is key to reconceptualizing sovereignty and the idea of nationhood, especially for urban Indigenous people. Although land and territory are a fundamental part of Indigenous sovereignty, I focus more on artistic forms as acts of sovereignty. 13 Craig S. Womack, Red on Red: Native American Literary Separatism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 279. 14 Womack, Red on Red, 280; emphasis in original. 15 Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017), 126. 16 Alex Wilson, “How We Find Ourselves: Identity Development and TwoSpirit People,” Harvard Educational Review 66, no. 2 (1996): 307. 17 Wilson, “How We Find Ourselves,” 310.

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Geraldine Malone, “On Campus with Saskatchewan’s Two-Spirit, Gay, Cree, Transgender Student President,” Vice, September 9, 2015, www.vice.com/ en_ca/article/5gj5ax/on-campus-with-saskatchewans-two-spirit-­gay-creetransgender-student-president. 19 Between 1880 and 1996, approximately 150,000 First Nations and Métis children were legislated to attend residential schools, where they were ­ ­forbidden to speak their languages and practice their cultures to be ­assimilated into Canadian society. Many were physically and sexually abused. See J. R. Miller, “Residential Schools in Canada,” in The Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica Canada, article published October 10, 2012; last modified June 14, 2018, www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/residential-schools/. 20 Indian status is the legal status of a person who is registered as an Indian under the Indian Act. For more information, see “Indian Status,” First Nation and Indigenous Studies, University of British Columbia, accessed July 20, 2018, http://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/indian_status/. 21 See Qwo-Li Driskill, Asegi Stories: Cherokee Queer and Two-Spirit Memory (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2016); Sarah Hunt, An Introduction to the Health of Two-Spirit People: Historical, Contemporary and Emergent Issues (Prince George, BC: National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, 2016); and Saylesh Wesley, “Twin-Spirited Woman: Sts’iyóye smestíyexw slhá:li,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1, no. 3 (2014): 338–51. 22 Alice Royer, “(Digital) Revolution Girl Style Now!: Subcultures, Social Media, Subjectivity and the Videos of Sadie Benning and Thirza Cuthand,” UCLA: Thinking Gender Papers (2012): 4, https://escholarship.org/uc/item/1x86x4ng. 23 Griffin, “Art Seen.” 24 Lisa Tatonetti, “Affect, Female Masculinity, and the Embodied Space Between: Two-Spirit Traces in Thirza Cuthand’s Experimental Film,” in Sexual Rhetorics: Methods, Identities, Publics, ed. Jonathan Alexander and Jacqueline Rhodes (New York: Routledge, 2016), 125. 25 Tatonetti, “Affect,” 126. 26 Simpson, As We Have Always Done, 127. 27 Lindsay Nixon, “This Work Is Not for You,” Canadian Art, June 5, 2017, https://canadianart.ca/essays/summer-2017-editors-note-lindsay-nixon/. 28 Peter Knegt, “Why We Still Need LGBT Film Festivals,” CBC, May 25, 2016, www.cbc.ca/arts/why-we-still-need-lgbt-film-festivals-1.3591915. 29 Thirza Cuthand, Lessons in Baby Dyke Theory, 1995, Vimeo video, uploaded March 28, 2017, 2:55, posted by Thirza Cuthand, https://vimeo.com/210502822. 30 Thirza Cuthand, 2 Spirit Introductory Special $19.99, Vimeo video, uploaded September 16, 2015, 4:57, posted by Thirza Cuthand, https://vimeo.com/139510194. 31 “Indigenous people in Canada are 2.7 times more likely to get HIV than people of other ethnicities in Canada. According to national 2014 e­ stimates, there were 18.2 new HIV infections for every 100,000 Indigenous people in Canada. This compares to only 6.7 new HIV infections for every 100,000 people of other ethnicities in Canada.” “Indigenous People,” HIV in Canada: A Primer for Service Providers, CATIE, accessed July 20, 2018, www.catie.ca/en/hiv-canada/2/2-3/2-3-4. 18

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Cuthand, Lessons. Cuthand, Lessons. In 1997, Ellen DeGeneres’ character came out on her TV sitcom at the same time she came out publicly on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Cuthand’s video shows Degeneres’s sexuality was an open secret: See Hilary Weaver, “Ellen DeGeneres’s Groundbreaking Coming Out: 20 Years Later,” Vanity Fair, April 28, 2017, www.vanityfair.com/style/2017/04/ 20th-anniversary-of-ellen-degeneres-coming-out. 34 Cuthand, Lessons. 35 Cuthand, Lessons. 36 Vancouver is also home to Out on Screen, a festival with a year-long ­program Out in Schools. See Out On Screen, accessed July 22, 2018, http://­ outonscreen.com/. 37 Cuthand, Lessons. 38 Sarain Stump (1945–1974) was supposedly a Cree-Shoshone painter and writer, but his Indigenous ancestry is disputed. 39 Thirza Cuthand, Boi Oh Boi, Vimeo video, uploaded December 3, 2012, 9:33, posted by Thirza Cuthand, https://vimeo.com/54810927. 40 Cuthand, Boi. 41 Tatonetti, “Affect,” 126. 42 Cuthand, Boi. 43 Cuthand, Boi. 44 Cuthand, Boi. 45 Tatonetti, “Affect,” 129. 46 Simpson, As We Have Always Done, 120. 47 Cuthand, 2 Spirit Introductory Special. 48 Ken Eisner, “Shadow and Light: First Nations Women Filmmakers,” in Women Filmmakers: Refocusing, ed. Jacqueline Levitin, Judith Plessis, and Valerie Raoul (New York: Routledge, 2003), 402; emphasis in original. 49 Oscar Baker III, “Comedian Dallas Goldtooth Says Reconciliation Needs Humour,” CBC, June 2, 2016, www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/dallas-goldtooth​ -redx-reconciliation-humour-1.3604355. 50 Cuthand, 2 Spirit Introductory Special. 51 Cuthand, 2 Spirit Introductory Special. 52 Cuthand, 2 Spirit Introductory Special. 53 “Poet Joshua Whitehead Redefines Two-Spirit Identity in Full-Metal Indigiqueer,” CBC, December 15, 2017, www.cbc.ca/radio/unreserved/fromdystopian-futures-to-secret-pasts-check-out-these-indigenous-storytellersover-the-holidays-1.4443312/poet-joshua-whitehead-redefines-two-spirit-­ identity-in-full-metal-indigiqueer-1.4447321. 54 Thirza Cuthand, “Indigequeer/Indigiqueer,” Thirza Cuthand, May 12, 2017, www.thirzacuthand.com/?p=2133. 55 Billy-Ray Belcourt and Lindsay Nixon, “What Do We Mean by Queer Indigenous  Ethics?,” Canadian Art, May 23, 2018, https://canadianart.ca/ features/what-do-we-mean-by-queerindigenousethics/. 32

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Further Reading Belcourt, Billy-Ray. “Can the Other of Native Studies Speak?” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society (blog). February 1, 2016. https://­ decolonization.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/can-the-other-of-native-studies​speak/. Chacaby, Ma-Nee. A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian OjibwaCree Elder. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2016. Driskill, Qwo-Li. “Stolen From Our Bodies: First Nations Two-Spirits/ Queers and the Journey to a Sovereign Erotic.” Studies in American Indian Literatures, 2nd ser., 16, no. 2 (2004): 50–64. Gilley, Brian Joseph. Becoming Two-Spirit: Gay Identity and Social Acceptance in Indian Country. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006. Justice, Daniel Heath. “Fear of a Changeling Moon.” In Me Sexy: An Exploration of Native Sex and Sexuality, edited by Drew Hayden Taylor. Toronto: Douglas and McIntyre, 2008. Nixon, Lindsay. nîtisânak. Montreal: Metonymy Press, 2018. O’Hara, Jean, ed. Two-Spirit Acts: Queer Indigenous Performances. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2013. Tatonetti, Lisa. The Queerness of Native American Literature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014. Whitehead, Joshua. Jonny Appleseed. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp, 2018.

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chapter 6

Queer Disability Studies Alison Kafer

Artist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha sways alone on stage, hugging her arms to her chest. Bathed in a purple light that matches the flower behind her ear, she clasps her hands across her belly and speaks: “There’s an underground river flowing through every queer community I’ve ever been a part of and kissed. The underground river of kids who went away.”1 So begins her contribution to the 2009 performance by Sins Invalid, a Bay Area disability arts and justice organization. Piepzna-Samarasinha’s monologue comprises three parts: the first introduces us to the “underground river of kids who went away,” intertwining childhood experiences of abuse with the disabilities of adulthood and the possibilities for healing within queer crip communities. In part two, Piepzna-Samarasinha moves from the metaphorical river to the material one, describing the pollution of the Blackstone River in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the illnesses that followed. Her monologue concludes with a meditation on “what it would take” to love polluted, damaged bodies, bodies both human and river, bodies used up and cast aside.2 Piepzna-Samarasinha’s performance offers one way of mapping the ­terrain of queer disability studies in the United States. As with many cultural workers writing about disability from queer perspectives, she ­complicates concepts of pride and identity, explores the effects of ­diagnostic categories, and yearns for queer crip futures. Given Sins Invalid’s focus on the erotic, sexuality plays a significant role in these monologues, but Piepzna-Samarasinha avoids a straightforward narrative of liberation; pain, precarity, and debility coexist here with pleasure. To situate PiepznaSamarasinha’s work within a larger context, I supplement her narratives with those of other theorists, artists, and activists. To familiarize readers new to queer disability studies with one of the field’s key words, I begin with a brief description of “crip.”

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Queering and Cripping “Crip” has long circulated in disability studies and activism as a term of identity; as poet-activist Eli Clare explains, “Queer and cripple are cousins: words to shock, words to infuse with pride and self-love, words to resist internalized hatred, words to help forge a politics. They have been gladly chosen—queer by many gay/lesbian/bi/trans people, … crip by many disabled people.”3 Clare’s reference to “queer” as encompassing “gay/­lesbian/ bi/trans people” illuminates a defining element of “crip”: much as “queer” can refer to a wide range of positions, “crip” frequently stretches far beyond the mobility impairments implied by “crippled.” In “Crip Fairy Godmother,” Piepzna-Samarasinha demonstrates how this framing of crip allows for an expansive imagined community: … a wild pack of crips sharing vicodin, hearing aid hookups, favorite terps [interpreters], the shared ramp the inside scoop on the lexapro, the link to the beloved breathing mask.4

All of whom, together, “will drool, type, stim, limp and shake with joy/… in a wild pack of slowness.”5

“Crip” thus marks a politicized stance, signaling a refusal of ableist norms and a commitment to other disabled people. Informed by the work of “queer”, many scholars and activists have pushed “crip” into other parts of speech, casting it more as verb than noun, more as ­analytic than ­identity. Performance studies scholar Carrie Sandahl explicitly ties the act of “­cripping” to “queering”: “Queering describes the practices of ­putting a spin on mainstream representations to reveal latent queer ­subtexts; of ­appropriating a representation for one’s own purposes … or deconstructing a representation’s heterosexism.  …  Cripping spins of ­ ­mainstream representations or practices to reveal able-bodied a­ ssumptions and exclusionary effects.”6 Both practices, she continues, “challenge oppressive norms, build community, and maintain the practitioners’ ­self-worth.”7 To “crip,” as feminist theorist Merri Lisa Johnson explains, is “to bring disability subjectivity to bear on [a] concept.”8 For many of those working in what gets called crip theory, this subjectivity is not necessarily reliant on “having” a disability or claiming disability identity; it can instead be a political claim of affiliation. Black disability studies scholar Sami Schalk describes her choice to identify with crip, rather

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than as crip, as one such example: “The ways in which my fat, black, queer, woman’s body/mind/desire/behavior is constantly read and reacted to as non-normative … makes me feel particularly akin to those who ­identify as disabled and/or crip, people whose bodies/minds/desires/behaviors are also outside the social norm.”9 Given that she is “similarly situated in regard to many vectors of power as people with ­disabilities,” she locates the possibility for “solidarity” in challenging “the processes which have so situated us.”10 Sins Invalid echoes this attention to power in their mission ­statement, naming their “deeply felt connections to all ­communities impacted by the medicalization of their bodies, including trans, gender variant and intersex people, and others whose bodies do not conform to our culture(s)’ notions of ‘normal’ or ‘functional.’”11 This approach ­challenges patterns of marginalization through medicalized ­categories of incapacity, deformity, and deviance, regardless of whether “disability” is present. Other theorists stress the instability of the ­category of disability; for them, “crip” signals a contradictory or ambi­valent approach to disability identity, uncovering its potential risks and exclusions, while “paradoxically” recognizing “the generative role identity has played in the disability rights movement.”12 Such a “paradoxical” approach is needed given that “crip,” like “queer,” has been criticized for enacting its own exclusions. Rhetorical ­studies scholar Melanie Yergeau notes “crip” too often remains tethered to ­physical disability, centering those “who are critically conversant and academically able, constructions that often silence those with cognitive disabilities. Neuroqueer … emerges as an analogue and expansion of crip, which arguably isn’t … as queerly enminded as it could be.”13 Perhaps in a sign of this gap, “crip” surfaces only once in the All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism anthology and only as part of a longer list, suggesting positionalities that exceed the bounds of “crip”: “­wobbly, sick, lopsided, drooling, asymmetrical, neurodivergent, mad, crip.”14 Even as Piepzna-Samarasinha claims crip, she, too, offers it as part of a radiating list of positions rather than a word that is sufficient on its own. In a piece about Gloria Anzaldúa, Piepzna-Samarasinha describes a ­wariness about certain formations of disability politics. Noting that Anzaldúa expressed reluctance about disability identity, PiepznaSamarasinha recognizes that “queer women of color never say we are disabled if we have any choice about it. … Our bodies are already seen as tough, monster, angry, seductive, incompetent. How can we admit weakness, vulnerability, interdependence and still keep … our perch on the ‘thin edge of barbwire’ we live on?”15 With these questions, she highlights the fact that claims of disability or crip identity elicit significantly

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different responses depending on the person making the claim. In her memoir Dirty River, she repeatedly notes that although she “hadn’t been drugged or shocked or locked up,” this status was only because she “hadn’t been caught yet.”16 Deeply aware that her brown skin, immigrant status, alienation from neoliberal productivity, and queer femme presentation all render a determination of mental illness more dangerous, she illustrates how claiming crip is more possible for some than others. Moreover, disability claims often require adherence to particular articulations of disability, articulations that exclude many conditions, bodies, and minds. Piepzna-Samarasinha cautions readers from assuming that disability only matters in texts when it is named as such or only matters for those who claim disability identity; to read only for positions that fit paradigmatic definitions of disability or that take for granted the necessity of disability identity will result in a limited focus on “crips who are all white in the mainstream rights movement.”17 Such approaches also obscure those whose conditions fail to garner medical approval or meet the legal definitions of disability, concerns that Piepzna-Samarasinha raises in her first two monologues.

“The Kids Who Went Away” Looking over her audience, Piepzna-Samarasinha offers a litany of diagnoses: “Fibro. Chronic fatigue. Rheumatoid arthritis. Lyme disease. Cancer. Endometriosis. Multiple sclerosis. Multiple chemical sensitivity.”18 These are the rivers of fatigue and illness that carried away Piepzna-Samarasinha and her friends. Listing all these conditions in reference to a “we” allows her to identify as disabled and with disability without pinning a specific diagnosis to herself. She refuses to be reduced to a single label, instead belonging to the “we” of multiple diagnoses. In another essay, she takes a different but no less disruptive tack, disclosing that she has fibromyalgia but immediately casting doubt on that diagnosis: “Fibromyalgia is a name I choose for the constellation of repeating cycles of fatigue, muscle pain … , immune system meltdowns, shakiness, balance problems and cognitive delay. … This syndrome … changes as we find new ways to think about trauma, our bodies, embodiment, environmental racism, and sickness.”19 Asserting the authority to name her own condition and aware of the necessity of diagnoses for accessing services, she chooses a diagnostic label only to highlight its shifting meanings: fibromyalgia “changes as we find new ways to think.” From the start, she describes disability and diagnosis in political terms; not only are they often caused or affected by

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political conditions – “trauma,” “environmental racism” – but they are also themselves political concepts, subject to contestation and debate. Her ambivalent response to diagnosis echoes that of many in queer disability studies. As queer theorist Ann Cvetkovich explains in terms of depression, “there are problems with classifications and boxes for what are … extremely varied and nuanced individual experiences for which we often still don’t have language.”20 Diagnostic categories and typologies of symptoms are presumed to objectively describe the experience of illness and disability, but people’s lived experiences exceed such descriptions. Queer crip theories encourage a different orientation, as when poet-­ theorist Ellen Samuels transforms diagnosis into haiku: Connective tissue disorder: Ehlers-Danlos I break easily.21

Queer disability studies is characterized by this kind of sideways approach: condemning the use of diagnosis to justify violence as “treatment”; ­recognizing the necessity of diagnosis to access resources; underscoring the ableist context in which diagnoses are made and made n ­ ecessary; grappling with the use of diagnosis to exclude some people from ­ ­protection; challenging the use of diagnosis to control already marginalized ­communities; highlighting the differential application of diagnosis across race, class, gender, and sexuality; and so on. Such a “multi-strategy approach”  – ­critiquing, rejecting, using, and desiring diagnosis, often all at the same time – has also characterized many trans* orientations to western biomedicine because access to surgery and hormones has often required extensive medical surveillance.22 As Clare cautions, “diagnosis is useful,” but we must question “for whom and to what ends.”23 Clare’s query disrupts the notion that diagnosis is an objective practice that can be viewed in isolation from the context in which it occurs. Piepzna-Samarasinha similarly insists on the importance of context in understanding her experiences of chronic fatigue: “it was as if I had some Victorian wasting disease, but I wasn’t Victorian. I was a light brown girl with old glasses, poverty, a trembling and sick body.”24 By contrasting her “light brown” skin with the presumed whiteness of “Victorian wasting diseases,” she urges her audience to understand disability as inseparable from other structures of social stratification. Race, class, gender, sexuality, age, and historical and cultural context: all affect the representation of disability. For Piepzna-Samarasinha, her brown skin prevents her

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lethargy from being romanticized; gesturing toward racialized, gendered, and classed histories of illness as marker of leisure, she notes that these stories never included working-class immigrant families like her own. Her reference to “old glasses” followed immediately by “poverty” reminds us that health care has long been a system of unequal access; the way that “poverty” hovers alone, with pauses before and after, hints at the weight it carries for those whose survival relies on access to services that may never come, themes to which Piepzna-Samarasinha returns in the second monologue.

“All Our Bodies Sick and Fucked Up for No Good Reason” Shame surfaces repeatedly in Piepzna-Samarasinha’s monologues, and although it is a concept key to both queer and disability studies, it can often function more as wedge than bridge. Her description of herself as “sick, sick” is followed by a series of disapproving questions: “You sick again, girl? You still in bed? It’s three in the afternoon!”25 Illness and disability can remove one from the rhythms of life – “fatigue too thick to make sense of cell phone/Trader Joe’s/laundromat, let alone meeting/ party/dance floor” – but that removal is often not recognized by queer communities, leaving Piepzna-Samarasinha and her comrades feeling even more isolated and alone: “shame crumbles our hips to the floor, sticks us there.”26 This feeling of stuckness expands as Piepzna-Samarasinha moves into her second monologue. She describes the debilitating effects of industrial capitalism on her rustbelt hometown: In 1983, my mother could recite the thirty-three cancer-causing compounds found in Worcester water. The city fathers said the water was fresh, but all we knew was you could smell the chemicals … before you even turned on the tap. … I was nineteen when my mother was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. Tentacles touching her uterus and intestines, blooming, like algae in a polluted lake. The first girl I ever kissed … found out she had invasive cervical cancer at twenty-eight, in her first Pap smear in ten uninsured years.27

Disability studies foregrounds the production of disability – how ­disability is produced through stigma, discrimination, and ­inaccessibility – but Piepzna-Samarasinha insists on a larger frame of production, namely how disability is created and exacerbated by dangerous working conditions, inadequate health care, and poisoned water supplies. Cancer does not

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just happen to individual bodies but is actively produced by “the thirtythree cancer-causing compounds” in a neighborhood’s water supply and it “blooms” when health care is made absent. Pushing even further on the connotations of “crip,” queer theorists of disability such as Mel Chen, Jina Kim, and Jasbir Puar argue for a crip theory that attends to uneven ­processes of debilitation, disablement, and death. Kim describes this approach as “crip-of-color critique,” which urges us to consider the ways in which the state … operates as an ­apparatus of racialized disablement, whether through criminalization and police ­brutality, or compromised public educational systems and welfare reform. … [T]his mode of critique underscores the pathologizing language of the state itself, levied through accusations of insanity, criminality, ­stupidity, or dependency, which justify the expendability of racialized life.28

As Chen and Puar elaborate, this approach is not merely an issue of expanding what counts as disability but of recognizing how “a sheer ­reversal of negativity” or “attachments to the difference of disabled bodies” too often “reify an exceptionalism that only certain privileged disabled bodies can occupy.”29 By linking her disabilities to experiences of abuse, Piepzna-Samarasinha adds another dimension to this critique. After naming the ailments that carried her and her comrades away, she observes that “we were all just too sensitive. … Abuse survivors are the ones who get the weird diseases. Us whose bodies were raped and touched too young, us whose bodies tell terrible stories.”30 This description in the first monologue is followed in the second by an accounting of all the ways in which Worcester bodies were harmed, not only through the chemical invasions mentioned ­previously, but also through being “worked and worked, to make someone else money.”31 Piepzna-Samarasinha repeatedly insists that we recognize abuse as part of this picture – “throughout it all, the fingers of mothers and fathers, touching and whisky and silence and rage passed down” – without isolating any single cause.32 As Cvetkovich notes in her discussion of incest and queerness, it is possible to “name a connection while refusing determination or causality.”33 Piepzna-Samarasinha closes her second monologue with exactly this move: “All our bodies sick and fucked up for no good reason. Just some dumb stories we made up that no one wanted to hear.”34 Reports of chronic fatigue, memories of incest, and connections between cancer and chemical exposure: All are “stories” that are frequently disbelieved and disregarded, as are the people making such

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claims. Piepzna-Samarasinha is not interested in untangling these knots but, rather, in acknowledging their effects. Industrial pollution, sexual abuse, capitalist exploitation, denial of health care, suspicion of bodily experience all produce “bodies sick and fucked up for no good reason.” Yet just as Cvetkovich suggests that the question of whether “sexual abuse causes homosexuality” might be addressed in queer ways, queer disability studies posits that disability arising from a “disgraceful situation” – such as the pollution mentioned here – “is not, itself, a disgrace.”35 Might it be possible to “witness, name, and resist the injustices that … ­damage all kinds of body-minds … while also loving ourselves just as we are right now[?]”36 The task of crip theory, suggests disability theorist Nirmala Erevelles, is to imagine the conditions under which such desire might be possible, and Piepzna-Samarasinha turns to such questions in her final monologue.37

“What Would It Take?” Piepzna-Samarasinha breathes deep, starting her final monologue with a series of questions: “What would it take for a river that polluted to be loved? What would it take for us to know our bodies beautiful, to wash them clean? No, not wash clean. What if our working-class fucked-up chronically ill sick survivor bodies, beautiful just like they are … come back from being washed away?”38 Such a return cannot be predicated on purity, she argues, or on the assumption that only those “washed clean” of difference deserve care. In loving these “working-class fucked-up chronically ill sick survivor bodies” “just like they are,” Piepzna-Samarasinha ignores the call to rehabilitate oneself into productivity; instead, in anthropologist S. Lochlann Jain’s terms, she “proliferate[s] the possible identities of illness,” including pain, letting “suffering be okay, not because it is okay but because this is what we have.”39 This message intensifies as the monologue erupts into a thick description of auto-eroticism: “When I flare or I get sick I go to my bed and I fuck myself so hard. … I fuck myself for hours and hours. … My cock in my pussy and my vibrator on my clit stays there forever sometimes … . And there is no pain, just me being the slut that kept me alive.” Solo sex offers Piepzna-Samarasinha a way of reorienting herself to her body, ­recognizing that a body that feels pain can still be a source of pleasure. Her affect in this section of the monologue is exuberant, and she encourages the audience’s laughter as she mimes fucking herself. Her performance rejects

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the medicalized framing of sexuality commonly associated with disability, as when masturbation is discussed only as a kind of substitute for the “real” sex that disability renders inappropriate.40 By describing herself as a “slut,” and sluttiness as what “kept [her] alive,” Piepzna-Samarasinha reimagines disabled sexuality, casting its excesses as signs of vitality and not pathology. Moreover, she suggests, solo sex can function as a form of healing because it presents oneself as worthy of care. Her position echoes that of other queer artists who have recognized auto-eroticism as an essential form of self-care, offering “crip possibilities … for thinking/­living through pain.”41 Concerned both for “my body” and “your body,” Piepzna-Samarasinha reaches her hands toward her audience, and it is a queer crip auto-­eroticism that allows her to imagine an us: “When I fuck myself … I think about all of us fucking ourselves in our beds when we’re sick, when we’re not.”42 Masturbation offers Piepzna-Samarasinha a way to imagine herself as part of a larger collectivity; her pleasure is increased by conjuring others like her, all of us “fucking ourselves” together. She transforms the bed from a site of isolated pain or individualized pleasure into a site for coalition building and collective healing. This invocation of a multitude of crips “fucking ourselves” suggests that there might be something queer about crip sexuality, a possibility that has animated much work in queer disability studies. Although she was not explicitly writing about disability, queer theorist Gayle Rubin’s formative description of “bad sex” certainly reverberates with Piepzna-Samarasinha’s collectivity of crips: “Bad sex may be homosexual, unmarried, p ­ romiscuous, non-procreative, or commercial. It may be masturbatory or take place at orgies, may be casual, may cross generational lines, and may take place in ‘public’. … It may involve the use of pornography, fetish objects, sex toys, or unusual roles.”43 Inspired by Rubin’s taxonomy, crip theorist Robert McRuer adds to the list, revealing that the presence of disability is often what renders an activity or inclination “bad”: devoteeism; fetishizing of the accoutrements of deafness … ; self-demand amputation; barebacking; hospital scenes (whether Bob Flanagan’s very public ones or the ones staged by any ordinary person who wants to get off in a hospital gown during a hospital stay); potentially surveilled sex between people with cognitive disabilities in group homes; sex surrogacy … ; sex involving crutches, oxygen masks, or prosthetic body parts.44

Disability emerges here as a provocation to imagine sex differently, producing new practices, performances, and possibilities.

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Yet a queer disability reading also grapples with moments in which the effects of illness and disability feel more like a narrowing of sexual horizons than an expansion of them. S. Naomi Finkelstein writes in great detail about the constraints pain places on their sexual practices: My arm is at an angle that my neck … does not like. … This is a pain that nags and builds. My arm and then my hand go numb. I do not feel anything in a precise way. I am left unable to feel … the little nerve endings that twitch to let me know where to move or if I should move. I am still fucking her, listening to catch every breath … but I cannot feel the smooth inside of her anymore, and my neck is screaming in anguish. … My back is in a spasm, but I ignore it; I finish fucking her through gritted teeth.45

Finkelstein unflinchingly describes what pain does to a body in relation, how it can shatter the ability to feel and sense another; what is touch without sensation? Finkelstein’s rumination offers a caution to threads of queer theory that cast failure only as transgressive, electrifying, sexy. As Johnson notes, queer crip theory requires “a more precise typology of failure,” one that can “acknowledge the pleasures of failure—embodied in choices to stand apart from social norms of gender, sexuality, reprocentricity, and r­ omantic affiliation—and the distress of failures embodied in lives gone haywire, symptoms run rampant, personal lives devolving into uninhabitable havoc.”46 How might queer approaches to failing at one’s gender shift, for example, when disability is brought into the mix? Many queer disability writers have lamented the isolation they feel when their queer ­signals fail to be recognized as such; even among queers, Clare notes, “the ­mannerisms that help define gender—the ways in which people walk, swing their hips, gesture with their hands, move their mouths and eyes as they talk, take up space with their bodies—are all based upon how nondisabled people move. … The construction of gender depends … upon the nondisabled body.”47 Queer disability studies, crip theory, and disability justice movements are, thankfully, vibrant sources of possibility, revealing genderplay or erotic sensation in other configurations of bodies and minds: finding “femme” in donning and doffing leather wheelchair gloves with one’s mouth, ­tracing “butch” in the skillful use of a white cane, or, as PiepznaSamarasinha does, discovering a collective crip “us” in the pleasures of solo sex. “In the infinite crip crazy future,” she writes:

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the quality of our pain has changed because no shame is the most effective anti-inflammatory[.]48

Notice that the “infinite crip crazy future” she imagines is not one ­without pain, but rather one in which pain neither requires nor induces shame. “Our working-class fucked-up chronically ill sick survivor bodies, beautiful just like they are.”49

“All It Takes” The stories these artists, theorists, and activists tell are ones that do not require defining disability or adhering to the authorizing power of diagnosis. They critique the commodification of health care, available only to those with the proper papers and disposable income; they orient ­themselves away from liberatory stories of identity through state recognition; they dismantle the assemblage of racist, ableist, sexist, and imperialist ­logics in the assumption that “human” is the only animacy that matters. These are the practices that can move us “toward more disruptive modes of organizing life,” creating the “insurgent space” that Kim describes as the work of “crip-of-color critique,” namely cultivating more “radical imaginaries.”50 Such imaginaries are animated by questions of relationality, ­sensation, and the erotic; as with Piepzna-Samarasinha’s imagined collective of queercrips fucking themselves/ourselves, those working along the interstices of queer disability studies and crip theory are ­conjuring ­sideways relations and pleasures. Theologian Julia Watts Belser suggests the queer possibilities of a wheelchair as an erotic third in a ­relationship, and Chen writes potently about their deeply ­a ffecting ­relationship to a couch, brought on by chemical exposure and brain fog: “This ­episode … forces me to rethink intimacy, since I have encountered an intimacy that does not differentiate, is not dependent on a heartbeat.”51 Yergeau similarly imagines queer crip modes of desire, relation, and recognition: There is much that I do not learn or experience when I avert my eyes. And yet— … I might not know or recognize your face, but I know your scent, what you wore last Thursday, the exact date on which we first met, the rhythm of your pace, the resting cut of your hair against your shoulder, the pulsing force field of the space between our bodies. There are intimacies and knowledges that exceed the eye-to-eye.52

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Queer disability studies attends to such excesses. “What would it take for a river that polluted to be loved?” Or for disabled, abused, and exploited bodies to be “beautiful, just as they are”? The answer to these questions, Piepzna-Samarasinha explains, is to be found not in a rejection of “working-class fucked-up chronically ill sick survivor bodies” but in a deep embrace of them. In the final lines of the monologue, right before the stage fades to black, Piepzna-Samarasinha softly notes, “All it takes to love a river that polluted, a body this full of story, is to surrender, to love it. I give in.”53 Will you?

Notes Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, performer, Sins Invalid, stage performance, Brava Theatre, San Francisco, October 2–4, 2009. www.sinsinvalid.org/ video-clips. 2 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 3 Eli Clare, Exile and Pride: On Disability, Queerness, and Liberation (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1999), 70. 4 Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, “Crip Fairy Godmother,” Hema 2 (2016), http://hematopoiesispress.com/lakshmi-piepzna-samarasinha-crip-fairy​ -godmother. 5 Piepzna-Samarasinha, “Crip Fairy Godmother.” 6 Carrie Sandahl, “Queering the Crip or Cripping the Queer? Intersections of Queer and Crip Identities in Solo Autobiographical Performance,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 9, nos. 1–2 (2003): 37. 7 Sandahl, “Queering the Crip,” 38. 8 Merri Lisa Johnson, “Bad Romance: A Crip Feminist Critique of Queer Failure,” Hypatia 30, no. 1 (2015): 253. 9 Sami Schalk, “Coming to Claim Crip: Disidentification with/in Disability Studies,” Disability Studies Quarterly 33, no. 2 (2013). 10 Schalk, “Coming to Claim Crip.” 11 “Our Mission,” Sins Invalid, accessed June 13, 2018, www.sinsinvalid.org/ mission.html. 12 Robert McRuer, Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability (New York: New York University Press, 2006), 35. 13 Melanie Yergeau, Authoring Autism: On Rhetoric and Neurological Queerness (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018), 85; emphasis mine. 14 Lydia X. Z. Brown, “too dry to cry,” in All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism, ed. Lydia X. Z. Brown, E. Ashkenazy, and Morénike Giwa Onaiwu (Lincoln, NE: DragonBee Press, 2017), 122. 15 Aurora Levins Morales, Qwo-Li Driskill, and Leah Lakshmi PiepznaSamarasinha, “Sweet Dark Places: Letters to Gloria Anzaldúa on Disability, Creativity, and the Coatlicue State,” in El Mundo Zurdo 2: Selected Works from the Meeting of the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa, ed. Sonia 1

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Saldívar-Hull, Norma Alarcón and Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz (San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books, 2012), 94–5. 16 Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home (Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015), 150. 17 Morales, Driskill, and Piepzna-Samarasinha, “Sweet Dark Places,” 95. 18 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 19 Morales, Driskill, and Piepzna-Samarasinha, “Sweet Dark Places,” 92. 20 A. Cvetkovich and A. Wilkerson, “Disability and Depression,” Bioethical Inquiry 13, no. 4 (2016): 500. 21 Ellen Samuels, “Passing, Coming Out, and Other Magical Acts,” in Negotiating Disability: Disclosure and Higher Education, ed. Stephanie L. Kerschbaum, Laura T. Eisenman, and James M. Jones (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2017), 21. 22 Dean Spade, “Resisting Medicine, Re/modeling Gender,” Berkeley Women’s Law Journal 18 (2003): 37. 23 Eli Clare, Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), 48. 24 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 25 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 26 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 27 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 28 Jina B. Kim, “Toward a Crip-of-Color Critique: Thinking with Minich’s ‘Enabling Whom?,’” Lateral 6, no. 1 (2017), https://doi.org/10.25158/L6.1.14. 29 Mel Y. Chen, “Brain Fog: The Race for Cripistemology,” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 8, no. 2 (2014): 176; Jasbir K. Puar, “Coda: The Cost of Getting Better: Suicide, Sensation, Switchpoints,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 18, no. 1 (2011): 153. 30 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 31 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 32 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 33 Ann Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 90. 34 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 35 Cvetkovich, Archive of Feelings, 90; Eliza Chandler, “Mapping Difference: Critical Connections between Crip and Diaspora Communities,” Critical Disability Discourses/Discours Critiques dans le Champ du Handicap 5 (2013): 48. 36 Clare, Brilliant Imperfection, 60. 37 Nirmala Erevelles, Disability and Difference in Global Contexts: Enabling a Transformative Body Politic (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 29. 38 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 39 S. Lochlann Jain, “Cancer Butch,” Cultural Anthropology 22, no. 4 (2007): 506. 40 Michael Gill, “Sex Can Wait, Masturbate: The Politics of Masturbation Training,” Sexualities 15, nos. 3–4 (2012): 472–93; Corbett Joan O’Toole, “The View from Below: Developing a Knowledge Base about an Unknown Population,” Sexuality and Disability 18, no. 3 (2000): 207–24.

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Kateřina Kolářová, “Performing the Pain: Opening the (Crip) Body for (Queer) Pleasures,” Review of Disability Studies 6, no. 3 (2010): 47. 42 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 43 Gayle S. Rubin, “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality,” in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, ed. Henry Abelove, Michèle Aina Barale, and David M. Halperin (New York: Routledge, 1993), 14. 44 Robert McRuer, “Disabling Sex: Notes for a Crip Theory of Sexuality,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 17, no. 1 (2011): 108. 45 S. Naomi Finkelstein, “The Only Thing You Have to Do Is Live,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 9, nos. 1–2 (2003): 308. 46 Johnson, “Bad Romance,” 264; emphasis in original. 47 Clare, Exile and Pride, 112. 48 Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, “Crip Infinity,” Anomaly 25 (2017), www.anmly.org/ap25/glitterbrain/leah-lakshmi-piepzna-samarasinha. 49 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 50 Kim, “Toward a Crip-of-Color Critique.” 51 Julia Watts Belser, “Vital Wheels: Disability, Relationality, and the Queer Animacy of Vibrant Things,” Hypatia 31, no. 1 (2016): 5–21; Mel Y. Chen, “Toxic Animacies, Inanimate Affections,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 17, nos. 2–3 (2011): 278. 52 Yergeau, Authoring Autism, 211. 53 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sins Invalid. 41

Further Reading Anzaldúa, Gloria. “Disability and Identity: An E-mail Exchange and a Few Additional Thoughts.” In The Gloria Anzaldúa Reader, edited by AnaLouise Keating, 298–302. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009. Brownworth, Victoria A., and Susan Raffo, eds. Restricted Access: Lesbians on Disability. Seattle, WA: Seal Press, 1999. Erickson, Loree. “Revealing Femmegimp: A Sex-Positive Reflection on Sites of Shame as Sites of Resistance for People with Disabilities.” Atlantis 31, no. 2 (2007): 42–52. Galloway, Terry. Mean Little deaf Queer: A Memoir. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2009. Guter, Bob, and John R. Killacky, eds. Queer Crips: Disabled Gay Men and Their Stories. New York: Harrington Park Press, 2004. Hall, Kim Q., ed. “New Conversations in Feminist Disability Studies.” Special issue, Hypatia 30, no. 1 (Winter 2015): iii–iv, 1–317. Kim, Eunjung. “Unbecoming Human: An Ethics of Objects.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 21, nos. 2–3 (2015): 295–320. Lorde, Audre. The Cancer Journals: Special Edition. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute, 1997.

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Luczak, Raymond, ed. Eyes of Desire 2: A Deaf GLBT Reader. Minneapolis, MN: Handtype Press, 2007. McRuer, Robert, and Abby L. Wilkerson, eds. “Desiring Disability: Queer Theory Meets Disability Studies.” Special issue, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 9, nos. 1–2 (2003). McRuer, Robert, and Anna Mollow, eds. Sex and Disability. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012. Patsavas, Alyson. “Recovering a Cripistemology of Pain: Leaky Bodies, Connective Tissue, and Feeling Discourse.” Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 8, no. 2 (2014): 203–18. Samuels, Ellen. “My Body, My Closet: Invisible Disability and the Limits of Coming-Out Discourse.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 9, nos. 1–2 (2003): 233–55. Tremain, Shelley, ed. Pushing the Limits: Disabled Dykes Produce Culture. Toronto: Women’s Press, 1996.

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chapter 7

Queer Ecologies and Queer Environmentalisms Nicole Seymour

Part I: Queer Ecologies, Complex Genealogies Queer ecology is a conceptual framework that interrogates the ­relationship between the queer and the natural, broadly construed. It combines the critical, confrontational thrust of “queer” found in queer theory with the interest in biological relationships denoted by “ecology” – though this interest is usually more cultural than scientific, as I will show.1 One of queer ecology’s foundational insights is that “the queer” and “the natural” have been opposed in public discourses. This opposition is ironic to the extent that, as scholars such as Greta Gaard have pointed out, both queers and nature – along with people of color and the poor – have historically been exploited. Queer ecology scholarship thus often traces the commonalities among those categories. Other scholars have complicated such analyses by showing that pro-environmental forces can also be homophobic – not to mention racist. Andil Gosine, for example, observes that “discourses on the ecological dangers of overpopulation and [discourses on] homosexuality … similarly function and are similarly invested in the production and maintenance of white heteronormativity.”2 Queer ecology scholarship also takes aim at normative notions of health and purity as they appear across both sexual and e­ nvironmental discourses – as with, for example, homophobia- and ­transphobia-tinged fears that androgyny, homosexuality, and infertility are rising in a­ nimal ­populations as a result of pollution.3 Some scholars have d ­ isarticulated these d ­ iscriminatory links among queerness and toxicity and ­contamination  –  often to ­recuperate LGBTQI2S connections to nature – whereas ­others have reframed those links entirely; as Shiloh Krupar remarks in her work on nuclear c­ ontamination, “we might all be queer in this ‘­postnuclear’ age—our ­bodies, ­families, homes, domesticity.”4 In sum, then, queer ecology ­scholars ­variously ­undertake practices of naturalizing and denaturalizing. 108

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The work of these scholars varies widely in terms of scope and methodology. But even so, a few schematics may be permitted. One strain of queer ecology could be called identity-based – the “queer as noun” model, if you will. It focuses on LGBTQI2S-identified human actors and their relationship to environment, as with work on rural communes founded by lesbians.5 Another strain focuses on queer ecological ­aesthetics, thus often entailing textual analysis – as seen, for example, in Sarah Ensor’s work on intransitive style in Sarah Orne Jewett’s rural spinster fiction.6 A third strain of queer ecology, which occasionally overlaps with the latter, is more theoretical and abstract; this mode of critique takes “queer” as a verb, questioning and defamiliarizing foundational categories such as humanity and futurity. For example, Heather Davis invites humans to imagine plastic, rather than biological children, as our planetary legacy.7 Queer ecology scholars necessarily engage with scientific fields, though in varied ways. Many critique the heteronormativity of fields such as ­zoology, which has led to scientists misinterpreting or even censoring ­evidence of homosexuality and transsexuality among animals.8 Others have returned to science to offer new insights, such as that “deviation” applies to evolutionary biology as well as to queer sexualities. As Wendy Arons puts it, drawing on Timothy Morton, “[e]volution is both nonteleological and arbitrary” – in other words, not straight.9 Morton has argued, further, that “queerness … is installed in biological substance as such,” in terms of the strange intimacies and blurry ontologies of living matter.10 But as some scholars have objected, such broad applications of “queer” abandon the term’s politicism. As Jordy Rosenberg asks, “if queerness is nothing but the productive force of matter, then why continue to call it queer?”11 Although queering ecology is necessary for the reasons noted ­previously, Rosenberg highlights a quandary that has long plagued queer theory: If we can queer everything, does “queer” ultimately mean anything? While scholars approach art and culture through the framework of queer ecology, many artists themselves articulate queer ecological visions. Thus, this framework should not be understood as a purely academic phenomenon. For example, aligned with that first strain, UK-based singer Anohni traces the relationship between transgender identity and environmental awareness in her music. Meanwhile, aligned with the second and third strains, US playwright-scholar Shonni Enelow developed her 2011 climatechange-themed play Carla and Lewis in explicit conversation with queer ecology concepts. As she and her collaborator, scholar Una Chaudhuri, recall of the creative process, “The first challenge … was to come up with

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a … queer ecological [character] … who would voice and embody an alternative way of interacting with non-human bodies and landscapes.”12 In addition to academia and art, several activist movements have emerged at the intersection of sexual and environmental politics, again ­following the identity-based strain of queer ecology. For example, US groups such as Queers for the Climate and OUT 4 Sustainability “mobiliz[e] the . . . LGBTQ community for environmental and social action, in pursuit of a fabulous planet.”13 Such mission statements subvert a tendency that ­several queer ecology scholars have noted: mainstream environmentalism’s ­reliance on healthy, heterosexual white families as the (sometimes literal) poster children of the movement. Disciplinary Concerns Queer ecology first emerged as a distinct framework in the mid-1990s, thanks in large part to two academic publications. The first was 1994’s special issue on “Queer/Nature” from UnderCurrents: Journal of Critical Environmental Studies, which declared that “a politics of nature can no longer be an articulation of white, male, heterosexual … privilege,” and which featured an article by Catriona Sandilands.14 The second was Gaard’s 1997 Hypatia essay, “Toward a Queer Ecofeminism,” which identified erotophobia as a colonial logic and argued that ecofeminist ­critiques “must specify the linked [oppressive] dualisms of white/nonwhite, financially empowered/impoverished, heterosexual/queer, and reason/the erotic,” alongside culture/nature and male/female.15 One might have expected that this mid-1990s launch would have sparked conversation between the burgeoning fields of queer theory and ecocriticism. But notable gaps between the two fields have persisted, and it would take another fifteen-plus years for queer ecology to come of age; Sandilands and Bruce Erickson’s edited collection, Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, arrived in 2010, followed by two monographs, Robert Azzarello’s Queer Environmentality: Ecology, Evolution, and Sexuality in American Literature (2012) and my own Strange Natures: Futurity, Empathy, and the Queer Ecological Imagination (2013).16 Today, queer ecology’s intellectual purchase is evident: Scholars employ it to read specific texts – ranging from Shakespeare’s pastoral plays to the work of black, queer science fiction writer Samuel Delany – and for broader ­projects, including cataloging trends in contemporary theatre.17 As I have suggested, the marriage between queer theory and e­ co­criticism that queer ecology theoretically proposes has been rocky. As Azzarello notes,

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queer theory “is seen as urban, [ecocriticism] as rural; … one tends toward a constructivist epistemology, the other toward ­objectivism; one studies people, the other studies plants and animals.”18 Moreover, ­ecocriticism has historically had a reputation for being theory-phobic.19 Queer ecology scholarship has thus often functioned ­metacritically, ­identifying such ­disciplinary disconnects, negotiating their productive ­tensions, and attempting to bring queer and environmental inquiry closer together. In some cases, this work has entailed looking backward. Neel Ahuja, with the early AIDS crisis in mind, muses that “perhaps queer ­theory has always been a theory of extinctions”; Ensor similarly draws on Eve Sedgwick’s writing on AIDS and cancer to argue that “­environmentalism needs … a model for ethically relating to the terminally ill” – namely, our planet as we have known it.20 Disconnects and tensions notwithstanding, one could call the convergence of queer and environmental inquiry inevitable, considering how both feed into the larger biopolitical and nonhuman “turns” recently taken by the humanities. Consider, for instance, the similarities between Landon Schnabel’s observation that “[q]ueer ecologies … challenges post-­ structuralist readings of queer identity as merely discursive … ­demonstrating [its relationship to] the environmental landscape of material nature” and Peter Coviello’s account of the “shifting of analytic stress [in queer theory] from discourse to biopolitics.”21 In fact, in the past few years, scholars from a multitude of backgrounds have taken up a common set of concepts that apply simultaneously to sexuality and nature, ecology, environment, and animals – such as fluidity, intimacy, kinship, porosity, and toxicity. Even so, we might point out, first, that queer ecology scholarship has made unique contributions to the aforementioned turns, and, second, that its contributions, and those of ecocritical and environmental approaches more broadly, have been unevenly recognized. For example, in a 2015 ­article, Elizabeth Povinelli refers to “a shift away from queer theory by a host of critical thinkers in queer theory.” As she continues: The conversation they are creating does not yet have a precise name. It still spills across various conceptual domains: posthumanism, animal studies, critical climate change, radical environmentalism, et cetera. … Most are rethinking the problem of gender, race, sexuality, and the human under the weight of climate change, colonial capitalism, and environmental toxicity. How and why this emergent conversation might become identified within the general rubric of queer studies is an open question.22

But there has already been a conversation around “gender, race, sexuality, and the human” in relation to “climate change, colonial capitalism, and

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environmental toxicity,” and it started at least twenty-one years before Povinelli’s article.23 And it has had a specific name since at least 2002: queer ecology.24 Queer Ecological Futures Indeed, antiracist, decolonial, and environmental justice commitments have been present in queer ecological work from the start, as exemplified by Gaard’s work. But despite these commitments, queer ecological scholarship is often homogenous; it has been developed primarily by Eurowestern scholars or tends to focus on North American and European texts. Important exceptions include US scholar Jorge Marcone’s identification of a “Chicana queer ecology,” Costa Rican scholar-activist Adriana Jiménez Rodríguez’s work on queer vegan ecofeminism, and Japanese scholar Keitaro Morita’s queer ecofeminist readings of Hiromi Ito.25 Queer ecology must therefore continue to expand its purview and to remain ­self-critical. For example, when Arons states that “queer ecology demands a radical reconceptualization … of who ‘we’ are (as ­biological beings in relation to other living and nonliving entities),” it would behoove us to ask who the “we” is (and who the “us” that I just invoked is!) – especially in light of the fact that environmental crisis disproportionately affects people of color and the poor.26 Queer ecology, with roots in antiracism, decolonialism, and environmental justice, is also poised to correct what Zakiyyah Iman Jackson has identified as a “resounding silence in the posthumanist, object-­oriented, and new materialist literatures with respect to race.”27 Consider, for ­example, Chelsea Frazier’s response to Jane Bennett’s new materialist claim that, “‘if matter itself is lively, then not only is the difference between subjects and objects minimized, but the status of the shared materiality of all things is elevated’”:28 “Given the extensive … histories of the violent instrumentalization of black subjects who have struggled … to be ­recognized as ‘human,’ a restructuring of ecological ethics that retains the readied potential for further objectification is worrying.”29 Frazier looks, instead, to black feminist thought and speculative fiction. Similarly, queer ecology must look backward and forward and far beyond the hermetic categories of “sexuality” and “ecology/environment” that its name implies. In addition to the potential expansions described, the sometimes celebratory or recuperative bent of queer ecology might take a more critical, or at least ambivalent, turn. For example, future work might grapple more explicitly with the fact that queer theory has “abandoned the notion

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that queer identities or practices are somehow inherently radical, or that queer politics is necessarily oppositional to historical forms of political and ­economic power.”30 To give a more specific example, future queer ecology scholarship or art might pick up on Darren J. Patrick’s observation that “a queer ecological politics of gentrification is lacking” and expand his New York–centered critique of “gay green gentrification.”31 Yet another path would be to further develop the framework I have been calling “trans ecology,” especially in light of the fact that trans­gender studies scholarship, like queer theory, has been increasingly interested in the nonhuman.32 In what follows, I will model a queer ecology/trans ­ecology reading of two literary texts, while demonstrating what attention to race in such readings can give us.

Part II: How to Do Things with Queer Ecology/Trans Ecology Edward Abbey’s 1975 novel The Monkey Wrench Gang inspired a generation of environmentalists – and contributed the term “monkey­wrenching” to the modern political lexicon – with its tale of a ragtag team who roam the American Southwest, sabotaging projects of development and resource extraction. Controversial for, among other things, its caricatures of ­indigenous peoples, Abbey’s cult classic also exemplifies how environmental politics and ideologies are inseparable from sexual politics and ideologies. (Further below, I will plot out a rather different relationship among indigeneity, the environment, and gender/sexuality.) In Chapter 5 of the novel, the narrator offers the following passage focused on “Gang” member Seldom Seen Smith: This was the forty-fifth trip down the Grand [Canyon, on the Colorado River] for Smith, and so far as he could measure, its pleasure was not staled by repetition. But then no two river trips were ever quite alike. The river, the canyon, the desert world was always changing, from moment to moment, from miracle to miracle, within the firm reality of mother earth. River, rock, sun, blood, hunger, wings, joy—this is the real, Smith would have said, if he’d wanted to. … All the rest is androgynous theosophy. All the rest is transcendental transvestite transactional scientology or whatever the fad of the day, the vogue of the week.33

This passage engages in the time-honored (white, male) nature writing trope of positing Nature as real, authentic, and wondrous, in opposition to Culture, with its artificial social customs and constructed landscapes. But I am more specifically interested in how Abbey tries, and arguably fails, to distinguish between two different types of trans-ness. His narrator

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celebrates nature’s transformativity while simultaneously attempting to recuperate its stability – specifying its perpetuity (“[t]he river, the canyon, the desert world was always changing”) and locating it in the “ firm reality of mother earth.” On the other hand lies a strange grab bag: “androgynous theosophy,” “transcendental transvestite transactional scientology or whatever the fad of the day, the vogue of the week.” Unlike the river, canyon, and desert, these entities are framed as ephemeral – “fad[s],” gone in a “week,” to be replaced with something else and forgotten. One cannot help but notice that Abbey links the deficiencies of this latter type of transformativity to specifically queer and transgender practices: “androgyny,” “transvestitism.”34 We might note here that such terms were especially loaded for the times, given that the novel was published at the height of lesbian-feminist activism and LGBT rights movements in North America; “androgyny” in particular seems to take aim at the gender aesthetics of those movements. Thus, more precisely than Culture, Abbey’s fictional discourse opposes Nature to the queer/trans(gender). I would argue that it thereby participates in the pervasive tradition of transphobia that sees transgender people as unnatural and constructed. Moreover, by associating androgyny and transvestitism with faddishness, commodification (“transactional”), and social trends (“fads”), the passage indirectly casts transgender identity as commodity fetishism.35 A handful of scholars have opposed these histories and logics, toward various ends: some renaturalizing the category of trans, some denaturalizing the category of cis, and some identifying shared threats to trans humans and nonhumans. For example, Jeanne Vaccaro looks at the art installation Crochet Coral Reef to develop a theory of transgender as “handmade”: neither wholly synthetic nor wholly organic. Reflecting on anthropogenic ocean acidification, Vaccaro avers that “violence threatens transgender bodies and coral colonies alike, in registers of diverse feeling and administration as, for example, street harassment, un- and underemployment, toxic waters and chemical pollution.”36 But perhaps the most incisive response to Abbey can be found in the same Povinelli article, “Transgender Creeks and the Three Figures of Power in Late Liberalism.” Like Abbey’s passage, this piece also features a body of freshwater, but it understands that entity quite differently. Povinelli begins with indigenous ancestral accounts of “a coastal tidal creek in northern Australia where a young girl lies face down. She came to this creek as a young, beautiful teenage girl (a tjipel in the language of the area) who decided to dress as a young man, equipping herself with male clothes and hunting implements including a spear.”37 An old man passes

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her but returns after a bird reveals her female status; “a fight ensued. He won. She remains there. But she does not remain there by the creek. She is the creek. If you knew where or how to look, you would see her watery outline, her hunting implements turned to reefs. … Tjipel’s encounter with the old man made, and is, the local topography.”38 Importantly, the web of interdependencies at this site proves the Nature/ Culture binary referenced to be irrelevant. As Povinelli observes, Tjipel “could radically alter her arrangement of existence in ways that would be disastrous for her human kin. And her human kin could alter their arrangement of existence in ways that would be disastrous for Tjipel” – as with, say, the mining boom that threatens this particular region.39 Further, we should note Povinelli’s inclusive, matter-of-fact account of transformativity: “Tjipel was an adolescent girl who dressed up as a young man. Then she became a creek. These morphological mutations did not kill her; they allowed her to persist.”40 This account defies the ways in which Abbey associates queer and trans practices with threats to nonhuman entities. Povinelli shows, instead, how such practices enable their persistence. What should be clear by now is that, as US writer and educator Oliver Baez Bendorf puts it, “nature matters for transgender studies.”41 He wonders, further, “what will transgender studies do with the environment, pumped up with chemicals these days, its roof on fire? … I want to know what transgender studies will say on environmental education research and vice versa.”42 I have already taken up Bendorf’s challenge in this section and will now extend that work by turning to a poem from his own prize-winning first collection, The Spectral Wilderness – which, as Mark Doty notes in a foreword, gives us a rare glimpse into “the lives of those who are engaged in the complex project of transforming their own gender.”43 I employ not just queer ecology/trans ecology lenses to read this poem, but also a critical race studies lens. First, an excerpt: Queer Facts About Vegetables In 1893, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the tomato is a vegetable. I know I am a nightshade, it says to its own limp vine. I know how to burst against teeth with my juice and seed. ...................

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nicole seymour I can be a boy, I know, but never a man. I can be Sunday gravy or a pickled green. This is still the tomato talking to the vine, as told to me.44

This poem is obviously ripe, if you will, for queer ecology and trans ecology analyses. First, by aligning himself with the tomato – botanically a fruit but legally a vegetable45 – Bendorf’s transgender speaker both naturalizes his status and invokes issues relevant to transgender humans, including the violence of external misclassification and the difficulty of self-determination. This empathetic alignment exemplifies the valuing of “intimacy and sensuality between the human and nonhuman worlds” that Timothy M. Griffiths sees as characteristic of queer ecology.46 The poem also plays with sexual innuendo, evoking a comically flaccid penis with the phrase “limp vine” and reminding us of how male semen is referred to as “seed” – just one example of the overlaps between sexual and environmental discourses. But I want to go further here, explicating the poem’s racial dynamics. First, considering that our speaker’s race is not marked, and that the idyllic Midwestern farm and woodland settings of Bendorf’s collection may evoke a predominately white experience for many readers, we might be suspicious of how the speaker engages rather whimsically with the kind of dehumanization about which Jackson and Frazier worry, one regularly imposed on subjects of color – “I know I am a nightshade, / it says to its own limp vine.” Further, considering factors such as the alienation of people of color from healthy natural resources, the association of people of color with urbanity, and the high murder rates for trans women of color, we must ask if the naturalization of trans humanity invoked by the poem, and Bendorf’s collection as a whole, is equally available to all. As Jin Haritaworn asks in the GLQ special issue, “for whom might identifying with the nonhuman be too risky a move?”47 But there are many other ways to read this poem. We could draw on the knowledge that Bendorf identifies as Latinx to read the speaker as a male of color. Or, barring any extratextual knowledge, we could simply observe the anxieties that the poem articulates. For one thing, that whimsical dehumanization actually meets a rather self-conscious clarification at the poem’s end: “This is still the tomato / talking to the vine, / as

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told to me.” Moreover, the transformativity of nonhuman nature that the poem references – “I can be Sunday gravy / or a pickled green” – is not equally matched by a transformativity of human nature – “I can be a boy, I know, / but never a man.” Reading through a critical race studies lens, we might understand these lines as echoing the US history of infantilizing men of color – as with adult black men interpellated as “boy” under Jim Crow. On that note, we might also recall a different US Supreme Court case that began just a year before the tomato decision: Plessy v. Ferguson, which sanctioned the segregation of black Americans under the aegis of “separate but equal.” I would argue that the coexistence of these two cases is no mere coincidence because this was an era in which taxonomization bore down on multiple categories of life. More specifically, as Siobhan Somerville argues, “negotiations of the color line … [in this era] shaped and were shaped by the emergence of notions of sexual identity and the corresponding epistemological uncertainties surrounding them.”48 Race and gender and sexuality are juridically produced in tandem with one another, in ways that serve the state – just as the tomato’s new vegetable status brought in tariff revenue from food importers. Reading Bendorf’s poem in these ways reveals how queer and trans experience and ecological experience are similarly circumscribed by race, as well as nation, citizenship, and the law. And it reminds us that we should remain both attentive to, and critical of, queer and trans alliances with nature – for what they can give us as well as what they cannot.

Notes On their own, the terms “ecology” and “ecological” connote the specific ­scientific discipline of ecology. As my intended meaning is usually much broader – the entanglement of the human and nonhuman – I occasionally substitute the terms “environment” and “environmental” throughout this piece. 2 Andil Gosine, “Non-White Reproduction and Same-Sex Eroticism: Queer Acts against Nature,” in Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, ed. Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010), 150. 3 See, for instance, Giovanna Di Chiro, “Polluted Politics? Confronting Toxic Discourse, Sex Panic, and Eco-Normativity,” in Sandilands and Erickson, Queer Ecologies, 199–230, and Heather Davis, “Toxic Progeny: The Plastisphere and Other Queer Futures,” philoSOPHIA 5, no. 2 (2015): 231–50. 4 Shiloh R. Krupar, Hot Spotter’s Report: Military Fables of Toxic Waste (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013), 234. 1

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See, for instance, Nancy C. Unger, “From Jook Joints to Sisterspace: The Role of Nature in Lesbian Alternative Environments in the United  States,” in Sandilands and Erickson, Queer Ecologies, 173–98; Kyle Bladow, “Queer  Ecology,” in America Goes Green: An Encyclopedia of Eco-Friendly Culture in the United States, ed. Kim Kennedy White and Leslie A. Duram (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2013), 467–9; and Heather Houser, “AIDS Memoirs Out of the City: Discordant Natures,” in Ecosickness in Contemporary U.S. Fiction: Environment and Affect (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 31–76. 6 Sarah Ensor, “Spinster Ecology: Rachel Carson, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Nonreproductive Futurity,” American Literature 84, no. 2 (2012): 409–35. 7 Davis, “Toxic Progeny.” 8 See, for instance, Bruce Bagemihl, Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999); Noreen Giffney and Myra J. Hird, eds. Queering the Non/Human (Hampshire, UK: Ashgate, 2008); and Joan Roughgarden, Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004). 9 Wendy Arons, “Queer Ecology/Contemporary Plays,” Theatre Journal 64, no. 4 (2012): 567. 10 Timothy Morton, “Queer Ecology,” PMLA 125, no. 2 (March 2010): 273–74. I should note that Morton’s article often gets invoked as the foundational text of queer ecology, despite the many articles by female scholars that preceded it. 11 Jordy Rosenberg, “The Molecularization of Sexuality: On Some Primitivisms of the Present,” Theory & Event 17, no. 2 (2014): n.p. 12 Una Chaudhuri and Shonni Enelow, Research Theatre, Climate Change, and the Ecocide Project: A Casebook (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), chap. 2, Kindle. 13 “OUT For Sustainability,” OUT For Sustainability, accessed July 29, 2018, out4s.org. 14 Shauna M. O’Donnell, et al., “Carrying On and Going Beyond: Some Conditions of Queer/Nature,” in “Queer/Nature,” ed. Gillian Austin et al., special issue, UnderCurrents: Journal of Critical Environmental Studies 6 (1994): 2. 15 Greta Gaard, “Toward a Queer Ecofeminism,” Hypatia 12, no. 1 (1997): 116. 16 See Sandilands and Erickson, Queer Ecologies; Robert Azzarello, Queer Environmentality: Ecology, Evolution, and Sexuality in American Literature (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2012); and Nicole Seymour, Strange Natures: Futurity, Empathy, and the Queer Ecological Imagination (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2013). 17 See, respectively, Vin Nardizzi, “Shakespeare’s Queer Pastoral Ecology: Alienation around Arden,” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 23, no. 3 (2016): 564–82; Tavia Nyong’o, “Back to the Garden: Queer Ecology in Samuel Delany’s ‘Heavenly Breakfast,’” American Literary History 24, no. 4 (2012): 747–67; and Arons, “Queer Ecology.” 5

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Robert Azzarello, “Anthologizing the Field,” review of Queer Ecologies, ed. Sandilands and Erickson, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 18, no. 1 (2012): 197. 19 David Mazel, “Ecocriticism as Praxis,” in Teaching North American Environmental Literature, ed. Laird Christensen, Mark C. Long, and Fred Waage (New York: MLA, 2008), 39; Azzarello, Queer Environmentality, 8. 20 Neel Ahuja, “Intimate Atmospheres: Queer Theory in a Time of Extinctions,” GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies 21, nos. 2–3 (2015): 365; Sarah Ensor, “Terminal Regions: Queer Ecocriticism at the End,” in Against Life, ed. Alastair Hunt and Stephanie Youngblood (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2016), 43. 21 Landon Schnabel, “The Question of Subjectivity in Three Emerging Feminist Science Studies Frameworks: Feminist Postcolonial Science Studies, New Feminist Materialisms, and Queer Ecologies,” Women’s Studies International Forum 44 (2014): 12; Peter Coviello, “The Wild Not Less Than the Good: Thoreau, Sex, Biopower,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 23, no. 4 (2017): 520. 22 Elizabeth A. Povinelli, “Transgender Creeks and the Three Figures of Power in Late Liberalism,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 26, no. 1 (2015): 169–70; emphasis in original. 23 Similarly, in a special issue of GLQ on “Queer Inhumanisms,” editors Mel Y. Chen and Dana Luciano tell us that the “rising critical interest, across the humanities and the social sciences, in … the nonhuman insists … that we view the boulder [in the Laura Aguilar photograph they analyze] not as ‘mere’ backdrop or landscape but as equally important [as the human], equally in need of inquiry.” “Has the Queer Ever Been Human?,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 21, nos. 2–3 (2015): 184. But Cheryll Glotfelty’s ­groundbreaking 1996 anthology The Ecocriticism Reader made an almost identical claim nearly twenty years previously, asking us to “conside[r] nature not just as the stage upon which the human story is acted out, but as an actor in the drama.” Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm, eds., The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996), xxi. See also Catriona Sandilands, “Some ‘F’ Words for the Environmental Humanities: Feralities, Feminisms, Futurities,” in The  Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities, ed. Ursula K. Heise, Jon Christensen, and Michelle Niemann (London: Routledge, 2017), 447. 24 The first use of the phrase, to my knowledge, comes from Sandilands’s 2002 article, “Lesbian Separatist Communities and the Experience of Nature: Toward a Queer Ecology,” Organization & Environment 15, no. 2 (2002): 131–63. 25 Jorge Marcone, “A Painful Pastoral: Migration and Ecology in Chicana/o Literature,” Pacific Coast Philology 46, no. 2 (2011): 194–209; Adriana Jiménez Rodríguez, “‘Strange Coupling’: Vegan Ecofeminism and Queer Ecologies 18

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in Theory and in Practice,” Revista de Lenguas Modernas 25 (2016): 381–94; Keitaro Morita, “A Queer Ecofeminist Reading of ‘Matsuri [Festival]’ by Hiromi Ito,” in East Asian Ecocriticisms: A Critical Reader, ed. Simon C. Estok and Won-Chung Kim (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 59–73; ­brackets in original title. 26 Arons, “Queer Ecology,” 567. 27 Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, “Outer Worlds: The Persistence of Race in Movement ‘Beyond the Human,’” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 21, nos. 2–3 (2015): 215–18. 28 Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 13, quoted in Chelsea M. Frazier, “Troubling Ecology: Wangechi Mutu, Octavia Butler, and Black Feminist Interventions in Environmentalism,” Critical Ethnic Studies 2, no. 1 (2016): 45. 29 Frazier, “Troubling Ecology,” 45; emphasis in original. 30 Lisa Duggan, “Queer Complacency without Empire,” Bully Bloggers, September 22, 2015, https://bullybloggers.wordpress.com/2015/09/22/queercomplacency​-without-empire/. 31 Darren J. Patrick, “The Matter of Displacement: A Queer Urban Ecology of New York City’s High Line,” Social & Cultural Geography 15, no. 8 (2014): 923, 922. 32 Nicole Seymour, “Trans Ecology and the Transgender Road Trip,” in The Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism, ed. Greg Garrard (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), E-book edition; Nicole Seymour, “Transgender Environments,” in The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment, ed. Sherilyn MacGregor (London: Routledge, 2017), 253–69. See also Eva Hayward and Jami Weinstein, eds., “Tranimalities,” special issue, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 2, no. 2 (2015). The first edited collection on trans ecology, edited by Douglas Vakoch, is forthcoming from Routledge. 33 Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975; repr., New York City: Harper Perennial, 2008), 61; emphasis mine. 34 Even “vogue” potentially invokes queer/trans histories: it denotes both ­fashion, broadly – hence the magazine of the same name – and the specific practice of voguing, associated with queer/trans communities of color since the 1960s. Ironically, “realness” – that which Abbey opposes to “androgyny” and “transvestism” – is an explicit category of voguing competition. 35 See Seymour, Strange Natures, 56–7. 36 Jeanne Vaccaro, “Feelings and Fractals: Woolly Ecologies of Transgender Matter,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 21, nos. 2–3 (2015): 286; emphasis mine. 37 Povinelli, “Transgender Creeks,” 170. 38 Povinelli, “Transgender Creeks,” 171. 39 Povinelli, “Transgender Creeks,” 172. 40 Povinelli, “Transgender Creeks,” 172. 41 Oliver Bendorf, “Nature,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1, nos. 1–2 (2014): 136.

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Bendorf, “Nature,” 136. Mark Doty, foreword to The Spectral Wilderness, by Oliver Bendorf (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2015), vii. Doty selected Bendorf as the 2013 Wick Poetry Prize winner. 44 Oliver Bendorf, “Queer Facts About Vegetables,” in Spectral Wilderness, 7. 45 The New York City–based John Nix & Co. company argued that the tomato is a fruit and, therefore, not subject to the Tariff [Act] of 1883 – which imposed taxes on imported vegetables. The court disagreed, decreeing that it should be classified as a vegetable. For more information, see “Nix v. Hedden,” Find  Law, accessed July 31, 2018, http:// caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/149/304.html. 46 Timothy M. Griffiths, “‘O’er Pathless Rocks’: Wordsworth, Landscape Aesthetics, and Queer Ecology,” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 22, no. 2 (2015): 287. 47 Jin Haritaworn, “Decolonizing the Non/Human,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 21, nos. 2–3 (2015): 212. 48 Siobhan B. Somerville, Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000), 3. 42

43

Further Reading Alaimo, Stacy. “Eluding Capture: The Science, Culture, and Pleasure of ‘Queer’ Animals.” In Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times, 41–62. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016. Butler, Cameron. “A Fruitless Endeavour: Confronting the Heteronormativity of Environmentalism.” In Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment, edited by Sherilyn MacGregor, 270–86. London: Routledge, 2017. Hogan, Katie. “Detecting Toxic Environments: Gay Mystery as Environmental Justice.” In New Perspectives on Environmental Justice: Gender, Sexuality, and Activism, edited by Rachel Stein, 249–61. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2004.

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chapter 8

Queer Poetics

Deviant Swerves, in Three Ren Ellis Neyra

But when things got really bad was when Celestino took it into his head to write poems. “That’s what girls do,” said my mother. … And that was the first time she jumped down the well. —Reinaldo Arenas1 Splash goes the cow now, splash / splash splash. Lovely baby smelly cow comes / out of baby anyhow, now, … —Gertrude Stein2 Get in, loser—we’re touring landscapes of the interior. —Tommy Pico3

Skrrt One of queer poetics’ compulsions is to swerve on the constraints of form. Atoms do not simply move or fall on straight lines. Lucretius said that atoms melee, deviate, and collide unexpectedly, making more matter, or in the tone of Drake, “more life.”4 If there’s no swerve, there’s no blow. I offer a lyrical essay on how queer poetics – by which I mean, queer ways of putting sensorially stimulating audiovisual things together – imagines desire as swerve. I will not make an argument about queer poetics per se but will show how swerve emerges as an aesthetic tactic of survival in a violently not neutral world. Swerve makes a way for us to sense minoritarian and unspeakable sexual histories in relation. Turning away from, moving around, and cutting across incorporation, these are among the possibilities of desire as queer poetics as swerve. But the thought does not stop here (Figure 8.1). The swerve in queer poetics may enact refusal and withholding, but its excessive interiority does not hold back on claiming opacity in relation to many deviant socialities. In the syntax, devices, and metaphors of queer poetics and queer theory, we feel out the stakes of swerving 125

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Figure 8.1   Screenshot of a series of posts made on July 26, 2017, by artist Virgil B/G Taylor on Instagram. Together, these posts form a grid of colorful, broken refusal with text that reads “do not incorporate us or use us.” (Virgil B/G Taylor/fag.tips (@vbgt), “do not incorporate us or use us,” Instagram. Images used with permission of the artist.)

both in and from this world. This involves showing, beyond what queer may mean, what and how queer does. Lisa Cohen’s “Four More Reports” edges on queer theory’s generative vexation with utopian projections, and bespeaks how bound queer theory is to this world. The “Reports” convey a porousness of genres—specifically, memoir, poetry, and theory. I will score the line breaks of one of the four reports, called “Interview”: “I’m a ­meteorite … / I am the greatest / single thing you’ve ever remembered when I came down here there / was not much doing in philosophy I am the last minutes of the doomed / loveliness—and as you see the force builds up—break here—the force builds up and up—some more.”5 The queer poetic demand for more appears in a formal cutting back that emphasizes what has been removed. The splay of enjambment exceeds where loss could subsume. In IRL (2016) – the first in a tetraptych of book-length poems by Kumeyaay poet Tommy Pico – the queer, indigenous lyric speaker, Teebs, is working hard on an inner dialogue to keep from rhetorically crashing into an insipid white stranger at a rooftop party somewhere in Brooklyn.6 The white stranger is talking about how he has a “half / Thai girlfriend” with whom he’s casually moving to Thailand.7 Snap! It’s that easy for him, he whose subject position emerges in history by nativizing itself wherever it goes. Overhearing this marks a splitting moment of queer feeling

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between flouncy and critical. Wanting to float away flirting, Teebs’ proximity to self-luxuriating whiteness, instead, summons no chill: “Isn’t it under martial law?”8 Why declare the white traveler’s ease and render one’s Asian lover as a derivative, as if the speculations underlying international white mobility were not charged? In the black braid of verse shaped like a long text message, the speaker keeps repeating, “keep it light c’mon Teebs / keep it light you fucking.”9 But Teebs cannot keep it light: the history of the United States forcing indigenous removal to and containment on reservations, disappearing native children from their kin, and forcing assimilation as individualizing enfranchisement has rendered Teebs simultaneously heavy and disposable. In a moment of excess, of incapacity to enact proper conversational constraint, Teebs drinks and thinks through word play about their Uncle Chop who drank himself to death. After invoking that loss to the white stranger, Teebs’ mind goes: “eeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrkkkkkkk.”10 We have the pleasure of hearing Pico read in the audio recording of IRL. In this section of the poem, Track 7, Pico improvises upon an already decided upon sign-sound in the printed poem. The screeching, brakeslammed sound of “eeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrkkkkkkk” instead comes out of Pico’s mouth as the rubber peeling turn, “Skrrrrrrrrrrrr!”11 Skrrrrr or skrt skrt is an ad lib veering all over contemporary hip-hop, and especially US southern and Latinx Trap variations. Young, pretty boi rappers and bad b*tches reimagine the gender presentations of hip-hop today and perform what critics have called “mumbling” on tracks. Rather than rendering highly enunciated syllabic clarity in “bars,” artists such as Lil Uzi Vert, Kodak Black, Tinashe, Bad Bunny, and Cardi B skrt skrt, bending bars. Skrt is not a mere slamming on the brakes, an errk of jarred stasis. It is onomatopoeia for rubber tires abruptly changing direction, squealing deviation from a linear course. Skrt skrt reiterates as “swerve swerve” in Frank Ocean’s outburst on Tyler, the Creator’s track “911/Mr. Lonely.”12 Skrrrr sounds out unruliness. It is a breach of contract, with relish. The word “ad lib” comes from “ad libitum,” which can be translated “as desired” or “with libido.” In a musical score, the direction of an “ad lib” invites freedom to improvise. But Trap’s “ad libs” exceed the one-way run of ­freedom, enacting, instead, the pleasure of vernacular bursts and what the poet and musician Christian Black calls “blinguistics,” where “bling,” we remember, is a vibraphonic sound for commodification’s glister.13 Channeling Trap’s sonic misdirection, I sense that queer poetics swerves “ad libitum” on the constraints of form and imagines a range of possible formal feelings. Desire as a field of movements across – of attracting, repelling, and ­veering – migrates throughout queer poetics. Roland Barthes f­igures a

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l­ over’s discourse as a desirous dis-cursus, dis (away) currere (run), “the action of running here and there, comings and goings … outbursts of language, which occur at the whim of [the] trivial, of aleatory circumstances.”14 Outbursts of language are what Cohen and Pico, as well as the highly femininely glammed artists who skrt skrt – who drag a skirt into hip-hop – authorize themselves to do. Which brings us back here: what constitutes queer poetics – what it is – or what aims to represent it – makes less sense to me to linger with than showing how it does its moves. In the viscerally formalist Foreword to Tendencies, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick writes: Queer is a continuing moment, movement, motive—recurrent, eddying, troublant. The word “queer” itself means across—it comes from the Indo-European root -twerkw, which also yields the German quer (transverse), Latin torquere (to twist), English athwart. … Tendencies tend toward “across” formulations: across genders, across sexualities, across genres, across “perversions.” The immemorial current that queer represents is antiseparatist as it is antiassimilationist. Keenly, it is relational, and strange.15

Generically promiscuous, anti-ageist in erotic knowledge practices: what queer does is not overdetermined by normativity’s violently contrived claims of precedence, which respond to the abundance of deviance, variation, and desire in the world.16 A poem can be like a park, a container for all meters and manners of doing to figure themselves out. Like a park, desire makes a scenic space for the proximity of difference in transient and ritual motion. But desire’s gatherings can get (or come from the) wild beyond drawn boundaries, and queer poetics is there when the rumpus pops off – in the shapes of poems, as well as in other shapes: meadows, deserts and fields,17 alleys and downtowns,18 bathrooms and clubs,19 poetic novels,20 theory made lyrical.21 Queer poetics’ mutability permeates many genres and practices because desire cannot be contained in one form. This formal excess speaks to the constraints of the present’s given future. The ground that legalizes a perpetually invadable yet insistently nonvariable and invasive whiteness, the visual and narrative preponderance of antiblackness, suspicion of brown and Asian American bodies as contagions, the iterative lastness and firstness projected onto indigenous peoples, and the choking out of multilingualism to declare a fantasy of standard language’s singularity – all of these are valences in what Hortense Spillers invokes as a US grammar. The color line plays out on the level of syntax, as it does on the street, where, for many of us, there is always the reminder of the ocean, the slave

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trade, colonial land occupations, prisons, detention centers, and ongoing military invasions. Black diasporic poetics swerves on the colorline of thought’s white plots. I’m channeling the end of Spillers’ 1987 essay, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” where she calls for “gaining the insurgent ground as female social subject.”22 I read that insurgent subject as trans, as a form that cannot be cuttingly dyadic because the dyad never harbored her*them. I hear a call for something that denotation and dominance fundamentally cannot capture. That US grammar, of bringing together by dividing, weighing and measuring the value of others’ lives for selective, monetized incorporation, is also the grammar of the gender binary and genitally obsessed essentialisms that work hard to overdetermine sexual and social possibility. Queer poetics and queer theory swerve on that grammar, imagining how to use our bodies “to converge in our disidentification” – to be unruly and make pleasure with our bodies out of how we have been harmed.23 Mutably cutaneous, oral, anal, shape-shifting, multisensorial, and funky, queer and trans poetics move with concern for bodies’ histories and possibilities. As desiderata: at La Espectacular Residencia in San Juan, Puerto Rico; in Manhattan at The L G B T Center’s Reading Room on 13th Street; at the Poetry Project’s chapel at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery; in Visual AIDS’ oral historical and art-archival projects; in the moveable New York City–based reading series Adult Contemporary and Poets with Attitude24; in dancers’ and performance artists’ choreographies25; through Sister SpitRadar Productions in San Francisco; at Timeless, Infinite Light Press in Oakland; in classrooms where students hover around and buzz with texts, swarming against Queer + Black Studies not meshing together; and in so many queer clubs, karaoke bars, and serial, venue-changing dance and sexparty scenes, which exist in swerving ­relation to sites lost to gentrification and relocated to internet-based hook-up culture. This list situates a limited set of movements that do daily, world making, anti-anti-utopian work. They enact the back-turned, side-eyeing, subjunctive temporality of historical desire. We sense this subjunctive temporality through the crops and their remainders in Chilean, queer artist Catalina Schliebener’s switchy show Curveball. One in a triptych of multisite aesthetic engagements of queer theory, queer childhoods, gendered illustrations of kids’ bodies, and sport, Curveball visualizes how mixups and misgenderings that cut and harm can morph in our attachments into possibilities for pleasure and play (Figure 8.2).26

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Figure 8.2   Figures 8.2, 8.3, and 8.4 are images from Catalina Schliebener’s ­installation Curveball (collage, vinyl on wall, found objects). With black vinyl against a thickly painted pink wall, Figure 8.2 exhibits a child’s cropped body, a cropped tiger’s tail sprouting from the child’s booted foot, and a bow, perhaps discarded or perhaps it would be donned. The lines gesture Disney; the absent parts conjure injury, object orientation, and a different sensorial arrangement. The androgynous figure’s hand rests above a pink baseball bat angled downward, protruding from the wall, and surrounded by pink erasers. In the foreground, a black baseball cap poses in a glass box, drizzled with pink erasers, a hole cut in its top panel.

Figure 8.3   High on a gallery wall painted nursery blue, a glass phallus, or tail, filled with pink supplemental pencil erasers juts out. Charged with porousness, fragmentation, and playfulness, these objects question gender as prostheses.

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Figure 8.4   A curving stack of gendery, pink mitts with spots of blue, creamy white, and black hump each other. Holes, nobs, crops, and protrusions feature in all of the objects in Curveball; for this moment, gender regulation is a punch line. (Catalina Schliebener, “Curveball,” MEN Gallery, New York City, 2017, www.catalinaschliebener.com/ instalacion-objetos/2017/curveball/. Images used with permission of artist.)

Constraint Queer poetics has feelings about formal constraint; desire does s­ omething with those feelings. In Pico’s Nature Poem (2017) the “jaunty” and historically hyperaware Teebs offers an “NDN” (American Indian) ­ and contaminated poem about nature.27 In a naughty moment of visual redux, and in one of the speaker’s preferred verb tenses, that of desire, the subjunctive, we read: I wd give a wedgie to a sacred mountain and gladly piss on the grass of the park of poetic form while no one’s lookin I wd stroll into the china shop of grammar and shout LET’S TRASH THIS DUMP then gingerly slip out28

When a binder is wanted, agreed on, and enacted in a dynamic, that’s one thing (pleasurable). When a binder assumes its universality and imposes itself as sacred and unchangeable, it is just asking to get trashed. The visceral breaks constraint, desire upchucks, and sharp categorizations of bodies as hetero or homo bend to the unnameable because “the possibility of / the possibility of / my body” does more than normative forces can manage.29 Dominance harms but cannot totally administer what is possible. Teebs pissing on blades of US poetic grass convokes, simultaneously, nonchalance, strong feelings about colonial monolingualism, and

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something erotic (because Walt Whitman may be there beneath the golden shower, after all). Pico does a queer thing, rather than appeal to representation (i.e., fantasize the standard’s submission to play’s vital prowess). The spatial metaphors of “the park” and “the china shop of grammar” constrict. But the subjunctive excess of boundaries in Nature Poem finds a friend in Latinx scholar and poet Roy Pérez’s theory of spatial proximity as an imaginary of queer, cross-ethnic affiliation. He offers something looser: A theory of the proximal allows us to talk about desire as a poetics rather than as a sleuthing of the implicated subjects’ interests, cathections, and sexual practices. Rather than an argument against such sleuthing or gossip, a theory of proximity is more nearly a way to make something out of the aporia created in the Latino archive by the bifurcation of race and sexuality into separate histories, and attend to the gaps and contradictions where queerness seems to be the missing conjunction but where its denotative confirmation is either ignored, inaccessible, or unspeakable.30

Queer poetics enacts proximal desires that do not seek pragmatic coherence: the as dubs is. The adverbial, moveable as, like Lucretius’s veering atoms, does not move on the determined, conjugal lines of to be or not. Gossip and fabulation, the pomp of eroticized abjection, and latent queer genealogies bring me back to Sedgwick, who laid her prose over the tableau of performed constraint and got spanked. Her spankings begat poetry. Her poiesis begat fantasies of female anal eroticism. Or they all swerved into each other, alleviating causation from her queer lines.

Fantasy Proximity In the field of queer formalist literary theory, there is an endnote that fantasizes. Its fantasy calls to me. I would have been two years old when Sedgwick spoke this essay. Now, as I write of her essay “A Poem Is Being Written” and, I like to imagine, write to her, I am nearing the age that she was in this endnote: “A Poem Is Being Written” was originally conceived for the 1985 “Poetics of Anger” conference at Columbia University. Part of the motivation behind my work on it has been a fantasy that readers or hearers would be ­ variously—in anger, identification, pleasure, envy, “permission,” ­exclusion—stimulated to write accounts “like” this one (whatever that means) of their own, and share those.31

Motivated by a fantasy, and punning on Sigmund Freud’s “A Child Is Being Beaten,” Sedgwick renders a brilliant freak of an essay about enjambment

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in lyric poetry, the tableau of childhood spanking and ­performed constraint, sex and (as) spanking, and the vastly untheorized spread of female anal eroticism. Indeed, it is the relationship between lyric poetry’s feet and legs straddling over (aka, enjambment) and anal e­ roticism that move this particular piece (of ass). Sedgwick writes: “Where a lively anal eroticism has come into being, whether resulting from or merely associated through metonymy with the tableau of ­spanking, it is likely to be marked in girls or in boys by many of the same ­problematics that have already yoked together the experiences of ­spanking and of bowel training: shame, rhythmic control, and ­prohibition, notably.”32 Sedgwick goes on to declare that, “since classical times, there has been no important sustained Western ­discourse in which women’s anal eroticism means. Means anything.”33 Female desires for the ass and the asshole do not mean. Here perks-up another site of shift from meaning to doing in queer theory. Judith Butler takes us to a specific site in western discourse of excremental anxiety in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. In Butler’s ­ close r­eading of Hegel, we read the verbs “clinging” and “attaching,” “­recoiling,” “­disavowing,” and “leave-taking” to describe the subject’s relation to his subjection that demands that he turn from his body’s bend to ­sanctify it.34 Butler’s verbs anticipate a passage where Hegel exhibits dread of the “­animal functions” of his body. “Hegel appears to imply ­defecation as an object of self-preoccupation,” writes Butler in The Psychic Life of Power.35 Hegel writes that in “these [animal functions] … the enemy reveals ­himself in his characteristic shape … and consciousness, in ­fixing its attention on him, far from freeing itself from him, really remains ­forever in contact with him, and forever sees itself as defiled.”36 What a bad (­un-erotic) trip he is on with the haptic inevitability of touching his own shitty ­a sshole! What Butler’s syntax does with Hegel’s ­excremental dread, however, is erotic for me. I become aroused by their syntax ­hovering around his shame and refusing to purge our proximity to preordained anal touching.37 Hegel fears excremental proximity: Butler’s lingering in proximity, both to Hegel and to the asshole, like Pico’s ­lingering with the colonial nature of The Poem in Nature Poem, does queer poetics. There’s a twist in the verb do here, which I have used thus far to mark a deviation from canonical critical concerns with referentiality and meaning. Butler mines Hegel: “In order to reconnect with the pure and  ­unchangeable, this bodily consciousness offers up its every ‘doing’ to a priest or minister. … Everything that the abject consciousness offers, that is, all of its externalizations, including desire, work, and excrement,

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are to be construed as offerings, as paying penance.”38 Daddy, look what I made! Skrrt: swipe left on this antiporous consciousness that translates doing so as to value detachment from the body. “Because the body cannot be fully denied, as the stoic thought, it must be ritualistically renounced,” writes Butler.39 I am reminded here of the importance in queer writing of making pleasure from abjection, of perversion alongside reverence and reference.40 When Chicano writer Gil Cuadros lyricizes in the poem “Turmoil,” “I admit I want to get belted, / parts of my body chewed, / to be told how I taste,” the discursive mode of confession is there, but abject flesh is seeking regulation not to absolve its consciousness but to make more pleasure.41 All of this makes me imagine that Sedgwick enjoyed being near the Cuban theorist, her student, José Esteban Muñoz. Proximity: in Cuban discourse, “el ojo del culo,” and the pleats, the “pliegues” or “plages,” that wrinkle that circle, is not a site of “asco,” but of touching ­transformation.42 In a poetic essay written, in part, for Samuel Delany and his funky ­attachments, Ira Livingston does a queer citational thing: he writes that it was not only José who had found something inventive with Eve in his graduate studies at Duke, but also Eve who had found something world making with José. “They found each other.”43 Livingston composes ­intergenerational touching, where age does not bind participants in an obvious dynamic of power but imagines all subjects as changing and offering something in their exchanges. “This finding and invention and reinvention of each other is exactly what I am calling survival. Did I say survival? I could have called it pleasure. Survival. Pleasure. Survival. Pleasure.”44 An ephemeral, compost-loving flowerboi position troubles western ­philosophy’s detachment from the lower parts, which is to say the ass and junk, and it is also to say those subjects in touch with the pleasure of their junk, whose very existence reminds us of excrescent pleasure’s survival. Sedgwick’s writing takes pleasure in bringing the anal back, back to face, or hide its face from, enjambment, and articulates a form of (male homosexual) survival in “sadomasochistic identification with the punished child.”45 Because female anal eroticism historically produces no meaning in western sexual and regulative discourses, Sedgwick’s attachment to fabulation, and to the anal, operates as disidentifying as a woman-gay-male toward a doing of desire’s poetics. Shifting the beat from meaning to doing, and having done, Sedgwick makes something else with the discursive limit of female anal eroticism in the form of a highly enjambed lyric, “Everything Always Distracts.” A performative fragment:

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oral sadistic and anal masochistic, face down and bottom up, and I half in half out, stretching you, and taking my own sweet, my own needy time about going either way. I like standing in, in unconscious magic, for your pay, your turd, your baby; but more, I’m scared by the scalding rush to the eyes, the rush to finish—and your resistance to it.46

Under the last tercet is the year 1975. Under that year is the coordinate and date, “Amherst, 16 June 1986.”47 This temporal gesture stretches out the “plages” of the speaker’s (perhaps Eve-as-man) desirous address to an other (an other, Eve). The desire to be taken beyond what is known, face down, haunches and holes up-turned; the desire to “stan[d] in” “for your pay,” as in, to stretch you, to take more than you can give – not to “ritualistically renounce” but to ritually make pleasure.48 For what harmed in one moment can change and render something exquisite in another. In two places (that I have counted) in “A Poem Is Being Beaten,” Sedgwick uses the verb “swerve.” Once to say that, as of 1985 or 1986, she had not made the “obvious” connective “swerve” of having sex with a female body.49 The other instance is in asking how far desire would “swerve” and misrecognize itself to join a manifest discourse that approximates but is not exactly one’s desire – very far, whereupon Sedgwick selfinstantiates as a woman who identifies as a homosexual male.50 I hear my own desires in Sedgwick’s long lyric. And by the paragraphs holding the verb “swerve,” I feel hailed, to blurrily harken to Louis Althusser. I also hear Muñoz’s concept of disidentification, which echoes in what will have become his posthumously published writings on brown feeling. Muñoz orients the piece’s flow on Darby Crash and the Germs by a poem, a tactic he uses in several essays.51 Here, it is “Improvisations on a Sentence by Poe,” written by the notoriously socially disruptive poet Jack Spicer. Muñoz positions Spicer as a dark source in queer punk genealogy and uses the verb “swerve,” vis-à-vis Althusser’s invocation of the clinamen in his posthumously published writings on “a politics of the encounter.” Muñoz writes: the clinamen [is] a term coined by Lucretius to describe the ­unanticipatable swerve of atoms that is at the foundation of matter itself … [The] ­clinamen, or the swerve at the heart of the encounter, describes the social choreography of a potentially insurrectionist mode of being in the world. Thus,

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ren ellis neyra the swerve can describe the encounter as both queer sex and punk style (or, alternatively, punk sex and queer style). … The central swerve of the encounter is a collision that can be turbulent or harmonious, an essentially incalculable concord of that which does, in Spicer’s phrasing, not stoop to definition.52

Visual turmoil makes me yearn for sound, noise, moshing onomatopoeia, ad libs – disrupting coherent optics and the myth of similitude with (dis)identification. Outro, an audiovisual swerve: enjambment is mostly seen and not heard, to eerily conjure a conventional notion of child rearing. Enjambment strides over the poetic line, breaking a sentence-thought into separate verses. It copulates by repeated cuts into – decisions upon – the idea of prose’s Cadillac touring continuous road with the hiccups of a historical commonplace, to quote the poet C.A. Conrad, what was already inside, “unfastened / in the backseat a”: rupture.53 Enjambment breaks apart and straddles together. Hip-hop calls the stuff that verses consist of “bars.” How one stacks bars, distributes rhymes, and punctuates with breaths display one’s flow, which is also one’s difference. But as I said previously, I’m lately high on this “mumble” shit, blurring bars, which pushes on not only how we break but also how we splice – what we sense in proximity. How we touch. Queer poetics in theory, queer theory in poetics, spliced. I like to imagine that the following lines by Lisa Cohen, Renee Gladman, and Carl Phillips water each others’ would-flowers, would-worlds. If there were another world and no connection between that world and ours— a sparkling new milieu, a house with literary associations, where possible was counterpoint to now—then we’d know that anything blooming needs water54 * Because these worlds shift, I can’t believe in either of them. The power of the room remains closed to us, thus I give the room no power. I wish. Now, watching the water pour down.55 *

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X, not just for where in my life you’ve landed, but here too, where your ass begins its half-shy, half-weary dividing, where I sometimes lay my head like a flower, and think I mean something by it. X is all I keep meaning to cross out56

Notes I like to imagine Celestino in Arenas’ novel as a valence of the speaker in Laurie Weeks’ novel Zippermouth, a queer spirit reeling with “multiple ­copies of my mother.” Weeks, Zippermouth (New York: The Feminist Press, 2011), 103. Reinaldo Arenas, Singing from the Well, trans. Andrew Hurley (New York: Penguin Books, 1988), 4. 2 Lines peeled from a love poem by Gertrude Stein to Alice B. Toklas. Cited in Kay Turner’s foreword to Baby Precious Always Shines: Selected Love Notes between Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), 26. “Cows” had long been interpreted as orgasms in Stein’s writing. Turner reveals how they are obviously, onomatopoeically turds and bowel movements coaxed by Stein out of Baby/Alice B. I would add to this welcome intervention the possibility of anal orgasms for Baby. 3 Tommy Pico, Nature Poem (Portland, OR: Tin House Books, 2017), 50. 4 Drake, More Life, OVO Sound, Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records, Republic Records, 2017. 5 Lisa Cohen, “Interview,” in “Four More Reports,” in Adult Contemporary Volume 01, ed. Katherine Brewer Ball and Svetlana Kitto (New York, 2017), 61. 6 Tommy Pico, IRL (Minneapolis, MN: Birds, LLC, 2016). The other poems in the tetralogy are Nature Poem and Junk and Feed (Portland, OR: Tin House, 2018). 7 Pico, IRL, 34. 8 Pico, IRL, 34. 9 Pico, IRL, 35; italics in original. 10 Pico, IRL, 35; italics mine. 11 Tommy Pico, IRL, read by the author, Author’s Republic, 2018, audiobook. 1

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Frank Ocean lyricizes his queer bisexuality in many songs. His friend and collaborator, Tyler, The Creator, gestures to his bisexuality, and suicidal ­ideation, on the 2017 album featuring “911/Mr. Lonely,” in Flower Boy, Columbia Records, 2017. 13 Said in conversation about a hip-hop critique of structural linguistics, circa September 2017. 14 Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1978), 3. 15 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Tendencies (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993), xii; emphasis in original. 16 Fred Moten, “‘Blackness and Nonperformance’ | AFTERLIVES | MoMA LIVE,” YouTube video, September 25, 2015, 1:58:28, posted by The Museum of Modern Art, www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2leiFByIIg. 17 See Eduardo C. Corral, Slow Lightning (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012); José Lezama Lima, Selections, ed. and trans. Ernesto LivonGrosman (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005); and Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2016). 18 James Baldwin, Another Country (New York: Vintage, 1993). 19 See Xandra Ibarra’s San Francisco-based club and alleyway performance, “The Hook Up/Displacement/Barhopping/Drama Tour” (2017); Weeks, Zippermouth; José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York: New York University Press, 2009); and Ricardo Bracho’s unpublished play “The Sweetest Hangover,” which takes place in a club called Aztlantis. Muñoz wrote an essay about the play: “Feeling Brown: Ethnicity and Affect in Ricardo Bracho’s ‘The Sweetest Hangover (and Other STDs),’” Theatre Journal 52, no. 1 (2000): 67–79. “The Sweetest Hangover” was mounted at Stanford in 2008. 20 See Douglas A. Martin, Your Body Figured (Callicoon, NY: Nightboat Books, 2008); Renee Gladman, Event Factory (Urbana, IL: Dorothy, a Publishing Project, 2010). 21 See Joshua Javier Guzmán and Christina A. León, “Cuts and impressions: The aesthetic work of lingering in Latinidad,” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 25, no. 3 (2015): 261–76; Fred Moten, The Feel Trio (Tucson, AZ: Letter Machine Editions, 2014); José Quiroga, Law of Desire: A Queer Film Classic (Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009); Iván A. Ramos, “Slow Encounters: Chantal Akerman’s From the Other Side, Queer Form, and the Mexican Migrant,” in “Queer Form,” ed. Kadji Amin, Amber Jamilla Musser, and Roy Pérez, special issue, ASAP/Journal 2, no. 2 (2017): 423–48. 22 Hortense J. Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” Diacritics 17, no. 2 (Summer 1987): 80. 23 Judith Butler, “Susceptibility\Solidarity,” (Lecture, Third Annual José E. Muñoz Memorial Lecture, New York City, February 12, 2018). 12

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Curated by Katherine Brewer Ball and Svetlana Kitto, and Morgan Parker and Tommy Pico, respectively. 25 See “Jaime Shearn Coan in conversation with Mariana Valencia,” Movement Research, September 23, 2016, https://movementresearch.org/publications/ critical-correspondence/conversation-between-jaime-shearn-coan-and-­ mariana-valencia. See, also, the work of Ishmael Houston-Jones, Faye Driscoll, Jennifer Monson, Will Rawls, Morgan Bassichis, Dynasty Handbag/Jibz Cameron, and Miguel Gutierrez. 26 Ren (Rachel) Ellis Neyra, Mx Hustle, catalogue essay for Catalina Schliebener’s Curveball, MEN Gallery, New York City (2017), www.catalinaschliebener.com/ wp-content/uploads/2018/01/2017_03_curveball.pdf. 27 Pico, Nature Poem, 2. 28 Pico, Nature Poem, 50. 29 Ari Banias, “Double Mastectomy,” in Anybody (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2016), 28. 30 Pérez’s writing on proximity, here, happens in relation to Vivian Huang’s writing on “inscrutability.” Roy Pérez, “The glory that was wrong: el ‘Chino Malo’ approximates Nuyorico,” Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 25, no. 3 (2015): 281; emphasis mine. 31 Sedgwick, Tendencies, 214n. 32 Sedgwick, Tendencies, 203; emphasis in original. 33 Sedgwick, Tendencies, 204; emphasis in original. 34 Judith Butler, The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997), 41, 43, 48. 35 Butler, The Psychic Life of Power, 50. 36 G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 135–6, 174, quoted in Butler, The Psychic Life of Power, 50. 37 The “I” I am writing with here is the queer son of an American English grammar teacher and southern preacher father, who readily beat the shit out of his children, but more ritually verbally abused his children and Cuban female partner, my mother. My father, like my mother, was an athlete of several sports, and also coached many of my sports teams. He was vocal and excitable on the scene of sport. He embodied, simultaneously, standardness, something he wielded over my mother, for whom English is a second language, as well as linguistic strangeness and playfulness, with his north Georgia accent. He “went back to Jesus” in his midthirties, but only after becoming a resource on partying, using marijuana and LSD, playing blues guitar, and other hiccups to the persona of the straight preacher. In my somatic internalizations of the stresses of my childhood household, I now joke that I was constipated for about twelve years. I could not relax as a child to shit “regularly.” My Cuban mother gave me suppositories for a stretch. I remember this ritual, the uncomfortable scene and props. I invoke these details because they speak to my attachments to different citational practices moving around anal desire and discipline. 24

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And because the idea of a Poetics of Anger conference seems a fitting way to describe how my childhood flares in my deep attachments to being an English prof, who teaches Latinx, Caribbean, and Black American poetics, and whose first book of poems titles the cosmos and the delight of filth in a code-switch: Meteor Shower/Días Sin Shower (San Juan, PR: La Impresora, 2017). 38 Butler, The Psychic Life of Power, 51; emphasis in original. 39 Butler, The Psychic Life of Power, 51. 40 See Wayne Koestenbaum, Humiliation (New York: Picador Press, 2011); Nguyen Tan Hoang, A View from the Bottom: Asian American Masculinity and Sexual Representation (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014); Juana María Rodríguez, Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings (New York: New York University Press, 2014); and Darieck Scott, Extravagant Abjection: Blackness, Power, and Sexuality in the African American Literary Imagination (New York: New York University Press, 2010). 41 Gil Cuadros, “Turmoil,” in City of God (San Francisco, CA: City Lights Publishers, 1994), 118. 42 I’m channeling Alexandra Vazquez’s reading of Severo Sarduy’s plages, or beaches, how he punned on the pleats of a vinyl record – the pleat as an expanse. Vazquez discussed this at an invited talk at Wesleyan University, Spring 2016. 43 Ira Livingston, “Erotic Particularity, Metacognition, Survival,” in The Motion of Light: Celebrating Samuel R. Delany, ed. Tracie Morris, s­pecial issue, Jacket2, February 12, 2015, https://jacket2.org/article/erotic-particularity-­ metacognition​-survival. 44 Livingston, “Erotic Particularity.” 45 Sedgwick, Tendencies, 211. 46 Sedgwick, Tendencies, 213–14. 47 Sedgwick, Tendencies, 214. 48 Butler, The Psychic Life of Power, 51. 49 Sedgwick, Tendencies, 209. 50 Sedgwick, Tendencies, 206. 51 José Esteban Muñoz, “‘Gimme Gimme This  … Gimme Gimme That’: Annihilation and Innovation in the Punk Rock Commons,” Social Text 31, no. 3 (Fall 2013): 95–110. 52 Muñoz, “‘Gimme Gimme,’” 97–8. 53 C. A. Conrad, “Leave Something Quiet in Shell of My Ear,” in While Standing in Line for Death (Seattle, WA: Wave Books, 2017), 79. 54 Lisa Cohen, “Possible Worlds,” in “Four More Reports,” in Brewer Ball and Kitto, in Adult Contemporary, 60. 55 Renee Gladman, Newcomer Can’t Swim (Berkeley, CA: Kelsey Street Press, 2007), 93. 56 Carl Phillips, “X,” in In The Blood (Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press, 1992), 3–4.

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Further Reading Amin, Kadji, Amber Jamilla Musser, and Roy Pérez. “Queer Form: Aesthetics, Race, and the Violences of the Social.” ASAP/Journal 2, no. 2 (2017): 227–39. Cole, Henri. Blackbird and Wolf. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007. Doyle, Jennifer. “Capturing Semenya.” The Sport Spectacle, August 16, 2016, https://thesportspectacle.com/2016/08/16/capturing-semenya/. Edwards, Brent Hayes. “Notes on Poetics Regarding Mackey’s Song.” Callaloo 23, no. 2 (2000): 572–91. Hayden, Robert. Collected Poems. Edited by Frederick Glaysher. New York: Liveright, 2013. Las Nietas de Nonó. “Las Nietas de Nonó.” Interview by Sofía Gallisá Muriente. Terremoto, 6, May 30, 2016, http://terremoto.mx/article/interview-withlas-nietas-de-nono/. Salas Rivera, Raquel. lo terciario / the tertiary. Oakland, CA: Timeless, Infinite Light, 2018. Sharpe, Christina. In The Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016. Stone-Richards, Michael. Logics of Separation: Exile and Transcendence in Aesthetic Modernity. Berlin, Germany: Peter Lang, 2011. Tolbert, TC, and Trace Peterson, eds. Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics. Callicoon, NY: Nightboat Books, 2013. Viego, Antonio. Dead Subjects: Towards a Politics of Loss in Latino Studies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007. Young Thug. Jeffery. Atlantic Records, 075678663024, 2016. MP3.

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chapter 9

Queer Narrative Anne Mulhall

Narrative theory has been used extensively by queer theorists to reconceptualize the cultural workings of sex, gender, and sexuality – not to ­mention race, nation, indigeneity, and class, among other key categories. This chapter provides an overview of some queer renderings of narrative. This essay focuses on the interconnections among narrative, sexuality, modernity, and colonialism before considering some dominant narrative genres and queer critical engagements with these: the transition autobiography, the coming-out narrative, and the “progress” narrative, explored at the level of the individual and of the collective and historical. It concludes with an analysis of the uses of some of these narrative forms in the 2015 same-sex marriage referendum in the Republic of Ireland. If queer studies has been organized around a central project of exposing and challenging normativity, the study of how norms are produced, policed, and potentially destabilized through narrative has been crucial to its methods. Michel Foucault’s work has been foundational to this project. In The History of Sexuality Volume 1, the centrality of narrative to the production of modern sexuality and subjectivity in the “west” is clear, particularly in the adaptation of the confessional to the clinic and the couch, where the self is narrativized in the interchange between expert and patient, and the “invert” and “homosexual” emerge from the case studies of the sexologists and psychoanalysts. Foucault articulates this in one of his most quoted passages: “The nineteenth-century homosexual became a personage, a past, a case history, and a childhood, in addition to being a type of life, a life form, and a morphology, with an indiscreet anatomy and possibly a mysterious physiology.”1 This interrelation among the sexologist’s narratives, narratives of the self, and literary narratives is clear, for instance, in the resonances between the work of Richard von Krafft-Ebing and Havelock Ellis and the writings of Radclyffe Hall, whose literary study of “congenital female inversion” in The Well of Loneliness demonstrates these relays in the search for childhood sources that give a 142

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developmental narrative to the homosexual or invert and the physiological signs that can be articulated as etiologies. In Come As You Are, Judith Roof asserts that “sexuality and narrative are joined at the oedipal.”2 Freud’s narrative of sexual development is itself a narrative, a story that draws on other stories, whether from myth, literature, or the clinic. For Roof, Freudian psychoanalysis and the oedipal narrative in particular suggest “an understanding of subjectivity as a distinctly narrative field; subjectivity is imparted and constructed through narrative, understood through narrative, in fact, even structured like a narrative.”3 It is a story with a beginning, a troubled and dangerous middle where the “hero of heterosexuality” is beset by multiple obstacles and trials that must be overcome and averted so that the hero arrives at the final destination, the telos, normal heterosexual (and normatively gendered) maturity. When the protagonist deviates from the path – identifying and desiring the wrong objects – aberration and arrested development are the outcome. The interrelations between Freud’s narratives of desire and identification and the etiology of the queer are strong. Heather Love notes that the “association of homosexuality with loss, melancholia, and failure runs deep; psychoanalytic accounts of arrested development and representations of the AIDS crisis as a gay death wish represent only a couple of notable variations on this theme.”4 The hetero narrative is also bound up in colonialist histories. Warwick Anderson et al. argue that “much of psychoanalytic discourse is inextricable from the ideologies that undergirded European expansion,” whereas Neville Hoad’s work demonstrates the colonial undergirding of western male homosexual identity itself.5 Heavily influenced by scientific racism and its adaptations of evolutionary science, Freud’s work persistently ­analogizes between his ideas of civilizational development from the primitive cultural past to the (European) present, the positioning of nonwestern cultures as primitive and arrested and the developmental narrative of the individual psyche. Siobhan B. Somerville’s work demonstrates that although race was rarely directly addressed in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sexology, this discourse was nonetheless preceded and saturated by scientific racism.6 Gender and race (as well as class and indigeneity) were mutually articulated at the historical point at which ­sexuality entered into scientific discourse. Somerville notes that degeneracy was the conceptual lynchpin, “understood as a kind of reverse evolutionary process, in which the usual progression towards more ‘civilized’ mental and physical development was replaced with regression instead,” one result of which was a lack of sexual differentiation, taken to be characteristic of a

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more primitive evolutionary stage.7 Queer indigenous studies has further elaborated how sexuality and gender have been used as instruments of violence and control in the biopolitical articulation of indigeneity, race, class, and other matrices of differential power and emplacement. Western colonial norms of gender and sexuality were used to create a distinction between primitive natives and civilized settlers. Although European colonists brought with them rigid ideas about the rectitude of heterosexuality and strictly binary gender, many native cultures recognized a plurality of genders. As Scott Morgensen has shown, those who violated the settlercolonists’ notions of proper gender and sexual comportment were “the first peoples targeted for destruction.”8 Just as imputations of hypersexuality and aberrant gender transgression were used in constituting the African as close to the animal and, hence, in need of colonizing and enslavement, so too settler colonists used such imputations to construct a hierarchical distinction that legitimized massacre and appropriation on a vast scale. Although the transition autobiography addresses the production of gender rather than sexuality per se, an overview of the discursive formations of queer narrative would be incomplete without the inclusion of this ­important genre. The interrelation between medical and psychiatric ­discourses and twentieth-century transition autobiographies has been analyzed by many commentators. Narrative has been closely, even violently, bound to clinical diagnosis by the medical gatekeepers, and even where people can legally self-identify their gender (as is the case in Ireland), access to hormones and surgery is still in the power of the gatekeeping medics and still, therefore, bound to the ability to recite the required script. In “The Empire Strike Back: Toward A Posttransexual Manifesto” (1987), Sandy Stone points out the interconnections between medical diagnostics and the personal accounts that people provide in the clinic. Stone notes, for instance, the congruence between people’s accounts and the diagnostics cataloged in Harry Benjamin’s The Transsexual Phenomenon (1966) – a congruence that was more the result of people replicating Benjamin’s claims to qualify for surgery than to the clinician’s diagnostic acuity.9 For Jay Prosser, the connection between narrative and diagnosis is so close that he refers to transition autobiography as “symptom” and diagnostics as ­primarily “narratological.” Prosser usefully summarizes this shared narrativizing dimension: “Reproduced in autobiography, transsexuality emerges as an archetypal story structured around shared tropes and f­ulfilling a particular narrative organization of consecutive stages: suffering and confusion; the epiphany of self-discovery; corporeal and social transformation/conversion; and finally the arrival ‘home’ – the reassignment.”10

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Although the transition autobiographies that form the basis of Prosser’s analysis were by and large published with the publishing industry’s eye to a mainstream – that is to say, cisnormative – audience, the work of ­writers such as Casey Plett and Imogen Binnie and their publisher Topside Press have changed the representational landscape. Critiquing what she calls the “Gender Novel,” Plett contrasts works such as Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex (2002) and Shani Mootoo’s Moving Forward Like a Crab (2014) with Binnie’s Nevada (2013).11 Whereas the gender novel creates trans and intersex protagonists that serve as idealized allegorical ciphers for a cis audience, Nevada resolutely refuses any such heroics and prioritizes a ­gender minority readership. Although Binnie’s novel is a Bildungsroman of sorts, the linear progress plot that marks both conventional trans autobiography and the gender novel critiqued by Plett are deliberately undercut by a plot that refuses closure and a protagonist for whom “transition” is not a once-and-for-all salvific turning point on the journey to completion and wholeness. To such literary works, we can add nonfictional personal narratives such as Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness (2014), Juliet Jacques’s Trans: A Memoir (2016), and Paul Préciado’s Testo Junkie (2013) whose varied and sometimes contentious challenges to conventional trans and queer narratives are part of a significant change in how we conceive of gender and what we mean by queer. In 2010, Dan Savage kickstarted the “It Gets Better” campaign in response to the death by suicide of a number of queer teenagers who had been subjected to homophobic bullying. Savage and his husband Terry Miller posted a video where the couple talked about how they left behind their struggles as gay teenagers once they finished school, went to New  York City, and found love and community.12 Thousands of ­videos ­followed, urging young people in distress to hang on because “it gets ­better.” The “It Gets Better” project is a hopeful, if politically naïve, ­testament of faith in the power of coming out and the ­coming-out ­narrative. Most of the ­videos align people’s personal autobiographies to a formulaic narrative plot, a homo variant of the dominant hetero ­narrative that finds closure in success, freedom, happiness, belonging, love, and, in many ­videos, ­marriage. Although the campaign got huge traction, it also attracted ­criticism. Jasbir Puar refers to such “­coming-out ­teleologies” as part of the homonormative machinery that imposes a white, western p ­ aradigm of post-Stonewall liberation as the marker of the civilized, emancipated queer subject.13 As Morgan Bassichis and Dean Spade point out, the assumed subject of “It Gets Better” fits a familiar ­homonormative script whereby the white, middle-class, a­ble-bodied, cis queer leaves their rural town

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for the gay metropolis, where they will find community, belonging, and ­ recarious love. However, for people of color, for gender minorities, for p migrants, for the undocumented, for the economically, and politically and socially disenfranchised the fact of their emplacement immediately reduces the likelihood of things getting better, and the p ­ roblems many people face 14 may exceed their queerness. The lesbian coming-out story is of particular interest in parsing the ­political uses and effects of narrative from a queer standpoint. The connection between lesbianism and feminism in the 1970s and 1980s is ­demonstrated in the proliferation of autobiographical writing by ­lesbian and queer women in those years. Enacting the assertion that the personal is political, the coming-out story was not just an individualist ­emancipation but a political and community-building act, contributing to “the p ­ roduction of a shared narrative or life history … the assimilation of individual’s life histories into the history of the group,” as Biddy Martin observes.15 The intention in sharing such stories was to overcome shame, stigma, and fear and claim agency over one’s identity, to provide a point of identification for others, and to build community and political strength. In narratological terms, the coming-out story bears similarities to the bildungsroman. The two narrative types involve a quest, often of a young person leaving their rural origins and journeying to the metropolis, eventually achieving maturity and social integration. According to Andrea Gutenberg, the coming-out narrative deviates from the bildungsroman in “portraying the protagonist’s entry into a subculture rather than his or her integration into heteronormative society.”16 However, it is arguable that an assimilationist queer politics focused on marriage has eroded this distinction between a “deviant” queer subculture and mainstream hetero ­culture. The normalizing tendencies of the coming-out story have, perhaps, become more evident in a changed political and socioeconomic context, as we shall explore shortly in looking at the role that coming-out narratives played in the 2015 Irish same-sex marriage referendum. Coming-out stories of those previous decades generally assume a stable sexual identity and follow a formulaic structure. For Roof, the telos of the coming out story is the production of identity. As such, it is ­underwritten by a hetero narrative “that understands sexuality as an underlying cause,” as the answer to the mystery of the self, as the originary thing that makes “me” who I am: comforting because it fits into traditional story ­patterns, the coming out story seems both radical and liberatory because its conventional pattern has apparently been mustered in the service of something called a “gay or lesbian identity.”17 For Zimmerman and Martin,

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both writing in the 1980s, autobiographical writings by queer women of color and sex radicals offer a more inclusive and complex take on queerness that also critiques the hegemonic feminism that underlies the unitary lesbian identity and homogenous lesbian community assumed in many ­coming-out narratives.18 Collections such as This Bridge Called My Back (1981), autobiographies such as Cherríe Moraga’s Loving in the War Years (1983), Audre Lorde’s biomythography Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982), and Gloria Anzaldúa’s “autohistoria-teoria” Borderlands/La Frontera (1987) defy and queer any idea of a unitary identity or ­community. As well as foregrounding the interlocking structures of race, class, gender, ­sexuality, and indigeneity, these writings by queer woman of color interweave personal, autobiographical narrative with theoretical analysis, history, myth, and poetry, combining and crossing boundaries of identity, genre, language, and discipline in ways that demonstrate queer feminist anti- and decolonial knowledges and the histories, cultures, and experiences these are grounded in. The queer critique of the coming-out narrative divides into two broad categories: on the one hand, the critique popular in the late 1980s and 1990s that sees it as wedded to essentialist beliefs about the transparency and knowability of identity and, therefore, vested in a fixity and sameness that is inimical to the queer poststructuralist critique of identity categories, and on the other, the critique of the coming-out story as a western construct, a neocolonialist technology of regulation that enacts racial, class, citizenship, and geopolitical exclusions and lays claim to western sexual modernity as the universal model for LGBT identity and emancipation. Martin Manalansan contests the deployment of “Stonewall” and the associated category “gay” as markers of hegemonic neocolonial “temporalized narratives about gayness,” whereby “gay gains meaning according to a developmental narrative that begins with an unliberated, ‘prepolitical’ homosexual practice and that culminates in a liberated, ‘out,’ politicized, ‘modern,’ ‘gay’ subjectivity.”19 Speaking in the context of contemporary Islamophobia and rising antimigrant sentiment and politics in the Dutch and European contexts, Fatima El-Tayeb notes that the normative model of “desirable LGBT identity” is “centred around ‘coming out’ and represented by the white, western gay subject.” This norm is pitted against “its underdeveloped other,” prevented from queer emancipation by “their homophobic culture of origin” that can only be overcome through assimilation.20 Marlon Ross makes a similar point during his critique of the closet paradigm and the injunction to come out. The closet as a privileged technology of modern subject production, Ross argues, carries with it racist

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and colonialist assumptions about the undeveloped, ­primitive, closeted subject inside the closet, as against the subject of enlightened, progressive modernity who is out of the closet.21 El-Tayeb notes the ­connection between the coming-out narrative and broader processes of racialization in the regulation of targeted populations in the European metropolitan center: “The link between linear mobility and progress ties the normative coming out story to the larger discourse around racialized minorities in the neoliberal European city as both present communities of color as spaces of oppression that need to be permanently left in order to enter the domain of the liberated consumer-citizen.”22 Unsurprisingly, narratives of queer migration replicate this same basic plot. According to Eithne Luibhéid, “the majority of accounts of queer migration tend  to remain organized around a narrative of movement from repression to  freedom, or a heroic journey undertaken in search of liberation.” One ­difficulty with this narrative is its erasure of “the struggle, suffering, and resistance experienced by subordinated groups.”23 The role of the coming-out narrative in the 2015 same-sex marriage ­referendum in the Republic of Ireland sheds some light on the ­contemporary political uses of queer narratives. Ireland made history as the first state to legislate for “same-sex marriage” on the back of a popular vote. This happened under a coalition government where the majority party, Fine Gael, is traditionally a party of the propertied middle classes, conservative, right-wing, and Catholic. Fine Gael has overseen the deep restructuring of the economy that has resulted in a decimated public ­sector, collapsing health service and soaring homelessness. In 2018, another referendum called by a Fine Gael-led government resulted in the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, effectively signaling that abortion up to twelve weeks will be free and legal in the Republic (though at the time of ­writing, the legislation was yet to be introduced and passed). In 2015, the Fine Gael-led government also introduced and passed into legislation the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) that allows people to self-declare their gender. Though access to hormones and surgery is still firmly controlled by the medical gatekeepers, and notwithstanding the economic resources required to self-declare, the GRA was nonetheless a landmark legislative change. To put this another way: the Republic of Ireland has, over the last three years and more, proved itself to be a model neoliberal state. The vicious slashing of public services and supports, the deep precaritization of work and employment conditions, a spiraling housing crisis, and an increasingly hostile asylum and deportation regime have, then, been accompanied by huge “wins” on “social” issues that have seemed

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immovable for decades. The embodiment of such apparent contradictions, Leo Varadker, a gay man whose father migrated to Ireland from India, became Taoiseach (prime minister) in 2017 as was widely and admiringly reported across the world media. The Republic, read under Puar’s lights, is truly a case study in neoliberal homonationalist governance. Although the coming-out story as a personal or political act may be seen as past its sell-by-date in the United States or the UK, the personal story was a core strategy of the Yes Equality campaign in the Republic of Ireland during the 2015 referendum. The use of coming-out ­stories and other t­estimonial forms has been analyzed elsewhere as part of the NGO-ization of struggles for transformative social and economic ­justice.24 The Yes Equality campaign saw the sharing of personal stories as a central strategy, whether by public figures in politics and media, by “ordinary” people on social media and in viral videos, or on a one-to-one ­personal level.25 As well as emphasizing the power of the “positive story,” the ­campaign sought to encourage a “national conversation” whereby ­people felt enabled to ask queers anything no matter how homophobic the ­question. The tagline for the national conversation that would create a “soft tone” was “I’m Voting Yes, Ask Me Why.”26 Some prominent public figures came out during the campaign. One was the aforementioned Varadker. Another was Ursula Halligan, a well-known Irish television news journalist, who came out in an article ­published in the Irish Times, the national newspaper of record.27 Halligan’s story had a huge impact. Her public familiarity, Catholic faith, and respectable, conservative, normative middle-class, middle-aged persona evoked both pity and identification from the “middle Ireland” that the campaign was ­particularly keen to target. However, the focus on love, family, and reassuring sameness meant that people who were not lesbian or gay were sidelined in the campaign. Gender variance and sexual orientations that troubled the hetero and homo binary were resolutely marginalized and silenced. Campaign leaflets and posters foregrounded a homogenous norm: groups of smiling, uniformly white people and families, looking unremarkably not queer. The campaign sought out the testimony of the children of gay and lesbian parents, or parents and grandparents of gay and lesbian people, over and above stories from gay and lesbian people themselves. There is a certain metropolitan queer stance that positions coming out and coming-out stories as relics of the past, something that happened in the 1970s and 1980s but that is decidedly of the past. The referendum seems to tell against this to some extent. Although the campaign

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deployed the “positive” story, the aftermath of the referendum also saw the publication of collective testimonies that predominantly comprised coming-out ­narratives. Two notable examples are A Day in May edited by Irish ­journalist Charlie Bird and Running Amach in Ireland: True Stories by LGBTQ Women, a collection of thirty-four coming-out stories ­written by members of Running Amach (or “out” in English), an LGBTQ ­women’s online social networking group. Both collections attempt to give a platform to people coming from multiple positions and experiences in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, and nationality.28 The editor of Running Amach refers to the “difficult and painful journey of ‘coming out’” and the importance of such stories for “women coming out in the future.”29 Although the explicit connection to a feminist movement is absent, unlike similar ­collections from previous decades, the collection quietly insists on a platform for queer and trans women and femmes in the context of the referendum: the stories will make “invisible women visible” and constitute “a historical record of our narratives and experiences during a time of taboos, secrets, isolation, exclusion and fear.”30 Such statements may seem anachronistic in light of the emancipatory narrative of the marriage ­campaign as well as the transgressive, mobile, cosmopolitan queerness that has underpinned one version of queer studies and politics but speak to the endurance of a kind of queer melancholia and loss that many queer scholars have addressed.31 However, a focus on representation, identification, and visibility has its problems, primarily in the priority this gives to a politics of recognition at the expense of a politics of redistribution. As we have seen, the focus on visibility and “coming out” as an emancipatory telos has been critiqued as coercive, a queer neocolonial biopolitical or necropolitical demand that queer migrants and asylum seekers, for instance, replicate the normative narrative of deliverance from repression into western liberatory ­freedom – a narrative that erases the multiple forms of racialized violence that such homonationalist scripts support and maintain. Nonetheless, ­representation matters, particularly when whole groups of people are erased to make queerness palatable to an ethnocentric heteronormative order of things. The marriage referendum campaign itself, intentionally or not, perpetuated the image of Ireland as a white nation.32 In poster campaigns, brochures, photo calls, videos, and in media appearances and debates, whiteness, Irishness, and middle-class positioning dominated the ­campaign. In addition, as Eithne Luibhéid has pointed out, the same-sex marriage referendum and result have been used to pinkwash the Irish state’s migration management policies. The legalization

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of same-sex marriage was framed in terms of citizenship; it would grant “full and equal c­ itizenship” to people who had been relegated to “­second class” status because of their sexuality.33 However, the deeply racialized and neocolonial dynamic that Elizabeth Povinelli and others have analyzed between “good” marriage for love and “bad” marriage for more putatively pragmatic reasons (arranged marriage, m ­ arriage of convenience, or “sham marriage”) is at play in the Irish case.34 Soon after the referendum, the government passed new r­ egulations ­criminalizing “sham marriages” and subjecting marriages in the state involving so-called “non-nationals” to intensive interrogation and racial profiling. The same Minister for Justice and Equality who was in situ for the ­referendum and its result, Frances Fitzgerald, also oversaw the ­introduction of the 2015 International Protection (IP) Act, legislation which has made Ireland’s asylum and deportation regime even more p ­ unitive. The legislation includes ­measures on family reunification that are ­revealing when seen in the light of the opening up of the love of the state (to echo Sara Ahmed’s critique of multiculturalism) to some queer families.35 The definition of qualifying family members has been reduced to the normative nuclear family of western modernity, whereas people seeking reunification with their same-sex partners have to provide proof of having been married or civilly partnered before the applicant entered their asylum claim. Both of these measures achieve the state’s aim of instating a necropolitical ­migration management regime that excludes as many of the targeted population as possible. There has been little resistance to, or public ­criticism of the state’s migration and deportation regime from established LGBTQ organizations. In fact, Fitzgerald has been feted by the LGBTQ establishment. For instance, she was awarded the Gay and Lesbian Award (GALA) for Politician of the Year in 2016, the year the IP Act came in to effect with disastrous results for people seeking protection in Ireland, including, of course, LGBTQ people. Against the appearance of tolerance and inclusion that now gilds the Irish homonationalist state, those LGBTQ people who are held in the state of exception called the Direct Provision and Dispersal system as they wait for years for a decision on their asylum application are definitively excluded from that inclusive embrace. In July 2018, Sylva, a trans woman seeking refuge in Ireland, died in a men-only Direct Provision hostel in Galway where the Reception and Integration Agency had put her. The GRA did not, it seems, extend to her. Writing about his experiences as an international protection applicant in Ireland, Bulelani Mfaco of Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) notes that responsibility

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for the homophobia he is subject to in Direct Provision lies squarely with the necropolitical state: “The country I had chosen as a place of sanctuary had been deliberately made unsafe for LGBT+ asylum seekers by the State. The government isolated me from the rest of Irish society.”36 In response to media reports that migrant communities in Dublin were being organized to vote no in the marriage referendum, another grassroots organization, Anti-Racism Network Ireland (ARN), sought to interrupt the familiar racialized and racist narratives that were circulated: It is common, as Irish people know, for migrants to be seen as stereotypes rather than as we really are. … We in the migrant communities in Ireland are diverse and our paths to this country and our experiences before and during our journey here were also many, and have shaped how we live our lives now, in the present. Some of us are Christian, some Muslim; some of us are of no religion, some atheists. Some of us are straight, some LGBT. Some of us have come here to escape persecution and threats to our lives and the lives of our families because of our political views, our ethnicity, our gender; to flee the slow death of poverty, to escape war, to make a better life for ourselves and our families, and some of us to escape persecution because we are LGBT.37

In this essay, I’ve explored just a few aspects of “queer narrative” that have characterized queer studies and absorbed queer politics over the last three decades. From the early suspicion of narrative itself in early Queer Theory, to the more recent analysis from multiple disciplinary locations of the directly political effects of neocolonial, ­homonormative and ­homonationalist queer narratives, including some of that early queer ­theory work, ­narrative has been an ongoing absorption in this field. The Irish “case study” sheds some light on the tensions and issues involved in uses of queer ­narrative in the present. Most of all, it points up the need to ­prioritize new narratives that decenter our sense of the given as well as the need to be alert to the consequences that a reliance on storytelling can have for a queer politics and practice.

Notes Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality Volume 1: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978), 43. 2 Judith Roof, Come As You Are: Sexuality and Narrative (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), xxiii. 3 Roof, Come As You Are, 171. 4 Heather Love, Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), 6. 1

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Warwick Anderson, Deborah Jenson and Richard C. Keller, “Introduction: Globalizing the Unconscious,” in Unconscious Dominions: Psychoanalysis, Colonial Trauma, and Global Sovereignties (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011), 2; Neville Hoad, “Arrested Development or the Queerness of Savages: Resisting Evolutionary Narratives of Difference,” Postcolonial Studies 3, no. 2 (2000): 133–58. 6 Siobhan B. Somerville, Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000). 7 Siobhan B. Somerville, “Race: Introduction,” in Sexology Uncensored: The Documents of Sexual Science, ed. Lucy Bland and Laura Doan (London: Polity Press, 1998), 202. 8 Scott Morgensen, “Queer Settler Colonialism: Theorizing Settler Colonialism within Queer Modernities,” GLQ: A Gay and Lesbian Quarterly 16, no. 2 (2009): 108. 9 Sandy Stone, “The Empire Strikes Back: A Post-Transsexual Manifesto” (1987). https://sandystone.com/empire-strikes-back.html. 10 Jay Prosser, Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 101. 11 Casey Plett, “Rise of the Gender Novel,” The Walrus, March 18, 2015, https:// thewalrus.ca/rise-of-the-gender-novel/. 12 “It Gets Better: Dan and Terry,” YouTube video, September 21, 2010, www. ­youtube.com/watch?v=7IcVyvg2Qlo. See also, the It Gets Better Project ­website at https://itgetsbetter.org/. 13 Jasbir K. Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), 22. 14 See Morgan Bassichis and Dean Spade, “Queer Politics and AntiBlackness,” in Queer Necropolitics, ed. Jin Haritaworn, Adi Kuntsman, and Silvia Posocco (Oxford, UK: Routledge, 2014), 191–210. On “It Gets Better,” see also “Queer Suicide: A Teach-In,” Social Text Online: Periscope, November 2010, https://socialtextjournal.org/periscope_topic/ queer_suicide_a_teach-in/. 15 Biddy Martin, “Lesbian Identity and Autobiographical Difference[s],” in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, ed. Henry Abelove, Michèle Aina Barale, and David M. Halperin (New York: Routledge, 1993), 278. 16 Andrea Gutenberg, “Coming-Out Story,” in Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory, ed. David Herman, Manfred Jahn, and Marie-Laure Ryan (London: Routledge, 2005), 130. 17 Roof, Come As You Are, 107. 18 Bonnie Zimmerman, “The Politics of Transliteration: Lesbian Personal Narratives,” Signs 9, no. 4 (Summer 1984): 663–82. 19 Martin F. Manalansan IV, “In the Shadows of Stonewall: Examining Gay Transnational Politics and the Diasporic Dilemma,” in The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital, ed. Lisa Lowe and David Lloyd (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997), 487. 5

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Fatima El-Tayeb, “‘Gays Who Cannot Properly Be Gay’: Queer Muslims in the Neoliberal European City,” European Journal of Women’s Studies 19, no. 1 (2012): 86. 21 Marlon Ross, “Beyond the Closet as Raceless Paradigm,” in Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology, ed. E. Patrick Johnson and Mae G. Henderson (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), 161–89. 22 El-Tayeb “‘Gays Who Cannot Properly Be Gay,’” 88. 23 Eithne Luibhéid, “Introduction: Queering Migration and Citizenship,” in Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossings, ed. Eithne Luibhéid and Lionel Cantú, Jr. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005), xxv. 24 See, for instance, Kay Schaffer and Sidonie Smith, Human Rights and Narrated Lives: The Ethics of Recognition (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). 25 See, for instance, BeLonG To Youth Service’s video “Bring Your Family With  You,” written and directed by Aoife Kelleher and Hugh Rodgers (Invisible Thread Films, 2015), www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkwYEhjjZhs; and “#RingYourGranny for Marriage Equality” (TCDSU 2015), www.­you​tube.com/ watch?v=v7k67q5c6R0. 26 Gráinne Healy, Brian Sheehan, and Noel Whelan, Ireland Says Yes: The Inside Story of How the Vote for Marriage Equality Was Won (Dublin, Ireland: Irish Academic Press, 2016), 40. 27 Ursula Halligan, “Referendum led me to tell truth about myself,” The  Irish Times, May 15, 2015, www.irishtimes.com/opinion/ursula-halligan-­referendumled-me​-to-tell-truth-about-myself-1.2212960. 28 Charlie Bird, ed., A Day in May: Real Lives, True Stories (Dublin, Ireland: Irish Academic Press, 2016); and Maureen Looney, ed., Running Amach in Ireland: True Stories by LGBTQ Women (Dublin, Ireland: Orpen Press, 2015). 29 Looney, Running Amach, ix. 30 Looney, Running Amach, ix. 31 See, for instance, Love, Feeling Backward; Ann Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality and Lesbian Public Cultures (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002); David L. Eng and Shinlee Han, “A Dialogue on Racial Melancholia,” in Loss: The Politics of Mourning, ed. David Eng and David Kazanjian (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002); Anne Anlin Cheng, The Melancholy of Race: Psychoanalysis, Assimilation, and Hidden Grief (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). 32 See Anne Mulhall, “The Republic of Love,” Bully Bloggers (blog), June 20, 2015, https://bullybloggers.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/the-republic-of-love/. 33 Eithne Luibhéid, “Same-Sex Marriage and the Pinkwashing of State Migration Controls,” International Feminist Journal of Politics 20, no. 3 (2018): 405–24. 34 See Elizabeth A. Povinelli, The Empire of Love: Toward a Theory of Intimacy, Genealogy and Carnality (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006). On the Irish context, see Anne Mulhall, “Queer in Ireland: ‘Deviant’ Filiation 20

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and the (Un)holy Family,” in Queer in Europe: Contemporary Case Studies, ed. Lisa Downing and Robert Gillett (London: Routledge, 2016), 99–112. 35 Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion (Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2004). 36 Bulelani Mfaco, “Life Under State-Sponsored Homophobia,” Baobab: ARN Public Journal 4 (Autumn 2018). Published by Anti-Racism Network Ireland. 37 ARN – Anti-Racism Network Ireland, “The referendum is about more than same-sex marriage for those of us who are calling for a Yes vote in the migrant communities,” May 20, 2015, http://arnireland.blogspot.com/2015/05/thisreferendum-is-about-more-than-same.html/.

Further Reading Jolly, Margaretta. “Coming Out of the Coming Out Story: Writing Queer Lives.” Sexualities 4, no. 4 (2001): 475–97. Lanser, Susan S., and Robyn Warhol, eds. Narrative Theory Unbound: Queer and Feminist Interventions. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2015. Miller, David A. Bringing Out Roland Barthes. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

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chapter 10

Trace a Vanishing, or Queer Performance Study1 Nadia Ellis

Performance lives in traces. The poignancy of absence after the vividness of liveness; the questing, tremulous remains once a performance is over. We might ask, after taking in a performance, after passing by a lit-up scene: Has any of this gotten into me? What of it do I carry with me? These traces of performance gesture also to the activity of the p ­ erformance s­tudent: ­tracing, which is to say, going over again something that has already passed, trying to raise its shape in new materials – words.2 But also, to trace, that is to track, to follow like a cartographer the lines laid down by the actor, the dancer, or the mimic, to see where she has gone or where she is going. In both these senses of “trace” there hovers a line. The sharp point of the pencil on the translucent paper – the diligence of this following, the close work of it, in precise proportion to its quixotic impossibility. The traced line is never the thing itself. Indeed, lines are what the performer jumps over, dances around, and transitions through. The color line. The border. The designation. In  queer of color performance, which will be my emphasis throughout this essay, lines emerge and vanish constantly. And I am highlighting queer of color performance because the intimacy of queerness and performance studies is hottest and thickest in the realm of the racialized. Why is that? Because, to paraphrase the great Stuart Hall, and to invoke, conceptually, the great Hortense Spillers: Race is the axis on which sex is lived.3 Performance, in its grandest and in its most quotidian gestures, is what illuminates that axis. And so performance elucidates subjectivities, and queer performance lights up the false and faulty mechanisms attempting to discipline them. Theorizing performance means attuning to the subtleties, elisions, and elusiveness of what is often taken to be essential: our embodiment, our emplacement. Queer of color performance captures (and releases …) how subjectivity gets played out as dramas of racialization and gendering. There is no time like the present for bringing these intersectional truths to light. 156

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As well, a difficult point must be pressed: The poignant truth of performance, that we can never have it and that it is always vanishing, reflects in an awful way on the experiences of queer of color people, whose lives regularly vanish, whose freedoms ever vanish. Performance is a drama of freedom set against constraint. Here in the United States (whence I write) the dash across the color line, across the southern line, and across gender lines, as performed by people searching out greater freedoms, was often followed by constraint – by incompletion, by necessary fear, and by new attempts. In the most extravagant, joyful, and unbounded of performances – I will describe some – is the sense of a contention with violent boundaries. To follow along such performances is to watch how these boundaries seem to disappear for fleeting moments and then to watch, too – with unease, with sadness – the performer’s own fleeting disappearance, whether into the dream of a utopian social, or back, just as fleetingly, into the drama of everyday life. This essay, then, will trace the vanishing. The way performances vanish, yes, by design and fundament. In this sense, I am in dialogue with critic Peggy Phelan’s powerful argument that, because it cannot be reproduced, “performance honors the idea that a limited number of people in a specific time/space frame can have an experience of value which leaves no visible trace afterward.”4 No visible trace, of course, does not mean zero trace. Moreover, what we learn from queer of color performance, and some of its recent critical dialogue, is how to bring into embodiment and materiality energies apparently invisible or long gone. For critic José Esteban Muñoz, the trace of the queer performance might even anticipate its instantiation, potentiality conjuring material traces to the ear or to the eye. The utopian promise of queer performance – always having to work to make a radically right world, in an instant, for an instant, out of the violence and banality of the normative – inheres in this conjuration.5 Disappearance has meant many different things for black and brown queer subjects over our lengthy careers in the west. I’ll remember some of those disappearances, how they enabled escape. But I will linger too on how that vanishing has a malignant edge that the most radical and dazzling of queer performers denote when they embody racialized vulnerability. This has been true of queer performers working within the constraint of film and of contemporary pop stars working against sturdy assumptions. The triumph in the ability to describe the ever-presence of loss, to win even when losing, is what gives queer of color performance its power. And it is what brings its students returning again and again, especially now. ——

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J. L. Austin’s proffering of the performative – a category of utterance distinguished from ordinary speech via its capacity to effect things in the world – is one of the keys unlocking the relationship between queer and performance study.6 The notion of the performative informed Judith Butler’s transformative analysis of the way bodies are gendered in the world undergirds ideas that distinguish performance from art in other media and paved the way for the implication evidenced in many critical analyses that the doing of acts in public – sex, dress up, protest – in that very doing, has the power to effect social change. Yet Austin’s intervention is not where the intertwining of queer and performance studies begins and ends. Several of the major precepts of performance theory imply time and repetition, just as several of the precepts and revelations in queer studies implicate temporality and highlight repetition. Viz. performance s­tudies: performance is “twice-behaved behavior”7; it is often put across, as knowledge, in repeating, ever-mutating, putatively ephemeral repertoire8; ritual – social behavior consolidated in repetition – is its fountainhead.9 Per queer theory: gender is iterative10; time is relative11; the single, ecstatic moment may contain a full political world.12 These ­overlaps are part of why queer performance studies has been such a robust and dynamic field. Furthermore, the fields shared a fundamentally interdisciplinary methodology. When Richard Schechner began the Performance Studies Department at New York University in the 1970s, the rigorously loose, intentionally cross-generic construction of the faculty endowed the field with a determined profligacy.13 This disciplinary openness was mirrored in what began to be known as queer studies. Here were scholars in different academic disciplines – English, rhetoric, and film and media – crafting cultural critique from materials near and far. The overlap, even before a firm field of queer performance studies might have been located, between scholars pursuing cultural inquiry across state lines, so to speak, was clear. These impulses in the fields of performance and queer studies, toward pursuing a gesture wherever it may be found, converged the inquiries at their inception. A couple of decades into the disciplinary project of performance ­studies, Schechner coined the influential maxim: Performance is twice-behaved behavior; it is behavior restored.14 This is beautifully distilled, carefully ­parsing all gesture – which, infinite, would escape classification or study – from intentional gesture, which, wonderfully wide ranging and subtle, retains the proper capaciousness of performance practices in ways that make the field subtle, dynamic, and engaging. But a certain paradox emerges

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when Schechner’s field-defining notion of “behavior restored” is brought together with queer of color performance. The queer black or brown body comes into western cultural life under the aegis of discourses that render this body distorted. One might track this idea via Sylvia Wynter, who has written extensively of the western philosophical instantiation of the category “human”15; or via Hortense Spillers, who writes of the “grammar” of American gender, whereby the black body is rendered flesh16; or via Evelynn Hammonds, who writes of the silence accompanying the black female body, desire, and sexuality in western discourse.17 All of this is to say that queer of color people face a particular conundrum as pertains to “restoring” behavior. There is an added mediation, a further c­ omplication to the restoration. What behavior, exactly would be restored when the black or brown body is always already modifying his or her behavior to render himself of herself legible? Which body is doing the restoring and to what, exactly? It is not so much that queer of color performance exceeds Schechner’s maxim – not at all. It is that an intense poignancy is i­ ntroduced when the notion of restoration is brought alongside the perpetual drama of vanishing to which queer of color performance gestures. In 1848 William and Ellen Craft, a couple, disappeared from their place of forced labor in Georgia and turned up in the record some months later as having emplaced themselves in New York.18 As the Crafts were both enslaved people in the United States in an era prior to emancipation, it took considerable technique and planning to effect this transportation. The technique decided on – and why Ellen Craft has come down to queer performance study as a kind of exemplar – was for Ellen to pass as a white man, her husband William as her servant. The props and costuming: Ellen’s light skin to register race; a bespoke suit and face poultice to register gender (and injury); a bandaged arm to narrate a putatively temporary inability to write, which thereby registered literacy, which is to say, class. The mise-en-scène: US racial history, US sexual norms, and US class stratification. Two men of different color and different class status could travel together by train, as William Johnson (aka Ellen Craft) and his servant. Mixed gender travelers of different races would be a scandal and two black travelers, an impossibility. One can do worse for identifying what critic Tavia Nyong’o might call the “­mongrel past”19 of queer performance than the case of Ellen Craft. Her story, which has yielded the indelible phrase by one baffled e­ yewitness that Craft’s ­avatar was “either a woman or a genius,” is full of rich materials for black queer performativity and has been analyzed astutely by critics Uri McMillan – as a “particularly high-stakes form of antebellum performance art”20 – and

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C. Riley Snorton – as an example of the “fungibility and fugitivity”21 of black performativity. I invoke Craft here not so much as origin but as, precisely, avatar of my own rehearsal of queer performance: Her changeable visage hovers over accounts of performers destabilizing identitarian categories, at great risk, such that they might vanish past that vanishing line of freedom. The freedom is never settled, one tests it one moment and finds it, too. has passed. But the proper course of performance is the attendance to the fleeting possibility and the description by the body of the journey one takes to attain, momentarily, an autonomy denied. Snorton writes of Craft’s passing, as well as that of an earlier trans black figure, Mary Jones (who donned a crafted sex organ during her assignations with men), in a subtle understanding of black gender as “­fungible.”22 Rather than acceding to narratives surrounding these accounts whereby transgender was either (and somehow all at once) temporary, an extreme response to escape slavery’s extremity or a natural expression of black ­aberration, Snorton argues that gestures such as Craft’s and Jones speak to the ability of blackness to occupy a mutable zone of gender. Performative, “but lacking a clear biologized semiotic referent, fungibility … expresses how ungendered blackness provided the grounds for (trans) performances for freedom.”23 This notion of the fungibility of black gender in cases such as Craft’s or Jones’ contravenes another with which it is often ­confused: that gender passing “expresses a form of agency as well as a promise of restoration, which is to say that passing—as a limited durational ­performance—signals a ‘return’ to a natural-cum-biological mode of being.”24 Noting  that this narrative has informed and limited ideas around trans identities since, Snorton rereads these performances as illustrative and paradigmatic deployments of the mutability of gender under racialization. For the black subject’s “figurative capacity to change form as a commoditized being engendered flow.”25 This implies the question of the spectacular – the manipulation of the visual field, the wielding of its most reductive and terroristic impacts by the black and queer performer. And the case of passing subjects in the antebellum United States, acutely analyzed by scholars such as Nyong’o, McMillan, and Snorton, present us with the ways in which moving across gender and racial lines, vanishing one’s putative identities behind others, has been a part of US quotidian life for some time. These dramatizations of precarious individuality – what Daphne Brooks might call eccentric spectacles of freedom26 – are ur-texts for many contemporary practices of queer performance, which become meditations on the possibilities and limitations of queer freedom. The vivid appearance of the performer’s

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body as one thing and then another, as present and then supremely and suddenly gone, is the rehearsal of a centuries-old practice by precarious subjects to transfer from one state to the next. These performances have always been laborious. Queer culture has a word for this – “work”; more properly “werk” or “werq,” the spelling ­difference registering the difference in intonation and emphasis central to its internal lingo that simultaneously approves and mourns. Because to “werk” is to show how much you care; and it is what you will always, always have to do, easeful entitlement not being your lot. As Madison Moore writes in Fabulous, his recent study of everyday (really, as he notes, everynight) performance practices by queer of color subjects: “Working a look is inherently queer.” His book lays out the rich terrain traversed by queer of color subjects who dramatize, of necessity, their relationship to dominant cultures and, specifically, to presuppositions about their ­marginality or excess.27 This is never easy, and its artfulness is never taken for granted by queer performers. No, the necessity of impressing oneself on a visual and cultural field that would persistently misread your meaning, makes queer of color gesture that much larger and more effortful, seized: “When you are brown, queer, and marginalized, fabulousness is not simply about being beautiful and opulent but about seizing visual space on your own terms as an act of resistance, right now and in real time, even if that ­visibility is risky business.”28 For Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, this black queer werk comes through as well in one of the many faces of the vodou diety Ezili, whose instantiation in Ezili Je Wouj is reflected by the servitors claiming her as model, refuge, and avenger for their endless labor.29 The purview of Ezili Je Wouj is often considered as that of hard labor and not glamour. But, make no mistake, it is she who avenges when trouble comes. Those we unwisely cast aside – who perform labors we deem above us – they flex their muscles. They have the last word. —– On an evening in New York in 1966, a man sat down in a room with a cigarette in his hand and his friend’s camera, her gaze, set on him. Jason Holliday, as he wanted to be known, had dressed for the occasion – ­carefully, artfully, his thick horn-rimmed glasses chimed with the dark suit, clinked with the crisp white shirt. He was giving man-about-town realness. This moving portrait – moving in both senses – would ascend and devolve many times before it was complete. Portrait of Jason (1967) is as much a document of a vanishing queer performance as it is a portrait of the desire to consume queer performance that creates the necessity for performances of freedom in the first place.30 In the relentlessly framing hand,

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the burning gaze under which Jason alternately shines and withers, we detect relentless scrutiny. The art of Shirley Clarke’s film is the generality of its indictment: it indicts her; her one-time partner, Carl Lee, who sometimes hectors Jason from off-screen; and any viewer at all, who becomes as if a voracious consumer as Jason unravels (or does he?). The film feels punishing in length (it is, in fact, less than two hours), crafted to appear like a single take and loops the viewer into its difficult spectatorial politics with its insistent close-up framing. How dare you watch? Why are you still here? This is what you are asked, what you ask yourself over and over again as the film’s angry minutes persist. Throughout it all, how does Jason manage this rather daunting ­situation? Well, first of all, a consummate performer, he takes a measure of the ­contours of his stage, the perils of the edges where he may fall off, the shape within which he must work. He had long understood, having adopted the very persona that would make him of interest to these artists  – new name; necessarily shifting jobs; elegant and extravagant physical affect, attentive ability to mimic; deep, cutting knowledge of his uptown and downtown peers alike – that his performance was in a profound way himself. This is to say that, as a matter of survival, one learns throughout the film, and pleasure, one senses, Jason would discover that his identity would need to be twice behaved: the blackness, apparently immutable, would in fact be resolved; the queerness would be drawn via a studied distance from male norms, black or white, and via a channeling of classic film and black gay and trans social aesthetics. Jason was a singer who had performed cabaret and longed to do more. His understanding of the space of experimental film, verité so-called, as a potential conduit to that other stage for which he longed, is both touching and cutting. It seems unlikely that Clarke’s film would grant him access to a cabaret stage. Yet he made her screen into cabaret, very early on showing us the intimacy for black queer people between the theatrical and the true, creating a mockery of expectations of authenticity, implying that very expectation is a form of imposed labor. And in so doing, Jason recalls to us – long before performance studies was set up for this analysis – his passing sisters donning costumes and affects to cross color, gender, and/or southern lines into freedom. Or at least into new performances. I’ ll never tell! Famously, this becomes Jason’s tagline, a riff, throughout the film. He has been called uon to tell a story (to do a “bit,” as Lee puts it) that would have him embody and interpret a set of uptown queer and trans social forms. The story involves a drag queen who, when asked why she and her friends snap their fingers, replies I’ ll never tell! with a snap.

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Jason dissolves into giggles at the end of this story, which is, of course, in one way not a very good tale at all. (A mystery is introduced and never solved.) But the bit establishes the paradigm of Jason’s telling – a­ pparent candor that falls away at crucial moments of resolution or synthesis. At several moments throughout the film Jason plays changes on the story, describing and miming the uptown ball scene again at one point or saying I got to tell! at the end of a truncated story at another. And as he gets apparently drunker – the shirt looser, tears a bit closer to the surface, the line becomes a kind of shield. This portrait of Jason is, after all, a set of increasingly elusive images. For all the relentlessness of the frame, it would be folly to imagine by the end that we know him, or that we have him. The iconic line of refusal – I’ ll never tell! – is only the literal verbalization of what the performance has been driving toward all along: No matter how present I appear to you, Jason’s performance says, I will eventually leave. The film becomes, then, as do so many documents of queer black performance made by white creators, simultaneously an absolutely crucial archive of queer of color social form and an erasure, a document of a form of violence, a record of what cannot be known. The power of queer ­performance studies is its ability to understand that all of those things can be true at once. This knowledge came in handy, for instance, once the film Paris Is Burning (1990) was released and as it continues, almost three decades later, to be a central document of trans and queer of color performative life. Rewatching the film now, in the wake of the historic television series Pose (2018), I’m struck by how it still commands attention. (Its director, Jennie Livingston is a consulting producer on Pose, which has several black and brown queer and trans writers and producers, including Janet Mock and Steve Canals.)31 It is not just that Livingston has a seat at the table of a new production emerging in the wake of (if not due to) critique of her film. It is that for as much as Paris Is Burning is a record of the problems of white consumption of black trans and queer performance, it is also a film that, like Jason, could not but be a record of some of its own failures. The performances it documents, however, are another matter. These are the scene to which Jason gestured, the uptown black and brown balls, the in-group lingo of drag queens and trans communities, who like the ­southerners Hurston insisted on studying for us before a­ cademic ­scholarship understood much of anything about black culture, use ­language like a knife and a paintbrush. Who, like the southerners Melville Herskovits understood we needed to study, knew the political necessity and the ­pleasure of linguistic secrecy. These are performances that, as Butler would most

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famously theorize, give the lie to the notion that “bodies matter” in quite the way we expect. Who, in what remains for me one of the most spectacular and fascinating ball categories, “Executive Realness,” reperformed white masculine norms for the viewer in astute understanding of Goffman and Marx, both in extraordinarily moving, asymptotic mastery of what is ever so easy to master by performers of such masterful skill but, who, almost by dint of that very mastery, and certainly by dint of factors entirely outside of themselves and their skill sets, will never be allowed to attain it. The impressiveness of the performance is what makes its ­impossibility ­outside of the ball so painful, jarring, and structurally unjust. Pepper LaBeija’s commentary captures it beautifully: “We as a people for the past four ­hundred years are the greatest example of behavior modification in the history of civilization. We have had everything taken away from us, and yet we have all learned how to survive.” In Paris Is Burning, what Jason tells and does not tell about the uptown ball scene is shown – including the ultimate queen mother Dorian Corey breaking down exactly the linguistic differences between reading and shade. A double-hearted gesture: a restoring to greatness of a magnificent culture and a giving away of it. It would take years before these concepts would fully filter into popular culture, appropriated and unacknowledged, but it has happened now. And the irony is that Livingston’s film becomes the document to which some have recourse when checking the vanishing of cultural source.32 One of the hearts of the film, Venus Xtravaganza, is murdered by its conclusion. You watch with a sense of horror and grief at her loss. And then later, so many more are lost. The film stands the test of time, and the performances remain alive and vivid. But those performers knew then what we know now: They invented a form of embodied drama that showed us how their lives were daily diminished. Each turn down the runway, and each pose, was a move against a vanishing they knew to be closer to them than anyone else. What do queer and queer of color performance scholars teach us about how to live in the wake of this devastating knowledge? Because simply to consume a vanishing in the wake of this knowledge would be ­scandal. They teach us to take care. Kara Keeling, Christina Sharpe, Daphne Brooks, José Muñoz, and Fred Moten: each in a different way emphasizes, taking care. —– “Performance is the resistance of the object.”33 Moten recently wrote that this sentence was the true first sentence of his influential first book, In the Break. Performance is the resistance of the object. Recall that In the Break

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began with a bravura reading of a scene of subjection,34 an interpretation of Frederick Douglass’s Aunt Hester being whipped, which moves from an understanding, via Nathaniel Mackey, that what appears as an inarticulate scream is a sonic act of resistance to objectification. This idea of a sonic praxis embodying black subjectivity has a long tradition, ­profound implications, and has resonated all through performance studies. I would like to close, then, with some queer sound makers. They show how in the realm of pop music it is possible to use the body, and all the digital and theatrical accoutrements of contemporary pop stardom, to comment on the ongoing work of queer freedom. When Mykki Blanco takes the stage, first of all, the stage is only a part of it. At some point they are going to insist on a circle happening in the throat of the crowd.35 They are going to climb a structure. They are going to make a catwalk by parting the audience in two, Red Sea-style. They are going to create a disco-style groove space and then allow herself to be the one and only person who stomps down it. And this is how it should be because truly, no one else can follow Mykki. It would be a rare person indeed who could compete with their sheer force – in a line or on a stage. I have seen Mykki Blanco live twice now in the Bay Area. The first time, in spring 2017, Mykki was the headliner at the downtown independent venue, The New Parish, and the person who dared to try and come “after” them – a bartender they had clearly sparred with earlier in the afternoon, before the show, took a verbal beating for his racism. Our show’s outro involved Mykki moving from the top of the stage to the top of the bar and lambasting the guy for being, as I recall the language, a “nazi white supremacist.” (Whomever had drawn Mykki’s ire and for whatever reason I would not be able to ­confirm – I know from watching the scene unfold that the guy to whom their rage was directed kept shaking his head, seeming to say “It wasn’t me.” His response seemed beside the point and was merely folded into the performance.) The second time I saw Mykki, in May 2018, they were a bold name in festival line-up, an Oakland biannual arts festival called Feels that, for this year happened to be taking place in a converted automobile factory in nearby Richmond. Mykki came near the end this time but not last. And although I thoroughly enjoyed the suave stylings of Kelis, the improvisatory kinesis of the night’s closer, Princess Nokia, in a way, they could not really follow Mykki either. Mykki’s finesse is multifarious, driven, and hard to reckon with. Even in – especially in? – its jagged, veering on weary, heart-on-the-sleeve vulnerability, the traces left on the stage in her wake are indelible. They finished their set just in time but somehow felt gone-too-soon, and it was

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hard to concentrate on anything that came after. Mykki’s art has many tributaries that branch from deep and rich roots in radical queer, feminist, and punk performance. And when these streams coalesce in their stage performances, the impact is of a flood. One of Mykki’s strongest and most regular performance “looks” (cf  Madison Moore) is a brief silk nightie, auburn wig (to be removed at will), and combat boots. Makeup is be strongly applied, often, to my eye, deliberately askew (rarely is there the contoured perfection au courant on the interwebs, though sometimes for photo shoots it does the trick). The nightie will usually be off the torso at some point during the performance, sartorial analog to the acapella moments of poetry performance they also insist on each time. Cut the track, shrug the straps off the shoulders, and roll this thing down to the waist. The questions posed beneath the tattoos and strong lithe pecs: How far does your sense of the feminine stretch? This far? What about with the wig snatched off? This is my voice, this is my five o’ clock shadow. Mykki started as a teenaged girl on a YouTube channel; are you going to come with me as I grow up? I saw the Courtney Love of it all when they first got on that Oakland stage, but Mykki’s combination of spoken word and disco hip-hop moves outside of the grunge aesthetic and into something off of Chicago’s south side in the 1970s or Brooklyn in the 1990s. There is this, too: a nostalgic invocation and appropriation of downtown New York performance art, too late to experience it firsthand, and reclaimed for Mykki’s own black purposes, without the white frame. (Before moving to New York and touring the world, Mykki was a virtuoso performing teen, having founded Paint in Consciousness Experimental Theatre as a high school student in Raleigh, North Carolina.36) Mykki cites Vaginal Creme Davis as one of their many influences – they are prolix on their sources and inspirations – and it is striking how much the two have in common, California roots and all.37 As chronicled by her major critic and interlocutor José Muñoz, Davis was a pioneer of the LA queer core scene of the 1980s and 1990s, performing in dive bars and gay spaces a novel form of drag that Muñoz deemed “terrorist.” The  ­innovation here turned on a concept that Muñoz again devised a name for: disidentification. This was a structure of feeling and a mode of performative address that relied on a conceptual gap between the performer’s ­subjectivity and the separate, and abject, subjectivity being affected.38 Davis, for instance, might perform in whiteface as a racist border patrolman thereby and at once calling out the position of these men as abject, abrogating to h ­ erself the power accorded them in dominant

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culture, and again, tracing a dynamic and liminal space between these positionalities that could be created only in the performance and not in any other way. A performance such as the arresting video accompanying Mykki’s song “Join My Militia (Nas Gave Me a Perm)” (2012) speaks to this particular structure of appropriated, rerouted abjection, its risky political ambivalence, and the play with power – the sweaty, daunting physical labor of it – when gender is unhinged from expectation. If Mykki Blanco provokes us to reimagine femme performance as a play with what is laid bare and what is taken away, Frank Ocean, a different kind of queer performer in pop music, experiments with how much of himself and his persona he can vanish while still being one the most influential figures in music. On Blonde (2016), he sometimes manipulates his voice into breathy unrecognizablity, playing both sides, reminding us that the voice, like any other part of the body, need not be a stable repository of gender. He had begun early as a ghostwriter, the unheard voice on tracks by artists we knew. And when he broke out with Nostalgia, Ultra (2011) and Channel Orange (2012), the mystique was embodied by a figure hyperaware of the visual-performative dimensions of pop stardom. In magazine spreads his adornment of black male forms was fantastically studied. He worked looks. He wore fashion, yes, easefully and casually, as if the t-shirts did not cost nine hundred dollars and as if the shoes were not priceless. But more than fashion, he wore a visage. And he donned it with greater mastery than his peers and with a masking, winking subtlety that read like someone who understood the workings of a look. More than that, he could effect a strong line between that figure he posed in magazines and a presence he crafted online, mostly on his Tumblr page. Tumblr has been known as one of the forums most used by black creatives – some vibrant and imperfect cross between a scrapbook, a visual bibliography, and dreamscape. Far more than Twitter or Instagram, Tumblr enables a kind of anonymity – and seems to support it. You can know whose page you are visiting and still, somehow, that p ­ erson’s ­actuality seems to recede behind the elliptical things they are posting. Who they are when they are not on Tumblr does not seem the point. The particularity of this online space is important for someone as keyed into the ambivalence of visibility and traditions of masking and disappearance as Ocean appears to be. It is why he used it, I think, on July 4, 2012, days before releasing his Grammy-nominated album Channel Orange, to post a note about desire. Frank manages a particular form of hiding in plain sight. He is super prominent and also deeply cautious. His songs, per his descriptions, are deeply personal and highly narrative. Unlike Mykki’s,

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they are not elaborately symbolic and surreal. You think you are following them, but it would be tricky to imagine you know Ocean just because you have listened to him. One of his many gifts is the particular sleight of lyrical hand by which the personal is rendered abstract. The Tumblr letter had been carefully crafted, like everything Ocean does. It was not framed as “coming out”; it was a rehearsal of desire. A ­digital, quotidian, staging of his emancipation, on the Fourth of July no less – a claim on past love and an opening into futurity. So when, in a rare and beautifully open early interview with GQ, after a dazzlingly revelatory, subtle, and astute set of comments on fear, homophobia, ­ ­creativity, ­mourning, and love, the interviewer still felt the need to ask him, bluntly, “do you consider yourself bisexual?”39 Ocean was u ­ nderstandably sensitive. And yet his answer had real graciousness and expanse. “You can move to the next question,” he began. “I’ll respectfully say that life is dynamic and comes with dynamic experiences. … I’m giving you what I feel like you can feel. The other shit, you can’t feel. You can’t feel a box. You can’t feel a label.” Finally, he said, “Vanish the fear.”

Notes I am inspired by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten here, toward “study” vs “studies” – a drawing near, a perpetual vulnerability to art and life as opposed to maintaining a disciplining aura around them. Harney and Moten, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (London, UK: Minor Compositions, 2013). 2 Peggy Phelan, Unmarked: The Politics of Performance (New York: Routledge, 1993), 148: “[P]erformance critics realize that the labor to write about performance (and thus to ‘preserve’ it) is also a labor that fundamentally alters the event. It does no good, however, to simply refuse to write about performance because of this inescapable transformation. The challenge raised by the ontological claims of performance for writing is to re-mark again the performative possibility of writing itself.” 3 Stuart Hall, “Race, Articulation and Societies Structured in Dominance,” in Sociological Theories: Race and Colonialism, ed. Marion O’Callaghan (Paris: UNESCO, 1980), 341: “Race is thus, also, the modality in which class is ‘lived’, the medium through which class relations are experienced, the form in which it is appropriated and ‘fought through.’” Hortense Spillers on the queering of the body of color in western discourse, history, imagination: “[For African and indigenous peoples] their New-World, diaspora plight marked a theft of the body—a willful and silent (and unimaginable from this distance) severing of the captive body from its motive will, its active desire. Under these conditions, we lose at least gender difference in the outcome, and 1

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the female body and the male body become territory of cultural and political maneuver.” Hortense Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” diacritics 17, no. 2 (1987): 67. 4 Phelan, Unmarked, 149. 5 Here is Muñoz, reflecting on Kevin McCarthy’s photographs of empty stages in LA’s punk and queer clubs: “Sometimes the utopian spectator needs to squint to see the anticipatory illumination promised by utopia, yet at other times, its visuality and (non)presence cannot be denied.” And also: “I remember the potentiality that those scenes of spectatorship promised even before performers showed up on stage. The hum of men’s bodies, bodies that for whatever reason, for that moment, rejected a trajectory that was attuned to the normal.” José Esteban Muñoz, “Stages,” in Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Utopia (New York: New York University Press, 2009), 109. 6 J. L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962). 7 Richard Schechner, “Restoration of Behavior,” in Between Theater and Anthropology (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985), 35–116; Richard Schechner, “Magnitudes of Performance,” in By Means of Performance: Intercultural Studies of Theatre and Ritual, ed. Richard Schechner and Willa Appel (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 43; Richard Schechner, Performance Studies: An Introduction (New York: Routledge, 2002), 28–9. 8 Diana Taylor, The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in  the Americas (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 20: “The  ­repertoire … enacts embodied memory: performances, ­gestures, ­orality, m ­ ovement, dance, singing – in short, all those acts usually thought of as ephemeral, nonreproducible knowledge. … As opposed to the ­supposedly stable objects in the archive, the actions that are the repertoire do not remain the same. The repertoire both keeps and transforms choreographies of meaning.” 9 Victor Turner, From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play (New  York: Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1982), 79: “Often when ritual perishes as a dominant genre, it dies, a multipara, giving birth to ­ritualized progeny, including the many performative arts.” 10 Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New  York: Routledge, 1990); Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (New York: Routledge, 1993). 11 See for instance Elizabeth Freeman, Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010) and Lee Edelman, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004). 12 Muñoz, Cruising Utopia; M. Jacqui Alexander, “Pedagogies of the Sacred: Making the Invisible Tangible,” in Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, Memory, and the Sacred (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 287–332.

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Richard Schechner, “What Is Performance Studies Anyway?” in The Ends of Performance, ed. Peggy Phelan and Jill Lane (New York: New York University Press, 1998), 357–62. 14 Schechner, “Magnitudes of Performance,” 43; Richard Schechner, Performance Theory (New York: Routledge, 1988; 2003), 324. 15 See for example Sylvia Wynter, “On Disenchanting Discourse: ‘Minority’ Literary Criticism and Beyond,” Cultural Critique 7 (1987): 207–44, and Sylvia Wynter, “Afterword: Beyond Miranda’s Meanings: Un-Silencing the ‘Demonic Ground’ of Caliban’s ‘Woman,’” in Out of the Kumbla: Caribbean Women and Literature, eds. Carol Boyce Davies and Elaine Savory Fido (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1990), 355–70. 16 Spillers, “Mama’s Baby,” 67. 17 Evelyn Hammonds, “Black (W)holes and the Geometry of Black Female Sexuality,” Differences 6, nos. 2–3 (1994): 133–4: “It should not surprise us that black women are silent about sexuality. The imposed production of silence and the removal of any alternatives to the production of silence reflect the deployment of power against racialized subjects.” 18 Uri McMillan and C. Riley Snorton both write astutely and in detail about the case of the Ellen and William Craft, and I reconstruct the primary details of their story with reference to both these scholars’ accounts. 19 Tavia Nyong’o, The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007), 7. 20 Uri McMillan, Embodied Avatars: Genealogies of Black Feminist Art and Performance (New York: New York University Press, 2015), 70. 21 C. Riley Snorton, Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2017), 84. 22 Snorton, Black on Both Sides, 58. 23 Snorton, Black on Both Sides, 58. 24 Snorton, Black on Both Sides, 58. 25 Snorton, Black on Both Sides, 59. 26 See Daphne A. Brooks, Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850–1912 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006). 27 Madison Moore, Fabulous: The Rise of the Beautiful Eccentric (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018). 28 Moore, Fabulous, 73. 29 Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley, Ezili’s Mirrors: Imagining Queer Black Genders (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018), 101–32. 30 Shirley Clarke, Portrait of Jason, Milestone Films, 1967. 31 Steven Canals, “FX’s ‘Pose’ Creator on His Difficult Journey Bringing the  Groundbreaking Trans Series to TV,” The Daily Beast, May 24, 2018, www.the​dailybeast.com/fxs-pose-creator-on-his-difficult-journey-bringingthe-groundbreaking-trans-series-to-tv; E. Alex Jung, “‘We Did Something Revolutionary’: Janet Mock on the First Season of FX’s Pose, Challenging Ryan Murphy, and the Politics of Desire,” Vulture, July 2018; www.vulture.com/ 2018/07/janet-mock-pose-season-one.html. 13

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See for instance the episode “Disappeared,” July 7, 2016, in Reply All, podcast, www.gimletmedia.com/reply-all/69-disappeared. 33 Fred Moten, Black and Blur (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), vii. 34 Moten’s dialogue with Saidiya Hartman begins here and is ongoing, enriching. 35 Mykki continues to comment on the evolution of their gender identity and pronoun use. Interviews in the summer of 2019 describe some of this nuance. In Billboard: “When I began making music for the first time at 25, the creation of Mykki Blanco as a musical identity was literally also identical to the discovery of Mykki Blanco, my trans-femme self. That journey was so intertwined. And then there was a moment in my career where I said, ‘Well, no, I’m not actually going to medically transition.’ And then there was a point where I said, ‘Well, actually, I still don’t feel comfortable with the “he” pronoun, and I’d prefer you to refer to me as gender-queer and maybe ‘she’ when you’re referring to Mykki Blanco.’” John Norris, “Mykki Blanco on LGBTQ Visibility and How the Music Industry Is Changing: My Career ‘Could Not Have Happened Any Sooner,’” Billboard Magazine, 14 August 2019. https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/pride/8527384/mykki-blancointerview-new-album-homophobia-lgbtq-representation. In Paper: “I feel this idea that I’m a cis gay male really does make me uncomfortable and it makes me feel incorrect. At the same time, I feel like I shouldn’t have to perform my gender to make myself seem more gender nonconforming just to appease someone’s belief about me.” Justin Moran, “How Madonna Cast Mykki Blanco in ‘Dark Ballet,’” Paper, 12 June 2019. https://www.papermag.com/ mykki-blanco-madonna-dark-ballet-2638796442.html. 36 Mark W. Hornburg, “Michael Quattlebaum: Performance Art Prodigy,” IndyWeek, June 26, 2002; www.indyweek.com/indyweek/michael-quattlebaum/ Content?oid=1186842. 37 Jenna Sauers, “The Making of Mykki Blanco,” The Village Voice, April 10, 2013; www.villagevoice.com/2013/04/10/the-making-of-mykki-blanco. 38 José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentification: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999). 39 Amy Wallace, “Frank Ocean: On Channel Orange, Meeting Odd Future, and His Tumblr Letter,” GQ, November 20, 2012; www.gq.com/story/ frank-ocean-interview-gq-december-2012. 32

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chapter 11

Queer and Trans Studies in Pop Culture

Transgender Tripping Points in the Carceral State Erica Rand

What does queer studies in pop culture even mean? “Pop culture” can refer to all the common features in our made world – clothing, sports, habits of speech, or the prom. Or it can refer more specifically to artistic products such as music, visual art, TV, novels, and movies that are made for broad consumption rather than a subculture or an elite imagined to have special or specialized knowledge and obscure or refined taste. But that last sentence obfuscates as much as it clarifies. “Artistic” can designate how you pick a skirt to match your proclivities as much as it does anything located in “the arts.” Categories can be permeable: Camping up the Olympics helped to vault Adam Rippon from the rarefied world of figure skating to the status, as The View put it, of “pop culture phenom.”1 Fans of pop culture may have as much specialized knowledge as fans of high culture, although the latter often wear the fancier designation “connoisseur.” Consumers are producers, too. We contribute to making meanings and new products like fanvids, the twitterverse, and stars who sparkle more brightly when we vote for them on The Voice. “Queer studies” can attend to queer objects of study and to ­normativities: regulated and rewarded ways of being, acting, and interacting with regard to sexuality and gender. Normative gender is generally necessary for normative sexuality (and vice versa). Both need to meet racialized standards that reward whiteness, especially classily lived. Another multiplying factor is that the “queer” in queer studies has been used to umbrella terms like “lesbian” and “gay” or reject them as normative ­disappointments. White upper-middle class not (so) effeminate lawyer Will on the NBC sitcom Will and Grace: queer or, seriously?!, not, depending on your ­definition. Even the writers of the Will and Grace reboot know the ­difference. In a 2018 episode, a character directing a segment marketing Grace Adler Designs on the home shopping network QVC mistakes Will and Grace (Eric McCormack and Debra Messing) for a straight ­married couple. “I don’t usually go for all that heteronormative 172

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stuff,” Cheryl (Lauren Weedman) tells them after their bickering generates sales, “but there’s something strangely compelling about the two of you.” The joke has already been that Cheryl is married, though far from ­heteronormative in terms of gender or sexuality. Presented at first as a parody of the gruff man-hating masculine dyke – with a deep voice, loose plaid shirt, and lumbering gait, constantly accusing men of mistakenly construed sexism – they turn out to be a kinky bottom to a meek-on-thesurface (presumably cisgender male) husband.2 Also, “queer,” as noun, adjective, or adverb, attaches to pop culture ­studies to get at the cultural production of people in the overlapping ­categories of maker, consumer, thinker, critic, and theorist. These ­categories may be occupied by trade, by avocation, or in casual encounters. Dude, check out that meat market where poly meets Prince Charming! That is the queer theory you might arrive at within academia, or Bachelor Nation, both, or neither.3 Pop culture, with or without obvious queer content, can be the source of queer pleasures and queer pains – and, sometimes simultaneously, of the most ordinary pains and pleasures, too. We can or cannot even think straight, and, or but, either way, we will not. And/or we will. To illustrate how these characteristics and contradictions may play out in practice, I use for a case study a storyline that began in early 2015 on The Bold and The Beautiful (B and B) when famous fashion model Maya Avant (Karla Mosley), one of the few black characters on the show, is revealed to be transgender. The soap opera debuted in 1987 on the US television network CBS, and I study it here in its US context, although it also has a huge international audience, with two big fan sites, Italy and the United Arab Emirates, rewarded over the years with tourism-promoting location shoots. I choose Maya’s story partly to perform also trans studies in popular culture. I will not parse here the differences between queer and trans studies, which depend on their histories and practitioners as well as their content, but I work in their overlap: a concern with how people come to occupy, enforce, resist, and alter gender- and h ­ eteronormativities. I work, too, from a transfeminist politic, including active support for ­gender self-determination.4 As Eric Stanley writes, this means that “we collectively work to create the most space for people to express whatever genders they choose at any given moment,” whether they “firmly identify as one or more particular genders … [or] have a more shifting rela­ resentations, tion via their racialized bodies, gendered desires, physical p and the words available to comprehend these intersections.”5 To me, that ­collective work includes writing about fictional people using conventions

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of respect for nonfictional trans and gender nonnormative people. To this end, although other B and B characters frequently reference the name and, thus, implicitly the gender assigned to Maya at birth, I do not use it here. I also seek to use pronouns in accord with what I think that characters as presented might use in a context possibly more supportive of gender self-determination than their fictional context. Thus, I use “she” ­ resents, identifies, and names herself as female, but for Maya who clearly p used “they” for Cheryl because I do not know what pronoun the character would claim if their gender were not played only for laughs. For different, if related, political reasons, I forego the traditional academic format of proving an argument. Routine training to provide one might itself, I think, be considered a form of gender policing. An antisissy thing: insisting on straight paths to strong arguments, dramatizing academic rigor. Lately I have tried to think more about what I actually want to do, even if, as now, I can easily have an argument at the ready. Here, instead, I share a classic fan activity: dreaming up new scenarios for extant characters. Although such scenarios often involve “shipping,” that is, putting characters into a different sexual or romantic relationship than the one(s) written for them, my fantasy concerns how B and B could revisit Maya’s backstory once revealing her to be a trans woman of color. In doing so, not unique to fandom either, I create a fantasy B and B that is itself a project of queer and trans studies, marking along the way some tools, contexts, and principles I bring to queer and trans studies in pop culture. I start with what B and B gave us. For viewers, the storyline began at the end of the March 18, 2015, episode when Maya’s younger sister Nicole (Reign Edwards), new to town, and hurt about Maya’s absence during her childhood, reveals to Maya the secret she has intimated having over her: She had found Maya’s birth certificate and hospital bracelet, with an unexpected name and gender assignment.6 Although I rarely attribute interpretation broadly to viewers – big principle: do not construe audience interpretation from the product alone – I think it is safe to say that most viewers were shocked. Nothing during Maya’s two years on the show had hinted at this gender history. In addition, having an embodiment that suited her before being revealed was unprecedented in US daytime soaps, although in 2006, on ABC’s All My Children, a character presenting as male had come out to herself and others as lesbian trans woman Zoe. At the same time, the scene outing Maya had some standard characteristics for the topic, the genre, and the medium. Nicole’s hostile act of outing Maya as trans represents one of countless such reveals, fictional and

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nonfictional, based on the pervasive characterization of trans people as deceivers, more or less successfully hiding their gender assigned at birth.7 Reveals, in general, are a soap staple, with the biggest delivered when viewers cannot “tune in tomorrow” – to borrow a famous tag line from the 1960s Batman series, queerly iconic for male superheroes fond of each other in tights8 – but must wait at least several days. In this case, I solved one mystery in my own first response, “Whoa! And we’re learning this on a Wednesday?” when I remembered that early-round games in the NCAA men’s March Madness college basketball tournament would preempt the Thursday and Friday episodes. Similarly, B and B strategically scheduled subsequent key episodes during May Sweeps, one of the periods for which Nielson Media Research collects data to generate viewer demographics, the “Nielson ratings,” that contribute to decisions about matters ranging from whether a show stays on the air to how much can be charged for advertising spots. It is crucial to attend to the specifics of medium and genre because they contribute to the content and parameters of representation. Mosley discussed the opportunities and limits when she appeared on So POPular!, a web series hosted by trans activist Janet Mock that takes on “the things you pretend you’re too smart to like in an effort to expand what’s ­considered political and worthy of analysis.”9 Mosley, who told Mock that she prepared for her role partly by reading Mock’s memoir,10 said that although the serial format allows for understanding to develop over time, she worried about letting prejudice linger until characters learn better. Thus, for example, Nicole first confronts Maya by saying “You’re not my sister Maya. You’re not Maya at all. … You’re [first given name here]. You’re my brother.”11 Viewers then had nothing from B and B to go on until Monday than this common formulation, which misgenders and disrespects trans people with its implicit argument that biological criteria determined by other people define their gender. If viewers stayed with the show, however, they found characters modeling understanding, acceptance, and love. Maya’s boyfriend Rick (Jacob Young), who initially feels betrayed, marries her. Nicole agrees to bear a child using Rick’s sperm so that Maya can have a child with Avant genes (a whole topic in itself). B and B also makes some more subtle moves toward character and viewer education, partly by taking advantage of other conventions in the genre. As Mimi White points out, all histories and narratives are ­provisional on soaps and viewers expect them to be so.12 Characters come back from the dead or age in a year from six to fifteen – a phenomenon ­common enough

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to have a fan acronym, soap opera rapid-aging syndrome (SOARAS). They discover that they did not really have an abortion (that only happened once), find surprising or surprised parents, and learn or reveal that they are gay, lesbian, or, maybe, even more rarely, Jewish. That does not inherently make fans willing to go for any ride that comes along or predispose them to embrace trans storylines. In an essay contrasting the “institutional logics” of soap fans and professionals, Melissa Scardaville notes a fan’s rage against All My Children at Bianca’s romance with a trans woman. The fan considered it a threat to Bianca’s characterization as lesbian, rather than, as it might well be considered, evidence of it. Because Zoe had been presenting as male, the fan could only see Zoe as a man pretending to be female or as a woman with body parts a lesbian would (apparently) never want to encounter.13 But the genre’s routine rewriting of history does set the stage for descandalizing the trans reveal or at least making a past-life reveal mundane. Rick, entitled white scion of the Forrester Creations fashion house, gets over Maya having lied to him to him when he recalls that he initially hid his origins from Maya by pretending to be working class. B and B also worked to identify aspects of Maya’s gender history as more ordinary than stigmatizing. Here is some dialogue from the confrontation between Nicole and Maya: “Did you always talk like a girl?” “How do girls talk?” “You weren’t born with those [looking at Maya’s breasts].” “No woman is.” “What did you do to yourself ?” “I grew into my body, the same way that you did.”14

Dean Spade writes that both trans and non-trans people use “­multiple … technologies” to conform to gender norms “including c­ lothing, makeup, cosmetic surgery not labeled SRS [sex reassignment surgery, now more frequently called gender affirming surgery], training in gender-specific manners, body building, dieting, and countless other practices.”15 Maya suggests similarly that all people undergo training and t­ransformation to become adult recognizably gendered people. Maya and Nicole both learned to talk like a girl and, if with differently sourced h ­ ormones, grew chest protrusions that signal “woman” in the binary ­gender system. Besides, Maya points out, “every third woman” in Los Angeles had had work done on their bodies.16

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By July, B and B characters are ready to dramatize in grand fashion that trans women, rather than being outliers, fit the criteria for women. About a year after an article in Time magazine announced that we have reached a “transgender tipping point,” a definitive turn toward visibility and social justice for trans people,17 Maya headlines a fashion show called “California Freedom,” representing the “twenty-first-century woman” and a vision of “inclusion, freedom, and acceptance.”18 Joining a culture of trans celebrity that made actor Laverne Cox, from the Netflix prison series Orange is the New Black (OITNB), the cover woman for this tipping point, Maya walks the runway with nonfictionally trans model Isis King, a contestant on America’s Next Top Model in 2008 and 2011, and nonfictionally trans actor Carmen Carrera. Their appearance made good on the producers’ promise to hire trans actors to participate in Maya’s story, especially because Maya’s portrayer is not trans herself. Another short but more substantial part went to trans actor Scott Turner Schofield, who appeared for thirteen episodes as Nick, Maya’s trans activist friend and mentor from earlier days. He comes to support her, brandishing educational material for her employers including the nonfictional media guidelines from GLAAD, an organization that presents itself, to some good effect, as the arbiter of respectful mainstream representation of LGBT people.

Take Two Look again. To me, Maya’s story presents the best reason to feature a nontrans actor in a story about a trans woman. Viewers had known Mosley as Maya for two years. Keeping the actor underscores the point that we should not presume (cis) gender history. Nonetheless, B and B casts in a context in which trans actors struggle to find work, including the opportunity to represent trans people. Although B and B cast trans actors to participate in Maya’s story, their short stints do not add up to much. Besides, as Danielle Seid writes, while the reveal “stages a denaturalization of widespread assumptions about gender and sex—namely that one’s gender should match one’s sexed body … it typically does so in a manner that regulates and corrects gender noncompliance, narratively reinscribing a binary gender system as ‘natural’ and desirable.”19 Maya is a woman. Yes, great, but within B and B it’s still either–or. What bugs me the most, though, and here is where my fan fantasy rewrite comes in, is that the same malleability of soap histories that helped to descandalize Maya’s trans reveal also facilitated depoliticizing

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her history. As Mosley and numerous fan comments pointed out, turning Maya trans meant having to explain Maya’s first words on the show, “Where’s my baby?” At that time, B and B painted Maya rather precisely, if without the terminology, as a black woman struggling to survive the neoliberal, heteropatriarchal, carceral state in which only some families matter and the nonprofit industrial complex does not serve oppressed people well either. We learn that right before Maya had been incarcerated for an unspecified crime committed by her boyfriend Jesse, she had hustled her kid into an underground adoption arranged by her trusted friend Dayzee, already a character on B and B, to prevent the state from seizing custody and then maybe resisting the return of her child. As some viewers surely knew, Maya had a well-founded fear; the 2014 documentary Out in the Night, concerning the unjust incarceration of four black lesbian and gender-nonconforming people known as the New Jersey 4, describes one of countless such situations.20 Although Dayzee successfully saved the child from possibly brutal conditions of foster care, the child nonetheless became a casualty of the state, if indirectly, when a car accident killed them and their adoptive parents. The trans reveal, then, implicitly revealed that Maya had been an incarcerated trans woman of color, presenting a wonderful opportunity to revisit and enrich our understanding of Maya’s incarcerated past and the racist gender-policing carceral present. Most simple for B and B writers to educate themselves about, trans and gender-nonconforming people, once incarcerated, routinely face anti-trans violence and other consequences of bigotry, including not being housed according to their gender and two problems that befell Cox’s character Sophia on OITNB: facing obstacles to gender-confirming medical care and being placed in solitary confinement supposedly for protection.21 Requiring more research but not so far to seek – and this being my fan fantasy, I can fantasize about better informed writers and p ­ roducers – would be plot development and dialogue concerning the relationship between Maya’s raced gender history and time in prison. “We are living in a time of trans visibility. Yet we are also living in a time of anti-trans violence.”22 These opening sentences by the editors of Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility state starkly what a turn on a mainstream runway cannot represent (not to minimize what a differently devised runway might accomplish). And violence against trans p ­ eople is integrally linked with mass incarceration. During a segment on July 25, 2015, of MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show – which also featured Mock as cohost and Alicia Garza, o-creator of #BLACKLIVESMATTER – Chase

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Strangio, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), spoke about the “systemic violence perpetrated by the state”: “We must decrease barriers to healthcare for trans people. We must decrease barriers to access to housing, to employment, but we also critically must interrupt the cycles of violence that lead to disproportionate incarceration for trans-women of color and black trans-women in particular. … [T]he base of this violence has to be located in the criminal legal system and we have to end mass incarceration and … disrupt the criminalization of black bodies and black trans-women in particular.”23 In other words, being black and trans might well have contributed to Maya’s vulnerability to incarceration. B and B had occasionally returned to Maya’s incarceration for plot purposes. One character, for instance, trying to help his niece secure a romantic hold on Rick, schemed to have Maya violate her conditions of parole. The show could have returned to that history again. Instead, once Maya was revealed to be trans, prison largely faded from view, along with other possible impediments to making her appear unambiguously lovable, like her period as a gold-digging jerk. (Maya, Mosley reminisced with Mock, had been the girl you love to hate.) Now, Maya’s baby became a primarily a biological issue. Wait, if Maya is trans how did she have a baby? Although Maya easily explained that she had become the guardian to her boyfriend’s child – only presumably Jesse’s, as an astute fan noted24 – the issue played as a problem with characters and fans, resonating with what was often considered Maya’s ultimate betrayal: having concealed from her procreation-minded cisgender male partners that she could not give birth. (Note, however, that another B and B plot in 2015 involved a dramatic reveal that a cisgender male character had hidden a prior vasectomy from his girlfriend-then-wife. Again, being trans makes Maya kindred rather than alien to many others in her soap world.) I want for queer and trans studies in pop culture what I want for B and B: consistent attention to gender and sexuality as always formed, presented, and apprehended in relation to race, class, economic status, nationality, ethnicity, ability, and other matters in ways both obvious and subtle. Consider, for example, this synopsis of what Nicole had been doing when she stumbled on evidence of Maya’s first gender assignment: “Nicole  recalled that their mother had tried to give her a talk about ­sexually ­transmitted diseases and had shown her a book of girls with various ­diseases. Nicole hadn’t understood it, and she’d gone looking for the book later.”25 The writer’s matter-of-fact tone belies the weirdness, but maybe ordinariness, of this plot point. Is this how a writing team dominated by white people – a demographic I confirm from a press picture

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of them celebrating their daytime Emmy in 201626 – conceptualizes the family histories of black people? Bigoted parents from a faraway place (Evanston, Illinois, it turns out) insufficiently educate one child, with an ill-comprehended lesson featuring some book of diseased girls. They expel the other, partly, we learn later, under the dictates of a high-and-mighty patriarchal father. The location of Maya’s secrets in this brew of darkness, disease, and dirt – dirty secrets, sexual dirtiness, and skin at several removes from unblemished whiteness – suggests complexly formed convolutions meriting its own essay’s-worth of attention. The source work involved in studying pop culture merits attention, too. In presenting this case study, I deliberately display the range of materials that might be mined for evidence and insight, including scholarly articles, fan commentary, and media productions with their own varying degrees of accessibility to the publics that make up pop culture’s a­udiences. Consider, for example, the Melissa Harris-Perry segment I mentioned. Besides the people who might have caught it on MSNBC when it first ran, and the people directed to it on social media because of prior interest in queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) issues, others might have found it because it appeared where I initially found it: on Caitlyn Jenner’s blog the week her reality show debuted on the cable station E! Jenner’s celebrity as a rich, conservative Kardashian-connected trans white woman both supported and largely overshadowed the visibility of the clip and the issues it raised. I have also gestured to various aspects of queer and trans studies in pop culture: matters of medium, representation, distribution/exhibition/ broadcasting, context, consumers/audience; the diverse places from which thinking and theory come; relations and overlaps among scholars and fans; and the politics attending different ways of making culture about culture, including essays in contexts where argumentation predominates. There remains much, however, that I do not, with B and B, have research or resources to introduce here. Primary, to me, are conditions of production, including the labor, paid and unpaid, of everyone involved: manufacturing your viewing devices; building B and B sets; cleaning production spaces; writing; being “the talent”; managing bigwigs; and more. One of my fears about this essay is that in performing a fan rewrite, I will encourage people to boil the essay down to a question about whether the content is progressive or regressive, resisting or supporting dominant culture. Addressing that question is a common and often pleasurable pursuit. But it often makes an assessment of invited meanings – which cannot be gained merely from content analysis either – sound like an assessment

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of the whole. That is a lot like judging the livability of trans, queer, and gender-nonconforming lives from representations of them – or presuming that visibility, even apart from how it can endanger you, is necessarily a good and a hallmark of social justice. Still, if you have ever sunk into a juicy novel you picked up at a supermarket, found yourself in a Lifetime TV movie, connected over Moonlight, or followed your Q.U.E.E.N. or Prince down YouTube’s algorithmed rabbit hole,27 you know that for ­pleasure, rejuvenation, and survival strategies, pop culture can sometimes do the trick. So, I am off to check out that lesbo couch scene on Arie’s After the Final Rose episode of The Bachelor.28

Notes The View, season 21, episode 120, aired March 8, 2018, on ABC. He had already appeared that morning on another network’s morning show, NBC’s Today. I thank Grace Glasson for research help, Raffi Sarkissian for organizing the SCMS panel I first wrote about Maya for, and Quinn Miller for ­sharing pleasure and insights in media studies. 2 Will & Grace, “Staten Island Fairy,” season 1, episode 11, directed by James Burrows, aired February 1, 2018, on NBC. As Christopher Castiglia and Christopher Reed discuss, particularly in relation to one of the main characters, Karen, “nominally a straight woman,” Will and Grace in its first iteration also frequently located departures from heteronormativity outside its titular characters. “‘Ah Yes, I Remember It Well’: Memory and Queer Culture in Will and Grace,” Cultural Critique 56 (Winter 2004): 166. On queer gender as integral to sitcom history, including the role of secondary and one-off guest characters, see Quinian Miller, Camp TV: Trans Gender Queer Sitcom History (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019). 3 Bachelor Nation is the term adopted by the Bachelor franchise encompassing show participants, past and present, and avid fans. 4 On transfeminism see Finn Enke, ed., Transfeminist Perspectives: In and Beyond Transgender and Gender Studies (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2012). 5 Eric A. Stanley, “Introduction: Fugitive Flesh: Gender Self-determination, Queer Abolition, and Trans Resistance,” in Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, ed. Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2011), 11. 6 The Bold and the Beautiful, season 28, episode 7038, directed by Michael Stich, aired March 18, 2015, on CBS. 7 See Toby Beauchamp, “Introduction,” in Going Stealth: Transgender Politics and U.S. Surveillance Practices (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019), and Talia Mae Bettcher, “Evil Deceivers and Make-Believers: On Transphobic Violence and the Politics of Illusion,” Hypatia 22, no. 3 (Summer 2007): 43–65. 1

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Batman, created by William Dozier and Lorenzo Semple Jr. (Los Angeles: Twentieth Century Fox, 1966–1968), TV Series. The full line was “Tune in tomorrow: Same bat time, same bat channel.” 9 Janet Mock and Karla Mosley, “CBS Soap Reveals Trans Character’s Backstory,” So POPular!, March 27, 2015, video, 10:39, http://michaelfairman​soaps.com/ news/bbs-karla-mosley-talks-on-the-responsibility-of-­playing-a-trans-characterwith-so-populars-janet-mock/2015/03/27/. 10 Janet Mock, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More (New York: Atria Paperback, 2014). 11 The Bold and the Beautiful, season 28, episode 7038. 12 Mimi White, “Women, Memory and Serial Melodrama,” Screen 35, no. 4 (1994): 337. 13 Melissa C. Scardaville, “The Way We Were: The Institutional Logics of Professionals and Fans in the Soap Opera Industry,” in The Survival of Soap Opera: Transformations for a New Media Era, ed. Sam Ford, Abigail De Kosnik, and C. Lee Harrington (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2011), 74–76. 14 The Bold and the Beautiful, season 28, episode 7039, directed by Michael Stich, aired March 23, 2015, on CBS. 15 Dean Spade, “Mutilating Gender,” in The Transgender Studies Reader, ed. Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle (New York: Routledge, 2006), 318. 16 The Bold and the Beautiful, season 28, episode 7039. See the synopsis for more details of this conversation: Chanel S. Garner, “Monday, March 23, 2015” Recap, soapcentral.com, March 23, 2015, http://soapcentral.com/bb/ recaps/2015/150323.php. SRS stands for “sex reassignment surgery,” a term recently abandoned for terms like gender confirmation surgery because the former suggests that the person undergoing surgery originally occupied the sex assigned to them. 17 Katy Steinmetz, “The Transgender Tipping Point: America’s Next Civil Rights Frontier,” Time, May 29, 2014, http://time.com/135480/transgendertipping-point/. Ironically, given the article’s own point that many trans people still face impoverishment, Time long had the article behind a paywall. 18 The Bold and the Beautiful, season 28, episode 7123, directed by Michael Stich, aired July 20, 2015, on CBS. 19 Danielle M. Seid, “Reveal,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1, nos. 1–2 (May 2014), 177. 20 Out in the Night, directed by blair dorosh-walther, starring Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Renata Hill, and Patreese Johnson (New Jersey: New Day Films, 2014), Film. 21 Orange Is the New Black, “Lesbian Request Denied,” season 1, episode 3, directed by Jodie Foster, released July 11, 2013, on Netflix. 22 Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Johanna Burton, eds., Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017), xv. 8

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“Pushing for Equality for Transgender People,” Melissa Harris-Perry Show, July 26, 2015, video, 7:17, www.msnbc.com/melissa-harris-perry/watch/ pushing-for-equality-for-transgender-people-491464771869. 24 “Turning Maya into Myron: Maya’s Backstory | The Bold and the Beautiful,” Soap Opera Story, March 25, 2015, www.soapoperastory.com/2015/03/­turningmaya-into-myron-mayas-backstory-the-bold-and-the-beautiful.html. 25 Garner, “Monday, March 23, 2015.” 26 Judging from appearances, the team that “merged a powerful t­ransgender coming out saga with a very unique love story” had seven Emmyattending writers, all white and all but one presenting as male. Jamey Giddens, “The Bold and the Beautiful Wins Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing,” Daytime Confidential, Group Photo, photograph by Steven Bergman, https://daytimeconfidential.com/2016/05/02/ the-bold-and-the-beautiful-wins-daytime-emmy-for-outstanding-writing. 27 “Janelle Monáe – Q.U.E.E.N. feat. Erykah Badu [Official Video],” YouTube video, May 1, 2013, 6:03, posted by “Janelle Monáe,” www.youtube.com/ watch?v=tEddixS-UoU. 28 After the Final Rose is the title of the final episode in every season of the Bachelor or The Bachelorette when viewers and a live studio audience find out what happened in the months after the proposal episode was filmed. In the notorious 2018 Rose episode, Becca, proposed to and then dumped by Bachelor Arie, learns that she will be the next Bachelorette and winds up in a lap-sitting lovefest with other eliminated bachelorette friends. The Bachelor, “After the Final Rose,” season 22, episode 12, directed by Ken Fuchs, aired March 6, 2018, on ABC. 23

Further Reading Bad Object-Choices, ed. How Do I Look: Queer Film and Video. Seattle, WA: Bay Press, 1991. Brennan, Niall, and David Gudelunas, eds. RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Shifting Visibility of Drag Culture. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2017. Creekmur, Corey K., and Alexander Doty, eds. Out in Culture: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer Essays on Poplar Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995. Doty, Alexander. Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993. Fawaz, Ramzi. The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics. New York: New York University Press, 2016. Gray, Mary L. Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America. New York: New York University Press, 2009. Keegan, Cáel M. “Revisitation: A Trans Phenomenology of the Media Image.” MedieKultur 32, no. 61 (2016): 26–41.

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King, Samantha. “Virtually Normal: Mark Bingham, the War on Terror, and The Sexual Politics of Sport.” Journal of Sport and Social Issues 33, no. 1 (February 2009): 5–24. Muñoz, José Esteban. “Pedro Zamora’s Real World of Counterpublicity: Performing an Ethics of the Self.” In Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, 143–60. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999. Peele, Thomas. Queer Popular Culture: Literature, Media, Film, and Television. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Samer, Roxanne, ed. “Transgender Media.” Special Issue, Spectator, 37, no. 2 (Fall 2017): 1–88. Tongson, Karen. “Karaoke, Queer Theory, Queer Performance: Dedicated to José Esteban Muñoz.” In The Oxford Handbook of Music and Queerness, edited  by Fred Everett Maus and Sheila Whiteley. Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming. Essay published online March 2018. www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199793525.001.​0001/ oxfordhb-9780199793525-e-72.

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chapter 12

Queer Digital Cultures Kate O’Riordan

Queer digital culture refers to the ways in which LGBTQ+ identities, practices, and theories have been mixed up in the emergence, design, and constitution of digital technology. There have been significant shifts at the intersections of queer identity and politics and digital ­communication technologies from the 1980s to the early twenty-first century. A digital artifact that helps to open out these shifts, across many of these categories, is the 1998–1999 Brandon Exhibition. Created by Shu Lea Cheang, a leading digital artist, the Brandon Exhibition was one of the first digital art works to enter the Guggenheim art collection. Inspired by the life of Brandon Teena, a transman murdered in Nebraska in 1993, the artwork was experimental, exploring both Brandon’s life and the capacity for digital technology to facilitate rethinking and experimentation around gender, sexuality, and technology. Created on the cusp of a shift from a text-based environment to an audiovisual internet, it signals the digital aesthetics and practices of the 1980s and 1990s. It features a largely black or white background with highlighted text, pop-up images, and a scrolling back screen. It is based on handwritten HTML with use of Java applets. Because contemporary browsers no longer support most of the features, it had to be restored in 2017, making it again a front-runner, as one of the first examples of a large-scale digital art restoration project.1 The project signals shifts in media art practice from experimental digital forms (like net.art) into a more mainstream art world and the emergence of a broader discourse about trans and gender identity as a political project. It also explores questions of identity performance and aesthetic experimentation. The shifts reflected in the Brandon Exhibition also characterize scholarship on the intersection of queer culture and digital-communication technologies over the same period. This essay will explore these developments

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in queer digital culture across the following categories, tracing the gradual shifts from: • Textual to audiovisual • Subcultural to mainstream • Utopian political aspirations (Afrofuturism; cyberfeminism; cyberqueer) to commercialization • Identity play and performance to consumer authentication The following entry explores the way that shifting digital cultures have been embedded in the increasing visibility of queer cultures since the 1980s.

Textual to Audiovisual A significant shift for queer digital cultures and all that they comprise is the transition from textual HTML authoring environments, with some multimedia elements, to that of a broad-spectrum audiovisual media environment. It is important to register that this shift is most pertinent to the networked dimension of digital media. Digital art installation and creative work offline had already seen the development of fully audiovisual, immersive, and three-dimensional (3-D) environments, before broadband and Wi-Fi. However, networked forms entail demands for connectivity and bandwidth and remained largely textual until the early twentyfirst century. In this context, interpersonal communication through ­newsgroups and email, from its emergence in the 1980s, remained the core of networked digital culture in the 1990s. Email lists, newsgroups, and text-based environments dominated networked forms in this period. The US-based newsgroup “motss,” which stood for “members of the same sex,” was set up in 1983 by Steve Dyer.2 The 1980s can be characterized most significantly, for queer culture, in terms of the AIDS crisis and this group, along with multiple other online groups, featured sustained references to AIDS in the period. David Auerbach, reflecting on motss observed that, “online discussion became a necessary counter to AIDS hysteria and ignorance, where people could share their own stories and alternative news sources.”3 Auerbach’s reflection helps to shed light on the ways in which ­computer-mediated communication seemed to offer something different, even utopian, for LGBTQ+ people. In the context of homophobic ­mainstream news, culture, and legislation, these online exchanges were sites of alternative knowledge politics that afforded both community and experimentation with textual performance of identity. Newsgroups,

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discussion formats, and networked games of the 1980s were forms of subcultural and alternative media and as such instantiated experimental and grounded forms of interaction. What was new, for many people, was the networked reach of these forms. Although much early dial-up meant that interactions were grouped regionally, these were extensive regions bringing together new forms of networked publics. Dial-up also enabled connection to servers in other countries and regions and the possibility of engaging with different people and communities. Although the newsgroups and web pages of the 1980s and 1990s were largely text based, the development of a multimedia internet in the late 1990s and into the twenty-first century also changed this culture. Interim developments included animation, color, and sound, while programming languages such as Java in the 1990s and later Flash facilitated running audiovisual media. Mobile phones, 4G, and wireless broadband were all significant in this changing environment. The popularity of web cameras (inhibited by large file sizes in the 1990s), to the development of YouTube in 2005, and its mobile phone interface in 2007, are indicative of these shifts from desktop graphic design interfaces to audiovisual mobile media. The development of an audiovisual internet changed the kinds of engagement, particularly in relation to identity play and experimentation. For example, from 2000 onward, photographs were included in online profiles as standard. The order of social media is differently ­demanding in relation to identity and in generating genres and conventions of ­representation. Audiovisual interfaces including photos, videos, and voice, both in synchronous and asynchronous communication, bring in an ­element of the seen and heard, in addition to the written or typed.

Subcultural to Mainstream Digital culture was often referred to as cyberculture throughout the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, and the term “cyber” was ­particularly salient in literary studies and in association with the ­science fiction genre, cyberpunk. Cyberculture, as a set of subcultures, and c­ ybercultural studies can be seen as referring to a specific historical moment. However, the legacy term is often used in the ­contemporary moment to signal negative meanings such as cyberbullying and c­ ybercrime. Digital media then in the 1980s and 1990s were seen as both subcultural (e.g., games) and interpersonal (e.g., group discussion or email). At the same time, LGBTQ+ cultures were also seen in terms of subcultures, a formulation reflected in academic research that explored subcultural formations online.4

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Iterations of digital culture in the 1980s and 1990s were dominated by ideologies of a speeded-up, global community with general freedom via technology.5 As Nina Wakeford notes, this promise of freedom was taken up enthusiastically in the gay press.6 However, the liberatory affordances for LGBTQ+ people were not the same as those offered to the mainstream straight, white male subject of cyberspace. Steven Whittle, for example, gives an account of how email engagement enabled a new community formation around trans issues and identities: In particular, cyberspace has enabled transsexual and cross-dressing people to create and promote a new self-identification category, transgender, which has resulted in a re-drawing of boundaries to create a new community identity, trans.7

The possibilities for self-identification, redrawing boundaries and new communities that Whittle suggests that cyberspace offered were significant for LGBTQ+ people. The 1980s and 1990s were periods of significant legislative change in relation to rights in many countries, as well as periods in which institutionalized homophobia and persecution were also part of the conditions of people’s lives. The radical promise of queer to reconfigure and disrupt the straight world, came together with emerging desires for digital technologies to provide a radical intervention into what was seen as either narrowly policed subcultures, or homogenized, top-down, commercial, media monopolies in other media forms. The app culture of the twenty-first century has continuities with the perceptions of a homogenized, mainstreamed LGBTQ+ digital culture. However, it also offers proliferating niche markets mapping onto and sometimes constructing gay subcultures, perhaps as tightly defined as ever. Gay dating apps, for example, often cater for tastes and practices such as bears and barebacking. These interfaces take the “drop down menu” logic of dating sites8 to new levels by offering distinct niche apps rather than categories within a site, although there are also generic dating apps. Lesbian dating apps are much more general and less broken down into niche markets. They have also been produced to a certain extent in opposition to the identification of gay male dating apps as the model for online dating. The women’s dating app, Her, was set up in 2013 by Robyn Exton, who said the market was dominated by “dating sites that were initially created for gay men, and tuned pink for lesbians.”9 Her is instead focused on creating and advertising community events, with local representatives organizing local events, and combines dating with friendship and socializing. It moves away from the explicitly hook-up design of most

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gay male dating apps, and mainstream sites like Tinder. Although Tinder, created in 2012, is credited with taking the stigma out of online dating for heterosexuals, gay male dating apps – and before these, websites and newsgroups – have made digital culture central to LGBTQ+ experiences since the late 1990s. These apps have registered in other media forms, such as the popular UK TV series Queer as Folk, which aired in 1999 and ­featured online hook ups as a central plot device.

Utopian to Commercial The techno hype of Wired magazine and an emerging Silicon Valley dominated media narratives about the information highway, the electronic frontier, and cyberspace, as digital culture was imagined in the 1980s and 1990s. However, alongside these were more critical utopias for social and political change, including cyberfeminism, cyberqueer, and Afrofuturism. These sensibilities formed around the potential and possibility for marginal groups to be empowered through emerging digital forms, as Whittle and Auerbach note previously. This utopian vision was characterized by hopes that digital technologies could link people across distance and enable emergent and collaborative forms of connection and community that might reset social norms. These hopes also formed around a sense that digital media was an emergent form and, as such, was potentially up for grabs. The predominantly text-based forms of interaction and the perceived freedom from mass-media forms also facilitated ideas about identity fluidity, experimentation, and play. Cyberfeminism emerged in the early 1990s as a feminist art and activist movement and, although largely inspired by Donna Haraway’s feminist cyborg,10 it also had links to feminist video and performance art movements in the 1970s and 1980s. It was driven in part by the sense that it was possible to take up the means of cultural production in the context of electronic media and reconfigure power relations in doing so. In the Next Cyberfeminist International, the Old Boys Network wrote: It behooves feminists to become technologically skilled and knowledgeable lest the new technologies of global communication and domination once again perpetuate and strengthen the same old male culture and power structures.11

Engaging with concerns about gender, sexuality. and technology, cyberfeminism was a movement that queered both feminism and cyberculture and challenged anti-trans feminisms. Sandy Stone’s interventions in both

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trans and cybercultural discourses make her an important figure through which to think about queer-digital relations. In her 1995 book, The War of Desire, she wrote that phone sex workers: took an extremely complex, highly detailed set of behaviors, [and] translated them into a single sense modality. … [W]hat was being sent back and forth over the wires wasn’t just information, it was bodies.12

In this way, Stone illustrates the capacity of cyberculture, in its textual forms, to compress identity and interaction into single-sense modalities, which, as suggested, offered capacities to reconfigure bodies through transmission. This concern with the digitization of bodily affects and experiences and the possibility of reconfiguring bodies in the process remained an important node of discussion for feminism, queer theory, and activism. The possibilities for fluidity and change seemed to be opened up, both for bodies and power relations. Hans Scheirl’s 1998 film Dandy Dust, explored many of the central tropes of early queer cyberculture. Scheirl’s own synopsis of the film read: “A split personality cyborg of fluid gender zooms through time to collect h-selves in the fight against a genealogically obsessed family.”13 Scheirl, like Stone, was a member of the trans community and the themes and ­figures of trans were central to ideas about identity in transition and ­f luidity. The art and culture of cyberculture in the 1980s and 1990s were not just about what was practiced online at the time but were expressed through film, video, and performance art and the novels of cyberpunk. Although cyberpunk, of which William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984) is the ­ur-text, was seen as a genre dominated by boys playing with techno toys, it was much more subversive in its own right than this assessment allows. It was also an important space for experimenting with gender and sexuality with intersections with feminist science fiction. For ­example, Kate Bornstein published (with Caitlin Sullivan) the novel Nearly Roadkill: An Infobahn Erotic Adventure, in 1996.14 The novel ran with the “freedom from the meat,”15 or the potential to experiment with embodiment invoked by Gibson, but queered it through an exploration of gender performance and fluid sexuality. Afrofuturism also emerged as discourse in the same period – the early 1990s – although it now retrospectively casts itself as a tradition ­emerging from the 1950s onward. It refers to a cultural formation in which ­technological utopian thinking is used to revision race, and particularly power relations and dominant histories of slavery, empire, and ­racism. Mark Dery uses the term in his book Flame Wars: The Discourse

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of Cyberculture.16 He refers to the work of feminist science fiction writer, Octavia Butler as an example, and interviews Samuel Delany to elaborate on the form. Butler’s feminist science fiction explored interspecies and symbiotic relations, as well as shape changers, aliens, and time travelers. Like cyberfeminism, this was simultaneously an art and activist discourse, a site of popular culture, and an academic trope. Although Afrofuturism can be mapped distinctly, it can also be thought of in terms of shared ground with cyberpunk and, particularly, in terms of both constituting and queering cyberpunk’s white masculinities. Jillana Enteen, for ­example, examines Nalo Hopkinson’s afrofuturist science fictions as both core to cyberpunk and providing a critique and renewal of the form.17 In the late 1990s and early in the twenty-first century, digital industries were seen as a force of emerging commercial success, either as new commercial entities or absorbed into older media structures. This period of a mass attraction of capital has been variously referred to as the dot.com bubble or dot.com crash. For example, America Online (AOL) merged with Time-Warner in 2000, creating the largest US media company at the time. At the same time, the “pink pound” and other gay markets became valuable in their own right. This doubled commercialization organized both digital media and queer identity in terms of consumer identities. There was much anxiety about this consolidation, mainly of publishing platforms, which appeared to move toward monopolies. Planet Out and Gay. Com merged in 2000 and started trading on the US stock exchange in 2004. In 2003 Joshua Gamson detailed the political economy of major gay portals in the period in his chapter, suggestively titled, “Gay Media, Inc.”18 Although he argued that LGBTQ+ media cannot be modeled on media monopolies, he also pointed out that these concerns about commercialization and media expansion sharply contrasted with existing queer internet scholarship at the time, which tended to look at what was opened up, afforded, and liberatory.19 Concerns then about media and publishing monopolies in digital media, together with resurgent commercial values, also dovetailed with Lisa Duggan’s formulation of homonormativity, in which she saw: A politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions, but upholds and sustains them, while promising the possibility of a demobilized gay constituency and a privatized, depoliticized gay culture anchored in domesticity and consumption.20

The dot com crash of the early 2000s was shortly followed by the discourse and hype of Web 2.0. This round of internet enthusiasm promoted

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platforms and apps, and Facebook became the model for this kind of social media, followed also by Twitter. Sharif Mowlabocus’ work on Gaydar, dating, and hook-up cultures also points to the replication and exacerbation of misogyny, homonormativity, racism, and conformity to identity templates and figures from porn cultures.21

From Identity Play to Authentication Text-based environments facilitated desires for experimentation and reinvention as well as community. Online gaming – or role play domains – multiuser domains (MUDs) and multi-object-oriented domains (MOOs) were, like newsgroups, relatively popular subcultural forms in the 1980s and 1990s. LAMBDA MOO, for example, has attracted perhaps the most commentary,22 but it is worth returning to in this context because it was emblematic of some of the hopes and tensions of the form. “LAMBDA,” the name of the MOO itself, was able to represent the two overlapping constituencies of programmers and geeks on the one hand and LGBTQ+ constituents on the other. A letter in the Greek alphabet, LAMBDA was adopted by civil rights movements in the 1970s, but it is also the name of a programming function. The textual environment of LAMBDA combined preset descriptions, which prompted direction, with free-form text fields, which enabled any kind of content. The preset loading page or entry into LAMBDA was the closet. To enter LAMBDA then was to come out of the closet into a text-based environment in which identity play was encouraged and a number of pronouns and human and nonhuman animal identities were possible. For example, “Spivak” pronouns such as “e,” “em,” and “eir” were used, and roleplay encouraged multiple and imaginative expressions.23 LAMBDA and other environments encouraged creative and expressive engagement, but players also reported experiences that challenged this openness. Racial and gendered passing, which fetishized identities and rendered them in sexualized and exoticized forms, was common, whereas racist expressions of sexual preference also proliferated online.24 Some of the most common direct message requests, even in forms like LAMBDA, were for declarations of sex, race, and location, regardless of the affordances of a particular environment. This oscillation between queer utopian affordances on the one hand, and anxiety about predefined social categories on the other, characterized some of the hopes and tensions of these cultures. These frictions

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speak to concerns raised by Sandy Stone, who worked in the games industry and led media labs during the 1980s and 1990s and was also an important figure in queer culture. She considered that the compression of communication into single modalities, such as text-based networked media – and telephones – amplified the question of the relationship between identity as performed and expressed and that of a legible legal subject, such as a citizen. In trying to theorize cyberculture as a new kind of both media space and physical space, she defined this relationship in terms of warranting, which refers to the “production and maintenance of a link between discursive space and physical space.”25 She sees digital culture as creating a “technological object that acts as a channel or representative for absent human agencies.”26 Digital culture is, in other words, a media culture. In mediating human (and other) agencies, the form and the content play significant roles. In Stone’s account, textual interfaces may more easily challenge the connection between a socially legible persona and a politically apprehensible citizen. The concept of warranting also had strong resonance with Judith Butler’s interventions in to thinking about identity and culture.27 Butler’s work was exceptionally influential in the 1990s and her work on ­performativity, although not a theory of mediation per se, spoke to media scholars and activists thinking about emerging digital media spaces. Butler argued that identity was performative rather than pregiven, but it could only be legible if it was performed in relation to dominant social norms. She articulated the relationship between the performance of identity and such norms in terms of citation, iteration, and reiteration, which she examined in relation to hierarchies of success, failure, compliance, and resistance. This sense of identity as iterative and citational strongly meshed with the performance of textually expressed identities online in compressed media modalities. Stone’s ideas about warranting and Butler’s theories of citation and iterative legibility spoke to questions about whether the social norms about which identities are more legible than others could be rewritten to be more inclusive and accepting of a range of LGBTQ+ identities. They also asked whether queer cultural production could itself be more expansive and inclusive and whether new citational practices could be transformative. Although much of these textual interactions reiterated forms of anxiety and policing of identity, in tune with notable forms of transphobic, racist, and antiqueer discourses of the time, they also opened up the possibility of transformation.

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In 2010, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that having more than one kind of online profile – what he described as “more than one identity” – was a sign of inauthenticity.28 This seemed to signal the end of a set of engagements with digital culture that emerged in another era and were concerned with the body, identity, and community in the registers of solidarity, play, and experimentation. What he articulated in that moment was significant because of the changing context. Engagement with digital culture has historically been centrally concerned with identity, but previous internet discourse also welcomed identity play, performance, and self-styling. From games in which players are invited to make up avatars, to MUDS and MOOs using roles and characters, to home pages, there was an emphasis on roles, personas, pseudonyms, and exploration of self. There were also significant controversies about deception and a simultaneous desire for people to express themselves in terms of sex, location, and age. This was not a utopia (or dystopia) of flickering signifiers, nor did it foreclose identity as the same as a media profile tout court, and there was not an assumption that you could only have one version. In the contemporary moment, many trans and nonbinary people experience exclusion and legislative illegibility because of issues around pronouns or changing names. This also intersects with other naming issues such as religious practices and migration. At the same time in the UK (and ­elsewhere), an increasing number of people visibly identify as trans or nonbinary. This  shift coincides with a moment in which issues around warranting are more important (rights are only accessed through citizenship in most of the liberal democracies of the west), and social media is assumed to be ubiquitous. Zuckerberg responded in part to the criticism of his singleidentity claim by offering a proliferating list of pronouns. However, research demonstrates that Facebook’s algorithms reassemble users into male or female, gay or straight, when repackaging their data for advertising revenue. Play and experimentation are less at the forefront; instead, commodification and forms of compliant individualism are more so. For example, although dating apps have proliferated, their visual culture is standardized.29 The ­advertising material for dating apps, and the profile culture they facilitate, enforce specific norms for desirability and for identity. The widespread use of digital platforms for verification makes online profiles evidence for a legible, out, and singular subject. For example, Facebook is used to verify identity and authenticity from job applications to dating apps. Likewise, the sign up for Her uses Facebook as a form of verification to try to prevent

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too many men signing up. On the other hand, Facebook has fallen foul of feminist, trans, and queer communities because of an insistence on singularidentity profiles.

Resistance In a direct counter to concerns about homonormativity, platform monopoly, and the pink pound, monopoly media ownership has also generated creative responses, resistance, and subversive media engagements. Older  forms of digital culture are remediated and archived as well as pushed out by newer forms. Resurgent histories and untimely temporalities such as the return of AIDS texts, which are now represented as media archives, and zine-type media productions across social media platforms come together with new forms of activism, such as “unicorns farting rainbows” and other meme-orientated productions by young people.30 Digital activisms have facilitated global networks and movements such as #BlackLivesMatter. Alt and niche terms such as “pansexual,” “gender fluid,” and “nonbinary” have circulated at a different scale, to the extent that young people can engage in these registers and develop language with a much stronger capacity to warrant such identifications and make them correspond more closely with legally legible subjectivities. For example, the stating of pronouns and use of alternative pronouns has become a standard practice for core LGBTQ+ organizations (e.g., Stonewall) as well as youth services, student unions, and conferences in the United States and the UK. None of the affordances of the digital media environment ameliorate the extent of loss and injustice also proliferating. New forms of heteronormativity, heterosexist activism,31 and populist racisms in Europe and the United States also operate at new scales. The rise of the right and of extremism in relation to racist, sexist, and homophobic aggressions is well documented.32 Biological explanations of binary sexuality systems, aggressive incitement to hatred, and treatment and cures narratives also proliferate in the context of digital media. Older forms of homophobia are being programmed in at the level of algorithms, as indicated by Yilun Wang and Michal Kosinski’s recent claim that they could program a computer to recognize gay faces.33 Mark Dery characterized the discourse of cyberculture in the 1990s as that of “flame wars”: aggressive and ­argumentative.34 The last decade has seen the scaling up of this aggression

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in relation to structural inequalities. For example, the misogynist trolling of black women, feminist figures, and trans advocates has escalated to the extent that people’s bodies, jobs, well-being, and lives can be at threat. Alongside the rise of new forms of heteroactivism, commodified identities and ubiquitous but unequal digital access, LGBTQ+ digital media continues to offer the promise of solidarity and intervention in relation to social justice.

Notes Joanna Phillips, Deena Engel, Emma Dickson, and Jonathan Farbowitz, “Restoring Brandon, Shu Lea Cheang’s Early Web Artwork,” Checklist, Guggenheim, May 2017, www.guggenheim.org/blogs/checklist/restoring​ -​brandon-shu-lea-cheangs-early-web-artwork. 2 David Auerbach, “The First Gay Space on the Internet.” Slate August 20, 2014. www.slate.com/articles/technology/bitwise/2014/08/online_gay_­culture_ and_soc_motss_how_a_usenet_group_anticipated_how_we_use.html. 3 Auerbach, “The First Gay Space on the Internet.” 4 See, for example, Nina Wakeford, “Networking Women and Girls with Information/Communication Technology,” in Processed Lives: Gender and Technology in Everyday Life, ed. Jennifer Terry and Melodie Calvert (New York: Routledge, 1997), 31–46. 5 These ideologies were promoted by Wired magazine, launched in 1993, which became emblematic of Silicon Valley. Based in San Francisco, it was linked to Stewart Brand, and its strap line was the Rolling Stone of technology. See Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2006). 6 Nina Wakeford, “Cyberqueer,” in The Cybercultures Reader, ed. David Bell and Barbara Kennedy (New York: Routledge, 2000), 350–9. 7 Steven Whittle, “The Trans-Cyberian Mail Way,” Social and Legal Studies 7, no. 3 (1998): 390. 8 Sharif Mowlabocus, Gaydar Culture: Gay Men, Technology and Embodiment in the Digital Age (New York: Routledge, 2010). 9 Suzanne Bearne, “How Robyn Exton Grew Popular Lesbian Dating App Her,” BBC Business News, May 2016, www.bbc.com/news/business-36202226. 10 Donna Haraway, “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s,” in Feminism/Postmodernism, ed. Linda Nicholson (New York: Routledge, 1990), 190–233. 11 Old Boys Network, “Conference Call and Call for Proposals and Abstracts: Strategies for a New Cyberfeminism,” Next Cyberfeminist International, Rotterdam, March 8–13, 1999, www.obn.org/nCI/call.htm. 1

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Allucquére Rosanne [Sandy] Stone, The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995), 7. 13 Dandy Dust, directed by Hans Scheirl (Millivres, 1998), DVD. 14 Caitlin Sullivan and Kate Bornstein, Nearly Roadkill: An Infobahn Erotic Adventure (New York: Serpent’s Tail, 1996). 15 William Gibson, Neuromancer (New York: Ace, 1984). 16 Mark Dery, “Flame Wars,” in Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture, ed. Mark Dery (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1994), 1–10. 17 Jillana Enteen, “‘On the Receiving End of the Colonization’: Nalo Hopkinson’s ‘Nansi Web,’” Science Fiction Studies 34, no. 2 (2007): 262–82. 18 Joshua Gamson, “Gay Media, Inc.: Media Structures, the New Gay Conglomerates, and Collective Sexual Identities,” in Cyberactivism: Online Activism in Theory and Practice, ed. Martha McCaughey and Michael D. Ayers (New York: Routledge, 2003), 255–78. 19 Wakeford, “Cyberqueer”; and David Gauntlett, Media, Gender and Identity: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 2002). 20 Lisa Duggan, “The New Homonormativity: The Sexual Politics of Neoliberalism,” in Materializing Democracy: Toward a Revitalized Cultural Politics, ed. Russ Castronovo and Dana D. Nelson (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002), 179. 21 Mowlabocus, Gaydar Culture. 22 See Julian Dibbell, My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World (New  York: Henry Holt and Company, 1999); and Lisa Nakamura, “Race In/For Cyberspace: Identity Tourism and Racial Passing on the Internet,” in The  Cybercultures Reader, ed. David Bell and Barbara M. Kennedy (New York: Routledge, 2000), 712–20. 23 Dibbell, My Tiny Life; Nakamura, “Race In/For Cyberspace”; and Caroline Bassett, “Virtually Gendered: Life in an Online World,” in The Subcultures Reader, ed. Ken Gelder and Sarah Thornton (New York: Routledge, 1997), 537–56. 24 Andil Gosine, “Blonde to Brown at gay.com: Passing White in Queer Cyberspace,” in Queer Online: Media Technology and Sexuality, ed. Kate O’Riordan and David J. Phillips (New York: Peter Lang, 2007), 139–54; Mowlabocus, Gaydar Culture; and Nakamura, “Race In/For Cyberspace.” 25 Stone, The War of Desire, 40. 26 Stone, The War of Desire, 17. 27 See Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990) and Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (New York: Routledge, 1993). 28 Miguel Helft, “Facebook, Foe of Anonymity, Is Forced to Explain a Secret,” New York Times, May 13, 2011, www.nytimes.com/2011/05/14/technology/​ 14facebook.html. 29 Sharif Mowlabocus, Craig Haslop, and Rohit Dasgupta, “From Scene to Screen: The Challenges and Opportunities that Digital Platforms Pose for HIV Prevention Work with MSM,” Social Media and Society 2, no. 4 (2016): 1–8. 12

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Olu Jenzen, “Unicorns Farting Rainbows: Changing Aesthetics and Mobilizing Discourses in LGBT Youth Activism Today” (­ presentation, ECREA Digital Culture and Communication Section Conference, University of Brighton, November 6–7, 2017) and “Trans Youth and Social Media: Moving Between Counterpublics and the Wider Web,” Gender, Place and Culture 24, no. 11 (2017): 1626–41. 31 Kath Browne and Catherine Nash, “Heteroactivism: Beyond Anti-Gay,” ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 16, no. 4 (2017): 643–52. 32 See Angela Nagle, Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right (Winchester: Zero Books, 2017). 33 Yilun Wang and Michal Kosinski, “Deep Neural Networks Are More Accurate Than Humans at Detecting Sexual Orientation from Facial Images,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 114, no. 2 (2018): 246–57. 34 Mark Dery, “Flame Wars,” 6. 30

Further Reading Bryson, Mary. “When Jill Jacks In: Queer Women and the Net.” Feminist Media Studies 4, no. 3 (2004): 239–54. Fleetwood, Nicole R. Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2011. González, Jennifer. “The Appended Subject: Race and Identity as Digital Assemblage.” In Race in Cyberspace, edited by Beth E. Kolko, Lisa Nakamura, and Gilbert B. Rodman, 27–50. New York: Routledge, 2000. Munt, Sally R., Elizabeth H. Bassett, and Kate O’Riordan. “Virtually Belonging: Risk, Connectivity, and Coming Out On-Line.” International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies 7, no. 2 (2002): 125–37. Rambukkana, Nathan. “Taking the Leather Out of Leathersex: The Internet, Identity, and the Sadomasochistic Public Sphere.” In Queer Online: Media Technology and Sexuality, edited by Kate O’ Riordan and David J. Phillips, 67–80. New York: Peter Lang, 2007. Raun, Tobias. Out Online: Trans Self-Representation and Community Building on YouTube. New York: Routledge, 2016.

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chapter 13

Queer Diasporic Crossings and the Persistence of Desire in The Book of Salt Martin Joseph Ponce

At first blush, the notion of queer diaspora appears counterintuitive. Because “diaspora” is typically defined by the mass movement of a people from a homeland to multiple locations around the world, the term would seem inapplicable to “queers” (here understood as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other nonheterosexual and noncisgender ­individuals) because they have never resided in a common place with a shared ­language or culture from which they were dispersed.1 Still, it is undeniable that, since the advent of sexual-identity categories coincident with the rise of modern European and US colonialism and imperialism late in the nineteenth century, queer people (to use an anachronistic label) have been on the move – indeed, have come into being with their and ­others’ “­queerness” precisely through movement. Whether one defines it as the expulsion or departure of queers from an originary heterosexual home or family, a deferred utopian home(land) of future belonging, or an imagined global community constituted by social practices and political mobilizations against gender-sexual oppression, “queer diaspora” has proliferated as a key term in the humanities and social sciences since the 1990s. Correlating with the broader turn to transnationalism, postcolonialism, and globalization in cultural studies, this proliferation has also been prompted by demographic, infrastructural, and political shifts in the global world order. Neoliberal economic restructuring and its attendant mass labor migrations, the worldwide dimensions of the AIDS pandemic, the work of international human rights organizations, and the ongoing “war on terror” (among other conditions) have compelled queer studies scholars to think beyond the confines of the nation-state and the dominance of Euro-American genealogies of sexuality.2 The scholarship in queer diaspora studies has thus drawn on insights in postcolonial and ethnic studies, women of color feminism, and queer of color critique to examine the complex ways that “queer” and “diaspora” qualify 201

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and complicate one another. Scholars focusing on “queer d ­ iasporas” – the migrations and travels of “queer” folk around the world – have ­considered the discrepant gender and sexual languages, terms, and identities used and adopted in various contexts and the ways they are translated and transformed across borders.3 Scholars deploying queer diasporic critique have examined alternative formations of kinship, home, and belonging that challenge the patriarchal, heteronormative logics and reproductive lines of kinship subtending ethnonational d ­ iasporas.4 Both overlapping areas of inquiry have interrogated contemporary ideologies of imperial homonationalism that posit “modern” capitalist western ­democracies as sources and spaces of sexual freedom in contrast to the  allegedly “­traditional” repressive religious or authoritarian regimes of the global south.5 To illustrate and expand on some of these themes – the difficulties of queer diasporic community formation across social differences, the ­critiques of colonial patriarchal homophobia and western sexual exceptionalism, and the promises of queer postcolonial futurity – I turn to Monique Truong’s The Book of Salt (2003).6 A favored text for exploring the uses of queer diaspora, the novel retells the story of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas’s renowned salon at 27 rue de Fleurus through the voice of their queer, twenty-something, Vietnamese cook. Truong describes in an interview how she was inspired by the presence of “two Indochinese men” in the Alice B. Toklas Cook Book (1954): “These cooks must have seen everything, I thought. But in the official history of the Lost Generation, the Paris of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, these Indochinese cooks were just a minor footnote. There could be a personal epic embedded inside that footnote, I thought. The Book of Salt is that story, as told from the perspective of Bình.”7 The novel’s rewriting of expatriate modernism not only flips the script between “official history” and “minor footnote,” rendering the latter the main text and the former the background to her narrator-protagonist’s “personal epic,” but also demonstrates how the celebrated achievements of modernist art and culture have been made possible through the dislocating effects of European colonialism, the ideological hierarchies of race, and the material labor of the colonized.8 And yet, the centralizing of Bình’s homoerotic desires in both French-controlled Saigon and Paris early during the twentieth century forces us to contend with queer diasporic critique in a historiographic literary register. At one level, the novel echoes concerns articulated by historians and anthropologists of sexuality regarding the incommensurate meanings of gender embodiments and sexual behaviors across cultural milieu. At another, the novel engages with concerns articulated by

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cultural studies scholars regarding the problems of diffusion models of gay globalization (social tolerance and political progress flowing from the west to the rest) and the queer migrations to metropolitan centers they induce. As I will argue here, The Book of Salt not only brackets the question of correct categorization or ­terminology to capture “cultural differences” around gender and ­sexuality, but by emphasizing the subjective self-representation and interpretation of Bình’s queer desires, the novel also contests teleological ­narratives of the exile’s metronormative migration and return, opting instead for a radically ­open-ended call for “us” readers (whoever we might be) to recognize Bình’s impossible first-person account.

Colonial Desire in Saigon In chronological terms, Bình’s nonlinear retrospective narration begins in Saigon during the early decades of the twentieth century. Though his queer desires emerge under the conditions of colonialism, it is his mother’s variations on tales of the scholar-prince and the peasant girl that frame his ­boyhood understanding of love. Bình humorously recalls as an elevenyear-old “pressing [his mother] for details” about the scholar-prince’s “­handsome looks” when “her brief description” proved “­unsatisfactory” (81). When his mother fancifully calls him her “little scholar-prince,” the boy reels from having his “fantasy turned upside down” because in his mind “it was always I who, in the end, got the scholar-prince, the teak pavilion, the shadow-graced embraces. I was, of course, the p ­ easant, the servant, the fishing villager, except that in my version the ‘she’ was undoubtedly a ‘he.’ The scholar-prince, I left as is, a man wise and kind” (81). Referencing the “disidentificatory” ways that young queer subjects reappropriate heterosexual stories to fit their needs,9 Bình replaces his mother’s ending with his own version of how “the scholar-prince fell deeply in love with the kitchen boy” as the two skip stones inscribed with words, “broken pieces of a [love] poem,” back and forth across a “misty” lake (82). In Saigon, the fairy tale stands in stark contrast to the ways that Bình’s affair as a garde manger in the Governor-General’s kitchen with the French chef Jean Blériot is enacted, perceived, and condemned. As part of the French colonial diaspora,10 Blériot is hardly one of the “European ­homosexuals overseas [who] displayed an ambivalent attitude towards imperialism, or took an avowedly critical stance on European rule” based on a shared “sexuality.”11 Rather, he insists on “behaving like a typical colonial official” in the marketplace where Bình serves as his translator

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and lays down rules for Bình to follow to ensure secrecy: “No touching. No smiling” (122, 123). When their scandalous affair is discovered, Blériot denies that any “indiscretions” took place (131), and the Madame orders Bình to be fired for supposedly spreading lies about the chef and not because of the “alleged acts”: “Madame is a snob but not a prude. She did not care about the relations of two men, just as long as they were of the same social standing and, of course, race” (132). Although the Madame expels Bình on the basis of prohibitions against cross-class and cross-racial relationships and not necessarily because of same-sex contact, the Madame’s secretary (who fancies the chef) summons Bình for a “closer inspection” to determine “what attracted Blériot’s body to mine” (133). In doing so, she introduces a localizing of gendered sexuality in Viet Nam: “After all, Madame’s secretary knows that the Vietnamese call men like me lai cái. What they mean is that I am mixed with or am partially a female” (133). This notion of androgyny recurs in French colonial representations of Vietnamese “boys,” the term used to designate domestic servants. Although Bình is not technically a “male domestic, …  an obligatory part of every colonial’s household,”12 his ­characterization as “partially a female,” as “readily available for sexual activity,”13 and as “­ particularly inclined to homosexuality,”14 nonetheless resonates with French colonial discourse. Bình himself had boasted of his sexual aptitude as “a garde-manger who had taught him [Blériot], a chef de cuisine, a thing or two about heat, about sugar, about the point at which all things melt in the mouth. Cooking had nothing to do with it” (120). Much later in the novel, Bình remarks that one of Blériot’s “many idiosyncrasies” is to “play Monsieur and Madame” (240). The implication is that this gender roleplaying equates colonized servitude with female s­ubordination – a racial bottoming that Bình seems not to find objectionable. Whereas Bình’s exit interview with the Madame’s secretary references the Vietnamese term that translates as “literally ‘penetrated by the female spirit,’”15 his final conversation with the chauffeur as he leaves the Governor-General’s house alludes to the transnational reach of ­Euro-American ­sexology. The chauffeur, who had attended medical school in Paris, informs Bình that “There are doctors. … there’s been extensive research done in England and in America” on “your c­ ondition” (127; ellipsis in original). He describes “the cafés and dance halls in Paris that are filled, he said, with men like me,” and then pontificates on “the varietal nature of human attraction” before prescribing a “cure” ­consisting of “rigorous physical exercise” and a reduction of “‘hot’ spices” (128). Bình, of course, thinks him a “quack” and not so much a man of science

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as “a believer, a healer who places his faith in the body’s ability to transform itself through the denial of what it naturally craves” (128). Bình’s refusal to deny his bodily cravings ultimately leads to his exile. When he returns home, the Old Man bars the doorway, disowns Bình, and disallows his return. But insofar as queer diasporic critique teaches us to be wary of “a developmental, progress narrative of ‘gay’ identity formation that posits the diaspora as a space of sexual freedom over and against the (home) nation as a space of sexual oppression,”16 it is noteworthy that the novel subverts the notion of the Vietnamese exile seeking sexual refuge in the French capital. Bình admits that he “found [his] way to the city that the GovernorGeneral’s chauffeur had made vivid with his stories” about the queer cafes in Paris (257), but he does not narrate his departure from Saigon as making a direct beeline for the putative “gay paradise” in the City of Light.17 Toward the end of the novel, he reveals that he did not expect to be ejected from his home and had no “desire to see what was on the other side of the earth”: “I gave no thought to the Niobe’s final port of call. … when I boarded the Niobe I had no intention of reaching shore” (250).

Queer Diasporic Crossings in Paris Far from a site of sexual and racial liberation free from the patriarchal abuse of the Old Man and the social hierarchies of colonial Indochina, Paris becomes for Bình a place where he experiences existential crises around self-recognition. He feels “invisible” at the Steins’ tea parties (149) and underappreciated for his skills as a cook (154), like “the sideshow freak” and a polygamous, (un)circumcised sexual deviant by the farmers in Bilignin (142–43), and reduced to a “generalized and indiscriminate” “Indochinese laborer” in Paris’s city streets (152). In turn, Bình engages in several strategies to confirm his existence, including cooking, carrying a mirror, and cutting his fingertips – a practice that provides “proof that I am alive” (65) and that Toklas’s regular inspections force him to give up. Significantly, the queer crossings that converge in interwar Paris – Bình’s relationship with Marcus Lattimore and his one-night encounter with the man on the bridge; the upper-middle-class “marriage” between Stein, the masculine “genius,” and Toklas, the feminine assistant and “companion”; and Bình’s employment in the Steins’ household – do not assuage his feelings of precarious existence but rather reveal the social differences that unravel any communal sense of belonging.18 Although Bình accepts his employers’ samesex relationship as a matter of course (71), the emotional affinities enabling the “cross-class affiliations” in this “unique queer and diasporic household

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on the rue de Fleurus,” as Denise Cruz writes, are “temporary” and cannot ­transcend the power relations that suffuse this domestic and semi-public space.19 And despite the truth of the chauffeur’s words – Paris did boast a “thriving homosexual subculture in the 1920s and 1930s” with “many specialized bars and nightclubs for gay men, lesbians and their friends”20 – the novel gestures only briefly toward those “kind[s] of establishments” that Bình frequents (239). Through the relationship between Bình and Lattimore in Paris, Truong’s novel broaches the possibility of male homoeroticism between two diasporic racialized subjects unbound by the rigid “barbed-wire rules” governing French colonial intimacies (195), on one side, and US Jim Crow segregation, on the other. During the few months that Bình meets with and cooks for Sweet Sunday Man in the latter’s garret, he learns of the light-skinned Lattimore’s background as the Southern son of a mixedrace mother and white father. Lattimore’s presence in Paris references the thousands of African Americans who were attracted to the city following the Great War because of its relative freedom from the violence of racial segregation, white supremacy, and (heterosexual) antimiscegenationism in the United States.21 It also alludes to James Weldon Johnson’s modernist novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912/1927), whose unnamed narrator-protagonist, like Lattimore, is born in the US South, moves north with his mother, has a shadowy white father who financially supports him and his mother during his youth, and spends time in Europe. Interestingly, Johnson’s ex-colored man has been read as a queer figure whose racial “passing” is integrally bound up with nonnormative gender performance and sexual desire. His most significant same-sex relationship occurs with a white millionaire who hires the narrator to play ragtime for his cosmopolitan bohemian friends in New York and then takes him to Europe as his personal valet, entertainer, and wide-eyed companion. Siobhan Somerville has noted how the “exclusive” nature of their “arrangement” parallels the “kept” status of the narrator’s white father’s relationship to his mother, with “both echo[ing] the figure of the slave mistress, who is given a minimal amount of financial and material security in exchange for her sexual service to the white master.”22 In Truong’s novel, however, the asymmetries are reversed: it is Bình who is loaned out by the Steins to serve as Lattimore’s cook, and Lattimore who holds economic and cultural power. Unfortunately for Bình, Lattimore abandons him after convincing the reluctant lover to steal one of Stein’s manuscripts by bribing him with having their photo taken together at a studio. Although it would be reductive

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to assume that Lattimore merely manipulates Bình, his betrayal is nonetheless consistent with his racial and sexual “passing.” In an ­internal, unspoken address, Bình notes how Lattimore exploits his lightness, a “blank sheet of paper” that enables him to “tell stories about a family that you do not have, a city in which you have never lived, a life that you have never fully led” (151). This racial deception is reinforced by his sexual concealment. During one of their Sundays together, Bình remarks on how Lattimore’s “eyes race toward the door, responding to a knock that is not there. A spasm of shame, I think” (144). Whether Lattimore is ashamed of his same-sex desires in general or his liaison with an exiled Vietnamese laborer in particular remains unspecified. But his actions make clear that he ultimately rejects the proximity in status between him and Bình (“in the only rooms in this city that we in truth can share, your body becomes more like mine” [151–2]) that his sexual desire implies. Whereas Johnson’s ex-colored man expresses a sense of regret for not becoming a “race man” and abandoning his “mother’s people,”23 Lattimore never shows remorse for his betrayal of Bình, undermining any possibility that Truong’s “textual [re]construction”24 of this traveling mixed-race figure could be understood as a recuperative portrayal of queer Afro-Asian solidarity.

Awaiting a Queer Diasporic Future If interracial homoeroticism in Saigon and Paris proves to be unsustainable under conditions of white supremacy, what about intraracial desire between two migrant Vietnamese men? When Bình returns to the studio to retrieve the photo with Lattimore’s receipt, he is drawn to a photo of the man on the bridge whose name, he learns from the photographer, is Nguyê˜n Ái Quoˆ´c, and whose likeness he wishes to exchange for Lattimore’s. This allusion to the man who would become known as Ho Chi Minh, and who used the name meaning Nguyê˜n the “patriot” during this period of his life (247), sheds new light on Bình’s experience with the man he’d met some eight years prior (and described some 160 pages before). During their one-night encounter, the two men meet on a bridge overlooking the Seine, decide to “immediately call each other ba.n” (friend), and bond over their shared language, distance from home, and culinary expertise (86). Throughout their conversation over dinner, Bình learns that the ­thirty-seven-year-old (echoing Nguyê˜n Ái Quoˆ´c’s actual biography) had worked as a teacher, “[k]itchen boy, sailor, dishwasher, snow shoveler, furnace stoker, gardener, pie maker, photograph

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retoucher, fake Chinese souvenir painter,” and letter writer on board the Latouche Tréville  (89). When Bình learns that the man whom he had viewed as his potential “scholar-prince” (92) is leaving Paris that night, he suggests that they head over to “a quiet place that I know in the Jardin du Luxembourg” (100). Whether their night ends in physical pleasure is left uncertain: “A kiss in the mouth can become a kiss on the mouth. A hand on a shoulder can become a hand on the hips. A laugh on his lips can become a moan on mine” (99). Truong renders this ambiguity through the metaphor of “lost” time, an experience that is “difficult to gauge” according to clock and calendrical time (99). David Eng notes that “the query, Did Ho Chi Minh really sleep with men? is lost” to the protocols of positivist history.25 But it may still be tempting – particularly in light of queer diasporic analysis’s “simultaneous critique of heterosexuality and the nation form”26 – to regard this speculative literary approach to the past as a signal intervention into the “queer” and “diasporic” origins of the nation: Truong subverts the iconography of Ho Chi Minh as “a celibate monk”27 and queers the image of the man who would seek Vietnamese independence from French colonialism and US imperialism and who would symbolize the avuncular head of national sovereignty (Uncle Ho) through the off-screen union between Bình and Nguyê˜n in the Luxembourg gardens. However, this reading not only downplays Truong’s choice precisely not to name the man on the bridge as Ho Chi Minh,28 but also depends on a teleological and allegorical understanding of Bình’s queer desires: from ­complicity with colonialism (Blériot) and a betrayal of brotherly support (Anh Minh), to cloistered liaison with a white-identified poser (Lattimore), to homonational congress (Nguyê˜n Ái Quoˆ´c). Bình’s own account, though, challenges such interpretations. When Anh Minh, who had secured his younger brother’s position in the Governor-General’s house, learns about Bình’s affair, he declares, “‘I have given you everything … and you have wasted it’” (52). “How can I save you now?” he laments (53). Bình internally responds: “My dear brother, I did not waste the life that you gave me. I traded it away for Blériot’s lips counting down the notches of my spine, parting at the small of my back, for my fingers wrapped inside the locks of his hair, guiding his mouth as it arched my back, as he brought us both heavenward without shame, as he made me cry ‘Mercy, please have mercy!’” (52–3). Even more emphatic is Bình’s shameless rejoinder to the Old Man with whom he internally feuds later in the novel. Bình makes explicit the gamble he took in valuing sexual pleasure over the dismal prospects of colonial subservience: “When Blériot came to

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the Governor-General’s, I took one look at his face and one look around me, and I thought, Really, what do I have to lose?” (195). Bình denies that he engaged in the affair because he saw “salvation in his [Blériot’s] arms”  (195) by contrasting his “faith” – in reciprocal love or pleasure – with the Old Man’s religious beliefs: “I am not like you, Old Man. I love my fellow man because of who I am, not because I was told to by the holy fathers and their holy gospel” (194).29 Rejecting the Old Man’s ­hypocritical Catholicism and refusing to be cast as an opportunistic “boy” at the mercy of his colonial superior seeking favors for himself, his brother, or mother (195–6), Bình persists in his “faith” despite betrayal and exile. Five pages from the end he reveals that he spent three years ­living on the sea, j­umping “from freighter to freighter” in search of Bão, his bunkmate on the Niobe, before ending up in Paris (256). Enduring beyond all p ­ racticality, his faith has him believing “that on the next ship, at the next port of call, I would find Bão. I found men like him, but I never did see that GoodLookingBrother again” (256). Bình’s capacity to revalue and pursue his queer desires against the dictates of patriarchal and Catholic homophobia, colonial prohibition, commonsense pragmatism, and sheer despair hinges on his first-person account. If not for his own perspective, his story might well be taken as a “naive” fool’s errand (195). The novel thematizes the politics of self-­narration most dramatically when Bình discovers that the “thin notebook” he had stolen for Lattimore out of Stein’s cupboard turns out to be about himself (214). Lattimore writes in his farewell note: “Bee, thank you for The Book of Salt. Stein captured you, perfectly” (238). But Bình had internally declared to Stein: “My story, Madame, is mine. I alone am qualified to tell it, to embellish, or to withhold” (215). Bình’s resolute declaration about self-representation is further linked to the politics of naming and recognition. Stein christens him “Thin Bin” (32); Lattimore dubs him “Bee” (111); Bình bemoans the French populace’s “­mispronunciations” of his name (32); and he discloses near the end that “Bình,” which means “peace,” is itself a pseudonym (249). He actually shares Bão’s name but changed it when it seemed that two “storms” aboard the Niobe was a “highly inauspicious” sign (247). On the final page, Bình proffers an anticipatory gesture of recognition through the trope of naming: “‘What keeps you here?’ I hear a voice ­asking. Your question, just your desire to know my answer, keeps me, is my response. In the dark, I see you smile. I look up instinctually, as if someone has called out my name” (261). The repetition of the question harkens back to Bình’s memory of the man on the bridge (85, 93) and would thus seem to be Nguyê˜n Ái Quoˆ´c’s call. In this sense, we might reconfigure

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David Eng’s formulation of “the logic of waiting that structures European modernity in relation to its colonial others”30 to apply to the postcolonial nation’s relation to its queer diasporic others as well. Bình’s final decision to stay in Paris and not return to Saigon as his brother’s letter had requested suspends both ends of exile – assimilation and return – and looks optimistically toward a future when the nation recognizes its queer diasporic outcasts. This suspension of teleological endings – a biding of one’s time that embodies Bình’s revelation that he “had no intention of reaching shore” when he boarded the Niobe (250) – introduces a crucial temporal dimension into theorizations of queer diasporas. Although the developmental time of sexual rights and progress already inheres in the geopolitical spatializing of “modern” versus “traditional” societies, as noted previously, the last page of The Book of Salt calls into question the notion that another place – “a paid ticket to somewhere else—‘better,’ again, was presumed,” as Bình responds to the Old Man when denying he sought favors from Blériot (196) – could constitute the fulfillment of queer desires, belonging, or community. In this respect, Bình’s suspension is less a passive waiting for social conditions to change on their own (“it gets better”) than a faith in the kind of queer futurity outlined by José Esteban Muñoz: “Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world.”31 Resonating with Bình’s unflagging erotic pursuits, Muñoz writes later, “Queer futurity does not underplay desire. In fact it is all about desire, desire for both larger semiabstractions such as a better world or freedom but also, more immediately, better relations within the social that include better sex and more pleasure.”32 The Book of Salt’s insistent and persistent desire for a better world (not just nation) in another time becomes apparent in the temporal convolutions and ethical demands that arise when we interpret the call at the end as not only Nguyê˜n Ái Quoˆ´c’s but also the reader’s. Insofar as Bình is misrecognized by queer and nonqueer colonial, metropolitan, and US expatriate figures alike, the “you” whom Bình imagines asking about his well-being is not bound by national or cultural borders. Throughout the  novel, Bình uses the second person to address various characters – the Old  Man, Blériot, Stein, Toklas, Lattimore, the man on the bridge – but only in his mind and memory and not out loud. Consequently, The Book of Salt positions its readers as the recipients of those articulations, as though beseeching us to affirm their truth and Bình’s worth. It thus seeks to construct a queer diasporic community not on the basis

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of shared identities but through the telecommunicative capacities of the novel and the intersubjective promise of recognition. What might an ethical response to Bình’s story entail? What “keeps” him (t)here, alive in the text, as an undismissible queer figuration of the colonial, modernist past and a harbinger of a freer, more pleasurable, desirable future? To my mind, the novel’s final gesture demands a performative mode of witnessing that acknowledges Bình’s singularity, that sees him as something besides a mere colonized Vietnamese, androgynous lai cái, pathologized sexology case, disowned son, disappointing brother, racialized laborer, domestic servant, jilted lover. It requires, in short, “someone” in Bình’s future – our present – to call out his name: an impossible, paradoxical call that arrives prior to his narration, inverting the temporality of storyteller and listener such that his story, taking place eighty years ago, has been anachronistically summoned by a twenty-first century “reader” and appears magically before our eyes. And it is as such desirous readers who remain true to the novel’s spirit of waylaid subjectivity, and who are willing to be cast adrift by the novel’s affective and aesthetic force, that we must also reject the sadistic taste for blood that the Parisian “collectors” punishingly relish: “They yearn for a taste of the pure, sea-salt sadness of the outcast whom they have brought into their homes” (19). When we bring Bình into our homes, can we see anything in him but the salt of sadness, Sodom, and subjection? Can we cherish him as something other than one of the collectors’ or Lattimore’s “wounded trophies” (19, 146)? Can we, unlike Lattimore, become that “someone” who will, for Bình, “open up red” and raw, lanced through by silver and blue flame (151)? Bình’s story requires a call that is a response that is an address that might sound something like this: Dear Bão, Please send me your story/Thank you for your gift. Truong captured you, perfectly. Yours—

Notes See Michael Warner, introduction to Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory, ed. Michael Warner (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), xvii. Critical responses include Jon Binnie, The Globalization of Sexuality (London, UK: Sage, 2004), 81–5; Jana Evans Braziel, Diaspora: An Introduction (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008), 106–13; Anne-Marie

1

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Fortier, “Queer Diaspora,” in Handbook of Lesbian and Gay Studies, ed. Diane Richardson and Steven Seidman (London, UK: Sage, 2002), 188; and Alan Sinfield, “Diaspora and Hybridity: Queer Identities and the Ethnicity Model,” in Diaspora and Visual Culture: Representing Africans and Jews, ed. Nicholas Mirzoeff (London, UK: Routledge, 2000), 103. 2 Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé and Martin F. Manalansan IV, eds., Queer Globalizations: Citizenship and the Afterlife of Colonialism (New York: New  York University Press, 2002); Simon Watney, “AIDS and the Politics of Queer Diaspora,” in Negotiating Lesbian and Gay Subjects, ed. Monica Dorenkamp and Richard Henke (New York: Routledge, 1995), 53–70. 3 Dennis Altman, “Rupture or Continuity? The Internationalization of Gay Identities,” Social Text no. 48 (1996): 77–94; Martin F. Manalansan IV, Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003). 4 David L. Eng, The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010); Gayatri Gopinath, Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005). 5 Sara Ahmed, “Problematic Proximities: Or Why Critiques of Gay Imperialism Matter,” Feminist Legal Studies 19, no. 2 (2011): 119–32; Jasbir K. Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007). 6 Monique Truong, The Book of Salt (2003; Boston, MA: Mariner Books, 2004). Subsequent citations appear in text. 7 “An Interview with Monique Truong,” Press Release, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, accessed February 10, 2018, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/ booksellers/press_release/truong/. 8 See David L. Eng, “The End(s) of Race,” PMLA 123, no. 5 (2008): 1479–93. Truong’s novel slyly implies that Stein’s linguistic innovations may have been inspired by Bình’s “elemental” French (34). See Catherine Fung, “A History of Absences: The Problem of Reference in Monique Truong’s The Book of Salt,” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 45, no. 1 (2012): 101–2; Meg Wesling, “The Erotics of a Livable Life: Colonial Power and the Affective Work of Queer Desire in Monique Truong’s The Book of Salt,” Mosaic 48, no. 1 (2015): 139. 9 See José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999). 10 On colonial and imperial administrations as constituting diasporas, see Brent Hayes Edwards, “Diaspora,” in Keywords for American Cultural Studies, ed. Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler (New York: New York University Press, 2007), 81–4; and Robin Cohen, Global Diasporas: An Introduction, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge, 2008), 69. 11 Robert Aldrich, Colonialism and Homosexuality (London: Routledge, 2003), 367. 12 Frank Proschan, “Eunuch Mandarins, Soldats Mamzelles, Effeminate Boys, and Graceless Women: French Colonial Constructions of Vietnamese Genders,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 8, no. 4 (2002): 448.

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Robert Aldrich, “Homosexuality in the French Colonies,” Journal of Homosexuality 41, nos. 3–4 (2001): 204. 14 Jennifer Yee, “‘L’Indochine Androgyne’: Androgyny in Turn-of-the-Century French Writing on Indochina,” Textual Practice 15, no. 2 (2001): 276. 15 Marie-Eve Blanc, “Social Construction of Male Homosexualities in Vietnam: Some Keys to Understanding Discrimination and Implications for HIV Prevention Strategy,” International Social Science Journal 57, no. 186 (2005): 665. 16 Gopinath, Impossible Desires, 14. 17 Naomi Edwards, “Melancholic Ghosts in Monique Truong’s The Book of Salt,” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 40, nos. 3–4 (2012): 174. 18 Space limitations prevent a detailed analysis of the way that Stein and Toklas’s relationship is portrayed. In The Book of Salt, both Stein (205–6) and Toklas (158–9), like Bình, move to Paris as a “consequence” of their desires (57). 19 Denise Cruz, “‘Love Is Not a Bowl of Quinces’: Food, Desire, and the Queer Asian Body in Monique Truong’s The Book of Salt,” in Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader, ed. Robert Ji-Song Ku, Martin F. Manalansan IV, and Anita Mannur (New York: New York University Press, 2013), 360. On this point, see also, Deborah Cohler, “Teaching Transnationally: Queer Studies and Imperialist Legacies in Monique Truong’s The Book of Salt,” Radical Teacher: A Socialist, Feminist, and Anti-Racist Journal on the Theory and Practice of Teaching 82 (2008): 28; Y-Dang Troeung, “‘A Gift or a Theft Depends on Who Is Holding the Pen’: Postcolonial Collaborative Autobiography and Monique Truong’s The  Book of Salt,” MFS: Modern  Fiction Studies 56, no. 1 (2010): 122–4; Wesling, “Erotics of a Livable Life,” 137. 20 Michael D. Sibalis, “Paris,” in Queer Sites: Gay Urban Histories since 1600, ed. David Higgs (London, UK: Routledge, 1999), 28. 21 See, among others, Tyler Stovall, Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1996). 22 Siobhan B. Somerville, Queering the Color Line: Race and the Invention of Homosexuality in American Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000), 119. 23 James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (New York: Vintage, 1989), 210. 24 Wesling, “Erotics of a Livable Life,” 139. 25 Eng, “End(s) of Race,” 1484. 26 Gopinath, Impossible Desires, 11. 27 Sophie Quinn-Judge, Ho Chi Minh: The Missing Years, 1919–1941 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 6. 28 See Fung, “History of Absences,” 106. 29 For a contrasting reading of Bình’s melancholic abjection and “self-revilement” (138), see Wenying Xu, Eating Identities: Reading Food in Asian American Literature (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2008), 137–9. 30 Eng, “End(s) of Race,” 1483. 13

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José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York: New York University Press, 2009), 1. 32 Muñoz, Cruising Utopia, 30. 31

Further Reading Allen, Jafari S. “Black/Queer/Diaspora at the Current Conjuncture.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 18, nos. 2–3 (2012): 211–48. Blackwood, Evelyn, and Saskia E. Wieringa, eds. Female Desires: Same-Sex Relations and Transgender Practices across Cultures. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Chen, Jian Neo. Trans Exploits: Trans of Color Cultures and Technologies in Movement. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019. Cotten, Trystan T., ed. Transgender Migrations: The Bodies, Borders, and Politics of Transition. New York: Routledge, 2012. Grewal, Inderpal, and Caren Kaplan. “Global Identities: Theorizing Transnational Studies of Sexuality.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 7, no. 4 (2001): 663–79. Hayes, Jarrod. Queer Roots for the Diaspora: Ghosts in the Family Tree. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2016. Luibhéid, Eithne, and Lionel Cantú Jr., eds. Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossings. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005. Meghani, Shamira A. “Global Desires, Postcolonial Critique: Queer Women in Nation, Migration, and Diaspora.” In The Cambridge Companion to Lesbian Literature, edited by Jodie Medd, 60–75. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Patton, Cindy, and Benigno Sánchez-Eppler, eds. Queer Diasporas. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000. Povinelli, Elizabeth A., and George Chauncey. “Thinking Sex Transnationally: An Introduction.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 5, no. 4 (1999): 439–50. Schulman, Sarah. Israel/Palestine and the Queer International. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012. Tinsley, Omise’eke Natasha. “Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic: Queer Imaginings of the Middle Passage.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 14, nos. 2–3 (2008): 191–215.

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chapter 14

Diaspora, Displacement, and Belonging

The Politics of the Family and the Future of Queer Kinship Richard T. Rodríguez

Although “kinship” has increasingly become a pivotal focus for queer ­studies, debates about the significance of and distinctions between family and kinship networks figured prominently in previous work by ­lesbian and gay scholars.1 For example, in her foundational 1975 essay “The  Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex,” Gayle Rubin writes, “a kinship system is not a list of biological ­relatives. It is a system of categories and statuses that often contradict actual genetic relationships.”2 Rubin’s assessment of kinship – crucial for ascertaining current articulations of “queer kinship” – importantly helps disentangle the way family and kinship are commonly conflated as one and the same thing. Indeed, with the common tendency to collapse “family diversity” with “marriage diversity,” holding on to kinship practices that exceed genetic relationships and state-sanctioned bonds is indispensable when accounting for the communal networks that exist beyond biological ties. Yet casting “family” in divergent terms to “kinship” might also ­unwittingly overlook how the latter often bleeds into the former. In other words, “fictive” or “chosen” kinships are not always independent or devoid of genetic ­ relations. In articulating the concept of “chosen families,” Kath  Weston argues that “chosen families do not directly oppose genealogical modes of reckoning kinship. Instead, they undercut procreation’s status as a master term imagined to provide the template for all possible kinship ­relations.” Weston continues: “In displacing rather than disallowing biogenetic ­symbolism, discourse on gay families moves obliquely toward the future, responding to hegemonic forms of kinship not with a defensive countermove, but by deftly stepping aside to evade the paradigmatic blow.”3 In much queer theory, ­kinship is often regarded as practices that serve as alternatives to “the family”; that is, kinship is fashioned as affectively

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c­ ontoured modes of collective belonging that contrast sharply with the biological or oedipally generated family form contingent on heteronormative reproduction. In this essay, I follow Weston’s lead in underscoring the importance of decentering “hegemonic forms of kinship,” while remaining attuned to the way “given” families may in fact link up to “selected” families for purposes of communal sustenance and endurance. I am expressly attentive to the way diasporic communities in the United States navigate family and kinship in light of racial, sexual, and gender difference. Furthermore, I aim to show how seemingly competing family and kinship systems frequently work in tandem in the face of social and economic displacement and, thus, require understanding what Elizabeth A. Povinelli identifies as ­interlocking “grids” with respect to their reciprocally constitutive nonnormative valences.4 To carry out my analysis, I turn to Henrique Cirne-Lima and Josué Pellot’s 2010 documentary I Am the Queen about transgender Puerto Rican beauty queens in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.5 What follows first is a context to understand the film and its engagement with questions of family and kinship in relation to diaspora and displacement.

Diasporic Kinships Mainly focused on Mexican American expressive culture that adheres to la familia as the organizing principle par excellence for mobilizing both heteronormative and queer community formations, my book, Next of Kin: The Family in Chicano/a Cultural Production (2009), draws a great deal of inspiration from an essay (albeit briefly discussed) that allowed me to take seriously the complexities and contradictions of kinship and family that I wish to further engage here.6 That essay, “Black, Brown and White” by photographer and writer Sunil Gupta, was published in the 1989 anthology Coming on Strong: Gay Politics and Culture, edited by Simon Shepherd and Mick Wallis, and featuring the work of mostly male British academics (the exception is Sue Ellis’s coauthored contribution on two films about AIDS). In his essay, Gupta argues that for British Asian and Black gay men, “the family was the source of both material and communal wellbeing. In a hostile white environment, for the first generation the community was their only hope of comfort and security. To turn your backs on it was to cut yourself off from both this security in real terms and from a sense of identity that was/is separate from the whites.”7

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Gupta additionally poses a challenge to white-dominant understandings of gay identity and community in contrast to the experiences of racialized, diasporic queers. He writes: The family has been identified from the earliest days of gay liberation as the site of oppression and self-hatred. The rallying cry has been to “come out” and take a stand against it. What gay activists failed to realize was that for many Black and Brown gays such a step might be more than simply moving out of a traditional nuclear family situation. For the immigrants the family was the source of both material and communal well-being.8

Although conceding that there is no guarantee that the family will in return support its queer constituents (observing that even the black or brown family may not “be much different from their white counterparts,” and thus, it remains unwise to “turn your back on the whole gay identity issue, especially when white gays have provided some of the strengths”9), Gupta’s insights nonetheless point up the way many queers – especially queers of color – remain incapable of embracing, let alone wishing to aspire to, what Jack Halberstam has called the “forgetting of family” as a result of racism and class division. As Halberstam importantly wishes to highlight (which in some contexts might very well qualify as ­k inship ­practices) “other modes of relating, belonging, caring, and so on” in ­contradistinction to what traditionally counts as family,10 diasporic queers of color such as the British black and Asian gay men Gupta discusses and, as I’ll soon discuss, the Puerto Rican transgender women in Chicago featured in I Am the Queen, might prove unfeasible when pitting “other modes of relating” and “family” as mutually exclusive entities. Asian American queer studies scholar David L. Eng argues in The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy that “queer diasporas fall out of normative Oedipal arrangements precisely by carving out other psychic pathways of displacement and affiliation, by demarcating alternative material structures and psychic formations that demand new language for family and kinship.”11 Like Halberstam’s proposal for – as his essay’s subtitle makes clear – “Queer Alternatives to Oedipal Relations,” Eng is also committed to ascertaining “other ­psychic pathways of displacement and affiliation” that serve as alternatives to ­prescriptive oedipal arrangements. Yet, for Eng, such pathways are not simply forged or taken by some universal queer subject but rather contoured by the histories and cultures of queer diasporic populations, particularly as impacted by “state formation, racial taxonomies, sexual politics,

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and globalization.”12 Diaspora and displacement – two factors that also inform Gupta’s understanding of the family and the simultaneous inclusiveness and exclusionary practices of the queer community – offer ways to grapple with family and kinship practices that evade oedipal relationships (used, it seems to me, as shorthand for a blanket understanding of heteronormativity) from the purview of class, race, and gender. With the concept “diaspora space,” sociologist Avtar Brah compels us to think about the way family and kinship are constantly made and remade in locations to which people and communities are drawn as the result of displacement. Noting the interplay of borders, diasporas, and the complexities of location as a way to “mark conceptual connections for historicized analyses of contemporary trans/national movements of people, information, cultures, commodities, and capital,” Brah views diaspora space – in ways resonant with Eng’s concept of queer diasporas – as “a point of confluence of economic, political, cultural, and psychic processes.”13 Diaspora space, she explains, is “where multiple subject positions are juxtaposed, contested, proclaimed or disavowed; where the permitted and the prohibited perpetually interrogate; and where the accepted and the transgressive imperceptibly mingle even while these syncretic forms may be disclaimed in the name of purity and tradition.”14 Indeed, the long-standing Chicago Puerto Rican neighborhood of Humboldt Park serves as a fitting example of diaspora space for the way it not only comprises Puerto Rican diasporic cultures and identities unquestionably steeped in tradition to counter forces of ethnic and economic displacement, but also continuously interrogated and remade, particularly by its queer inhabitants. In her groundbreaking study, The Near Northwest Side Story: Migration, Displacement, and Puerto Rican Families, Gina M. Pérez details how ­during “the late 1950s and early 1960s, Chicago media consistently praised its Puerto Rican residents for their strong families.”15 This, Pérez explains, “served as a benchmark to distinguish ‘good’ Puerto Rican migrants from ‘bad’ ethnic others in the urban imagination.”16 However, with the June 1966 Division Street Riots – or, as known by local residents, the Division Street Uprising – which saw the Puerto Rican community standing in resistance to rampant police violence, Humboldt Park was no longer deemed “a quaint ethnic neighborhood with diligent noble migrants” but instead “portrayed as dangerous, decaying, and ruled by local gangs.”17 In  the transition from “good minorities” to “bad minorities,” Chicago Puerto Rican families were recast as dysfunctional and mired in what anthropologist Oscar Lewis notoriously called a “culture of poverty.”18 The  move to displace Puerto Ricans from spaces like Humboldt Park

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became easier when the neighborhood was opportunely cast as a space requiring reinvention or renewal. Similar to how Chicanas and Chicanos deployed la familia as a trope for communal, cultural nationalist solidarity, Puerto Ricans sought to wrest away the family (given its perception as a reflection of the greater community) from those outside the culture and reanimate its symbolic power as a means of countering the racist charges of deficit-laden ­tradition. By upholding a sense of collectivity through recourse to la gran familia Puertorriqueña,19 Puerto Ricans in the diaspora (that is, on the island and on the mainland) laid claim to a sense of collective ­solidarity in kinship terms. This cultural nationalist impulse is indeed visible in spaces like Humboldt Park. In her essay “Paseo Boricua: Claiming a Puerto Rican Space in Chicago,” Nilda Flores-González elaborates on the significant move to rename a portion of La División (Division Street) to Paseo Boricua to record the history of Puerto Rican migration to Chicago as well as to put the brakes on an unyielding displacement of Puerto Rican community in the city. In the neighborhood, the establishment of two large steel Puerto Rican flags aids in heralding this history and community perpetually susceptible to erasure. Flores-González writes, “The flags themselves are the most obvious symbol of Puerto Rican space. According to Alderman [Billy] Ocasio, the flags were chosen among other designs because they are an undisputable symbol of pride for Puerto Ricans.”20 In the Cirne-Lima and Pellot documentary, the importance of claiming Puerto Rican space and identity vis-à-vis Paseo Boricua is evident when Bianca, one of the beauty pageant contestants, declares her “100% Boricua Pride,” whereas one of the pageant requirements is that contestants be at least a quarter Puerto Rican so as to represent the community the Puerto Rican Cultural Center seeks to assist and uplift, including its queer members.21 Influenced by the politics of community giving rise to Paseo Boricua, the discourse of kinship here manifests as a grid of interlocking genealogical and social relations. I Am the Queen is at once about members of the Puerto Rican community struggling to carve out a sustainable living in a neighborhood impacted by unrelenting gentrification and the young transgender women who fight to make their presence known both to their relatives and those with whom they share the space of Humboldt Park. By focusing on three young Boricuas – Julissa Ortíz, Jolizza Colón, and Bianca Feliciano – the film provides us with an illuminating view of how translatinas challenge their displacement as queer racialized subjects while forming kinship networks with one another as they also navigate the

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familial terrain on which they were born and raised.22 In Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability, Halberstam pointedly asserts that “The arrival of trans* children disrupts not only the meaning of the gendered body but our understandings of time, development, and order itself.”23 This is certainly the case in I Am the Queen, where we witness transgender children from Puerto Rican families negotiate the spatial and temporal demands of family and belonging in contemporary Chicago.

Your Love Is Queen Ed M. Koziarski, in a short review for the Chicago Reader, explains how Puerto Rican artist Josué Pellot came to the idea of making I Am the Queen when “he ran across a flyer for the Cacique Pageant, a transgender beauty contest put on each May by Vida/SIDA, the HIV-awareness and sex education program of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.”24 Recruiting Brazil-born artist Henrique Cirne-Lima as his codirector, the two resolved to document this highly significant event in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. Their film opens with a scene from the pageant in which we see the contestants awaiting the announcement of the winner. Of course, that information cannot yet be revealed, and therefore, the narrative cuts to a shot of the crown (modeled after the two, large steel Puerto Rican flags bookending Paseo Boricua and mentioned previously by Nilda Flores-González) to be claimed. We subsequently glimpse scenes depicting various Puerto Rican emblems and establishments – flags, murals, restaurants, and bodegas, for example – in the neighborhood. The film thus spotlights at the fore what Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas calls the “national performances” – or the publicly articulated, working-class, and racially conscious cultural nationalism – of Puerto Rican Chicago.25 Prior to meeting Julissa, Bianca, and Jolizza (although Jolizza first appears without introduction to read a flier announcing the call for pageant participants), we hear from Vida/SIDA Program Coordinator Zenaida López who explains the goals and importance behind the Paseo Boricua Cacica (or Beauty Queen) Pageant. According to López, Juan M. Calderón, Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (under which Vida/SIDA operates), initiated the Cacica Pageant “to give a face and a voice” to the transgender members of the community. Identifying transgender Puerto Rican women as “the most marginalized in society,” the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and Vida/SIDA’s community ­supported event allows participants to showcase their talents while providing a ­welcoming space without fear of maltreatment or violence.

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As the narrative unfolds, Julissa, Jolizza, and Bianca are seen preparing for the Cacica Pageant but we also learn about their plans for the future as they attempt to make sense of their belonging with respect to their families and the larger Puerto Rican community.26 Indeed, one of film’s primary functions – which moves it beyond a straightforward story leading up to the discovery of who will emerge victorious in the beauty contest – is to capture the dynamics at play in their families’ attempts to accept and support their transgender relatives. In this regard, the film succeeds in showing the varying degrees of acceptance and support Julissa, Jolizza, and Bianca receive, thus registering how there is no essential translatina experience nor a singular response to transgender members of the family by the family. With the camera following and listening to the three women at various Chicago locations (depicted either on the streets of Humboldt Park and in the historically gay neighborhood of Boystown, also known as Lakeview East or North Halsted), we learn about their life histories, their aspirations, and their relationships with others. The filmmakers also include interviews with family members that corroborate or contradict what the women say. It is clear that Bianca and Jolizza have much more strained associations with their biological families than Julissa. For example, Bianca’s mother Iris confesses her initial rejection of Bianca’s transgender identity (although admitting that she readily “accepted him when he said he was gay”), yet ultimately declares her unconditional love (“You gotta accept it!”). Bianca’s grandmother Elsa is also interviewed and asserts, “I love [Bianca] no matter what.” (We also learn that Bianca and her siblings were placed in foster care when it was discovered they were left under questionable supervision; Elsa attempted to gain, but was denied, custody of the children.) Although Jolizza’s mother Angela is also represented as being at odds with her child’s transition, we come to learn that Angela is a lesbian (as is Jolizza’s sister; Jolizza also reveals that she has a cousin who is bisexual), which might lead one to assume her automatic acceptance into the family. Yet Angela expresses what makes accepting Jolizza so difficult: “I miss my son! Where’s my son? You give birth to this boy who is your son. … it’s hard for a mother to see!” Jolizza explains that it was fine when her mother thought she was a gay boy, but she had a hard time accepting her as a transgender woman. Despite Angela’s dubious comments, she admits her “coming around” in “baby steps.” Both parents also express concern about their children’s safety given the pervasive violence habitually inflicted on transwomen, and it is often this point which is used as a way to tentatively embrace Bianca and Jolizza. (Iris further mentions the

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historical presence of transgender women in their family, all of whom were murdered.) Julissa’s mother Lisa also admits her fear for her ­transgender daughter’s life, but her fear is not used as the excuse for hindering her support. Lisa’s initial response is not that different from Angela’s and Iris’s (asking if Julissa could possibly be bisexual), but she quickly embraces Julissa’s wish to transition, acknowledging her ignorance and telling her daughter, “you need to teach me because I know nothing. I have no idea whatsoever.” After Lisa explains how she now accompanies Julissa to her doctor appointments, we hear directly from Julissa’s brothers who declare their deep love and support of their transgender sister. I Am the Queen does not aspire to depict an uncomplicated relationship between the three women and their families, nor does it attempt a narrative resolution that achieves such a relationship. Rather, the film demonstrates how Jolizza, Julissa, and Bianca each endeavor to sustain the most effective relationship possible with their blood relatives. This means that they are not shown as pandering for inclusion at the expense of their identities nor simply forgetting them; instead, they are depicted as insisting on their rightful place in an imperfect support network. Yet their newfound claims to identity do not hinge on the need for contingent inclusion or assimilation. As Bianca informs her mother: “You’re going to love me either way. You can’t tell me what to do. If you don’t love me it’s your loss.” And despite the unconditional embrace she receives from her family, Julissa not only changes her first name but she also legally sheds her given, paternal last name to adopt her mother’s maiden name of Ortíz, signaling her agency to remain a member of family albeit no longer nominally tied based on expectation. The three young women indeed forge bonds with one another and other transgender Puerto Rican women and, therefore, demonstrate a translatina kinship solidified by a shared connection given their ties to the same working-class Puerto Rican Chicago neighborhood. For ­example, Jolizza briefly mentions her “house grandmother” from whom she’s learned and inherited clothes.27 And in her role as pageant coordinator, Ginger Valdez – MC, costume designer, and seamstress – is an experienced and knowledgeable Puerto Rican transwoman maternal figure who declares her kinship with the young women and upholds the importance of a requisite collective cohesion (“I don’t want to see any of you disrespecting each other!”). However, Julissa, Jolizza, and Bianca do not exactly form an idealized alternative to their biological families. Although Jolizza and Bianca are represented as possessing a bond that exceeds the status of “close friends” (indeed, Bianca refers to Jolizza as her mother), Julissa and Jolizza have a

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falling out after the latter calls the former a “fat whore.” The filmmakers might have easily exploited these conflicts, turning the c­ ompetition into a display of cattiness and animosity. But as the film comes to a close, we see footage from the Humboldt Park Puerto Rican People’s Parade that features a Vida/SIDA float on which Julissa, Jolizza, and Bianca ride atop. Although appearing somewhat miffed, Julissa is nevertheless arm-in-arm with Jolizza. In many ways, I Am the Queen shows the way family and kinship are often scrambled, particularly for queers of color who, as Brah notes, require both in the face of myriad oppressions. Drawing on the work of Elizabeth Freeman, Gayatri Gopinath, in ­reading the function of the wedding in Bollywood cinema, maintains that “the wedding as a ritual offers possibilities of queer kinship and alliance that are effaced by the marriage it ostensibly inaugurates.”28 The beauty pageant in I Am the Queen is not unlike the wedding as it operates as a ritual whose meaning transcends a surface level affair. And fittingly, in her study of the politics of femininity and nationalism in the Venezuelan beauty pageant, Marcia Ochoa argues: “To be a queen for a day in the context of the beauty pageant requires a great deal of investment in a particular form of hyperfeminine corporeality and implies a reward that is highly contingent on patriarchal power and recognition.”29 Although the contestants of the Vida/SIDA Cacica Pageant do indeed embody an expected hyperfeminine identity to solidify a “perfect” beauty queen performance, the reward is not so much dependent on patriarchal power and recognition (which arguably manifests in a mainstream performance like Miss Universe Puerto Rico or Miss Mundo de Puerto Rico) as much as it is about familial and communal acknowledgment and ­personal ­sustenance.30 Indeed, as Ochoa points out, winning the p ­ ageant also grants “a form of power … on a daily basis to provide legibility, affirmation, income, and other elements necessary for survival.”31 Julissa underscores this point when she says the pageant represents the ability to bring out “the real” her, solidifying her happiness and “saying thank you” to the beloved community that has embraced her as a transgender Puerto Rican woman.

Deliberating the Future of Queer Kinship To conclude, I return to Kath Weston whose words helped propel my discussion of the lives of the Puerto Rican transgender women in CirneLima and Pellot’s documentary. To ensure that discourse on queer families “moves obliquely toward the future,” we must indeed “respond to

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hegemonic forms of kinship not with a defensive countermove, but by deftly stepping aside to evade the paradigmatic blow.” I Am the Queen challenges “hegemonic forms of kinship” but shows that alternative models are not always the solution to what might at first blush appear to be oedipally constituted. That is, the family on its face-value heteronormative appearance may not be the same network for poor and working-class transgender kids of color as it is for well-to-do white kids. It is apt, then, that the film adopts the beauty pageant as a vehicle through which to foreground translatinas struggling to articulate their sense of self and belonging as they oscillate between the biological family and alternative kinship networks, each of which provide critical sustenance even if at times provisional. Writing about the beauty pageant and its inextricable connections to race and nationalism, Sarah Banet-Weiser argues that the “spectacle itself is organized around the efforts of each contestant to somehow distinguish herself from common cultural constructions of ‘womanhood’ and construct herself rather as a ‘pure individual,’ as a person able to transcend conventional constraints of gender and race.”32 The transgender women in Cirne-Lima and Pellot’s documentary likewise refuse “common cultural constructions of ‘womanhood’” to mark their individuality (recall Julissa’s comment about the pageant assisting in “bringing out the real me”). For as the pageant may allow for the transcendence of “conventional constraints of gender and race,” the Cacica Pageant also helps facilitate a rearticulation of familial ties and other kinship bonds based on shared and divergent experiences induced by class and sexuality. When contemplating the meaning of “queer kinship,” we must keep in mind that “gay and lesbian families” may not always be attuned to the lives of transgender people. Therefore, as key elements such as “support” and “acceptance” hold inestimable value, we must remember that a number of families and kinship networks are inevitably impacted by forces beyond their making or control. Indeed, the incessant gentrification and other forms of violence inflicted on Chicago’s historically Latina(o/x) neighborhoods is a concern about which many scholars and activists continue to write on and respond with committed furor and compassion. Keenly attuned to Puerto Rican transgender youths and the beauty pageants in which they participate, I Am the Queen also brilliantly documents Chicago’s Humboldt Park families to which they belong in view of spatial displacement and economic marginalization. The film’s desire to capture the spirit of loving competition further operates as a means to fashion community at a time when queer collective belonging (consider, for example, the closure of predominantly Puerto Rican clubs and bars in

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and near Humboldt Park like Lola’s and the Wicker Well) is increasingly difficult, if not unfeasible, in our current historical moment. Cirne-Lima and Pellot’s documentary, therefore, allows for deliberation on the future of kinship – its formation, dissolution, and rearticulation – especially for those historically and incessantly targeted for displacement.

Notes One need only note the inclusion of “kinship” in the recent publication of The Routledge Queer Studies Reader, whose additional section-heading categories index the field’s additional fundamental concerns: “sex,” “temporalities,” “affect,” “bodies,” and “borders.” See Donald E. Hall and Annamarie Jagose, with Andrea Bebell and Susan Potter, eds., The Routledge Queer Studies Reader (New York: Routledge, 2013). 2 Gayle Rubin, “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex,” in Toward an Anthropology of Women, ed. Rayna R. Reiter (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1975), 169. 3 Kath Weston, Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship, rev. ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 213. 4 Elizabeth A. Povinelli, “Notes on Gridlock: Genealogy, Intimacy, Sexuality,” Public Culture 14, no. 1 (2002): 215–39. 5 I Am the Queen was released in 2010 and screened at the Chicago Latino Film Festival in 2011. The copyright date listed on the DVD, however, is 2015. 6 Richard T. Rodríguez, Next of Kin: The Family in Chicano/a Cultural Politics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009). 7 Sunil Gupta, “Black, Brown and White,” in Coming on Strong: Gay Politics and Culture, ed. Simon Shepherd and Mick Wallis (London, UK: Unwin Hyman, 1989), 176. 8 Gupta, “Black, Brown and White,” 176. 9 Gupta, “Black, Brown and White,” 177. 10 Judith [Jack] Halberstam, “Forgetting Family: Queer Alternatives to Oedipal Relations,” in A Companion to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies, eds. George E. Haggerty and Molly McGarry (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007), 317. 11 David L. Eng, The Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 16. 12 Eng, The Feeling of Kinship, 16. 13 Avtar Brah, Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities (London: Routledge, 1996), 208. 14 Brah, Cartographies of Diaspora, 208. 15 Gina M. Pérez, The Near Northwest Side Story: Migration, Displacement, and Puerto Rican Families (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 73. 16 Pérez, The Near Northwest Side Story, 73. 17 Pérez, The Near Northwest Side Story, 85. 1

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Oscar Lewis, La Vida (New York: Random House, 1966). Arlene Torres, “La Gran Familia Puertorriqueña ‘Ej Prieta de beldá’ (The Great Puerto Rican Family Is Really Really Black),” in Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean: Social Dynamics and Cultural Transformations, eds. Arlene Torres and Norman E. Whitten, Jr. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998), 285–306. 20 Nilda Flores-González, “Paseo Boricua: Claiming a Puerto Rican Space in Chicago,” Centro Journal 13, no. 2 (2001): 15. 21 See my essay “The Architectures of Latino Sexuality,” Social Text 33, no. 2 (2015): 83–98 for a discussion on queer sexual practices and identities in Chicago’s Latino-majority neighborhoods. 22 I borrow the neologism “translatina” from Alexandra Rodríguez de Ruíz and Marcia Ochoa, “Translatina Is about the Journey: A Dialogue on Social Justice for Transgender Latinas in San Francisco,” in Trans Studies: The Challenge to Hetero/Homo Normativities, ed. Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel and Sarah Tobias (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2016), 154–71, and Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, “Translatinas/os,” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1, no. 1 (2014): 237–41. 23 Jack Halberstam, Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018), 62. 24 Ed M. Koziarski, review of I Am the Queen, directed by Henrique Cirne-Lima and Josué Pellot, Chicago Reader, March 30, 2011, www.chicagoreader.com/ Bleader/archives/2011/03/30/3515402-i-am-the-queen. 25 Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas, National Performances: The Politics of Class, Race, and Space in Puerto Rican Chicago (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2003). 26 At the start of the film there are more contestants slated to compete in the pageant but only four actually participate. One of the four, Allan (Alayna), is a self-identified gay boy (although at one point he calls himself “a girl”) who does not figure prominently in the narrative. This is most likely because he is, as he proclaims, “not a transsexual” and, thus, stands apart from the other three participants. 27 For more on kinship networks and house cultures, see Marlon M. Bailey, Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2013). 28 Gayatri Gopinath, Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), 119. 29 Marcia Ochoa, Queen for a Day: Transformistas, Beauty Queens, and the Performance of Femininity in Venezuela (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014), 8. 30 I owe this insight to Professor Mirelsie Velázquez of the University of Oklahoma. 31 Ochoa, Queen for a Day, 8. 32 Sarah Banet-Weiser, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World: Beauty Pageants and National Beauty (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 209. 18 19

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Further Reading Acosta, Katie L. Amigas y Amantes: Sexually Nonconforming Latinas Negotiate Family. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2013. Amin, Kadji. Disturbing Attachments: Genet, Modern Pederasty, and Queer History. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017. Butler, Judith. Antigone’s Claim: Kinship between Life and Death. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.   “Is Kinship Always Already Heterosexual?” In Undoing Gender, 102–30. New York: Routledge, 2004. Freeman, Elizabeth. The Wedding Complex: Forms of Belonging in Modern American Culture. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002. Franklin, Sarah, and Susan McKinnon, eds. Relative Values: Reconfiguring Kinship Studies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002. Hawkeswood, William G. One of the Children: Black Gay Men in Harlem. Edited by Alex W. Costley. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. Leckey, Robert, ed. After Legal Equality: Family, Sex, Kinship. New York: Routledge, 2014. Moore, Mignon. Invisible Families: Gay Identities, Relationships, and Motherhood Among Black Women. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. Murray, Heather. Not in This Family: Gays and the Meaning of Kinship in Postwar North America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010. Rifkin, Mark. When Did Indians Become Straight?: Kinship, the History of Sexuality, and Native Sovereignty. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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chapter 15

Queer Critical Regionalism J. Samaine Lockwood

In recent years, scholars in the humanities and social sciences who study sexuality have become increasingly interested in thinking in regional terms because doing so pressures accepted scales of analysis. The term “region,” after all, may refer to a particular locale within a nation-state; it may refer to an intranational formation that, constitutes, contests, or complicates the nation; and it may refer to a supranational region, such as the European Union or Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. When we look at existing scholarship that takes the region as its frame, we find that it is disparate: scholars of US literature may study literary regionalism, a mode of realist writing from the period after the Civil War; humanists in disciplines such as history and American Studies may define the scope of their inquiries according to intranational regions; scholars in international relations and economics may analyze the new regional model that is replacing the development model as the way nation-states are understood to relate to one another globally. In this essay, I examine the intersection of regionalisms and queer studies with special attention to US literary studies. I am interested specifically in the question of what difference, if any, queer critical regionalism as an intellectual approach may make in analyses of literature of the imperial center. Attempting to answer this question, I revisit a short story that depicts queer love – “The Queen’s Twin” (1899) – by Sarah Orne Jewett, a US regionalist writer who has figured prominently in both scholarship on US literary regionalism and queer studies. By analyzing this story, I hope to demonstrate the potential of queer critical regionalism as an approach that both encourages comparative and transnational queer studies research and enables reevaluation of texts like Jewett’s that have hitherto been understood as foundational to a queer western literary canon. Reading “The Queen’s Twin” with literary, intranational, transnational, and critical regionalisms in mind, we begin to discern that Jewett’s vision of white women loving one another depends upon the 228

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adventurous, imperial-style mobility she affords them. The unmarried women of Jewett’s oeuvre become mobile across geographical, affective, and erotic terrain by affiliating with white, Judeo-Christian imperialist legacies. Herein, Jewett’s many stories of white women’s cross-class, rural-urban relations demand readers understand the region of coastal Maine not merely as a synecdoche for New England and the nation but also as a region in and of the world. *** Beginning in the 1970s, feminist US literature scholars turned their attention to literary regionalism of the 1865–1915 period because this mode of realism had been one in which a diverse range of nineteenth-century women writers worked. Some regionalists whose fiction has become part of the new canon as a result of such attention include Jewett, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Sui Sin Far (Edith Maude Eaton), and Mary Wilkins Freeman. Also known as local color writing, regionalist fiction represents places either far from urban centers or off the beaten path within urban centers where so-called queer characters live.1 Early scholarship on literary ­regionalism tended to celebrate what were read as women regionalist ­writers’ efforts to contest dominant ideologies of gender, race, or ethnicity.2 Later, in the 1990s and 2000s, studies of literary regionalism emphasized the mode’s national work; monographs, for instance, focused individual chapters on individual regions and representative texts from those regions to make broader claims about national culture.3 More recently, as part of the transnational turn in literary studies, scholars have analyzed how “[a]ffect … originates in moments of prior, present, [and] imagined ­transnational contact” and inflects the “regional identification[s]” bodied forth in US literature.4 Research on specific regions in US literary criticism, history, and cultural studies has often overlapped with research in queer stud­ ies though the two are not equivalent. Michael Bibler, for example, has explored sexuality in relation to Southern literature and culture, whereas E. Patrick Johnson’s queer of color critique, or “‘quare’ studies,” has its roots in his study of black gay men in the South.5 “Queering the Middle,” a special issue of GLQ, maps nonnormative desires and practices within the Midwest across the early twentieth century and into the present, considering that region as “the setting in which various queer social, cultural and political networks materialize.”6 In Archives of Desire, I contend that in the late nineteenth century women regionalists used fiction writing, historical research, colonial home restoration, and china collecting, to

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place the queer white daughter of New England at the center of the cosmopolitan project of history making itself.7 Overlapping with but distinct from studies of queer regionalism are works on the rural-urban dynamics that shape queer cultures. One of the most prominent among these is Jack Halberstam’s In a Queer Time and Place, which, in addition to emphasizing queer temporality and spatiality, advances the critical concept of metronormativity, which designates how the dominant narrative of queer life privileges urban as opposed to rural experience.8 Scott Herring’s Another Country builds on Halberstam’s work as it compiles and analyzes an archive of rural-focused queer productions that resist metronormative aesthetics.9 Historian Emily Skidmore’s recent study of trans men from 1870 to 1930 continues the work of challenging the assumption that queerness and queer embodiments are always and ideally tied to metropolitan places.10 Scholarship on literary regionalism, queer or quare regional experience, and rural-urban dynamism in American Studies developed concurrently with work on critical regionalisms, which grow out from humanists’ embrace of the local as a site from which to critique advanced global ­capitalism.11 Myriad critical regionalisms have been theorized in fields such as architecture, history, geography, and cultural studies.12 For Gayatri Spivak, critical regionalism is a method that accounts for both the reach of global capital and the complex terrain of contemporary ­geopolitical life: “It [critical regionalism] goes under and over nationalisms but keeps the abstract structures of something like a state[, and t]his allows for constitutional redress” when it comes to violations of human rights.13 Though not equivalent to one another, the various critical regionalisms theorized across disciplines share the intention to resist the romantic, nostalgic ­constructions of region that characterize populism as well as to critique and counter global capitalism’s uneven distribution of resources. In the context of the transnational turn and the flourishing of postcolonial studies, critical regionalisms have inspired scholars to understand that thinking regionally necessarily means thinking transnationally: the US-Mexican borderlands, Asia-Pacific (which includes the US West Coast), and Eurasia, to offer just three examples, are all regions with longstanding economic, social, cultural, and political ties. But where, precisely, does critical regionalism meet queer s­tudies? Halberstam has critiqued theorists of the postmodern spatial turn, among them Edward Soja, for ignoring sexuality in relation to place and space, but issues of sexuality do underwrite some critical regionalisms.14 In particular, at the heart of critical regionalism for Spivak is a critique of

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reproductive heteronormativity. In Other Asias, she explains, “­genealogical deconstruction is what sustains anti-ethnic regionalism and shifts gears from the management of ethnicity to the equitable management of capital and the sources of capital. … Anti-ethnic, nationalism-critical regionalism tangles with the closest thing to universalism that the primate world knows—reproductive heteronormativity.”15 It is in this recognition of reproductive heteronormativity’s power and the desire to engage it by means of critical regionalism that Spivak clarifies her vision of a “sustained resistance … the production of collectivities based in political philosophy.”16 Gloria Anzaldúa’s reconceptualizing of borderlands and mestiza identity, meanwhile, could also be said to constitute an early queer critical regionalism, one that, as Melina Vizcaíno-Alemán points out, may offer a theoretical ground from which to critique still-Eurocentric renderings of the US West.17 Gayatri Gopinath’s essay, “Queer Regions: Locating Lesbians in Sancharram” insists on the need to understand the regional particularities that underwrite internationally circulated queer films and herein models queer critical regionalism.18 And though Jasbir Puar’s Terrorist Assemblages engages nationalism not regionalism, her ­analysis of how certain queer subjects – white, elite, Judeo-Christian, US citizens – are allowed access to the privileges of life within the US nation and how certain forms of LGBTIQ activism reinforce discourses of US sexual and political exceptionalism is relevant to the project of recognizing the myriad transnational and regionalized contexts of queer culture-making.19 In sum, queer critical regionalism demands attention to local particularity as opposed to the generalized, global theories that tend to privilege western, urban cosmopolitans – global theories that all too often assume that “queer” somehow designates a generalized position of resistance to dominant systems across scales.20 *** It is at the intersection of intranational regionalism, transnational regionalism, critical regionalisms, and rural-urban relationality that I now want to read Jewett’s short story “The Queen’s Twin,” which was ­published in the February 1899 issue of the Atlantic Monthly. I have chosen “The Queen’s Twin” as an object of analysis because it is a work of US literary regionalism from late in the nineteenth century as traditionally conceived, one that depicts same-sex love between women written by an author who already occupies a significant place in US queer studies ­scholarship. I have also chosen it because in it, as in much of Jewett’s work, regionalism o­ perates on local, regional, national, and global scales. Not least important,

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to examine “The Queen’s Twin” is to examine f­ictional queer lives as lived in the rural clime by unmarried and widowed women at a crucial ­historical juncture. The late nineteenth century saw the m ­ edicalization of ­homosexuality in the West and was the period in which, as John D’Emilio has it, capitalist development opened up space for the ­emergence of gay communities in the US metropole.21 This era was also one in which the United States aggressively pursued colonial expansion. Just six months before “The Queen’s Twin” appeared in print, the United States won the Spanish-American War, which resulted in the acquisition of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. The US ­government ­completed the ­annexation of Hawai‘i the same year that Jewett’s story was published. By f­ocusing on “The Queen’s Twin,” then, this essay examines an a­ rticulation of queer possibility for white women in an age of US urbanization and imperial expansion, continues to grapple with the racialization of ­queerness, and adds to scholars’ accounts of rural queer lives as situated in local, national, and international contexts. “The Queen’s Twin” returns Jewett’s readers to the adventures of the unnamed woman narrator and Mrs. Todd from Jewett’s best known work, The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896). Set in Dunnet Landing, Maine, a remote, fictional village on the New England coast, “The Queen’s Twin” tells of the two women’s journey inland to visit Abby Martin, a poor, elderly woman who has shaped much of her life around her belief that she and Queen Victoria are “twins” and “mate[s].”22 Abby has s­ustained an intense desire to be with Victoria. Even though Jewett commits as much narrative space to Mrs. Todd and the narrator’s long walk to Abby’s home and the narrator’s reflections on coastal Maine in relation to the world as she does to Abby’s story, scholars have emphasized the latter. In  the words of Valerie Rohy, “the ineffable quality of this love [Abby’s love for Victoria] places it within late-nineteenth-century notions of s­exual ­perversity. Her relation to the queen, the very open ‘secret of her heart’ (146), is everywhere revealed.”23 In my reading, Abby’s story of unidirectional, passionate ­same-sex desire articulated across classes, ­cultures, and continents is significant but is not the only aspect of the text where we have “sexual energies at work.”24 Just as important as Abby’s love for the queen is the advancement of Mrs. Todd and the unnamed narrator’s intimacy as a c­ouple, which takes place by means of their ­journey together to Abby’s house, a journey across palimpsestic ground. By palimpsestic ground I mean Jewett writes into being a setting – the acreage between Mrs. Todd’s home and Abby Martin’s decrepit inland dwelling – that is both land with local, sedimented histories (of native

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life, settler colonialism, and imperialist westward migration) and a liminal landscape that prompts layered imaginings of other places (the Pacific Ocean, the Scottish Highlands, primeval Sicily, and the Valley of Eshcol, which was part of Palestine in Jewett’s day). “The Queen’s Twin” locates both unrealized and realized queer love in racialized time – across the longue durée – and in simultaneously regional, national, and transnational terms. This story thus provides insight into how emergent queer possibilities for white women in the northeastern US depended on, complicated, and elaborated theories of geopolitical relation and historicity in an age of urbanization and empire. Abby’s love for Queen Victoria weds sorority and thus biological, racial, and familial connection (they are “twins”) to socio-sexual intimacy (they are “mate[s]”). Born on the same day and in the same hour, both Abby and Victoria married men named Albert and gave their children the same names. This twinning suggests a sort of equivalency between the United States and England, an Anglophilic similitude shared by white women; a British royal and a poor Mainer. Yet Abby’s desire for Victoria exceeds the sororal. As Abby explains it, “I dream about our being together out in some pretty fields, young as ever we was, and holdin’ hands as we walk along” (207). Abby asserts that Victoria has “been everything to me,” which she further demonstrates by turning her best room into a private shrine decorated with images of the queen (207). The craving for contact, even mere visual contact, with Victoria drives what becomes the most ­satisfying experience of Abby’s life: traveling across the Atlantic as a worker on a ship with the singular intention of seeing Victoria. Here is the f­leeting moment of interaction between Abby and Victoria on a London street as described by Abby to her eager listeners, the narrator and Mrs. Todd: “‘twas a moment o’ heaven to me. I saw her plain, and she looked right at me so pleasant and happy, just as if she knew there was somethin’ different between us from other folks.” There was a moment when the Queen’s Twin could not go on and ­neither of her listeners could ask a question. (205)

So powerful is this narrative climax that all three of the women fall into a concord of silence. Crucially, Abby tells of her love for Victoria and, in the narrative act, integrates Mrs. Todd and the narrator into that story: implicitly acknowledging Mrs. Todd and the narrator as equivalent to married, Abby adds, “Yes, dear, I saw ’em both together [Victoria and Albert] just as I see you now” (205). One way to live a queer life, this story

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insists, may be to fall deeply in love with another woman, a love that the adored does not even suspect but that can sustain the lover nonetheless; another way may be to form an intimate couple with a woman as Mrs. Todd and the narrator have done. The queerness at the heart of “The Queen’s Twin” is not limited to its representation of same-sex desires but includes alternative forms of ­gender identity. Jewett aligns all the main women characters with ­masculinity or masculine-associated activities. The narrator and Mrs. Todd, for instance, differ from other women in their adventurousness and love of the outdoors. In this they are like Victoria, head of state, an avid hunter and horseback rider who was most at home in the “wild country” of the Scottish Highlands (207). Recognizing the story’s rural context also matters when it comes to analyzing Jewett’s depiction of Abby Martin’s relationship to gender. Late in the nineteenth century, the Martin twin was known to be a masculine-seeming female cow (sometimes called a “­f reemartin”) that demonstrated alternative erotic desires (i.e., either little sexual desire or a sexual preference for cows rather than bulls). A freemartin is nurtured in utero with a bull twin and strongly influenced by the sharing of male ­hormones. During Jewett’s time, obstetricians across Europe who researched and published on sex development often hypothesized about sex difference using the freemartin as an example. Yet one need not have been a reader of European medical journals to understand Jewett’s allusion to the Martin cow. Jewett’s rural readers who were well-versed in stock breeding would have known of the Martin twin. In “The Queen’s Twin,” Jewett naturalizes both same-sex desire and women’s masculinity by way of the freemartin allusion. Jewett’s representation of gender and sexuality is tied, in turn, to the mobility her queer characters claim, a mobility activated by white imperialist privilege understood as involving contact with foreign places and peoples. The free movements across outdoor spaces, various desires, and gender expressions mapped in “The Queen’s Twin” link its characters to ongoing British and US imperialism. The narrator, Mrs. Todd, Abby Martin, and Queen Victoria all prefer the “wilds” (i.e., the contact zones of empire) to domestic spaces, and these wild places feel most “like a home” to them (199). They are not typical women in this. As the narrator and Mrs. Todd hike to Abby’s house, Mrs. Todd tells the story of how when she was a child “[s]ome women o’ the Asa Bowden family went out one afternoon berryin’” on the same stretch of land “and got lost and

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was out all night” (199). One of the women was so traumatized that “she never got over it” (199). Mrs. Todd chalks this reaction up to “considerable fear left over from the old Indian times, and the poor days o’ witchcraft” (198). Part of what is feared by the Bowden women lost in the woods is contact with Indians resistant to settler colonialism and women resistant to gender conformity. In contrast to the Bowden women, the narrator and Mrs. Todd are intimate with the woods, value cross-cultural contact, and themselves resemble witches.25 They get to Abby’s house, for example, by way of “an old Indian footpath leadin’ over towards the Back Shore through the great heron swamp that anybody can’t travel over all summer” (190). Settler colonialism is not of the past but ongoing; Mrs. Todd and the narrator are exceptional in their knowledge of and ability to travel the Indian path. Similarly, the narrator’s observation that the land “in that stony region” over which she and Mrs. Todd are traveling “was not enough to live upon,” also captures the local effects of the westward imperial expansion of the United States (199, 200); abandoned farms littered the northern New England landscape in this period, attesting to the lure of the US West. “The Queen’s Twin” does not limit its imagining of queer women’s mobility to North America, however. From the story’s first sentence, the narrator and Mrs. Todd’s travel figures as grand and global in its scale, suggesting that the theory of queer mobility implied in Jewett’s fiction relies on Judeo-Christian imperial aggression and capitalist expansion understood and claimed as a white racial inheritance: The coast of Maine was in former years brought so near to foreign shores by its busy fleet of ships that among the older men and women one still finds a surprising proportion of t­ ravelers … each island of a single farm, has sent its spies to view many a Land of Eshcol; one may see plain, contented old faces at the windows, whose eyes have looked at far-away ports and known the splendors of the Eastern world. … they were among the last of the Northmen’s children to go adventuring to unknown shores. … they knew not only Thomaston and Castine and Portland, but London and Bristol and Bordeaux and the strangemannered harbors of the China Sea. (189–90)

Global capitalism contracts the world in this passage, making Maine seem closer to Atlantic and Pacific destinations. Significantly, Jewett here aligns older Mainers, including Abby, who ventured to London to glimpse

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Victoria, with the imperial cosmopolitanism of the shipping age in which they lived. Jewett does not limit herself to recent history in her identification of Mainers’ mobility, however. She likens these contemporary Mainers to the Israelites through allusion to the biblical Eshcol, a land of “milk and honey” that Moses hoped would be a new site for Jewish settlement, as well as to the Northmen (Vikings) who settled Normandy and eventually conquered England. Jewett’s thickly allusive opening asserts not only racial but religious affiliation, it being the first of a number of instances in the text where Jewett associates these women travelers with Judeo-Christian versus Islamic imperial aims. Mainers, in this passage, are like those Israelites sent to scope out the possible new settlement in the Middle East, and later, on their journey to Abby’s house, the narrator notes of Mrs. Todd, “[s]he might have walked the primeval fields of Sicily” (199). In concert with the reference to the Normans, the reference to Sicily suggests Christians’ violent conflicts with Muslims, for the Norman conquering of Sicily, about which Jewett wrote in The Story of the Normans (1887), was considered to constitute the first aggression of the Crusades. In The Story of the Normans Jewett also wrote, “the people of the young republic of the United States … might be called the Normans of modern times,” and therein she positions the United States as inheritor of white Christian power on the world stage.26 “The Queen’s Twin” also establishes its geographical and affective ­circuits as existing on an imperial scale through references to China and Chinese imports. At times, the land traversed by the narrator and Mrs. Todd morphs into the ocean: the narrator tells us “we … put out across country as one puts out to sea” and “the early mists still dulled much of the color and made the uplands beyond look like a very far-off country” (194). Jewett’s narrator, earlier in this short story, identifies “far away ports” as evidencing “the splendors of the Eastern world,” and so it seems fair to understand this stretch of land as liminal, both land and ocean, part of the Atlantic and Pacific regions simultaneously. The story later returns to China through reference to an imported china heirloom – a teacup – that Abby decides to designate as “hers [Victoria’s],” as if Victoria lives in her house as her domestic partner (209). Since at least the eighteenth century in Euro-American culture, china vessels have signified the white woman’s receptive, fragile, sexualized body. As I have argued ­elsewhere, New England women regionalists late in the nineteenth century asserted new m ­ obility and masculine-coded desires when they hunted

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for antique  china.27 For  Abby to designate a family heirloom from her grandmother, one that attests to her family’s involvement in the expansion of global capitalism across the Pacific, as specially belonging to Victoria registers Abby’s yearning for Victoria to join her in a domestic configuration as well as the erotic facet of that yearning. China cups and bowls, any porcelain vessel brought to the lips, could suggest sexual intimacy given the cultural meanings that accrued to chinaware in this era.28 The china cup, meanwhile, joins other commodities of empire such as the images of Victoria and the silk (also likely from China) with which Abby frames those images. Using ­material objects that circulate through and celebrate British and US empires, Abby refashions her best room, that space of ­middle-class aspiration, from a ­heteronormative, domestic space open to visitors into a private space decorated according to a rural, queer ­aesthetic: Abby has covered the walls with images of her beloved, each one in a frame she has made by hand according to the current rural style whether that be shell work, pine cones, or “perforated cardboard worked with silk” (200). Importantly, Abby shares this room only with those whom “she deems worthy to visit” (200). Mrs. Todd and the narrator get to enter, but we, the readers, do not. Jewett archived myriad ways of being queer at the turn of the twentieth century. More specifically, the mobility asserted again and again across Jewett’s fiction as vital to queer women’s lives – from Deephaven to Pointed Firs and from “The King of Folly Island” to “The Queen’s Twin”  – depends on an imagined, racial right to global access. The  ­particularities of Jewett’s regional vision were not parochial but took world history and contemporary global issues as their frame. In a sense, Jewett’s stories complicate the notion that urban development was requisite to the emergence of nineteenth-century queer communities, and her writings anticipate the work of Halberstam and Herring in representing a diversity of rural lives and the cultural productions generated out from them, such as the frames Abby handcrafts for her pictures of Victoria. Most significant, “The Queen’s Twin” and other regionalist fiction by Jewett showcase how white privilege asserted in the form of imperial aggression might advance a queer agenda. It is a queer critical regionalism that helps open up this view, that encourages us to continue to interrogate the privileges of race, faith, citizenship, national origin, gender, class, and region on which both world making and world claiming depend.

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Notes In the nineteenth century, “queer” designated eccentricity as well as possession of a pronounced character. By the 1890s, the term was beginning to be used in relation to homosexuality. I use “queer” in this essay to designate a range of socio-sexual forms that do not accord with heterosexuality. 2 See, for example, Josephine Donovan, New England Local Color Literature: A Women’s Tradition (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1983) and Emily Toth, ed., Regionalism and the Female Imagination: A Collection of Essays (New York: Human Sciences Press, 1985). 3 See, for example, Kate McCullough, Regions of Identity: The Construction of America in Women’s Fiction, 1885–1914 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999) and Stephanie Foote, Regional Fictions: Culture and Identity in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001). 4 Hsuan L. Hsu, Geography and the Production of Space in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 195. See also Paul Giles, The Global Remapping of American Literature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011) and Gretchen J. Woertendyke, Hemispheric Regionalism: Romance and the Geography of Genre (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2016). 5 Michael P. Bibler, Cotton’s Queer Relations: Same-Sex Intimacy and the Literature of the Southern Plantation, 1936–1968 (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009); Michael P. Bibler, “Queering the Region,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the American South, ed. Sharon Monteith (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 188–203; E. Patrick Johnson, “‘Quare’ Studies, or (Almost) Everything I Know about Queer Studies I Learned from My Grandmother,” in Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology, ed. E. Patrick Johnson and Mae G. Henderson (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005), 124–57; E. Patrick Johnson, Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008). 6 Martin F. Manalansan IV et al., eds. “Queering the Middle,” special issue, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 20, no. 1–2 (2014): 5. 7 J. Samaine Lockwood, Archives of Desire: The Queer Historical Work of New England Regionalism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015). 8 J. Jack Halberstam, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (New York: New York University Press, 2005). 9 Scott Herring, Another Country: Queer Anti-Urbanism (New York: New York University Press, 2010). 10 Emily Skidmore, True Sex: The Lives of Trans Men at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (New York: New York University Press, 2017). 11 Christopher Connery first summarized critical regional studies, though his account emphasizes Edward Soja’s ideas. Christopher Connery, “The Oceanic Feeling and the Regional Imaginary,” in Global/Local: Cultural Production 1

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and the Transnational Imaginary, ed. Rob Wilson and Wimal Dissanayake (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996), 284–311. Gayatri Gopinath offers an overview of queer regionalism in her essay “Queer Regions: Locating Lesbians in Sancharram,” in A Companion to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies, ed. George E. Haggerty and Molly McGarry (London, UK: Blackwell, 2007), 341–54. 12 See Kenneth Frampton, “Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance,” in The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, ed. Hal Foster (Port Townsend, WA: Bay Press, 1983), 20; Arif Dirlik, “The Global in the Local,” in Global/Local, 22; Edward W. Soja, Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory (London, UK: Verso, 1989), 189. 13 Judith Butler and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Who Sings the Nation-State? Language, Politics, Belonging (London, UK: Seagull, 2007), 94. 14 Halberstam, In a Queer Time, 10. 15 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Other Asias (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008), 127. 16 Spivak, Other Asias, 247. 17 Melina Vizcaíno-Alemán, “What’s So Critical about Critical Regionalism?: The Case of Fray Angélico Chávez’s New Mexico Triptych,” Western American Literature 49, no. 2 (Summer 2014): 202. 18 Gopinath, “Queer Regions.” 19 Jasbir K. Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007). 20 See Martin F. Manalansan IV, “In the Shadows of Stonewall: Examining Gay Transnational Politics and the Diasporic Dilemma,” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 2 (1995): 425–38; as well as Mark Johnson, Peter Jackson, and Gilbert Herdt, “Critical Regionalities and the Study of Gender and Sexual Diversity in South East and East Asia,” Culture, Health & Sexuality 2, no. 4 (2000): 361, 367. 21 John D’Emilio, “Capitalism and Gay Identity,” in Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality, ed. Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell, and Sharon Thompson (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1983), 100–13. 22 Sarah Orne Jewett, “The Queen’s Twin,” in The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories, ed. Mary Ellen Chase (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982), 203. From here forward references to the story will be in parenthetical citations. 23 Valerie Rohy, Anachronism and Its Others: Sexuality, Race, Temporality (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2009), 55. 24 Rohy, Anachronism and Its Others, 203. 25 Elizabeth Ammons, “Jewett’s Witches,” in Critical Essays on Sarah Orne Jewett, ed. Gwen L. Nagel (Boston, MA: G. K. Hall, 1984), 165–84. 26 Sarah Orne Jewett, The Story of the Normans: Told Chiefly in Relation to Their Conquest of England (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1895), 360. 27 Lockwood, Archives of Desire, 92. 28 Lockwood, Archives of Desire, 103–7.

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Further Reading Arondekar, Anjali, and Geeta Patel, eds. “Area Impossible: The Geopolitics of Queer Studies.” Special issue, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 22, no. 2 (2016). Çakirlar, Cüneyt, ed. “Queer/ing Regions.” Themed section, Gender, Place & Culture 23, no. 11 (2016): 1615–56. Cruz-Malavé, Arnaldo, and Martin F. Manalansan IV, eds., Queer Globalizations: Citizenship and the Afterlife of Colonialism. New York: New York University Press, 2002. Fetterley, Judith, and Marjorie Pryse. Writing out of Place: Regionalism, Women, and American Literary Culture. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003. Grewal, Inderpal, and Caren Kaplan. “Global Identities: Theorizing Transnational Studies of Sexuality.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 7, no. 4 (2001): 663–79. Larner, Wendy, and William Walters. “The Political Rationality of ‘New Regionalism’: Toward a Genealogy of the Region.” Theory and Society 31, no. 3 (2002): 391–432. Phillips, Richard, Diane Watt, and David Shuttleton, eds. De-Centering Sexualities: Politics and Representations beyond the Metropolis. London: Routledge, 2000. Povinelli, Elizabeth A., and George Chauncey, eds. “Thinking Sexuality Transnationally.” Special issue, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 5, no. 4 (1999). Powell, Douglas Reichert. Critical Regionalism: Connecting Politics and Culture in the American Landscape. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

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Index

2 Spirit Introductory Special $19.99 (Cuthand), 83, 86–87 Abbey, Edward, 113–15 ACT UP, 41 ad lib, 127 aesthetics, ecological, 109 Afrofuturism, 190–91 Afro-pessimism, 26 ahkamêyimowak, 80 Ahmed, Sara, 151 Ahuja, Neel, 111 AIDS. See HIV/AIDS All My Children, 174, 176 Althusser, Louis, 135 anal eroticism, female, 132, 133, 134 Anderson, Warwick, 143 androgyny, 114, 204 Angel, Rev. Charles, 37 Anohni, 109 anticapitalist critique, 52 Anti-Racism Network Ireland, 152 Anzaldúa, Gloria, 3, 4, 25, 32, 34, 35, 38, 95, 147, 231 area studies, 22–23 Arenas, Reinaldo, 125 Arons, Wendy, 109, 112 asylum, 151 Auerbach, David, 186 Austin, J. L., 158 authorship, transgender, 73 autobiography transgender, 68, 70, 145 transition, 142, 144–45 Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, The (Johnson), 206 auto-eroticism, 100–1 Azzarello, Robert, 110 Bad Bunny, 127 Banet-Weiser, Sarah, 224 Barthes, Roland, 127 Bassichis, Morgan, 145 Bay Area Gay Alliance of Latin Americans, 36 Beam, Joseph, 36, 37

Belcourt, Billy-Ray (Cree), 88 Belser, Julia Watts, 103 Bendorf, Oliver Baez, 115–17 Benjamin, Harry, 144 Bennett, Jane, 112 Berlant, Lauren, 6 Bersani, Leo, 22 Bibler, Michael, 229 bildungsroman, 145, 146 Binnie, Imogen, 145 biopolitics, 20–21, 111, 144 Bird, Charlie, 150 Black, Christian, 127 black antihumanism, 25–26 black feminist thought, 112 Black Panthers, 38 Blackheart Collective, 36 #BlackLivesMatter, 178, 195 blackness, 25–26 Blanco, Mykki, 165–67 body black female, 159 black or brown, 159 disabled, 99 intersex, 70–71 trans*, 74 transgender, 70–71 transsexual, 74 Boi Oh Boi (Cuthand), 84–86 Bold and The Beautiful, The, 173–81 Book of Salt, The (Truong), 202–11 Bornstein, Kate, 190 Brah, Avtar, 218, 223 Brant, Beth (Bay of Quinte Mohawk), 79 Brinkley, Sidney, 36 Brooks, Daphne, 160, 164 Butler, Judith, 17, 19–20, 21, 25, 58, 67, 69, 133–34, 158, 163, 193 Butler, Octavia, 191 Calderón, Juan M., 220 Canals, Steve, 163 Cardi B, 127 care work, 41–42

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Index

Carl, Fred, 36 Carrera, Carmen, 177 Centers for Disease Control, 38 Chaudhuri, Una, 109 Cheang, Shu Lea, 185 Chen, Mel, 99, 103 China, 236–37 Cinqué, 36 citizenship, 151 Clare, Eli, 94, 97, 102 Clarke, Shirley, 161–63 climate change, 111 clinamen, 135 closet, 147 Cohen, Cathy J., 5, 40, 52 Cohen, Lisa, 126, 128, 136–37 colonialism, 143–44, 203–4 European, 202 French, 204, 206, 208 settler, 235 US, 231 Combahee River Collective, 33, 36 coming-out narrative, 142, 145, 146–52 “Companion,” 11–12 Compton’s Cafeteria, riot in, 72 constraint, 157 contamination. See pollution convergence, 54 Corey, Dorian, 164 Coviello, Peter, 111 Cox, Laverne, 177 Craft, Ellen, 159–60 Craft, William, 159–60 Crenshaw, Kimberlé, 23 crip (term), 94–95 crip theory, 94–95, 99 queer, 97 crip-of-color critique, 99, 103 Crusor, Anthony Q., 36 Cruz, Ariane, 24 Cruz, Denise, 206 Cuadros, Gil, 134 Currah, Paisley, 66 Cuthand, Reverand Stan, 82 Cuthand, Ruth, 82 Cuthand, Thirza (Plains Cree), 79–80, 82–88 Cvetkovich, Ann, 97, 99, 100 cyberculture. See digital culture cyberfeminism, 189–90 cyberpunk, 190 Dandy Dust (Scheirl), 190 Darby Crash and the Germs, 135 Davis, Heather, 109 Davis, Vaginal Creme, 166–67

Delany, Samuel, 31, 41, 42, 110, 134, 191 D’Emilio, John, 232 deportation, 151 Dery, Mark, 190, 195 desire, 203, 210, 232 diagnosis, 96–98, 103, 144 diaspora, 201–2, 218 difference, politics of, 34–36 digital culture, 185–96 Dinshaw, Carolyn, 6 disability studies, queer, 24, 93–104 disidentification, 4–5, 22, 55, 129, 134, 135, 136, 203 displacement, 217, 218, 219, 224–25 dissymmetry, 55, 56 Division Street Uprising, 218 Dixon, Melvin, 31, 41 Doty, Alexander, 4 Doty, Mark, 115 Douglass, Frederick, 165 Drake, 125 Driskill, Qwo-Li, 80 Duberman, Martin, 31, 38 Duckett, Larry, 36 Duggan, Lisa, 191 Dunbar-Nelson, Alice, 229 Dyer, Steve, 186 Eaton, Edith Maude, 229 ecologies, queer, 108–17 ecology, trans, 113 Edelman, Lee, 22 Ellis, Havelock, 142 Ellis, Sue, 216 El-Tayeb, Fatima, 147, 148 Enelow, Shonni, 109 Eng, David L., 208, 210, 217–18 enjambment, 126, 132, 134, 136 Ensor, Sarah, 109, 111 Enteen, Jillana, 191 environmentalisms, queer, 108–17 Erevelles, Nirmala, 100 Erickson, Bruce, 110 eugenics, 74 Eugenides, Jeffrey, 145 exile, 205 Exton, Robyn, 188 failure, 102 Fajardo, Kale, 24 Falwell, Jerry, 39 familia, la. See family family, 215–19, 221–22 fan practices, 172, 174, 175–76, 177–78 Fanon, Frantz, 25 Far, Sui Sin, 229

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Index feeling brown, 135 queer, 126 Ferguson, Roderick, 6, 23, 51, 55 Fife, Connie (Cree), 79 film, experimental, 82 film, indigenous, 82 Fine Gael, 148 Finkelstein, Naomi, 102 Fitzgerald, Frances, 151 Flores-González, Nilda, 219, 220 Foucault, Michel, 5, 17, 20–21, 25, 67, 142 Frazier, Chelsea, 112, 116 freedom, 157, 160, 188 Freeman, Elizabeth, 223 Freeman, Mary Wilkins, 229 Freud, Sigmund, 132, 143 futurity, queer, 210 Gaard, Greta, 108, 110, 112 gaming, online, 192 Gamson, Joshua, 191 Garza, Alicia, 178 gay liberation, 217 Gay Men of African Descent, 37 Gay Men’s Health Crisis, 41 gaze, transgender, 4 Gender Novel, 145 Gender Recognition Act (Republic of Ireland), 148, 151 gentrification, 218–19, 224 Gibson, William, 190 GLAAD, 177 Gladman, Renee, 136–37 globalization, gay, 203 Goffman, Irving, 164 Goldberg, Jonathan, 5 Goldtooth, Dallas (Mdewakanton Dakota and Diñe), 86 Gopinath, Gayatri, 223, 231 Gosine, Andil, 108 Gould, Deborah, 31 Griffiths, Timothy M., 116 Gulf War, 53 Gupta, Sunil, 216–17, 218 Gutenberg, Andrea, 146 Halberstam, J. Jack, 4, 217, 230 Hale, Jacob, 70 Hall, Radclyffe, 142 Hall, Stuart, 156 Halley, Janet, 69–70, 72 Halligan, Ursula, 149 Hammonds, Evelynn, 159 Haraway, Donna, 189

243

Haritaworn, Jin, 116 Harris-Perry, Melissa, 178, 180 Hartman, Saidiya, 41 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 133–34 Helms, Jesse, 39 Helpmeet Business. See care work Hemphill, Essex, 36, 37 Herring, Scott, 230 Herskovits, Melville, 163 heteronormativity, 24 heteronormativity, reproductive, 231 hip-hop, 127, 128, 136 HIV/AIDS, 3, 37–42, 53, 68, 73–75, 83, 111, 143, 186, 195, 220 history of, 30–32 World AIDS Day, 30 Ho Chi Minh, 207–8 Hoad, Neville, 143 Holland, Sharon, 24 Holliday, Jason, 161–63 homoeroticism, interracial, 206–7 homonationalism, 149, 150, 151, 202 homonormativity, 191 Hopkinson, Nalo, 191 Hull, Gloria T., 32 Humboldt Park (Chicago), 218–19, 220 Hurston, Zora Neale, 163 Hussein, Saddam, 53 I Am the Queen (Cirne-Lima and Pellot), 216, 219–25 identification, 143 theories of, 4–5 identity politics, 58 Immigration and Nationality Act (1952), 74 imperialism, US, 35, 208, 231, 234–37 incarceration, 178–79 indigenous studies, queer, 24, 79, 80, 81, 88 indigiqueer, 87–88 interdisciplinarity, 22, 158 International Protection (IP) Act, 151 intersectionality, 5, 23–24, 40 invert, 142 Ireland, Republic of, 142, 144, 148–52 Islamophobia, 147 “It Gets Better” campaign, 145–46 Ito, Hiromi, 112 Jackson, Isaac, 36 Jackson, Zakiyyah Iman, 116 Jacques, Juliet, 145 Jain, S. Lochlann, 100 Jenner, Caitlyn, 180 Jewett, Sarah Orne, 109, 228–29, 231–37 Jiménez Rodríguez, Adriana, 112

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Index

Johnson, E. Patrick, 24, 229 Johnson, James Weldon, 206 Johnson, Merri Lisa, 94, 102 Jones, Mary, 160–61 Justice, Daniel Heath (Cherokee), 79 Kant, Emmanuel, 57 Keeling, Kara, 164 Kelis, 165 Kenya, 30 Kim, Jina, 99, 103 King, Isis, 177 kinship, 215–18 queer, 223–25 translatina, 222 Knegt, Peter, 83 Kodak Black, 127 Kosinski, Michal, 195 Koziarski, Ed M., 220 Krafft-Ebing, Richard von, 142 Krupar, Shiloh, 108 La Espectacular Residencia, 129 LaBeija, Pepper, 164 LAMBDA MOO, 192 Lambda of Mexico City, 36 Latinx identity, 116 Lessons in Baby Dyke Theory (Cuthand), 83–84 Lewis, Oscar, 218 LGBT Center Reading Room, 129 liberalism, 57–58 Lil Uzi Vert, 127 Little Pine First Nation, 82 Livingston, Ira, 134 Livingston, Jennie, 163, 164 local color writing. See regionalism, literary London, 233, 235 López, Zenaida, 220 Lorde, Audre, 24, 32, 34–36, 40, 42, 147 Love, Heather, 22, 143 Lucretius, 125, 132, 135 Luibhéid, Eithne, 148, 150 Manalansan, Martin, 147 Marcone, Jorge, 112 marriage, 205 marriage, same-sex, 30, 142, 146, 148–52 Martin, Biddy, 146 Marx, Karl, 164 masculinity, female, 234 Mbembe, Achille, 21 McCormack, Eric, 172 McMillan, Uri, 159, 160 McRuer, Robert, 101

Menon, Madhavi, 6 Messing, Debra, 172 metronormativity, 230 Mfaco, Bulelani, 151 Middle East, 54 migration, 151, 202, 203 Miller, Terry, 145 miyo-wîcêhtowin, 83, 84 Mock, Janet, 145, 163, 175, 179 modernism, 202, 206 Monkey Wrench Gang, The (Abbey), 113–14 Moore, Madison, 161, 166 Mootoo, Shani, 145 Moraga, Cherríe, 28, 33–34, 35, 38, 147 Morgensen, Scott, 144 Morita, Keitaro, 112 Morton, Timothy, 109 Mosley, Karla, 173, 175, 177 Moten, Fred, 164–65 motss (newsgroup), 186 Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, 151 Mowlabocus, Sharif, 192 mumbling, 127 Muñoz, José Esteban, 20, 22, 23, 51, 55, 134, 135, 157, 164, 166, 210 naming, 4, 209, 211 narrative theory, 142–55 National Coalition for Black Gays, 36 neoliberalism, 53, 59, 148, 178 Neuromancer (Gibson), 190 new materialism, 112 Newton, Esther, 22 Nguyê˜n Ái Quo´ˆc, 207–8, 210 Nielson ratings, 175 niizh manidoowag. See Two Spirit people Nixon, Lindsay (Cree-Métis-Saulteaux), 88 non-interference, 81 norms, 59 Nyong’o, Tavia, 159, 160 Ocean, Frank, 127, 167–68 Ochoa, Marcia, 223 onomatopoeia, 127 Orange is the New Black, 177, 178 Other Countries Collective, 36 Out 4 Sustainability, 110 Out in the Night (Dorosh-Walther), 178 pageant, beauty, 220–21, 223, 224 Paint in Consciousness Experimental Theatre, 166 Paris, 202, 204, 205–7 Paris Is Burning (Livingston), 163–64

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Index passing, 74, 159–61, 206–7 Patrick, Darren J., 113 Patton, Cindy, 39 Pellot, Josué, 220 Pérez, Gina, 218–19 Pérez, Roy, 132 performance studies, 156–71 performativity, 19, 158, 193 Phelan, Peggy, 157 Phillips, Carl, 136–37 Pico, Tommy, 125, 126–27, 128, 131–32, 133 Piepzna-Samarasinha, Leah Lakshmi, 93, 94, 95–97, 98–101, 102, 103, 104 Plessy v. Ferguson, 117 Plett, Casey, 145 poetics, queer, 125–37 Poetry Project, 129 pollution, 100, 108, 112, 114 popular culture, 172–84 pornography, 24 Portrait of Jason (Clarke), 161–63 Pose, 163 poststructuralism, 19 poverty, 84, 85, 98, 218 Povinelli, Elizabeth, 111, 114–15, 151, 216 power dominative, 52 normalizing, 52 Préciado, Beatriz, 145 Princess Nokia, 165 Prosser, Jay, 69, 70, 144 proximity, 132, 207 psychoanalysis, 21–22, 142, 143 Puar, Jasbir, 99, 145, 149, 231 publishing, independent, 31 Puerto Ricans, 218–25 punk, queer, 135 purity, 100, 108 “Queen’s Twin, The” (Jewett), 228–29, 231–37 queer (term), 2, 4, 5, 6, 128, 172 queer of color critique, 22, 23–25, 51–61 queer of color performance, 156, 157 queer theory, 17–26 Queers for the Climate, 110 Queers Read This (pamphlet), 40 racial formation, 53 Ramos-Zayas, Ana Y., 220 reader, 4–5, 210 queer, 4–5 Reagan, Ronald, 39 Reddy, Chandan, 23

245

regionalism critical, 230–31 literary, 228–29 queer critical, 231 removal, indigenous, 127 representation, transgender, 72–73 reunification, 151 Rich, Adrienne, 34 Rifkin, Mark, 79 Riggs, Marlon, 36 Tongues Untied, 36–38 Rohy, Valerie, 232 Roof, Judith, 143, 146 Roscoe, Will, 80, 86 Rosenberg, Jordy, 109 Ross, Marlon, 147 Rubin, Gayle, 23, 101, 215 Running Amach, 150 Saddleback, Jack (Cree), 81 Saigon, 202, 203–5 Salsa Soul Sisters, 36 Samuels, Ellen, 97 Sandahl, Carrie, 94 Sandilands, Catriona, 110 Savage, Dan, 145 Scardaville, Melissa, 176 Schalk, Sami, 94 Schechner, Richard, 158, 159 Scheirl, Hans, 190 Schliebener, Catalina, 129 Schnabel, Landon, 111 Schneider, Bethany, 79 Schofield, Scott Turner, 177 Schulman, Sarah, 31, 39, 41 science, 109, 143 science fiction, feminist, 191 Scott, Patricia Bell, 32 Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky, 3–4, 17, 20, 25, 111, 128, 132–33, 134–35 Seid, Danielle, 177 Settee, Priscilla (Cree), 80 sex, solo. See auto-eroticism sexology, 142, 204 sexuality, 53 crip, 101 modern, 5, 20, 142 Shakespeare, William, 110 shame, 98, 103, 133, 207 Sharpe, Christina, 164 Shepherd, Simon, 216 Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake (Anishinaabe), 81, 82, 86 Sins Invalid, 93, 95

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246 Sister Spit-Radar Productions, 129 Skidmore, Emily, 230 Smith, Barbara, 32 Snorton, C. Riley, 160 soap opera, as genre, 175–76 social media, 188–89 Facebook, 192, 194–95 Her, 188 Tinder, 189 Tumblr, 167–68 Twitter, 192 social movements, 58 Soto, Sandra, 33 sound, 164–68 sovereignty, indigenous, 81 Spade, Dean, 145, 176 spectator lesbian, 4 queer, 4 speculative fiction, 112 Spicer, Jack, 138 Spillers, Hortense, 25, 128, 129, 156, 159 Spivak, Gayatri, 230 Stanford, Adrian, 36 Stanley, Eric, 173 Stein, Gertrude, 125, 202, 205 Stone, Sandy, 66, 68, 74, 144, 193 Stonewall rebellion, 38, 72, 147 Stryker, Susan, 66, 68, 70, 71, 72, 74 subjectless critique, 18, 21 Sullivan, Caitlin, 190 Tatonetti, Lisa, 82, 85 Taylor, Virgil B/G, 126 Teena, Brandon, 185 temporality, 210–11 Thing, The (Carpenter), 73–75 This Bridge Called My Back, 32–34, 147 Timeless, Infinite Light Press, 129 Tinashe, 127 Tinsley, Omise’eke Natasha, 161 Toklas, Alice B., 202, 205 Tongues Untied (Riggs), 36–38 transfeminism, 173 transgender studies, 66–75 compared with queer studies, 66–72 “transgender tipping point,” 73, 177 transition, gender, 85 transphobia, 73, 114 Trap, 127 Treichler, Paula, 39 Truong, Monique, 202–11 twinning, 233 Two Spirit people, 80–82, 87–88

Index U.S. Third World Feminism, 33–34, 35, 38, 41 Vaccaro, Jeanne, 114 Valdez, Ginger, 222 Varadker, Leo, 149 Vida/SIDA, 220 video, experimental, 82 Viet Nam, 204 violence, 224 anti-trans, 178–79, 221–22 state, 53 visibility, transgender, 72–73 Vizcaíno-Alemán, Melina, 231 Vowel, Chelsea (Métis), 83 wâhkôhtowin, 83, 86, 87 Wakeford, Nina, 188 Wallis, Mick, 216 Wang, Yilun, 195 Warner, Michael, 6 warranting, 192–93 wedding, 223 Weedman, Lauren, 173 werk, 161 Weston, Kath, 215–16, 223 White, Mimi, 175 White, Patricia, 4 Whitehead, Joshua (Oji-Cree), 87 whiteness, 179–80 Whitman, Walt, 132 Whittle, Steven, 188 Wiegman, Robyn, 21 Will and Grace, 172 Williams, Walter L., 80 Wilson, Alex (Swampy Cree), 80 Wilson, Elizabeth, 21 witnessing, 211 Womack, Craig (Muskogee / Cherokee), 81, 82 women of color feminism, 5, 23–24, 32–33, 147 Wynter, Sylvia, 25, 159 Xtravaganza, Venus, 164 Yergeau, Melanie, 95, 103 Yes Equality campaign, 149 Young Lords, 38 youth indigenous, 87 Puerto Rican, 224 queer indigenous, 84 transgender, 219–20, 221–22, 224 Zimmerman, Bonnie, 146 Zuckerberg, Mark, 194

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