16 June 2007

What About The Word "Queer"? (Part Six)

Gay Family

Free Your Mind And Your Name Will Follow

With all due respect to Jamie Tyroler, the word "queer" is indefensible. It's hate speech! It has a bloody history that's still being written every day in deserted streets, darkened woods, prison cellblocks, school hallways and, sometimes, even our own homes. Its traditional definition is synonymous with mental illness, defectiveness and undesirability. Even in its most radical definition, "queer" always means "other than normal."

That we obsessively grasp after this ugly word, using the excuse of needing an "umbrella" term, says a lot to me about how we perceive ourselves. We're not just different, we're aberrant! We're not a variation of the norm, we're outside the norm. We're not part of society, we're social rejects. We have this strong need to marginalize ourselves! We've so internalized the oppressor's definition of who and what we are that we ludicrously try to pass it off as a revolutionary statement of identity.

I take exception not only to Ms. Tyroler's attempt to sanitize "queer," but also to her concepts of gender, sexuality and race. There's no such thing as "fluid sexuality" ! Regardless of how we identify, all of us are capable of a wide range of sexual expression. LGBT status is not about who we have sex with! It's about who we desire. If it's men, if it's women, if it's both, it's always constant. Our status doesn't change!

If a Gay man has sex with women (and many do, for reasons unrelated to sexual attraction), he doesn't shed Gay identity when he does so. If a Pansexual woman falls in love with a man, that doesn't mean she's turned Straight; and the physicality of a Transperson at any given time has no bearing on her sexual orientation.  If Ms. Tyroler's gender identity is female, and she's attracted to women, she (can identify as) a Lesbian regardless of what hangs between her legs!

Any number of people are in deep denial about their sexual orientation. Emerging from such denial hardly means that their orientation has changed! "Fluid sexuality" is nothing but the Left Wing flipside of Right Wing "ex-Gay" mythology!

Gender fluidity is a bogus concept, too. It's interesting how Ms. Tyroler rejects the idea of binary gender, yet proceeds to claim that some people "fluidly move their gender identity between male and female." Isn't that binary (thinking)? She can't have it both ways!

We human beings are terribly limited in our thinking! We mistakenly believe that a person can only be male or female, and dismiss the possibility of intermediate genders. Even those of us who can entertain that possibility (Transpeople) find fault with it. We think it needs some kind of correction!

Ancient civilizations were not as ignorant as we are. They understood and accepted the concept of gender-blended human beings. The "third sex" theory that prevailed among late 19th century sexologists is the Western version of that concept. Science needs to take another look at this theory! It's far more credible than the idea of people shifting back and forth between genders.

As for race, there's just one race of people: Human! Multiple ethnicity is the rule, not the exception to the rule. All people are "multi-racial" in their ancestry. Some of us acknowledge this fact, and some of us don't. The idea that such a thing as pure lineage could exist after humankind has intermingled on Earth for thousands of years is patently ridiculous!

Ms. Tyroler suggested the term "pansexual" as a possible alternative to "queer". I find this word problematic in that it places the emphasis on sexuality. We do that far too much already, and it skews both how the public perceives us and how we perceive ourselves. We can't be defined by our sex practices!

If it's possible to group everyone under an umbrella term, then the term probably should be Transgender. The Merriam-Webster definition of a Transgender person is not, contrary to popular belief, someone trapped in a body of the "wrong" gender! It's someone who has "personal characteristics that transcend traditional gender boundaries and corresponding sexual norms."

That definition applies to all LGBT folk to a greater or lesser degree. I believe that blending of gender is the key to understanding our difference from the Straight population! There are ancient texts and oral histories which describe us in exactly this way. We're portrayed as a bridge between male and female, a crucial link without which life could not function. Only time will prove such theories right or wrong; but speaking for myself, I know that I'm male only in the physical sense. My soul is as female as it is male, and it always has been!

It's time to stop thinking of ourselves in limited ways! It's time to stop seeing ourselves only in terms of sexuality! It's time to stop answering to the vulgar names our oppressors call us by! It's time to stop choosing the most repugnant of headings to group ourselves under. I'm not going to be shoved against my will into a category, especially one with a derogatory name, just for the sake of convenience! That's just another way of imposing a stereotype.

As an "umbrella term", the word "queer" isn't just derogatory, it's inaccurate! LGBT folk aren't queer, we're normal! We're as normal as the wind and the rain and the sun. I don't care how persistently society attempts to marginalize us. It can hurl every demeaning description in the book at us; we don't have to claim any of them!

It appalls me that we're evidently so lacking in pride, we'll stoop to embracing sexual slurs as self-identifiers. The assessment of ignorant people will never determine how I perceive myself! If only more of my LGBT brethren had the same attitude.

Stephanie Bottoms made a well-thought-out, effectively presented, sincere and passionate plea for us to recognize the toxicity of words like "queer". It's infuriating, how casually Jamie Tyroler and other apologists for insulting language ignore such pleas! They dismiss the concern activists like Ms. Bottoms and I express by characterizing it as personal distaste: We simply "don't like" that kind of language. We're "politically-correct" fussbudgets whose arguments can't be taken seriously; even when we're raising consciousness about hate speech, we're seen as having nothing of substance to say.

I don't think malice motivates this response. I think it's motivated by a deep-seated, shame-based, subconscious conviction that heterosexuality alone is natural, normal and acceptable! Anything that differs from it belongs on the margins. Convincing ourselves otherwise will be a tough job, but it must be done! Until we fully accept that we're normal, we'll never truly be free!

Liberation starts within one's own mind! Show me a person who thinks it's empowering to own names like "queer", "d*ke" "f*ggot" and "tranny," and I'll show you a person whose mind is still in chains. I sincerely hope that Ms. Tyroler and every other one of us who suffer from mental enslavement can find the means to escape from this bondage!

You may think it's my goal to make everybody stop embracing sexual slurs. It isn't. That would be the equivalent of beating my head against a brick wall!  What do you bet that, immediately after reading this piece, dozens of bloggers will rush to their computer keyboards and type out new posts that not only feature multiple uses of the Q-word but also reinforce the twin myths of sex and gender "fluidity"?  Spitefulness among LGBT activists is an example of the political immaturity I previously spoke about; an op-ed like this one is more than enough to trigger it!  

I don't have the power to change other people's behavior. However, I do have the power to make them think about their behavior, and thought can often be a stimulus to change. The mission of Christ, The Gay Martyr isn't limited to preaching against hate speech. However, that's definitely one of this blog's missions, and should I see fit to do so in the future, I'll take it up again. That is, provided my patience doesn't run out!  When it comes to acting like knuckleheads, The Three Stooges had nothing on today's crop of self-described Gay intellectuals and political strategists! The unrelenting idiocy of Larry, Moe and Curly Joe survives in their half-baked radical rhetoric! 

The photo of a male couple and their child that I posted at the top of this essay is meant to emphasize just how "queer" we are not!  Gender-neutral people belong in the mainstream of society!  Our kind of nuclear family is as normal and right as any other.  I resent having to remind Gay people to respect themselves over and over! Why are we so damn hard-headed? What makes us so determined to validate our own oppression? Are we going to lose the battle against bigotry by forfeit? Sometimes, it sure looks that way!