Almost every time I bring up my sexuality, I am eventually asked a variation on the same question: “What is queer, anyway?” It’s at once extremely simple and full of existential meaning stretching beyond sex and desire. The above quote is critical to my experience in queer self-discovery – in interrogating my sexuality and what it means beyond my sexual partners. Roadmaps like those provided by Brandon Wint do not sketch a single road leading to a cute and witty person’s bed. These three-dimensional landscapes meander and wander; they are sometimes challenging, sometimes pastoral, sometimes cyclical and confusing, but always revealing and curious.
Tavia Nyong’o (cousin of thespian goddess and Oscar-winner Lupita) navigates his world through a lens of queerness. In his view, sexuality goes beyond the bedroom. This lens has the possibility to act as a tool to navigate a landscape which includes everything in our world and how our lived experiences interact with it. An intersectional lens can queer the world. Returning back to the interrogation, similar authors in this week’s readings employ queerness as an act of destabilization and revolutionary inquisition. The world itself, according to theorists like Judith Butler, is open to continual critique – and the possibility of futility as a political tactic in the future.
This continual development and reevaluation echoes Wint’s stake in queerness as at once fluid and limitless. My blossoming political consciousness formed in direct correlation to my blooming self-discovery as a deeply queer person. The two are inseparable. Queer politics have become part of my toolbox for thought, communication, and action. As I have drawn the rough sketch of my landscape, I, much like Nyong’o and others like Warner and Siobhan Somerville discuss, am able to destabilize my world and attempt to build it back. Queerness is a “freedom too strange to be conquered” and this excites me more than anything. It is exciting to live in a culture in which I have tools to challenge the prison system; the institution of marriage; capitalism and business; and the law itself. It is exciting to live in a world in which my freedom is a challenge to hegemonic forces; where queer liberation is so unprecedented that it frightens those with deep-seated power.
Who has the ultimate say in what queer is or is not? There can be freedom and liberation in giving into the unknown. Making queerness a communal effort rather than a personal quest for truth that must be handed down to others - in a package with defined and pristine edges – can be extremely revolutionary and productive.