This past weekend I had a fantastic romp to the University of Toledo. I met some stellar students working their asses off to support their community, and ecstatically networked and made friends with who I consider to be one of the most significant drag performance groups in history, The Kinsey Sicks.
With the Kinsey Sicks and UT student organizers Elizabeth and David.
This visit was my first official “keynote” slot, which like most titles, makes me sound cool and significantly more important than I actually am. I presented a new talk that I’m still experimenting with “How to wake up society in 500 calories or more – a sweet tooth’s guide to sex, gender, and the illusion of normalcy.” The topic turned out to be more relevant to my own thought processes throughout the weekend than I had anticipated. UT’s queer community reminded me very much of the community I was in, or more so on the edge of, during my undergrad at the University of Cincinnati. Now, both UC and UT are large state schools smack in the middle of very racially and economically segregated, (initially) industry based Midwestern cities so maybe one would expect similarities. But even without location, population, or environment, I think there is a bigger influence in play here. Queer communities -campuses included- don’t live in a vacuum. We are all exposed to the same oppressive systems, whether it is anti-queer discrimination and hate or “GLBT” propaganda.
Sometimes I can’t decided which is worse. Having one million monsters outside the door, or one hundred inside the house. Everyday queers are not only dealing with the oppressions of heteronormativity, but homonormativity as well. There is a division in the house of non-hetero politic, but I feel the familiar saying of “a house divided cannot stand” doesn’t apply. I think a house divided can stand, but that’s about all it can do. If G.L. Homeowner can only afford to give minimal upkeep to the house, naturally they will take care of the rooms they use most. If given enough attention, the chosen rooms can get to be pretty swank, maybe accent it with some nice furniture… but the over-all value of the house will be the same. It will never improve, it will be just good enough. And you sure as hell can’t let your family get any bigger than what the nice rooms can accommodate- to break the metaphor, better not let any of those gender non-conformers or people of color in. Surely they’re better off where they are out back. They’re probably happy there, and they’re used to it.
Normative conceptualization of queer communities is not accidentally spread. National marginalization of under-represented, often non-normative groups feeds our marginalization in smaller communities, like college campuses. Smaller communities will naturally have less resources and need to reach out to larger ones, creating a cycle of stagnation with no new exchanges of information. Perfect example: Most people have HRC stickers not because they even actually know what the hell HRC is, its because that was all they could find.All they know is the equal sign means good and means gay. What more is there? Race? Class? Identity? Not relevant. We’re all one homogeneous community, aren’t we? We are starving our youth of information, and they are paying the price for the community’s oversight. If young people are struggling for resources and isolating each other out of fear or ignorance it is because the greater community has not given them access to the information they need to develop their own autonomous understanding of the complex diversity of the queer community. The lucky ones figure it out for themselves, only to be stuck swimming against the current, isolated and alone.
How much can we really accomplish if our resources are close to inclusive, but not actually inclusive? Is this neglect any different from heteronomative society not teaching us about queerness? We are promoting the same practice of oppression, we’re just excusing it because its in house. “We’ll come back for you when we have more to go around” too easily turns into “We forgot about you” which might as well be “We never gave a shit about you in the first place, cause if we did, we would have brought you along in the first place.”
4 thoughts on “Bad Parenting: Effects of an Noninclusive Movement on Queer Kids”
Speaking just for myself, I wish you’d have spoken to us about this instead of assuming we’re ignoring diversity, or that we just aren’t concerned about it.
There’s more to it than you could have seen in just one short weekend.
Hi Michael, Sorry for the confusion, I think you may have misinterpreted what this entry is about. It is not about UT specifically. I would not consider myself cool enough to know all the ins and outs of any community I am not a part of, especially if I am only in it for a day or two. Plus, I try to avoid assumptions in general, because we all know what happens when we assume… We make an ass out of u and me! HA! Love it! But I digress…
What I am discussing here is something that I was reminded of when I was at UT, which seemed to me to be similar struggles in your community to those of my undergrad as well as in the communities of my friends and fellows. I feel that it is impossible to not recognize that in this societal structure there is a massive web of have and have nots, all of which is tied up in one key issue: the rule of a powerful minority. My point here is that national agendas have not been successful in arming us with the tools we need to support our communities and this is rarely more apparent to me than when I am in my own community of the Midwest, were resources are scarce if even in existence and our main priority is to survive above all else. I feel it each of our own responsibilities to analyze our own privileges and push to break out of the boxes societal constructs have put us in in the name of creating a just community. I think I am making it sound a lot simpler than it actually is, but hopefully you get my drift. I have more thoughts on this subject as well as the issues you raised about UT, but this reply is long enough as it is! If you want to chat more, totally shoot me an email. I would enjoy exchanging more of thoughts with you.
I’d actually like to hear more of your thoughts on UT and i guess spectrum itself. I use to be the president of Spectrum (my first try at college) and I know what we did and how we acted…
I’d like to hear how the feel of UT is now. I haven’t been back for years.
(we’ll chat less about our feelings on drag and more about real life?? wait, drag is our life, ha!)
sure thing! I will give you a call, Ale’!