“Queer activists are also lesbians and gays in other contexts–as, for example, where leverage can be gained through bourgeois propriety, or through minority-rights discourse, or through more gender-marked language (it probably won’t replace lesbian feminism). Some people are in some contexts meaningfully motivated by queer self-characterizations; others are not. This distinction is not the same as that between those who are straight and those who are gay and lesbian. No one adheres to queer self-characterizations all the time. Even when some of us do so, it may be to exploit rhetorics in ways that have relatively little to do with our characters, identities, selves, or psyches. Rhetoric of queerness neither saturates identity nor supplants it. Queer politics, in short, has not just replaced older models of lesbian and gay politics; it has come to exist alongside those older modes, opening up new possibilities and problems whose relation to more familiar problems is not always clear.”
Our argument is thus that we should reorient our politics and take on something like a queer ecological perspective, a transgressive and historically relevant critique of dominant pairings of nature and environment with heteronormativity and homophobia, in order to outline possibilities responsive to these relations and, equally, explicitly critical of the continued organization of dominant metrosexualities through an environmentally disastrous (and often ethically void) lifestyle consumerism. Here, we are advocating a position not only of queering ecology, but of greening queer politics. The extension of queer into ecology is not, then, simply a question of making nature more welcome to gay inhabitation; it is also an invitation to open queer theory to ecological possibilities, and to thus produce a queering of ecocultural relations along the lines of Halberstam’s queering of space: “in opposition to the institutions of family, heterosexuality, and reproduction . . . according to other logics of location, movement and identification” (2005, 1). Queer ecology suggests, then, a new practice of ecological knowledges, spaces, and politics that places central attention on challenging hetero-ecologies from the perspective of non-normative sexual and gender positions.
Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson, Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2010), 22.
Given the thinly-veiled self-congratulation and condescension that informs such intellectual efforts, it is not surprising that self-consciously rustic people often become emphatically anti-intellectual…Charlie Daniels (1990) follows a lyrical call for “a few more rednecks” with the threat that “you intellectuals might not like it but there’s nothing you can do,” while Aaron Tippin (1993) glorifies “pride, honor, and dignity” of the “working man’s Ph.D.” It is tempting for intellectuals to dismiss such criticism as “rural idiocy,” but once we recognize anti-intellectualism as an aspect of identity politics, we need not take it personally. Instead, we can see it as a part of urban hegemony: as long as rustic discontent is directed exclusively at intellectuals, its poses no great political threat. Nevertheless, when rustics target intellectuals or champion conservative causes, they render their identities less interesting to scholars fascinated by the resistance potential of identity politics. These intellectuals thereby collude with “liberal” urbanites in casting rustics as homogeneous oppressors of other marginalized groups. Thus demonized, rustics seem to merit whatever degradation and neglect they may experience.
Barbara Ching and Gerald W Creed, Knowing Your Place: Rural Identity and Cultural Hierarchy (New York: Routledge, 1997): 11.
One year after Shelby v. Holder and the and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, Al Jazeera America has some incredible reporting out of Alabama, where the state is once again taking on the United States Supreme Court like it was a S.E.C. championship game.
“It goes back to the 2010 election, when Republicans gained control of the state legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. The GOP now occupies the governor’s seat, every elected, statewide executive-branch office and supermajorities in both houses. The legislators in this majority are exclusively white. . .”
“. . . Alabama is still ‘one of the most polarized electorates in the nation,” said Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. By packing high concentrations of black voters into majority-minority districts, he said, the state has created “bleached white districts and super-majority black districts where candidates for public office have little incentive to reach across the racial divide to appeal to voters of a different race. The [Supreme Court] case is important because we need, as a state, to reverse the pattern of polarized voting, not to exacerbate it.”
Suffice it to say that if recent strains of queer theory and recent forms of lgbtq politics (latent and manifest) share common ground, it’s usually a dismissal of rurality as such, a dismissal not only commonplace but, let’s bet the farm on it, chronic. Much of queer studies wants desperately to be urban planning, even as so much of its theoretical architecture is already urban planned .
[. . .]
If queers way out there—broadly conceived—have too often been stamped with scarlet letters that spell out backwater, rube, hillbilly, hayseed, redneck, shitkicker, and bumfuck, then what happens when this terminology turns against itself? What happens when countrified queers challenge the representational systems that underlie the perpetual citification of modern lgbtq life?
Scott Herring, Another Country: Queer Anti-Urbanism (New York: New York University Press, 2010) 5-6.