Queer is difficult to entextualize as culture. This is particularly true of intimate culture. Heteronormative forms of intimacy are supported, as we have argued, not only by overt referential discourse such as love plots and sentimentality but materially, in marriage and family law, in the architecture of the domestic, in the zoning of work and politics. Queer culture, by contrast, has almost no institutional matrix for its counterintimacies. In the absence of marriage and the rituals that organize life around matrimony, improvisation is always necessary for the speech act of pledging, or the narrative practice of dating…The heteronormativity in such practices may seem weak and indirect. After all, same-sex couples have sometimes been able to invent versions of such practices. But they have done so only by betrothing themselves to the couple form and its language of personal significance, leaving untransformed the material and ideological conditions that divide intimacy from history, politics, and publics. The queer project we imagine is not just to destigmatize those average intimacies, not just to give access to the sentimentality of the couple for persons of the same sex, and definitely not to certify as properly private the personal lives of gays and lesbians. Rather, it is to support forms of affective, erotic, and personal living that are public in the sense of accessible, available to memory, and sustained through collective activity.
Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner, “Sex in Public,” 561-62.
By queer culture we mean a world-making project, where “world,” like “public,” differs from community or group because it necessarily includes more people than can be identified, more spaces than can be mapped beyond a few reference points, modes of feeling that can be learned rather than experienced as a birthright. The queer world is a space of entrances, exits, unsystematized lines of acquaintance, projected horizons, typifying examples, alternate routes, blockages, incommensurate geographies. World making, as much in the mode of dirty talk as of print-mediated representation, is dispersed through incommensurate registers, by definition unrealizable as community or identity. Every cultural form, be it a novel or an after-hours club or an academic lecture, indexes a virtual social world, in ways that range from a repertoire of styles and speech genres to referential metaculture.
We are trying to promote this world-making project, and a first step in doing so is to recognize that queer culture constitutes itself in many ways other than through the official publics of opinion culture and the state, or through the privatized forms normally associated with sexuality. Queer and other insurgents have long striven, often dangerously or scandalously, to cultivate what good folks used to call criminal intimacies. We have developed relations and narratives that are only recognized as intimate in queer culture: girlfriends, gal pals, fuckbuddies, tricks. Queer culture has learned not only how to sexualize these and other relations, but also to use them as a context for witnessing intense and personal affect while elaborating a public world of belonging and transformation. Making a queer world has required the development of kinds of intimacy that bear no necessary relation to domestic space, to kinship, to the couple form, to property, or to the nation. These intimacies do bear a necessary relation to a counterpublic–an indefinitely accessible world conscious of its subordinate relation. They are typical both of the inventiveness of queer world making and of the queer world’s fragility.
From “Sex in Public” by Lauren Berlant & Michael Warner
When AIDS first emerged in the U.S. decades ago, there was a collective cultural assumption that the disease primarily afflicted gay men who had no children. But that was never true: men and women of all sexual identities, income levels, and cultural backgrounds contracted HIV, and in a variety of ways. Many of these people, including gay men, were survived by children. Because of the secrecy and stigma surrounding AIDS —both at the height of the crisis during the 80s and 90s, and today—a lot of us who lost parents to the disease learned to keep quiet and grieve in the shadows.
The Recollectors grew out of two friends’ experiences losing their fathers to AIDS in 1992. Our fathers died under very different circumstances: Alysia’s father was fully out, living in San Francisco, and passed away in an AIDS hospice, while Whitney’s father was closeted in suburban Kentucky. Until meeting each other, we didn’t really know anyone else who could understand and relate to our experience—but considering that 650,000 people have died of AIDS in the U.S. since the advent of the crisis, we knew we couldn’t be the only ones.
So we created The Recollectors to fill that gap: to build a community to share these parents’ stories, to expand the history of AIDS in the U.S., and to connect with others who know what it’s like to experience this kind of singular isolating loss.
If metropolitan lesbians and gay men had in fact succeeded in wiping out power in relationships, all we would have to do is enjoy our egalitarian practice and let everyone else in on the secret. But that is far from the case. The prevailing sex— gender system, we have every reason to know, is geared to the production of hierarchy and, as part of that, to the production of anxious, unhappy and violent people. It produces us and our psychic lives—straights and gays—and it is not going to leave us alone. It is a liberal-bourgeois delusion to suppose that ‘private’ space can be somehow innocent of and protected from the real world. In actuality, none of the power hierarchies that I have been highlighting is insignificant in metropolitan sexual practice. But, unlike people in non-metropolitan systems, we prefer to pretend otherwise. It would be better, at the least, to acknowledge what we are doing.
Richard Phillips, Diane Watt, and David Shuttleton, De-Centering Sexualities Politics and Representations beyond the Metropolis (London; New York: Garland Pub., 2000), http://site.ebrary.com/id/10100552.
The Rachel Maddow Show reports:
“After a crusading religious group showed up at the Gilbert, Arizona school board meeting with three Republican state senators to complain about the presence of a mention of abortion in an honors biology text book, the board voted to get rid of that material. It was determined that the most efficient way to remove the offending material is to literally remove it – as in, tear the whole page out of the book.
As a service to Arizona honors biology students who want to know what used to be in the gap in their textbook’s page numbers, we have preserved page 545 of the seventh edition of Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections.”