Intersections: identity and class

Eli Clare’s use of repetition on page 41 demonstrates the fluidity of identity, as it changes with new experiences but depends on the environment which cultivates it. Clare conflates his queer identity with his roots and his present politics, mixing all three together in order to find his identity. Clare mentions how tangled his queer identity and understanding of class/roots has become, and how relocating to an urban space with its urban politics helped to untangle the the two.

The inclusion and repetition of words such as class and urban, as well as descriptions of various lifestyles, help to define his point about the muddled mess surrounding his identity. Only once he was away from his home town and in a new urban space did he gain an understanding of what exactly his home was like and how it affected his perception of his identity. While attending an urban liberal arts college, Clare was able to better explore his identity as a lesbian and got to experience a whole new queer world. At the same time, his time at college introduced him to a new level of middle class that Clare had not experienced when growing up in Port Orford.

I think this particular passage, and overall what Eli Clare is trying to convey, is that identity is like water. It flows and changes as you grow older and experience the world, but conforms to the space it is shoved in. Identity, especially queer identity is shaped by the experiences people have, both in urban and rural spaces. By leaving his rural home, Clare was able to expand his own ideas about his queer identity and how it relates to his roots as a lower middle class “country bumpkin” while also discovering where Clare feels most at home (pg 41).

2 thoughts on “Intersections: identity and class”

  1. Your mention that “identity is like water” reminded me of a saying from Heraclitus, “No one ever steps in the same river twice.” I think that for someone like Clare this is especially true, particularly because of the urban/rural seesaw that Clare has to live through. I would only say that, over time, the river will inevitably reshape the path that it flows through rather than conforming to it forever, which again seems to be a reflection of Clare’s own experience with his identity.

  2. I liked how you brought up the importance of class and the distinction between the rural community Clare grew up in and the urban lifestyle he learned to adapt to, and how each community impacted Clare’s development of his gender identity either in a negative or positive way. I think it’s interesting how the polarized nature of politics contributes to the way in which the acceptance of queerness and gender identities are perceived. I like how Clare pushes back against the notion that conservative regions are strictly associated with the lack of acceptance of the LGBTQ community, whereas liberal regions are associated with the acceptance of the LGBTQ community. Although to an extent this may hold true, by pushing back against this stereotype, Clare opens up and challenges his readers to think more about how they perceive rural communities, and how our own internal biases impact the way we see the world.

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