Questioning Conventional Queerness

“Why does the money that creates Stonewall 25 and events like it rarely find its way to working-class and poor queers? […] Have we collectively turned our backs on the small towns in Oregon that one by one are passing local anti-gay ordinances?” (Clare 43)

This entire paragraph on p. 43 is much too long to fully type out for this post, but effectively serves as a prime example of how Clare evokes a lot of his own frustration/confusion/complex internal monologue of navigating our heteronormative, ability-normative, elitist world as a trans, queer, impaired writer that grew up in the working class. He gets the reader to question the perceptions of normalcy that show up in our lives as we live them through contextualizing his nuanced perspective by asking questions. As seen in the aforementioned paragraph, as well as many times throughout the text as a whole, Clare poses the questions he has grappled with so as to logically progress us through how he came to seek dismantling conventions of normal.

In the two questions I included from that paragraph, you can see that he poses a more broad question (which translates to: ‘why are we not equally distributing our resources/predominantly funding queer organizations that are already well represented?’) followed by a tangentially specific yet related question (translating to: ‘have we abandoned queer people in local communities because they don’t fit the metropolitan agenda?’). The other questions in this paragraph branch into various other relevant discourses. This not only paints us a clear picture of Clare’s inquisitive nature, but in doing so prompts the reader to recognize just how pervasive and far-reaching class, race, and ability are in the realm of queer issues. We can see that once he began to question the big concept, more niche questions about how our systems impact our daily lives arose. In doing this, Clare doesn’t just argue his conclusion that we need to dismantle the normalization of white, able-bodied queer struggles to include other intersectional factors, but rather leads the reader through how he got there. Clare makes abstract, complex concepts digestible by laying out his own thought processes, which makes what he is trying to say much more tangible to his audience.

This theme of systemic issues having nuanced local impacts for those left out of the majority in Clare’s work directly bolsters our class theme of defining queerness by its multiplicity. It is clear from this excerpt that people advocating for LGBTQ+ issues are finally garnering public attention, but a large portion (if not all) of this advocacy leaves out gender/sexual minorities of color, lower socioeconomic status, impairment, etc. We’ve discussed throughout this course how multidimensional the term ‘queer’ is as a facet of identity. The way Clare points to all of the far-reaching corners of other identities that conflate with queer identity reinforces our argument that queerness encompasses so many things beyond sexuality and gender identity.

3 thoughts on “Questioning Conventional Queerness”

  1. I really like your interpretation of this passage. This part of Clare’s work also really stuck out to me. Another interpretation I had of this section was the idea of how easily social movements can become performative under capitalism. While stonewall was a historical uprising against police violence and queer oppression, the meaning of this history is quickly lost as it is used as a way to make a profit and becomes exclusive to only those that can afford it. I think that he’s also emphasizing the idea that the prominent stories of marginalized people will always come from those who are the most privileged within the group. The upper-class urban queer people that are able to attend the stonewall 25 event are the ones that have the most power in telling the story of what it means to be queer because they have the money/status/etc to be able to be seen by the public. This lack of access then will always lead to the most marginalized people within a group being silenced.

  2. Queerness is somehow everything that it is situated in the “in-between” and it’s hard to be defined. I was thinking whether the term Queer couldn’t also be applied to understanding past events by taking into consideration different viewpoints. Queer Studies as a comprehensive glance not only at gender, but history. We know how atrocious freak shows were and how some people benefited from them by exploiting minorities’ bodies. Clare, however, pointed out how the people there were feeling “seen” for the first time or even getting rich, something unconceivable for such marginalized groups at that time.

  3. I love your interpretation of the passage, struggling with queer identities and its correlation to gender is a challenge many LGBTQ people feel and I think Clare’s passages are a great example of the real struggle of identity queer identifying people experience. I also agree with his statement, when it comes to minorities and people from poorer neighborhoods, assistance is not always given and its a sad reality because they clearly need it the most. There should be more people advocating for the rights of all LGBTQ groups/ races/ identities. There should not be a divid by who gets what.

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