Home and the Queer Community

“In its narrower sense, queer has been home since I became conscious of being a dyke.” (Clare, 31)

In this sentence, Clare constructs queer and the queer identity in relation to his characterization of a home. It’s significant to note that Clare states that “queer has been home.” The usage of “has been” indicates a sense of impermanence associated with the queer identity being home, because while he might currently characterize it as home due to his newfound consciousness of being a “dyke”, this wasn’t always the case and may not continue to be the case. Through the utilization of this language, Clare speaks to the way that being queer and the queer identity is not singular and cannot be defined in one manner, because of its ever-changing nature. The word “home” usually generates feelings of comfort and a sense of belonging, so by associating queer with home, Clare alludes to the fact that he can express and feel more like himself as an identified queer man. However, this idea is contrasted with how Clare, as revealed in other parts of the novel, fails to attain this sense of belonging within the queer community, because of the multiplicity of his identity.

The inclusion of the word “conscious” reflects a state of awareness, and the phrase, “became conscious of being a dyke” highlights the ways in which society attempts to conceal the LGBTQ community through the enforcement of compulsory heterosexuality, which leads to the repression of one’s queer identity. Clare had to discover that he was queer, and by stating that he became “conscious”, suggests that he was unconscious before when it came to understanding what it meant to be queer, which coincides with the themes of queer visibility and invisibility. The fact that he utilizes the word “dyke”, which has a negative connotation and often times used as a form of degradation, shows how Clare is reclaiming the word and demonstrates that being queer is not something he should be ashamed of.

2 thoughts on “Home and the Queer Community”

  1. Your post has reminded me of my best friend, who also struggled at feeling part of the queer community when he had the same realization as Eli Clare had. Precisely because of the same enforcement of compulsory heterosexuality that is seen in our society and that you mentioned, he was brought up with the mentality of following an unique path that did not permit him to be himself. When he became aware of his true sexual orientation and not only that but the fact that the queer community was his fort and refuge, he could not help resisting that idea at the beginning. Just as Clare when he uses diction with negative connotations.

  2. I really like how you brought up how it was hard for Clare to feel connected with and accepted in the queer community because of his various identities. Not only was this because of his own exploration with sexuality and gender identity, but also because of the identity from growing up in a small logging town that resulted in being labeled as, and accepting yet having conflicting feelings towards, being a “redneck”. This label made it harder for Clare to fit in with others in the queer community and added another layer of isolation in his journey of self-acceptance.

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