October 23, 2010

Queer Issue: Normally Queer

"We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile." From Star Trek: First Contact

It has been said that America is a melting pot where people of various cultures, nationalities, and racial heritages can come together and coexist. Or try and coexist, as at times it may seem that we fail and fail to do so quite badly. With this article, I will be merely scratching the surface of a much larger issue, but I wanted to put some ideas out there get people thinking.

Let me start with a simple question. How does one maintain a queer identity within a broader social context? Or rather think of it this way, is there any such thing as a "normal" gay, lesbian, trans, bi, asexual, individual? In short, is it possible to be normal and still be queer?

The reason I ask, is that in the fight for LGBTQA individuals to be accepted within society and to receive equal treatment, there has been an increasing amount of talk of "we are normal and just like everyone else". I think this claim is not only wrong, but rather dangerous. I say this on the grounds that "normality" is relative and in trying to establish it for a queer culture marginalizes those who fall outside certain boundaries.

I quoted the Borg Star Trek's most fearsome villains for a reason. The Borg - for those who never saw Star Trek: The Next Generation - are a collective of individuals, all wired into a singular mind. They take the characteristics of the individuals they assimilate and make those characteristics a part of their collective. What makes them so frightening therefore, is the complete loss of individuality and free will that occurs for those who are assimilated.

And so too it goes with the assimilation of queers into mainstream culture. I am not the first to point out that such assimilation would result in the loss of anything that makes queer culture unique. We are all unique, just like everyone else, or so the positive and upbeat divirsity promotional posters would have us believe.

But it is within here that lies the heart of the conundrum lies. A melting pot, by implication, destroys the individuality and diversity of the starting elements. Therefore, the key question arises, should an individual maintain ones' individuality at all costs or allow oneself to be melted down and assimilated into a larger culture?

We demand equality by asking for marriage to be for more than just opposite sex couples. We demand the repeal of the military's policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. At times, this seems to be the limits and focus of our drive to create a more equal society.

Don't get me wrong, these are good things to work for, but should they be all? Should we not also work towards measures that will allow for the acceptance of trans people? Shall we not accept that human sexuality and gender is a fluid concept that goes beyond the dichotomies of male/female or gay/straight? In the struggle for true equality, will we take into account the fact that people do not fall into easily defined categories?

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