Bitch, please

By Tom Poulos

In his article above, Louis Hendrix criticizes several of the acts performed in last weekend’s Queer Cabaret, most notably the human-ice-cream act. He says, “I was shocked that the Queer Union fully supported this unnecessary interpretation of sexual orientation.” Unnecessary interpretation? What would be a ‘necessary’ interpretation? The Queer movement emerged precisely in opposition to this type of restrictive, and ultimately oppressive, logic regarding sexuality. The movement rests on the premise that sexuality is a sociohistorical construct; in every time and place there exist dominant conceptions of sexuality that push others to the margins. Classifying sexuality (straight, gay, lesbian, etc.) inextricably constructs dominant sexualities and deviant ones. Thus, by freeing ourselves of these constructed labels, effectively ‘queering’ sexuality, we empower individuals to interpret and express their sexualities in the way they want to. You can definitely label yourself if you want to, but remain aware that not everyone does. As long as consent, safety and health are involved, people can do whatever they want. If you judge someone else’s individual interpretation of sexuality, you align yourself with those who claim that sexualities other than heterosexuality are wrong. So why exactly is covering a shirtless man in ice cream and candy to the song ‘Trick or Treat’ so impermissible? Why does Hendrix condemn others wishing to express themselves in a fun and safe space? Let’s remember that the Cabaret is, above all else, an opportunity for individuals to perform. All are welcome, whether it be a moving poem about injustice in America or a dance routine. Condemning performances meant to be fun and frivolous because they don’t resonate with what being gay means to you is self-righteous, judgmental and exclusionary.

I’m not saying that it’s not okay that Hendrix was uncomfortable with the performance. Yes, he probably shouldn’t have expected anything less from a Queer Cabaret at Macalester College. Regardless, everyone has their own personal preferences and those should be respected, whether you to like to engage in giant orgies or you want to save yourself until marriage. Moreover, not everyone has to discard labels. However, denigrating the Queer Union for allowing certain acts is going too far. The act was not perpetuating stereotypes. If anything, it was challenging them by portraying a form of sexuality that some people like, but that most people condemn. Hendrix says that the act was tantamount to a “gross gay live soft-porn.” However, the act had less to do with homosexuality than with BDSM. It was a dominatrix style performance where the truck driver has his way with the unsuspecting trick or treater.

With all that said, when Bobbi and I decided to perform I didn’t think about trying to make a profound political statement about sexuality. Personally, I’ve never tried BDSM. I don’t think I’d really like it, so I probably won’t try it any time soon (but as the old saying goes, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it). I just thought the act would be fun and sexy. Any political statements about sexuality were secondary.

I understand that coming to college, coming out of the closet, and figuring out who you are and what you want are all trying tasks. I’ve been there. So have a lot of other people. However, because everyone comes from a different background and has a different story about the development of his/her/??? identity, it’s important that we don’t make our personal preferences and experiences into normative judgments. It’s what Queerness and the Cabaret are all about.

Tom Poulos ’11 is an Opinion Editor. He can be reached at [email protected]