Frag-ments: Be queer for the revolution

By Andy Pragacz

This is the last Frag-ment. I spend most of my time in both this piece and academic life being critical of idea or policy ‘x.’ Here, however, I want to put forward something I actually believe in, something that I think will make the world a ‘better’ place. My bit of faith: being Queer. Last night I was reading Freud. Freud understands the process of civilization (problematic for several reasons, but not worth going into here) as the ever greater renunciation of sexual urges, and the creation of ever more sexual prohibition. For Freud, we were all, at one point, bisexual. To be queer, then, is to reject civilization.

Why do we want to do that? In the first place, we could say that sex makes everyone happy. I am not talking about one kind of sex, like the missionary position, but sex in the most general terms. We all enjoy different aspects of sex and different sexual objects, so let’s have sex, new sorts of sex and find new forms of human connection.

Being queer is more than just being ‘happy’ and ‘having more sex’ it is (or can be) a political act. For Lee Edelman, the symbolic Child has taken over politics. The Child justifies the curtailment of our rights, the ‘repression’ of non-hetero identities, and violence of all sorts. In his construction, politics is done to protect America for future generations without consideration for the well being or happiness of the current one. For Edelman, being queer means “undertaking the impossible project of imagining an oppositional political stance exempt from the imperative to reproduce the politics of signification.” The Queer, through irony, absurdity, shock and awe, is able to engage in other forms of politics that open up new doors of possibility.

I, Andrew JR Pragacz, am queer and so are you (or at least you can be). In the first place being queer does not necessarily have to mean ‘sexually queer,’ but it certainly can. Being queer is about seeing the limits of the current status quo, how it constrains us and how is produces violence towards all of us. Queers are not the only ones ‘oppressed’ by heterosexual norms, everyone is limited in this system. In terms of sexuality no one either ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ embodies those terms to their fullest. How many of you are attracted to every member of either the opposite sex or the same one? None, I assume. In that sense, at least, we are all only partially ‘gay’ or ‘straight.’ Furthermore, to engage in a number of different sexual practices with a variety of people does not make you automatically ‘queer.’ For me, what is called the American Dream (a house in the burbs, a nice car, an office job, vacations to Disney Land, etc) is heterosexual through and through. The idea that we have to have certain commodities and act certain ways in order to ‘have it all,’ is a breeder conception.

It does not have to be this way. You can actually have all those things, want those things, raise children and still be queer. What matters is the meaning of those things for you. I don’t want to sit here and tell you how to ‘value’ your Porsche or your 2.5 kids like a queer, because the ways to do that are infinite while there are only a few ways to value those things in a bougy way. This is my call to arms: imagine beyond what there is, transgress dominant ways of being, and be public about it. Tell your mom, your dad, your friends, the cashier at Whole Foods, your professors. Live life as your life, not the life neoliberal economic policy wants for you.

Andy Pragacz ’10 can be reached at [email protected]