Taking on the Queer Agenda

By Graham Turner, Krista Jankowski

The Queer Agenda is a loaded title, and we recognize that. Those afraid of the apocalypse that will be spurred when Queers inherit the Earth often speak of the Queer Agenda as the call for total societal disintegration and mass chaos. In light of such importance being placed upon the concept, perhaps we should give our fair readers some image of what this agenda is. First off…there is no agenda.
While sometimes Graham catches himself wishing for a LGBT/queer community operating in concert, he quickly remembers that such a wish is at best counter-productive and, at worst, oppressive bullshit. Queerness is, ultimately, personal. In reality, it might have been more appropriate to call this column “Krista and Graham Ramble about Their Queerness (and Numerous Irrelevant Topics)” but we felt that was a bit clunky.
In this, one of our first columns, we have decided to attempt to put words to our very personal views of queerness and how it affects different aspects of our lives. We don’t even agree on a bunch of this stuff (which just reinforces our claim that a singular agenda is laughable). Regardless, here we address the supposed “talking points” of the queer agenda:
What does “queer” mean?
Graham: In my own view, queer is relatively simple but endlessly qualified. A queer is someone who has taken an active stance against heterosexism, homophobia, compulsory heterosexuality and hetero/homonormativity. Queerness is also bound up in a project to complicate sexual identity by acknowledging that race, class, gender, spatial/temporal location, and ability (and a whole host of other things…this isn’t a checklist) all interact with and define each other. These different points of identity are all unique, but none can be separated from the others.

Krista: For me, queer evokes an identity that is more than a checklist of what a person will do in bed and with what type of partner. There is an awareness of dominant power structures implicit in the queer label and, importantly, in my mind, a conscious effort not to identify oneself within a strict binary structure.

Marriage
Graham: This whole thing drives me up the wall. No, I don’t want to get married…ever. I’d love to enter into a civil contract and I think it’d be best for the rest of you too. Throw out the pseudo-religious ceremony and state-sponsored sexuality and bring in an egalitarian contract that willing parties enter into, without the behavioral prescriptions. Get married in a church, but after you’ve negotiated your contract with your partner(s) and the state’s given the go-ahead. I wish we could pull the state out of the matchmaking business but at this point…well…its complicated.

Krista: I’m not down with commitment ceremonies, but if you are…neat? My main problem with marriage (and comparable unions) in both hetero and same-sex instances is in the recognition of such a bond by the state and society as the epitome of desirable relationships. Such a view ultimately defines ALL other relationships as “less than” marriage. Long-term committed couples, polyamorous groupings, non-sexual life partnerships and pre-marital sex between drunk twentysomethings (without even a mention of gender identity or expression) are all lumped together as unacceptable ways to live and interact with others. I’m uncomfortable with the privilege associated with one lifestyle choice over all other possibilities, whether we call it marriage or a civil union. Until one relationship model is no longer lorded over all as the only decent way to live, I’m opting out of such methods of relationship classification.

The LGBT Community
Graham: Community, no. Communities, yes. We aren’t all the same. End of story. If you’ve ever uttered the phrase “my gay friend” (I’ve done it), you’ve managed to evoke a construct of community created to limit and bind various different sexual minority communities together.

Krista: The danger in seeking out a large, cohesive community is that there are just too many variations on a theme to get everyone on the same page. Ever hear of the Log Cabin Republicans? Can you imagine them organizing with a bunch of trannyfag prostitutes for sex workers’ rights? Exactly. While I identify as queer, there are other aspects of my personal and political life that take priority in any number of situations, and I imagine it to be the same for many queer folks. Not to mention that I hate that acronym and the underlying exclusion of intersex, asexual and, hello, queer identified individuals.