I was going to link to these two news stories with the tag "two steps forward, one step back", but no. Fuck that. Neither event deserves that kind of trivialization: The New Delhi High Court has just repealed the portion of 150-year-old law that criminalized gay sex between consenting adults.Police in Fort Worth, Texas, assaulted patrons during a raid on a gay bar, arrested seven and put one in the hospital with a brain injury; the police chief is defending their actions on the grounds that those evil gay people "touched and advanced" his officers.
Yes, I'm re-posting these links on my fan-journal as well as my more comprehensive life-journal. What do repealing laws and police violence have to do with fandom? rm
explains more thoroughly and eloquently here
, but the short answer is because queer people are real. This may be a shocking idea for some people in itself; they may be further shocked to realize that things that affect queer people in courts, streets and bars do, in direct and roundabout ways, affect queer people in fiction, both canon media and fan-produced. Here's an even more shocking idea: it works the other way too
I find rm
's post especially resonant right now because I just got an eyeful of the astonishing rudeness it catalogues at Toronto Pride. I'm not calling the whole weekend rotten, it was a nice opportunity for social fun with friends, but the not-good was pretty fucking infuriating. I've already complained about some of the hideously bad behaviour I witnessed at the Saturday Dyke March on my other journal (armies of cismen leering and snapping photos of bare-breasted marchers, cat-calling and gesturing at us to flash, even running from the sidelines into the march to get their pictures taken with the pretty boobies), but that was only one stinging blow in the barrage of acting-like-a-decent-person!FAIL. It's been a few years since I went to Pride in Winnipeg but from what I remember the marcher-spectator ratio was decidedly left-heavy; not so in Toronto. Here tens of thousands of tourists and locals line the parade route to take pictures of or with the freaks who prance and snog for their entertainment (often running up to people, especially the extravagantly costumed but also random couples and anyone who looks "authentically gay", posing next to them long enough for a friend to snap the photo, then running away again without speaking) and to applaud themselves for applauding our bravery. Fuck off! I had tea with a friend last night who complained that every year around this time he has to put up with jokes about "how come there's no straight pride?" His response (as close as I can recall) is, "What have you got to be proud of? You're not doing anything! I'm not proud of being queer. I suck cock because I like sucking cock; I eat ice cream because I like eating ice cream. I'm not proud of doing things I like, and I'm not proud of liking them because I can't change that. What I'm proud of is doing them even when it's not easy, when it's not safe, and by my perseverance working to make it a little safer, a little easier." That's
the labour of love, and that's what Pride ought to be about.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that this kind of creeptastic behaviour bubbles up in fandom as well as in "real life", not least because fandom, online interaction, the wired world, is a meshwork of people, every bit as real and, in its own way, material as the "face-to-face". But as someone who is queer in that face-to-face world, having this kind of bullshit follow me into fandom, which I was pleasantly accustomed to thinking of as a mostly pretty safe and friendly space, populated by mostly relatively aware and open folks . . . that hurts, and not in a good way.
This is a Thing this week because of a vid awards community that excludes slash content because the moderator thinks it's icky and doesn't want to watch it (but she's not homophobic*, oh no! she just shut down debate so I couldn't chew her out even if I thought it would do any good). It's been able to become a thing, as Thingswithwings
so cogently articulates, because of the insidiousness, the casual violence of heteronormativity in the perpetuation of a system in fandom and in media more generally that aligns het and gen to the exclusion of slash, that insists that homosexuality is the exception which must be vigorously marked out and circumscribed from the heterosexual rule, that leads to the automatic and universal conflation of "queer" with "sexually explicit", that permits things like April's Amazonfail! and prohibits the possibility of a gen/slash classification.
To ground this personally, in my own face-to-face experience: I'm kinky, poly and bi. Most of my friends are one or more of the above, and all have stories about being read and treated differently in different contexts, especially depending on whether they were out with (someone assumed to be) their same-sex or opposite-sex partner. My current main squeeze (that is, the only quasi-local person with whom I dally semi-regularly) is a bisexual man, and it pisses me off that we get to pass the het-gen security check together as long we keep our mouths shut about the other crushes we harbour. In Winnipeg I dated a couple--he's straight, she's bi--and was astonished at the reactions we got when we all went out together. By day strangers assumed we were some combination of het couple and close friend or relative (and she and I were once taken for sisters while on a date with each other), while at night even friends would pat him
on the back, as if he was the only one who could benefit from this arrangement (this leads to another rant, which I'll spare you for the moment). I suppose I'm almost lucky that I wasn't asked more often what we did together in private; the whiplash I got watching the queerness of my relationship and contextual identity get alternately shoved under the rug and yanked into the spotlight was bad enough.
What makes me happy is that, once again, fans are not just taking this quietly, or bringing homemade hummous to the pity party, but are taking up that labour of love, working to make things better
, everywhere. Right now the gesture I'm happiest about is queerlygen
(on DW, Queerly Gen
), which is looking to be a lovely happy wonderful radical necessary thing, and I am excited to watch it grow.
*remind anyone else of how to tell people they sound racist
? I'm probably late to the party on this one, but it's a good one to go back to.