Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

Queer Easter – has 10 years of being Queer been so great?

by Lloyd on 29.04.09
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This year was my 5th Queer Easter as we celebrated 10 years of a Queer seminar that may not be so queer but act as a critical friend to Queer.

I don’t mean that the seminar has been swamped by straight people (dread the thought!). I think (although not around) that 10 years ago when Queer Easter was set up (its 11 years really but we forget about the first one as its wasn’t international) the word “Queer” was chosen as much as a provocation and marketing tool as a bases on Queer theory.

10 years ago queer theory was this new exciting theory, something that was just being developed and explored. 10 years on and Queer looks a bit like another tired post-modernist theory which people either don’t understand or contradicts itself so much that it becomes useless.

Queer, for those of you who don’t know, is effectively a post modernist, post-structuralist theory. It joins the debate as an opposition to identity as it is perceived through constructionist (nurture) and essentialist (nature) views. Its says that your gender and sexuality identity is for sure created but more than that it doesn’t matter. Forget what you are, but its what you do. (confused yet?)

Putting it another way, some argue that “your identity is made up from what you do and constructed” and other say “your identity is essentially you and you do things because of your identity”. Well Queer theory comes along and say “fuck that” you just do. Your identity is something that is just made-up and all we should focus on is what you do, and seeing that what you do is fluid – depending on the time and space that we inhabit – so is our sexuality, gender and sex.

It all sounds great, liberating for many, but it has some unexpected consequence. For example, many of the LGBT liberation movement have argued – we are what we are, we are born gay etc. in a bid to fight discrimination. If suddenly we turn around and say, well actually, we are not born like this but “choose” or act like this the whole none-discrimination argument starts to go out the window.

It starts to sound no so great, also start to shove in their the whole idea about “normalisation” and unless you like being different then the whole Queer thing starts to look less and less attractive. for the first time in many years, I think that a number of participants started to get this. As well as a whole media working group looking critically at queer we also had morning workshops focusing on the issue.

I would argue that we still need to embrace queer but as a process not at the end. As with much in post-modern theory the critique the world around us is academically, but it fails to put an alternative. We de-construct identity, in fact much of our world we live in and are left with a pile of rubble.

Humans need a social construction to make this confusing world a bit easer to live in, identity is important for struggles, but also surly as socialist we need to be critical of the bourgeoisie social construction that we live in today. We need to de-construct our lives and our society and I believe that Queer theory is a great way to do that. However, if we stop there then its a pretty empty and lonely world.

If there is no narrative to our actions then we have no historical and political perspective to put things in to we are effectually – as a global society! We need to create another narrative, so I guess, we need Queer theory, just as a path to something else.

That something else, Socialism? well… that’s for another day!

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Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

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