I spotted this book in a Tumblr post about some assorted queer / LGBTQ+ books, that had a photoset of different covers. The cover on this book does rather stand out – the title is written on “buttons” in the art.
And the title sounded (sounds) interesting/promising. So when, not even a few minutes ago, I spotted this book on the shelf at my university’s library, I had to pick it up. I’m going to take it home and read – but I think I’ll also annotate while writing (yay stickynotes!) and post at the end of each chapter/section on here. I sort of didn’t stick with my book review posts long, after all!
I’ve actually already read through the preface once, so there will be (hopefully) a second post once I’ve been home. But at the moment I have a few thoughts/reservations I’d like to share.
For one, it should be noted that I’m not a queer studies/gender studies student. Though I have often cast an interested glance at such courses, I have never actually taken one. I have quite literally learned all my feminism from the internet, from reading non-academic resources. I prefer my feminism as intersectional as possible, and ivory tower theory – while I certainly think it has its place (I am a history major, after all) – doesn’t really interest me. It isn’t accessible enough, for my liking, nor is it as responsive.
And my “queer theory”. I don’t do queer studies. I just don’t. I identify as queer, however, and have been navigating what that means, or can mean, for a few years now. Queer, for me, is something far more intimate and personal than just theory – and as with feminism, any exposure I’ve had to “theory” or “definition” comes from online or meatspace community. Personally, I am very leery OF Ivory Tower usage of “queer” as in queer theory. Queer, to me, begs an identification or solidarity with the under- or non-privileged and (White, anglophone) academia is sort of ridiculously privileged. They ARE the elite. And my experience with the elite, when it combines with sexual/gender identiy, is that it becomes White Cis Gay Men. (Or, at its worst, White Cis Straight Men talking about queer folk from an outside, through-the-microscope explain-those-weirdos perspective. Hopefully we have left that behind, though.)
Mimi isn’t that, which is good, in my books. Nothing against WCGM, of course – I’m sure they’re quite as capable of ‘objectivity’ such as may be reached as anyone else. But something about me feels very uncomfortable with the whole idea of ‘queer studies’ and I can’t really explain why. It’s a confusing mess, and I’m trying to sort out my feelings on it.
Such as why I’m currently hung up on figuring out if Marinucci herself identifies as queer. And if she is heterosexual or not. This seems really important, and I can’t figure out why – or, rather, the ramifications of the reasons why I feel that way. (See: wannabe historian.)
I was glad to see, though, towards the end of the preface, her acknowledgement of some degree of intersectionality and of privilege. That makes me a lot more comfortable, and hopeful, to read this book.
We all know the story. After months or years of living in heart-wrenching, gut-twisting, mind-numbing dread, of living with this dread that even when buried down will reappear time and time again, each and every time you are confronted with the idea… after months or years (or even weeks, or days – it is a dread as deep as your bones and as long as your limbs, not as long the time you live with it), you finally wrangle up the courage to Come Out. To your parents.
No, I haven’t yet. Not quite. I’m getting there (I think). But we know the story.
You finally stutter out, standing in the kitchen clutching your fear into your heart, or scrawl in a trembling hand across the paper that has become that fear, your story, your truth. Mom, Dad, Aunt, Gran… I’m gay. I’m bi. I’m trans. I’m poly, ace, non-binary… And they say “I know.”
They dare to say, to your face, to you, “Yes, I know. I have known. I have always suspected. I was waiting for you.”
They. Fucking. Dare.
For some people, it is perhaps not as enraging, not as infuriating, not as much of a betrayal. For some people, their parents/guardians WERE explicit, to some degree, in acknowledging support for those who are not of typical sexuality or gender experience. All it takes is even one sentence, one comment of “Oh, I’m glad the government has supported [sexuality or gender rights issue here].”
This is not about that. This is about those whose parents, like mine, have never given a single fucking hint, not a single damn clue, that they could be supportive. That they could be not homophobic. They have kept their silence, maybe thinking that silence is better than explicit hate.
Maybe it is better.
But in a society that is heterosexist, that is not good enough. As with any other axis of oppression or discrimination (sexism, racism, classism, cissexism, insert -ism here), the onus is on them, is on everyone to prove that they are not. To prove that they are not heterosexist, or not homophobic, or are at the very damn least working towards the point of not being so.