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Queer Caucus states manifesto

by Drew Lewis, co-president of The Queer Caucus

 

Every time we watched
a queer hassled in the
streets and said nothing—
It was an act of perversion.
— Pat Parker

Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction.
— Faithless

 

 

The term queer has historically been used in numerous ways to speak of something strange, odd, and eccentric. Queer is also used as a term of abuse, coined by and for people who try to affirm a sense of normalcy by pointing outward toward people who are painted as sexually deviant.

 

Recently, within the last few decades, there have been efforts to push this epithet around the corner where a more positive and prideful lighting can elucidate its antagonistic strategic potential. In this context, according to some, queer functions as a recuperating oppositional utterance. Queer here bears some commonalities with other terms that have risen and are rising from groups who were and are pushed down by the great white, straight, male, upper-class, majority—the people who cloak themselves in something named “normality.”

Sexuality, a site of feverish contestation, is not natural. It’s very much a discursive construct. What is more, sexuality is constructed, encountered, experienced, and understood in culturally and historically specific ways. Keeping this in mind, we could say that there can be no true or correct account of homosexuality, lesbianism, trangenderism, heterosexuality, and bisexuality. The word queer served as a slanderous and negative epithet, a hurtful abusive remark coined for the creation and destruction of a sexually deviant feminized other and the concomitant creation and elevation of a heterosexual masculinized self. Taken over by various Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender communities, queer later became, for some, a way of disempowering the people who used it in a spiteful manner.

The author of this epigraph is calling for action. Action, here, does not necessarily mean amassing a group of people and picketing in public against an unfair system, program, etc. The action to which the above epigraphs refer, and for which I am calling here, is much more subtle and even harder to do. I think the only realistic way to proceed would be to open a space for people to recognize why certain people are seen as something other. Construction of otherness has real-world affects upon those people.

The newly commissioned HPU club The Queer Caucus was created to serve as a hub of queer mobilization on HPU campuses. It is the club’s dual goal to spotlight and initiate the organization and assembly of leadership and programming that is responsive to and representative of the variety of needs and identities in our queer community. Our mission also extends to combat the baseless fear of GLBT people by giving others a chance to explore and become acquainted with queer cultures and people. Until we all make an effort to get to know GLBT people on an individual level, as people rather than the others they are painted as, the tendency to speak of “a fag,” “a homo,” or “a freak,” will continue and the very palpable unjustifiable pain felt by the dehumanized will continue.

The ability of people, social groups, and institutions to dehumanize others through language, for exmaple, is staggering when we meet, learn about, and get to know those people who are the targets of our hurtful cruel stereotypes. This will take a conscious effort. It is not only about calling into question the language we use and the way we think, but the way we make sense of the world around us as well.

Here at HPU we can effectively and positively advocate equal rights for people facing such societal inequality by providing GLBT students, faculty, and staff, as well as allied members of the HPU community, a space to voice concerns and provide a learning atmosphere that fosters the importance of maintaining dialogue and reflection in the hopes of diminishing discrimination based on sexual preference and gender issues, in particular, and unjustifiable inequality, in general.

 

2004, Kalamalama, the HPU Student Newspaper. All rights reserved.
 
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