A Queer Discourse

     A Queer Discourse explores the dichotomies between queerness’ inherent radicality and widespread acceptance, cultural transmission in the face of generational erasure, and the changing ideas surrounding what it means to be queer, examined across multiple cultures and generations. These environmental portraits and interviews trace threads of a narrative that begins before Stonewall and runs into the present day. Regardless of the disconnects that drive us apart, we share in the collective history that contextualizes our daily existence, despite the omissions that often obscure its full breadth.

“All of the friends I made in middle school and high school were all friends and then all of a sudden we were all queer. I don’t know how that happens, but I feel like so many people say that that happens to them, or say that maybe you find each other before you even know that that’s why you’re friends. All of my friends are just not straight, pretty much.”

"I’m disconnected as fuck as well because I live in a bubble, and I didn’t really realize this until I was put in a situation where I was basically homeless for a few months. So it means that I didn’t have this privilege that I was kind of aware of, but only peripherally. I kind of have class privilege- I don’t make that much money, and my parents don’t make that much money, but just the fact that I was able to go and have this education and be able to hold a job that will allow me to be a gentrifier or live in a gentrified space, that’s a power in itself. I think that a lot of queer kids who are people of color, who have had the opportunities that I’ve had, are able to shield themselves a little bit better. Which is not to say that racism or homophobia or whatever the fuck doesn’t exist, because it does and it affects us all, but there’s definitely that shielding."

“A lot of the young gay guys take for granted what other people had to go through so they could walk down the street holding hands with their boyfriends. In the late eighties, even in New York City, if you walked down the street holding hands with your boyfriend, you could get beat up. There were still vans of yahoos from Jersey coming into the city in vans with their baseball bats and gaybashing- That’s when gaybashing was still happening. They would get out of the vans, a bunch of them, and they would gaybash people. They would beat people to death with their baseball bats. Usually it was one skinny little guy walking through the village. That’s when they had the pink panthers, the roving bands that would patrol neighborhoods. You could still get killed for being gay.”

"As a queer person, I think it's important that my queerness and identity start with myself and figuring out what I can do to be a better person, or a less shitty human being, as well as a queer person specifically."

“I don’t really label myself. 30 years ago, I would have labelled myself as a lesbian, but I’ve been married to a man. Got married when I was 20. We were married for a year. I didn’t know I liked women, and then I left. And then I met a woman who seduced me and that was that for about 30 years. Actually there’s been some men in between as well… So I don’t know if I would call myself bisexual now, or a lesbian or just- Like I said, I don’t really label myself. As things are now, I think that living in Northampton is a very sheltered, claustrophobic area to live and there are lesbians here and it’s easy to be who we are without worrying about discrimination.”

“We just got married in Finland. It’s not a big fuss, you just go to an agency. Interestingly, I just heard on the radio the other day that [in Finland] male couples are more registered in marriage than females, and only like 200 female couples are now married in Finland, and it’s been going on for a year now. In Finland, being married has exactly the same rights as having a domestic partnership. My cousin, for example, has been in a domestic partnership with her husband for 40 years, so marriage is not a thing. It’s not a goal, it doesn’t give you any benefit financially.”

“Race is almost always at the forefront of my mind. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about race. But sexuality? Almost never. I hang out with a lot of gay people and go to gay bars and shit; I go to drag shows and I’m surrounded by queer people a lot of the time, but at the same time the discrimination against queer people is not something that I think about a lot. And I think that part of that is that I’m in New York and people can be dicks but usually it’s not that bad. It’s also probably better for me because I’m pretty white-passing... People who say they’re colorblind, that’s not a real thing. You can tell someone’s black. But you don’t look at somebody unless they’re really presenting that way, you don’t look at somebody and say oh you’re gay or oh you’re a lesbian or you’re trans or whatever. But it’s much more of a visual reaction when it comes to race.”

“During the AIDS crisis as a lesbian there was this weird feeling of guilt that our community was so much better off... The kind of homophobia that a gay man was gonna get hit with compared to what a lesbian was gonna get hit with were completely different. I was still on the younger end of that. [My brother and his wife] took me to an AIDS march, and I can remember feeling really proud to be walking in that march. They had this call and response thing where a facilitator up on stage would say “we take you into our hearts,” and then they did all the public figures first, but then they just kept going for the audience. There was a guy standing maybe two to three people away from me and he just kept going, and he kept listing, and he must have listed a hundred names of people until he finally just fell down in sobs. It was one of the big transformative moments in my life of understanding how deeply painful and how hard-hitting that was in the community.”

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