Last November, FAQ facilitated a workshop on Queer at the Genders and Power festival, vol. 3, a workshop that was interestingly engaging since people were willing to allow and embrace the diversity, partiality, and impossibility of full comprehensiveness embedded in queer practice and queer theory. This text is an attempt to engage with and elaborate on queer as a material-semiotic facet that dares to unfold unspoken and uninterrogated norms and assumptions, since we believe that the complexity rooted in everyday queer practice and discourse does not mean that it would be impossible to use it as a differential tool for action and social change. To the contrary, queer is a hopeful tool for social change mostly because it tries to tackle lived experiences and embodiments with all their complexity without attempting at reductive simplification for the sake of false clarity.
FAQ reads Queer both as a transpositional and intersectional concept that navigates in/between/across sexuality, ethnicity, gender, class, age, dis/ability, and personal instances that might not be explained by the familiar categories of social classes, but also as a tool in deconstructing both heteronormative and homonormative discourses that mold our lives. Queer signifies something relational and strange that resists the social drive to classify and categorize individuals; in Sedgwick’s words, “Queer is a continuing moment, movement, motive – recurrent, eddying, troublant” (Tendencies 1993: xii). By queerly out-voicing our thoughts and desires we reclaim the act of being visible in a way that constitutes the multiplicity of identities we all hold simultaneously as well as the myriad of roles we assume as queer beings.
The absence of a secure and fixed identification can cause discomfort, rendering queer as a glitch, an anomaly, in the perspective of the normative. To reverse that perspective, this begs the question as to how the normative is constituted as ‘normal’, yet also the very hold that the tentacles of the normative take over our quotidian bodies, thoughts, lives. What is ‘normal’, how does ‘normal’ become normal, and what counts as ‘normal’, and not? We may begin, from a logic of binary thinking that tempts us to feel safe to walk on a straight line with only two edges; feminine-masculine, heterosexual-homosexual, white-of color, ability-disability, normality-abnormality. It generates a sense of security when what is called normal (as the dominant, hegemonic discourse) claims objectivity, credibility, universality and operates –in Foucault’s words– as a “regime of truth”, a kind of truth that “is produced by virtue of multiple constraints [a]nd it induces regulated effects of power” (The political function of the intellectual 1976: 112). These very concepts are rooted in a philosophical tradition, namely humanism that strictly defines its premises/assumptions and borders its intelligibility by any means. Hence, this sense of security is based on power relationships where those who are oppressed (the abnormals, the abjects, the monsters, the queers) stay silenced and invisible. However, demystifying dominant discourses and uncovering the ways hegemonic practices have appropriated origin myths are elements of a Queer reading of our everyday lives. These concepts that purportedly grant security and stability are not mere concepts but rather processes; processes which signify and put scary, risky and contingent things together.
A meaningful sequel to FAQ’s workshop took place on the second day of the Festival. Following up on the first day’s discussions on queer, the participants then discussed whether the queer communities tend to create different sounding norms, yet norms nonetheless, within their circles. Even though queer takes its radical potential from inviting us to think beyond norms, predetermined identities and binaries, can there be a possibility that Queer is being defined by a set of counter-norms, creating a new set of subtle community rules by which “good” queer practice can be defined? As FAQ members who were participating in the said discussion, we would like to point at the significance of having reflexive discussions on the journey of concepts such as queer through our bodies, lives and politics, and hope to continue engaging in further discussions on how queer can be thought and embodied by anarcho-feminism.
Queer creates undecidable relations, which work at the margins of the subordination to identity (regardless of the multiplicity identities might entail). Sometimes queering the norm goes hand in hand with norming the queer, therefore a conceptualization of the subjectivized individual, i.e. the subject (and its identity) as non-unified and non-self-fulfilled is elemental. Instead, it should be understood as a series of flows, energies, capacities, a series of fragments capable of being linked together in ways other than those which congeal it into a secure identity.
Therefore, a re-reading of queer is really important, since it could unfold a new kind of assemblage that does not follow any principles of sameness, but rather it is dimensionally extended over space and time, undergoing multiple transformations simultaneously. We would dare to say that Queer through our anarcho-feminist lenses forms a map and not a tracing deconstructing at the same time a tendency to tell an absolute and complete story.