Ok, ok. So would you believe I’ve been absent these past 5 days because I was reading and working so much on my thesis that I had virtually no time to check in with myself? Yeah, me neither. But, here I am, day 12 and I’m crawling back to you, wearing a curiously similar outfit as when I left. I assure you dear, pretty blog I was not cheating. I was just hiding. My thesis was lost under a bag of uneaten almonds and an empty bottle of French Shiraz. So, with lips stained red and a head that pounds Christmas tunes in my ears I begin this post knowing it’s a new day and a new mood. Here we go:
Horoscope for Sagittarius on September 20, 2011
You might find yourself smack dab in the middle of a juicy situation today. If so, you’ll need to keep your ears and eyes open — and your mouth shut! If you spill any details, you run a real risk of getting a black mark on your reputation. Take advantage of your position in this thing as a source of entertainment, not a source of power. What you know (or find out) needs to go no further! Just watch and have fun. You’ll be able to talk about it soon enough.
See, this post seems to suggest that I should NOT do work and should people watch instead. Right? Or, hang with friends and eat beef. Yeah? But me, the ever diligent worker, always striving, grabbing a bite out of that cupcake in the inner recesses of the ozone layer, am prepared to bypass this advice from the Cosmos and get to work, work, work.
Fuck, I’d rather be dead.
Oh Christ, thinking of this jokey confession I remember a major moronic move I pulled last night. A close friend wrote a group of us a lovely email celebrating her life after surviving a very difficult illness in her teens. She wanted to acknowledge the anniversary of her transplant and her donor’s generosity and bravery–a donor she did not know beforehand. My friend thought she’d extend that chance to help someone in need to each of us emailing the details of the confidential registry her donor had joined. So me, in my dumbassery, replied to my friend’s email with the following:
“Of course I will join this registry. Without question. And I’m so happy to celebrate this day with you. I love and miss you my dead friend. xo.”
Can you spot the disaster?
My friend was hilarious and pointed out that she hopes I meant, “dear.” Fuck me. Lightening bolts anytime.
This all has a point. The idea of the potential within gifts, and the possible misuse of such potential, gets me thinking about what identity, often considered a right only offered the worthy, offers. What a term like homosexual promises. So, for this post, I want to concentrate on a quote that I think needs unpacking.
“No one wants to be called a homosexual,” says Leo Bersani in Homos. This quote has often been commented on by academics and activists alike who either disagree with Bersani, pointing to the various “successes” gays and lesbians (and, of course, bi, trans, queers, questioners, and a host of other identities I don’t fully comprehend like cis and poly) have achieved, or who agree with him because of the continued influx of homophobic violence that is attached with the label homosexual.
What I see happening in this quote, however, is a play on words. Bersani is highly critical of identity politicking in all its various forms. Cranky about the presumed notion that a “good citizen” is someone who is heterosexual, god(s)-fearing, a shopper, a buyer, a baby-maker, a man, white, a nationalist, and a consumer of all things “masculine” (Old Spice, hunting rifles, Budweiser, baseball or hockey tickets, camouflage cargos, Nascar racing caps, bouncy, bobble-head toys for cars, Trucks, ok, you get the picture), he’s even more cranked about the equation of good citizen with good person. So, the idea that “no one wants to be called a homosexual” could easily be understood as his rant against a society that dismisses, or, in more likelihood in this current circus of acceptance, who tolerates gayness. To be tolerated is to be accepted as lesser. It’s like that poor kid in the playground who your mother makes you invite to your party because you can’t leave people out. It’s not polite. It’s not PC. Being a homophobe is no longer PC. It’s still ramped, but you’re not going to get someone standing up in Congress calling someone else a fag. But you will get that same guy’s brother standing outside of Congress shouting that out of his Hummer.
As for the “successes” we’ve achieved like gay-marriage, the right to fight in a war as a openly queer soldier, the introduction of celebrity gays like Ellen, Jody Foster, Jane Lynch, and gay-themed-shows like the L-word or Mad Men (come on people!) and a load of other Hollywood homosexuals, Bersani would argue, as he has often, that this gay visibility does more to feed the heterosexual belief in charity and acceptance than it does to help ensure gay can remain gay. Or, to be blunt: Ellen Degeneres makes it ok to be gay as long as she marries, is wealthy, is not into kink, wears T-shirts, and keeps her corporate sponsors happily in the Hills. Gay is ok as long as it resembles normal.
So, returning to the quote “no one wants to be called a homosexual,” I wonder if Bersani is not giving us a type of word-puzzle. If “no one” wants to be called a homosexual, what do they want to be called? Options: a Homo? It’s becoming lucrative to be called a Hollywood homo as prefaced above, so maybe. Heterosexual? Well, no one is called that. They are simply presumed normative enough to just be that without question. So what else could he be gesturing to? I think he means for us to get our panties in a knot in disagreement so that we miss the call part of his declaration entirely. Perhaps what Bersani actually sees currently is what I see and others fear, that being called a homosexual is not something someone wants because it is means so little.
Embedded in the meaning of the word “fag” or Homo” is a politics of resistance on the one hand, and a fight for the right to be called something more respectful on the other. I mean for years and years many would have loved to be called a homosexual as opposed to the more offensive labels, but today the term just doesn’t quite capture anything.
To be called a homosexual is to be respected as such, yes, but perhaps it’s the being called at all that is at issue here. To be called to the Bar is to be called into the employ of the nation to protect its laws.To be called a PhD is to be outed as someone who took way too many years in school to figure out that school was school. Still, your duty is to do something, to become one who works for the embetterment of that nation, province, town. But the expectations therein also necessitate that you aspire to and mimic the requirements of being a goodly citizen. Once called a wife, mother, daughter, you are already answering that larger call to be a such and such. To infuse some current political fire in Bersani’s claim, then, to say “no one wants to be called a homosexual” might actually carry within it the “because being called a homosexual kills all possibility of anything else.” Of answering a call, or not. Of being a good citizen, or deciding what that actually means for those who are considered not good enough.
My phone’s ringing.