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'A heretical history of homo humping'.

'A HERETICAL HISTORY OF HOMO HUMPING' Paul Kidd, buggery.org, http://buggery.org

Paul Kidd describes buggery.org (1) as 'a repository for the ideas that excite me, the questions that trouble me and the challenges that face me ... This is a project in self-documentation, experimentation, communication and frustration'. (2) But this lyrical affirmation of the multiple possibilities of the weblog is matched by a healthy scepticism about the post format:
 I have struggled a bit with the weblog format. I'm attracted--who
 isn't?--by the immediacy, the ability to quickly post short snips
 of my life without having to formulate a full essay. But I worry
 that weblogs are (often) like fast food: cheap, not very
 nourishing, dangerously addictive. (3)


The post format is what distinguishes the weblog from its Internet forebears--websites, homepages, discussion lists and bulletin boards. The post is a concise unit of text and/or image characterised by frequent updates and hyperlinked text, and is generally a self-contained topical unit as short as one sentence or as long as several paragraphs. For those who have zealously described blogging as the radical democratisation of the digital public, the post represents the liberation of writers from the constraints of word count and the printed page. (4) But Kidd's fast food analogy is incisive. Not quite hearty enough, the short, fragmented nature of the post means that it can seldom elaborate an idea or keep afloat an argument of political or social consequence. This is, of course, central to the appeal of the medium. However, it presents a challenge for Kidd, who is expository by nature, and obviously professionally rigorous.

In what seems like an effort to overcome this conundrum, Kidd's richly hyperlinked text regularly refers us to more substantial pieces posted earlier or to 'The Lash': a part of the site which houses more protracted musing, essays, correspondence, travel tales, published works and articles from Positive Living (the Australian HIV journal Kidd edits, writes for, and for which he was awarded the annual HIV Media Awareness Award). So, for example, when Kidd describes the dance party gathering of the 'unified community which [he] steadfastly claims does not exist' (5) in one polemic, the hyperlinked text refers us to an earlier piece in 'The Lash' entitled 'There is no leather community' where he has already done the rhetorical work to support his assertion.

In the blogosphere, references offered by in-text hyperlinks are generally articles or news reports. Hyperlinks which refer to items within an individual's site typically turn out to be more ungratifying short references. And so this is a characteristic which distinguishes buggery.org from other weblogs. It gives an air of academic professionalism to a practice which has developed, according to Toril Mortensen, 'at the edge of the commercial, political, artistic [and] academic spheres'. (6) Does this make Kidd's site more flattering to cultured tastes? Increasingly, sites like this are becoming objects 'worthy' of academic interest, which invariably means they will be exposed to the symbolic violence of criticism and interpretation which has the potential to divest them of alternative meanings.

Buggery.org's consistent thematic preoccupations include HIV/AIDS, sexual citizenship claims, global terror, democracy, and events in the local queer community. Regularly interspersed are events both extraordinary and banal--Kidd moves to Melbourne, Susan Sontag dies, Kidd marries partner Brent in Canada--as well as regular slamming of the Howard government and the Bush administration. In his own words, the site is concerned with 'life, death, HIV/AIDS, politics, activism, anti-imperialism, religion, science, beauty, truth and love. And yes, buggery'.

Kidd's most memorable ruminations unfold when he negotiates the nebulous phenomenon often described as the 'conservative gay agenda'. If the convention amongst lesbians and gay men seeking to gain rights and achieve legal victories has been to embrace a heterosexist ideal of 'respectability', Kidd breaks with this. And it is precisely because the recourse to respectability perpetuates a hierarchical opposition between 'good gay' citizens, and 'bad queers'--the latter being thereby excluded from citizenship claims--that Kidd rejects it. Instead, his writing is positioned treacherously inside and outside of the logic of the liberal state and the normative paradigm of respectable citizenship. On the one hand, numerous posts in 2004 were concerned with the passing of the Marriage Act Amendment Bill in Australian Federal Parliament, which effectively prohibits legal and civil recognition of same-sex unions; the photo archive proudly documents his marriage to partner Brent in Canada, whom he refers to as his 'husband'. As a proud advocate of gay marriage Kidd flirts with the disciplinary, assimilative practices of heteronormativity. And yet, legatee to the sex radicalism of ACT UP and Queer Nation, Kidd is not convinced that the right to have sex, at home, with one's long-term partner is enough. In a commentary on the increasing level of prurient interest in sex at dance parties shown by police and other authorities, he bemoans the decision of the organisers of Sydney's 'Inquisition'--the biggest leather and fetish dance party of the year--not to provide a discreet area for sex on premises:
 with mainstream acceptance of homosexuality has come
 new limits on the kind of queer that mainstream society allows us
 to be, and I wonder how complicit we've all been in creating a
 world where homosexuality is normative, but deviance is
 outlawed ... Undoubtedly on Saturday night several partygoers will
 be removed from the Leather Pride party for letting the experience
 go to their heads and, in essence, for being 'bad queers' ... I
 feel sorry for them and for the party organisers who have to
 organise the event in the face of this naked homophobia. But I also
 feel sorry for the 'good queers'. Oppression of the people on the
 fringes should give little comfort to those in the centre. (7)


Kidd's musings reveal an implicit grasp of the tensions between the need for both strategies of acceptance and strategies of subversion: rival elements that are both indispensable to the social recognition of diverse ways of life. And his is a sex activism grounded in the quotidian: the everyday provision of HIV services, the everyday impact of legislative prohibition, and the consequences this will have for his own life and the lives of others. This twinning of the public and private is what makes buggery.org heir to certain AIDS activisms. Although most of Kidd's publishing energies regarding AIDS are devoted to Positive Living and ozpoz.org, a discussion board for people living with HIV/AIDS, buggery.org contains an AIDS clock showing up-to-the-second estimates of the total number of people infected with or dead from HIV/AIDS. A few clicks away, Kidd posts the results of his most recent bloodwork (the results of routine blood testing, including T-cell count and viral load), a gesture which makes the universal individual, subjective, and accessible. It also signifies a disavowal of privacy characteristic of the weblog, personalising the public as it publicises the personal.

In addition to the blog, Kidd's site includes 'A heretical history of homo humping' where Kidd works campily towards a creative reappropriation of the word 'buggery': 'Buggery is a concept, a trope, a meme which goes a lot deeper than anal penetration, bringing together a sense of the illicit, the forbidden, the secret'. In the spirit of reappropriation, the site also contains an encyclopaedic compendium of words, names, taunts and epithets for 'homosexual', dispossessing them of their injurious, pejorative connotations. Both of these projects complement the blog, which is itself a form of cultural appropriation. If posting is a type of montage--a sort of online scrap-booking of words, ideas and images from any number of places--it functions for the blog as a resignifying practice. A stream of sometimes decontextualised fragments from personal as well as public archives are refashioned in order to articulate queer subjectivities, identities and knowledges out of the lexicon of a collective archive.

It has been noted by more than one observer that blogging constitutes a form of knowledge making, or rather, remaking--reordering, reorienting, appropriating. Tyler Curtain puts it well, suggesting that blogging 'can fruitfully be read as an extension of an already diverse repertoire of cultural commentary, critique and (re)creation: from drag to theatre, from camp to novel writing, from photography to painting, to name only a few practices that draw on and re-present cultures hostile to same-sex pleasures and identities'. (8) As Kidd's site attests, blogging is a patently queer cultural practice. It is appropriate then that what is in essence a project in creative cultural citation/appropriation, Kidd describes as the 'queer contents of my head'.

(1) Paul Kidd, 'Buggery: Introduction', 6 February 2003, viewed 14 January 2005, www.buggery.org/buggery.php?story=buggery.

(2) Paul Kidd, 'bugger me, bugger you', 28 January 2004, viewed 14 January 2005, www.buggery.org/home.php?story=about.

(3) Paul Kidd, 'Greymatter', 16 April 2003, viewed 14 January 2005, www.buggery.org/cnt/mt/archives/2003_04.php.

(4) Meg Hourihan, 'What we're doing when we blog', 13 June 2003, viewed 7 January 2005, http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/javascript/2002/06/13/megnut.html.

(5) Paul Kidd, 'Pandasexual Pride', 22 May 2003, viewed 14 January 2005, http://www.buggery.org/thelash.php?story=20030522.

(6) Toril Elvira Mortensen, 'Personal Publication and Public Attention', Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs, 2004, viewed 6 January 2005, http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere/introduction_pf.html.

(7) Paul Kidd, 'Pandasexual Pride'.

(8) Tyler Curtain, 'Promiscuous Fictions', Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs, 2004, viewed 6 January 2005, http://blog.lib.umn.edu/blogosphere/introduction_pf.html.

DION KAGAN

Department of English with Cultural Studies

University of Melbourne
COPYRIGHT 2005 University of Melbourne Postgraduate Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Kagan, Dion
Publication:Traffic (Parkville)
Article Type:Website overview
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Words:1606
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