QUARE/KUAER/QUEER/(E)NTERSECTIONALITY: An Invitational Rhetoric of Possibility.
I remember the first time someone called me queer. I smiled. Finally, someone recognized that my brain, mind, and desires were different, and accepted me because, not despite, those differences. My queerness may not have been written on my body explicitly back then, but some people saw it, despite my ability to pass...
Invitational rhetoric calls for the inviting of the other into the world of the rhetor for the purpose of fostering dialogue, understanding, and possible shared meaning (Foss and Griffin 1995). Whether the rhetor invites others to share in ideas, perspectives, methodologies, epistemologies, or any category of difference, the goal is to not persuade or influence, but to understand each other. When discussing matters of sexuality and gender, entities as fluid as the water we drink, a space where difference manifests far beyond the essential categories available to avow or ascribe, it imperative that we foster a culture of understanding, engagement, and critical generosity (McCune 2017). Race, class, gender, and sexuality are complex, pervasive, variable, persistent, severe, and hierarchical systems of oppression (Weber 2001, Yep 2003). Individuals located at the intersections must negotiate different histories, economic disparities, and sex/gender systems, and experience the violence of racism, sexism, classism, heteronormativity (Yep 2003, 25), and homonormativity. Any type of normativity that privileges certain understandings of lived experiences over others creates an approach to difference that can be problematic, dismissive, and silencing. I want to reduce our reliance on the oppressor's language, troubling the way we talk about sexuality and difference within intercultural communication encounters. If matters of sex are involved, it is almost always intercultural.
In this essay I invite you, the reader, to share in my story, my body, and my understanding of queer possibility. I invite you to enter a messy intersection of intr(a)disciplinary difference (performance, autoethnography, critical cultural analysis) where I expose the intersections of my body (black, center of masculine, sometimes feminine, queer, parent of a gender fluid child and a cisgender child) in attempt to problematize the way we talk about sexuality and emphasize the possibility of queering sexual discourse.
I am queer. When I tell you about the way my mind perceives sexuality and gender as potential attractions (romantic and platonic), you may be slightly stunned. I am attracted to brain matter. I am attracted to rebellion. I am attracted to the open mind that can craft a radically imaginative, agentic, and inventive way to be sexed and gendered. I remember hearing "O.P.P." by Naughty by Nature for the first time. I listen to the metaphors, figure out the acronyms: other people's Penises, other people's Pussies, other people's Property. It doesn't resonate. Penises can be tantalizing, beautiful in their erect glory. Pussy is sweet, inviting, open. But for me, the P that I want, that I crave, that I fantasize about most: perspicacity. I crave minds so open, and thoughts so generative that I can walk around, sit for hours, soak in the sex of learning, sharing, and thinking together of new ways to fuck gender. I am attracted to brains. Brain matters. The genitalia the brain sends signals to are merely fun extensions of my fantasy, and not necessarily a part of every fantasy, unless we are fucking the fuck parts into a different existence. Mindfucking to me is real. I fantasize about rubbing against E. Patrick Johnson's frontal lobe in a discussion of quare, or Robert Gutierrez' occipital lobe during a critical performance of gender outside the confines of the binary. I imagine talcing Omi Osun Joni Jones parietal lobe out to lunch, feeding her dark chocolate covered coffee beans sprinkled atop acai and blueberry sorbet with Matcha green Tea for desert because it just sounds gay. I give her brain food, she produces pleasure. I fantasize about massaging Brenda Allen's temporal lobe on a daily basis because Difference Matters, and that is hella queer.
Intersectionality, What's So Queer about That?
Queer theory's reliance on dominant cultural symbols, or what Adrienne Rich calls the oppressor's language, results in an omission of issues centering on other modes of oppression and positions queer as a normative and exclusive theoretical framework. Acknowledging the limitation of queer theoretical discourse, scholars created choices that are race and class conscious--quare (Johnson 2001), womanist, and transnational--kuaer (Lee 2003), and inclusive of cissexual identities--queer heterosexuality (Smith, 1997). Despite such brilliant moves toward inclusivity by E. Patrick Johnson, Wenshu Lee, and Clyde Smith, queer theory continues to be criticized for its exclusivity, resulting in a scholarly brand of homonormativity. Normativity is a product of the oppressor's language. Our language privileges certain understandings of lived experiences over others that creates a dismissive and silencing approach to difference. However, by taking an intersectional and invitational approach to scholarship that values all aspects of difference, we can begin to embrace the way sexuality and gender move within and through others facets of our identities in the body. We are responsible for creating an invitational rhetoric that allows the freedom of embodiment, especially within rhetoric and intercultural communication, and takes into account the narrative of self and an ability to be self-reflexive and intersectional.
Carolyn Nielsen calls for a particular scholarly focus on the multiple and complex identities housed within single bodies within systems of power, and the ways in which we evaluate, interpolate, and embrace identity as plural, fluid, and difficult to define, yet germane to communication theory (2011). She notes that psychology, sociology, and law scholars explore intersectionality, however, communication, even within identity studies, only recently began to embrace intersectionality as theory and method. Communication scholars published 57 between 2007 and 2011, suggesting a growing trend; however, only 18 scholars identified intersectionality in the abstracts, or claimed intersectionality made a key contribution in their work (Nielsen 2011). In a 2018 search for intersectionality in Communication and Mass Media Complete alone, an all-text search yielded 746 results, 116 of those articles featured the term in the abstract, and 39 in the title, indicating that more research incorporating intersectionality as a framework is growing. However, of the recent studies published, intersectionality studies tend to focus on race, class, gender, and (sometimes) sexuality, almost unanimously, in that order. Dwight McBride reminds us of the catch all phrase, and the ways in which "it has ushered in a kind of general malaise, a hardening of the hart, and even a glazing over of the eyes at the mere mention of that by-now-familiar triumvirate of race, gender, and class (sexuality is sometimes added as an afterthought), that one theologian has rightly called compassion fatigue" (McBride 2005, p. 5).
Queering the intersections means looking at sexuality and gender, not as third and fourth dimensions situated on the binary, but as pivotal to how we talk about identity and as elusive because when we shift away from privileging the binary, we unlock a level of gender and sexuality theorizing that is unattainable. To queer intersectionality is to de-privilege clean, binary intersections over others. Queer intersectionality invites multiple stories of sexuality and gender that don't fit neatly into categories like lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, cisgender, queer, heterosexual, asexual, or intersexed. As a queer intersectional scholar, I am determined to avoid playing Oppression Olympics and, instead, allow individuals to trace their bodies within the discourse as they see fit. Our silhouettes should allow complexity and not give into the easy but dangerous singling out of identity categories as if they were exclusive, not housed within the single body, that one could easily pull apart, dissect, and entertain independently of the others. Scholars who undertake a queer intersectional approach embrace the multiplicity of identity without emphasizing certain facets of identity over others, or silencing bodies based on rigid binaries. To do this means understanding our reliance on the oppressor's tools and subsequent denial. Stop using the oppressor's language to talk to me, and instead allow the radically imaginative to unfold and offer new discourse, new understanding, and new language. For examples, see the work of Benny Lemaster, Gust Yep, J. Jack Halberstam, or works included in the forthcoming edited volume, Gender Futurity, Intersectional Autoethnography: Embodied Theorizing from the Margins co-edited by Benny Lemaster, Sohinee Roy, and me).
Calling the Kettle Privileged
April 7, 2011. (1) Dr. Cathy Cohen, a Black, queer, cisgender woman, delivered an inspiring keynote in Paris, France, on the politics of deviance and the dangers of heteronormative discourses for African Americans since our population doesn't tend to follow the nuclear familial model. She invited us to research deviance from the nuclear family as a form of resistance. While inspired by her talk, I felt like an imposter. At the time, I was perceived as a heterosexual, married woman, with two biological children, who fit the nuclear familial model in pictures. Though I engaged in deviance as resistance in many forms, my familial model on the surface was not one of them. I questioned what she would question about my authenticity. I raised my hand to ask a question because part of her presentation bothered my body. I belonged to a seemingly nuclear family, therefore, I am not one of her. I don't belong even though I know my intentions in studying representations of queer identity are emancipatory, not just for self-identified queer persons, but for those that aren't aware of their queerness yet, or those that have historically been erased due to bi-erasure and not being queer enough in some spaces and to queer in others. Or those that don't belong because despite raising gender fluid child, pictures don't broadcast those details. Looks can be deceiving. Because of my concerns, I pose a question to Dr. Cohen. "For someone like me, who has been labeled queer, but who has a husband and two children, is there a safe space for me to participate in this politic of deviance without being questioned in terms of my identity?" Dr. Cohen misunderstands my question as first, and says I will always have the "Well, I'm heterosexual," response to fall back on. She assumes I am heterosexual and that I am talking about my position in heterosexual circles where my identity could be challenged because I study sexual deviance. I clarify my question for her. "I am asking if there is a safe space for my body among queer scholars." She says that I am welcome as long as I am doing the work from a non-marginalizing standpoint, "with [my] cute little queer self". Again, I felt bothered in my body. Dr. Cohen called me cute and affirmed how I move through the world as a scholar with emancipatory goals. But I know it is not that simple or reductive. I know my beauty will not be a scapegoat in every queer space, nor is the scholarly world a Utopian welcoming ground where all accept deviant positions. I am marginalized as a Black, non-binary, pansexual human who uses rhetoric and intercultural communication, two areas historically known for excluding matters of the body, marginalized voices, and radical methodologies. I understand what it means to be oppressed. And in that moment I felt the silencing of my voice and the truncation of my complex identity into sexual materialism. I know when I am not welcome. My goals might be emancipatory for those that feel like me through educating those that do and don't, but that does not always enter the room before my body, signalizing that I am an accomplice in the fight for sexual and gender justice.
After her talk, several scholars come to me to offer alternative answers to my question. Of the six or so scholars that approach me and say that as long as I do the work well, no one will question my identity, authenticity, or authority to speak on issues affecting queer populations. While I want to be positive about this idea of welcoming potential outsiders as insiders, I know the answers are more complex than "you're welcome." I also know that Utopian ideals have no jurisdiction in scholarly conferences where there is perceived competition in the value and presentation of ideas as scholarship. The following Friday morning exemplifies my point to perfection.
Policing Space, Polling Identity
April 8, 2011. Three cis women sit in a row at the front of the room ready to present a panel on desire and the Black body. On the far right and far left are two Black women. One is heterosexual. I do not know how the other identifies. A petite, 65-year-old White, queer woman sits in the center. The Black woman on the far right and I talk candidly about her paper. She focuses on the HBO show Trueblood. As 11:30 am approaches, she says, "Where are those bitches? They better show up since I went to their panel." She begins her talk.
Five minutes into her presentation, the "bitches" enter the space. They head for the back of the room. They settle, the panelist continues. When she finishes her talk, the Black women on the far left begins. She presents a womanist rhetorical framework and sets up the White women's presentation, which centers on ballroom as an alternative space to the Black Church for gay men, and authentic voice as a womanist rhetorical tradition. The Black woman discusses issues of authenticity in research and the necessity for creating a safe space to insert your voice into scholarship regardless of identity. She then vouches for the White woman's scholarship. Within this safe space is the where the White women begins her presentation.
When the White woman finishes, brown and black hands fly into the air. One woman starts by thanking the first presenter for her paper and then proceeds to point out problems with the other two panelists. Another woman addresses the notion of authenticity, positing that the presenter can't use that word because of who gets to decide what constitutes authenticity. Ironically, another woman questions the White woman's narrative, referring to her as a White Negro (Mailer 1957), and questions her scholarship. She assumes that the White woman has no authority to study Black gay men because of her outsider status. Response after response seemed to be fueled by a pre-conceived perception that the White woman is not authorized to study what she studies, and the Black woman who vouched for her is also at fault for creating the space for the White woman to enter and referring to her as a friend. Deflated is an understatement when it comes to this idea of welcome.
Some of the comments during the panel are very constructive and help the Black woman shape her argument, especially with respect to authenticity and salvation, but most of the comments feel hostile. At one point, I asked the first presenter a question about Lafayette's character creating a space for the Queen in media representation as a positive thing. I also commented on the representation of masculinity that Nelson Ellis brings to his complex and powerful character, Lafayette. My question centered on the first presenter referring to of Lafayette mothering his baby cousin, TaraMae, instead of fathering her. To label him a mother takes away the agency in fatherhood, specifically in Black communities where fathering is already stigmatized as nonexistent, negative, absent. Good fathers are the exception. Lafayette fathering TaraMae is a positive representation of fathering. To call him a mother is to further negate fatherhood, and the ability for queer men to be fathers. The first presenter did not get an opportunity to answer my question. Another cis woman wanted to respond. She too disagreed with authenticity. She also disagreed with my notion of Lafayette problematizing hegemonic masculinity and fatherhood.
After her response, two other cis women complemented the 2nd two presenters for their work and also helped clarify some of the issues they saw. At the end of the panel, I went to the woman who addressed my questions. I didn't think she understood what I was saying, plus I was interested in her work on mothering. In our conversation, I spoke about masculinity, versus masculinities, and she immediately assumed I didn't read works by Marlon Riggs, E. Patrick Johnson, or Bryant Keith Alexander correctly. She didn't acknowledge my voice, but instead suggested I reread their work because she knew E. Patrick Johnson personally and he would disagree with what I was saying. (2) I didn't get to say anything else after that because she kept going on about mothering, etc. I realized she wasn't really listening to what I had to say, but stuck on the notions of masculinity and motherhood, so I let her finish and walked away. It was still disheartening that the space turned into a hostile environment because the "bitches" assumed certain voices didn't belong in the space due to their perceivable social identities. This was supposed to be a safe space, but it turned into a policed space where there was a hierarchy of authority that didn't include outsiders. I felt oppressed, silenced, and angry. Race, gender, and sexuality felt glued to binary hierarchies that rendered alternative modes of understanding, being, and becoming erased. Binary language oppresses us, or the reliance on reductive and essential ideals, not social identity categories at the root.
Reducing our Reliance on the Oppressor's Language (Normativity)
In 2005, Cathy Cohen articulated her search for a new political agenda that does not integrate into dominant structures, but redefines the very way people understand and respond to sexuality. While I agree with Cohen's sentiments in terms of wanting to create a new political agenda that redefines the way we understand and engage sexuality, the method Cohen uses to perform her brand of "antiassimilationist activism" (Cohen 2005, p. 21) relies on the very binaries she wishes to deconstruct, the dichotomy of dominant versus deviant, alternative versus normative, enemy versus ally. Cohen's research on mediated constructions of the Obama family demonstrate our reliance on dominant cultural symbols (normativity) and why that reliance impedes radical change.
Cohen's (2010) fears that President Obama's election limits, and possibly silences, discursive space to discuss sex, intimacy, and family because his nuclear family creates a disjunction between what Black youth do, think, and say. She claims that President Obama's narratives "contradict the true normative reality of family, and sex in Black communities... [His portrayals exclude] alternative forms of intimacy, and [his] speech crowds our honest reflective discussions about sex, family, and parenting among
Black Americans" (Cohen 2010, pp. 92-3). What troubles me most about Cohen's discussion is her dismissal of the Obama family, and the nuclear family in general. President Obama's nuclear family is not negative inherently; our privileging of that type of family as the only viable option is the problem. The more different examples we have, the fuller our discourse becomes, the more possibility for social change. While I don't agree with President Obama's heteronormative views about family, I do believe there is space for discourse about nuclear families just as much as there is space for the discourse Cohen so articulately defines where deviance can be promulgated as acceptable. When Cohen dismissed nuclear families because they aren't the norm, and claims a "true normative reality of sex and family in Black communities" exists (Cohen 2010, p. 93), Cohen polices the discourse of family in the same way that President Obama patrols what should be considered acceptable family norms.
In another example, Cohen uses QUASH's statement "fuck the heterosexual, nuclear family. Let's make families which promote sexual choices and liberation rather than sexual oppression," (Cohen 2005, p. 27). I cringe. Sexual choice and liberation do not reside solely in the performance of sexuality and cisgender identity, but in the discourse. In my perceived nuclear family, I redefined the discourse of sex, gender, and sexuality, exposing my children to language that challenges the very ideas of sexuality and gender and fosters a more fluid understanding of sexual and gender identity. I encourage them to write their own desires. I am also raising a gender fluid child. Together, we consistently navigate a terrain that is not always friendly or welcoming, despite espousing to be. It is not about limited discourse; it is about refusing to use what Adrienne Rich calls the oppressor's language to dismantle what Audre Lorde calls the Master's house, and instead, create what bell hooks calls new tools, new words, and new worlds that allow each other to build our houses from scratch and according to our own desires.
I want to be clear here and articulate my love for Cathy Cohen's work. Her research trajectory is one that creates a space for Black youth to articulate their sexual desires, practices, and needs in productive ways. This essay is not meant in any way to chastise Dr. Cohen for her language use, but to point out the subtle ways in which we perpetuate oppressive language, and the steps we can take to be more reflexive and cognizant of those insertions.
I think of my own body and the ways in which it approaches reflexivity in the intersections. I am sensitive to the discourse pitting heterosexuals against homosexuals. I am neither one or the other fully, but somewhere resting anxiously betwixt and between both, where my body is constantly erased by others that don't see, understand, or choose to blind themselves to my presence. I also think of the vast intragroup differences within sexual categories due to the vast intragroup differences within race, class, gender, religion, spirituality, beauty, geography, and other modes of experience. I also think of gender and how gender is placed on my body via gazes, clothing, questions, and assumptions. I do not fit in binaries or boxes. My body is not one or the other. My body has no seems. My body is a complicated performance of all of those things as a Black, queer, pansexual, sapio sexual, gender fluid, masculine of center, sometimes femme, blended queer and fluid family, conundrum of names and dispositions. Until we can enter the messy intersections of bodies and understand the complex interlocking of categories that may or may not fit perfectly, we will be normative.
Why I am not Heterosexual or Cisgender
Ingrained in the idea of heterosexuality is the abuse, violence, oppression, requirements and, thus, fulfillments of certain duties for women and men (Yep 2003). American society forces heterosexuality on its citizens from the beginning of life, where heterosexual discourse (albeit quiet yet ubiquitous) forces us to think about marriage, babies, moral obligation, duty, attraction, opposites, natural fits, and normalcy. As citizens, we are supposed to do certain things with our bodies that may leave use raped, in domestic partnerships that aren't fulfilling, emotionally abused, beaten, etc. The reliance on heteropatriarchy and heteronormativity within the confines of heterosexuality predisposes society to the violence of heteronormativity (Yep 2003). By creating normativity, we exclude lived experiences. The intersections of sexuality, opposition, patriarchy, power imbalance, and dominance are what fuels the rape, objectification, emotional abuse, and violence directed at the other.
I refuse to claim the space of heteronormativity. I am not a heterosexual. I am sexual. Actually, I am intersextional. Some days I think about sex all day. Some days I don't think about sex all. It depends on what I am wearing, who I am seeing, how I am feeling. My sex is progressive and heavily dependent on the intersections I walk throughout the day.
I approach sexuality as a fluctuating part of my identity. It allows for more fluid understandings of sexuality that hetero and homo do not allow. This is precisely what I, and others, argue constitutes the possibility of a queer rhetoric (Yep 2003, Chinn et al, 1992; Halperin 1995, Slagle 1995).
Unfortunately, I am not considered queer enough as a pansexual human. I experienced the privilege afforded me if I date a person perceived to be cis-maculine. In those moments, I don't have to second-guess public affection or think about familial approval. However, dating a person perceived as cis-masculine means being ostracized by some queer communities and not being queer enough.
I cannot hide my blackness. I do have to second-guess appearing in public with any partner. I do worry about the hate behind stares in predominantly white neighborhoods an spaces I frequent because of work. I do to worry about being harassed by police while our government officials turn the other cheek. I do worry about the possibility that my son might want to buy skittles and Arizona Ice-T in the middle of a basketball game and never come home because the White neighborhood watchman on duty perceives my son as a threat and shoots him dead.
I cannot hide my gender, though my body is mis-gendered daily. Despite not identifying as a cisgender woman, I do worry about being raped, again. I do worry about being sized up and ignored. I do worry about the series of attacks on women, our sexual bodies, and our reproductive justice. As a gender fluid, center of masculine presenting human, I do worry about cis men perceiving me as threat to their sexuality and relationships. I do worry about being mistreated in public spaces. I do worry about bathroom stares and the amount of cognitive dissonance required just to urinate in public. I worry about all of my trans siblings facing a host of problems all their own and the ones that overlap here.
Queer theory does not care about my blackness, or the attack on my gender fluid, perceived-to-be heterosexual body. Queer theory has been limiting in terms of race, class, and gender futurity, repositioning queer as another normative theoretical frame that restricts identity. However, by talcing an intersectional an invitational approach to scholarship that values all aspects of identity, we can begin to embrace the ways gender and sexuality move within and through others facets of our identity. We are responsible for creating an invitational rhetoric that allows the freedom of embodiment and takes into account the narrative of self and an ability to be self-reflexive and intersectional.
A Quare/Kuaer/Queer Challenge or Why I am Queer
Queer theory aims to deconstruct binaries, thus dismantling the oppressions they propagate (Fuss 1991); however, the reliance on dominant cultural symbols perpetuates certain binaries whiles deconstructing others (Johnson 2009). A rhetoric of quare/kuaer/queer possibility can bring to the light notions of difference in an effort to understand and celebrate those differences through an honest destabilization, disintegration, and dismantling of identities in historical and political contexts, so that new forms of self, community, and social relations will emerge (Seidman 1996). Dwight McBride (2005) warns us of the similar exclusivity in race scholarship when he says, "more needs to be done to reimagine race; to create new and inclusive mythologies to replace old, weather-worn, heterosexual masculinity-centered ones; to reconstitute 'the black community' as one that includes our various differences as opposed to the monolith to which we inevitably seem to return" (p. 223). The same must be said for homonormative discourse. My Black, female, queer, middle class body is erased by both queer and racial discourses. It is my mission to reinsert my body into those discourses. Within my performative and political body, I hope to create new language for understanding my place within, outside, and all around discourse. A queer rhetoric of possibility creates space for me to do just that.
"Queer world-making is the opening and creation of spaces without a map, the invention and proliferation of ideas without an unchanging and predetermined goal, and the expansion of individual freedom and collective possibilities without the constraints of suffocating identities and restrictive membership (Yep 2003, 35). I am queer. Queer implies non-normativity (Halperin 1995, Slagle 1995), thus possibility. I am fluid. "Perhaps the most appealing aspect of a queer identity is the refusal to name what that identity means. In other words, a queer identity celebrates the difference and diversity of the individuals who are oppressed by the heterosexist mainstream without fixing or essentializing that identity" (Slagle 1995, p. 87). We are all oppressed by heterosexism. We can all benefit from a celebration of our difference versus pathologized difference and indifference. I like being queer and fluid. Morisson (192) argues that "[m]aking the term as open and flexible as this allows its users to avoid both kinds of definitional boundaries that entrap one and narrow one's possibilities for action, and an essentialism that assumes a term's metaphysical grounding" (Morrisson, as cited in Slagle 1995, p. 87). For this very reason, "a lot of gay people aren't queer, and a lot of queers aren't gay (Chinn et al, 1992, p. 81). I am queer. I am fluid.
I challenge queer theorists to be truly open, to be truly un-guided by domination. Being open requires a full understanding of all the injustices done the world over, it requires a level of sensitivity to white, heterosexual privilege for the sake of broadening discourse, not pointing the finger. It requires reading multiple stories (Adichie, 2009), spending time with as many different types of people as possible, not just from oppressed intersections, but ALL intersections. We have to be willing to open ourselves to the possibility that we might have used language in the past to exclude someone, that we may be the harbor of essentialism, that we are products of the society we live in. We have to be willing to tell our stories, even the ones society tells us are inappropriate, too harmful, too liberal, or too conservative. "By being frank, and bringing our experience into public discourse, we create the opportunity to imagine new ways of articulating self and other, especially by telling the stories we are afraid to tell" (McBride 2005, p. 99).
I invite you to recognize the dominant cultural symbols that fuel our field and the very way we understand aspects of sexuality. As long as we have hetero, homo, and bi boxes to check, we continue to limit the way we dialogue about sex and sexuality. As long as we focus on rigid binaries, like cis gender identity, systems of oppression, and the oppressor's language, we stifle the possibility that is queer, fluid, intercultural, and potentially emancipatory. I understand that this is an invitation into my queer rhetoric of possibility. I recognize that there are many who will not see my body as queer, ever, because of the man I married, because of the privilege I experience as a perceived heterosexual body, because of the perceived nuclear family I birthed. But I refuse to prove my queerness or my fluidity through discourse. Instead I just be. And despite potential dissonance, I still see the possibility in queer, and I will hold onto that because I recognize the oppressor's language working and I recognize what feels right for me.
1. I didn't have a language for my sexuality at the time, but I knew I wasn't heterosexual
2. I tried to talk to her about the notion of masculinity and fatherhood. My position regards Lafayette as a complex rendering of masculinity that problematizes rigid notions of hegemonic masculinity. Lafayette, a gay, African American character, participates in queer world-making. He nurtures his baby cousin, confronts three white men when they order an "Aids Burger" because he is gay, dresses in femme clothing, and stands up for himself to far more powerful vampires. He does many things that lend to his own particular brand of masculinity that I thoroughly enjoy watching. I felt that calling him a mother is to deny agency to fathers and masculinity, as if fathers cannot be nurturing, sensitive, or affectionate. Or as if masculinity can only be toxic. She disregarded that, and claimed because I used the word masculinity, which she assumed to be singular, I was blaspheming E. Patrick Johnson's work, whom she claimed to be friends with, which lent her some sort of special credibility. Without knowing who I am, where I have studied, or the type of work I produce, she told me to re-read E Patrick Johnson's work.
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|Title Annotation:||challenge to scholars to reduce reliance on dominant cultural symbols|
|Article Type:||Viewpoint essay|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2018|
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