You’re such a faggot: My Queer Introduction

I know, I know. It’s been a minute. Trying to get back into the swing of things. Committing to posting at least once a month this year. Once a week was too much. Let’s see how we do in 2015 starting with this piece I wrote a while back, however after a convo I had this past weekend, I feel it’s still relevant. Up next month: “I Met God, She’s Black – and why this is Good News for everyone.”  pride_9 The first time I was called a faggot I was in the third grade. It happened during a basketball game. Like most days, I was playing with the boys, however, this time losing to a girl proved to be too much for one of my fellow classmates. You’re such a faggot, he said.

At the time, I had no idea what he meant. I figured it was a step up from being identified as a tomboy – as such, I had to contend with the stigma of being presumed a lesbian, as well as, respond to the accusation that I had some kind of “penis envy.”  Better yet, I was forced to consider the fact that I did not fit into any of these categories and because I didn’t fit, I was, for all practical purposes, a faggot.

Nowadays, I find myself trying to find new terms to describe rather than define my own gender and orientation. In fact, I often find that I am more comfortable remaining somewhat ambiguous and trying to hold these identities in tension rather than self-identifying as one or the other—even though a socially imposed identification is almost inevitable.

Of course, when push comes to shove, I prefer the term queer or genderqueer; a catch all term for those who reject heteronormativity (the view that people fall into distinct and complementary genders with natural roles, sexual orientations, etc.) and resist binaries (the classification of sex and gender into two distinct and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine).

In addition to it being an umbrella term, I tend to use the word queer as both an adjective, to refer to any person or people who reject normative definitions of gender, as well as, a verb, to refer to the ways that a person or people may transgress or “queer” gender (i.e. expressing it non-normatively).[1]

TRANSGRESSION

To infringe upon or go beyond the bounds of a moral principle or other established standard of behavior. Again, to queer. When I use the words “transgression” and “queer” I am referring to the act of disobeying sociopolitical categories that have been created and reinforced in order to maintain a particular form of hegemony (i.e. patriarchy, heteronormativity, white supremacy, etc.), to the point in which they no longer have power (i.e. control).

It is then, and only then, that I believe a new order of equity, multiplicity, and creativity can be individually negotiated and communally re-imagined. Furthermore, I believe this kind of transgression and undoing of hegemony is the work of the Church and Christian theology. Panel on LGBTQ Youth Homelessness: how can the Church respond faithfully?  http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/m/APParticle.php?AID=49902&i=7&s=Youth CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY

I begin my theological understanding with the following prepositional statement: Christian theology is queer theology. It is my hope that in the pages and chapters to follow that the connection between the two becomes clear. However, by way of introduction, I wish to further explain what I mean by the words “Christian” and “queer.”

I have always wrestled with calling myself a Christian. When taken seriously, the term can never be neutral; nor is it without historical baggage. Instead, what was once taken to mean “follower of Christ,” is now associated with historical events such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, various and continued forms of slavery, military campaigns, witch-hunts, etc. It is a legacy that has fostered war, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and many other unnamed forms of hegemony, bigotry, and intolerance of difference that has resulted in the desecration of entire cultures and peoples, as well as, the environment.

It is no wonder then, that the term has been met with suspicion, frustration, and sometimes, downright rejection. That said, it is my belief that anyone claiming the term or title “Christian” must account for and wrestle with the weight of these things.

For me, the wrestling is what defines me as a Christian. I wrestle with the events of history and find ways take responsibility for the way those events effect the world today. Which necessarily means, I cannot be passive or neutral. But rather, I must engage in a kind of faith-in-action.

With this in mind, I believe in order to be “Christian” one must undergo a radical re-orientation towards the root truths of Christianity, remembering the core teachings and practices of Jesus the liberator, such as, bringing good news to the poor (Matt 11:2-6; Luke 6:20-26); protecting the widow, the orphan, and the stranger; giving and receiving hospitality (Luke 7:35-50); turning the other cheek, not as an act of passivity or nonresistance, but as Walter Wink describes it, “a third way,” a commitment to nonviolence even in the face of death (Matt. 5:38-39; Matt. 26:52); rejecting materialism/wealth with simple living, transforming the social order with voluntary poverty (different from those living in forced poverty), confronting state oppression and power (Luke 1:51-55); and release of the captives (Luke 4:18, 19; John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11, 17:16, 18:36).

In other words, I believe that in order for a theology to be “Christian” it must be deeply informed by theological ideas and actions – as seen in the life of Jesus- that co-celebrate and co-liberate us. It is important to note that such liberation will be perceived to be so politically and socially subversive, that the State and nowadays even the Church (an extension of the State) will deem these actions and individuals socially and politically unacceptable—reason enough to arrest and put a person to death by crucifixion.

That is what I mean by the word “Christian;” a kind of social and political solidarity with ‘the least of these’ paired with risk and resistance—resisting hegemony, risking death—rooted in liberation (Luke 15:1-2). Of course, everything about that to me is also queer—as in, strange, curious, and unconventional. But also, queer in a sociopolitical sense; outside the bounds of “normal” society, breaking rules, refusing to engage in traditional essentialist identity politics, becoming socially and politically unacceptable.[2]

With this in mind, one might consider the following: that to be queer or to queer something is to be liberated and to liberate—that is, something or someone from normative and oppressive constraint. It is to engage in a kind of risk and resistance rooted in liberation. It is no wonder then, to me, that throughtout the process of articulating my own Christian theology I have inevitably become more queer. 465028_10101277349024162_50143594_o

Real t,

alli  

[1] Dahir, Mubarak. “Whose Movement Is It?” Editorial. The Advocate 25 May 1999: 52. [2] “Alphabet Soup: Labels and Empowerment.” Retrieved on Dec 30, 2011.

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