Munoz: Utopia & the Stages to it

Today in lecture we discussed Munoz’s writing about “stages” and the Utopian performative. This reading really caught my eye to talk about for this blog post because it’s an idea/theory that I’ve never pondered on before. To be honest, when I first read the title and even once I got a good way through the writing, I thought there was only a negative connotation to the idea of “stages”. Munoz touches on this when he explains how the idea of “stages” intersects with unaccepting, or confused parents dealing with their child coming out as homosexual. He writes, “…how they sometimes protect themselves [parents] from the fact of queerness by making it a “stage,” a developmental hiccup, a moment of misalignment that will, hopefully, correct itself or be corrected by savage pseudoscience and coercive religion, sometimes masquerading as psychology.”  I’m pretty sure anyone who’s ever came out as gay, lesbian, or anything straying from heteronormativity has dealt with this very real “stage”. But I do think that with time this stage will probably/hopefully start to occur less and less, because I am an optimist and hope that queerness will eventually be more accepted. However, not all stages are as somber. We discussed in class how these stages can represent opportunity, the spot light, and performance in a really positive light. There’s opportunity to perform on a stage where you can be yourself and who you are in that moment. Most people are fluid and constantly changes and a stage is a snapshot or performance of ones self at a particular time, but not permanent. Punk/ queer people intersect with their ability to not conform to societal norms, and I think that’s why Munoz picked these two subcultures and expanded on the idea of using a stage to “perform” and aim for this utopia. I overall thought that he was saying there are stages in which queer/punk men perform/go through, aiming to reach this idea of a true utopian performativity, although all stages may not be perfect. I feel like this reading could have been interpreted many different ways, so please let me know what you guys think, am I way off??

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The Craft: Utopia Edition

The Munoz reading really took my eye this week for a blog post. The “it’s just a phase” movement by delusional parents has no only affected myself, but countless other approval-seeking coming of age youths. While that example caught my eye, I found the idea of how one stages a utopia to be more intriguing. In his work Munoz says, “Utopia is not prescriptive; it renders potential blueprints of a world not quite here, a horizon of possibility, not a fixed schema. It is productive to think about utopia as flux, a temporal disorganization, as a moment when the here and the now is transcended by a then and a there that could be and indeed should be.” It made me develop the linkage between the delusion unknowing parents craft when dealing with wild queer youths and such. It’s only a hypotheses but I believe that the notion that Munoz was intentionally grabbing at is that we should focus more on the manner in which we script and cast our version of Utopia and how some utopias while different, could prove dissatisfactory for others. At least in the situation regarding discouraging parents and the notion of the “its just a phase”. Additionally, I enjoy the other idea that he presents pertaining to the temporality, spatial, and potentiality of one’s utopia. It goes without saying that everyone’s utopia is different however, not everyone consciously constructs their utopia in the same mentality. That mentality being the conscious crafting of one’s utopia while incorporating the philosophical yet realistic aspects that could prompt a more accurate Utopia. Do you feel the same way? Or am I just a nut who is reading way into a reading?

The Ideal Vs. the Reality

While all of the readings in this class have been interesting to say the least—the writing that sticks with me most is Audre Lorde’s “Age, Race, Sex and Class.” Out of all the authors, Lorde’s background is the one I identify with most. She covered a lot of topics in this publication and criticized society for things I am guilty myself of. Specifically, I am referring to the part of her essay where she suggests that those who are outsiders, typically harbor resentment towards individuals who fall outside of the “mythical norm” in opposite ways. This message stands out to me, and I see this type of behavior throughout the day in life and extensively on social media. From the impoverished people who don’t like gays to the immigrant who says racists things, or the gay guy who looks down on those who are uneducated.  This behavior is unsettling, and as Lorde put it, those who have been oppressed will not escape their status by demeaning other groups of oppressed people.

There as so few people who fit perfectly into these ideal standards—young, straight, educated, white, attractive, financially secure, Christian male. Yet, at some point in everyone’s life it is so tempting to try to align his or herself with them.  While the few individuals who do fit perfectly, or almost perfectly, into these categories he or she is not inherently bad or evil. Still as history has shown us, people who benefit from the oppression of others will do everything in their power to continue to reap the rewards. Truly the oppressors have won by turning minorities against each other—they taught us to hate ourselves and to hate our differences.  The solution to this dilemma is to accept everyone, and together minorities can create an unstoppable force against inequality. As simple as this sounds, I could not imagine in a thousand years that such a thing could ever occur.  Hate is immensely powerful and it’s everywhere, as so is fear and insecurity.  In small groups people can get along, but we have yet to find a way to do so on a large scale.

As pessimistic as I may sound, this is my perspective of society. From incidents I’ve witnessed, and experiences I’ve lived through, and  from reading Audre Lorde’s take on this thirty years ago and realizing how much it still applies to our world now.

“The Bathroom Problem”

A reading that I thought was really interesting was Jack Halberstam’s Female Masculinity, more specifically “The Bathroom Problem.”  This stuck out to me because it brought up questions I never thought about like how a transgender person has so much trouble using the bathroom.  Something that for me I never even have to think about which bathroom I am going to use.  It can be confusing if a transgender woman who still has masculine features is trying to use the bathroom.  Or even a lesbian woman who appears very masculine; or a person who does not identify as a male or a female.  The bathroom is something that for some reason many people take very seriously and insist on separate bathrooms for women and men.  Especially today with Trump trying to remove Obama’s protections for transgender student bathrooms and facilities in public schools.  He is trying to tamper with state laws, which will remove transgender equality in bathrooms.  It is nice to see that many bathrooms at the University of Delaware are for all genders or are gender neutral.  I do not understand why there even is a bathroom problem.  It should not matter which bathroom anyone decides to use.  A transgender man or woman should not be afraid to use the bathroom at school because of the risk of not fitting in or getting bullied.  The bathroom should not be a dangerous place for people.  Society needs to realize that there should not be a “bathroom problem” because using the bathroom should not be a problem for people who identify as different genders or no gender at all.

Quare in the Media

Today in class we were talking about white privilege because of the term we talked about “quare,” a term that is usually for LGBT people of color to use instead of Queer. I was thinking about how recently, LGBT people have been showing up in advertisements more often, in television and other media. It is interesting to see though, that usually, it is two white men portrayed in advertisements or two white women. It is funny to see that the way we are introducing the queer community into the media is through using white people to warm up the public. Famous gay people like Ellen and Neil Patrick Harris are constantly treasured (not that I don’t also like them, but they have no trouble being accepted by the public, having talk shows and multiple tv appearances). How many LGBT people of color can you name off the top of your head? Yet Ruby Rose, Kristen Stewart, Anderson Cooper, etc., seem to pop up right away. Even a search on google for lgbt celebrities will gladly redirect you to Ellen and Neil Patrick Harris in big font.

I think we are moving away from this though thankfully. Recently, Lush’s valentines day advertisement showed what appeared to be an interracial gay couple sharing a bath. However, the lesbian couple they showcased indeed was white. Also Laverne Cox has a role in a popular netflix series and presents awards on award shows. However, Caitlyn Jenner seems to be more of a transgender “icon” compared to Laverne Cox, due to fame and also most likely her whiteness. Despite Caitlyn Jenner being extremely problematic, she represents the trans community more than Laverne does in the public’s eye. RuPaul’s television show isn’t even on ordinary cable, even though it has won awards and is several seasons in.

While I think  we have made some strides, it would be great to put more LGBT people of color in media. I can understand why “Quare” is used in place of “Queer” for people of color considering the public, due to the media, associates Queer people as being white.