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but...
I was pointed recently to the Crate & Barrel Ultimate Wedding Contest web page. Which includes a queer couple among the winners, and treats it as unremarkable.

Which is pretty cool.

It got me thinking about a story I've been telling a lot the last couple of days, in response to people commenting (generally positively) on the lavender shirt I wore to muffyjo's awesome birthday party yesterday, which involves my commenting tongue-in-cheek to a pastel-wearing coworker of mine a couple of weeks ago that it takes a man secure in his masculinity to wear pastels, and subsequently commenting (again, tongue-in-cheek) to a third coworker who got in on the riff that hey, I could get away with it 'cuz I'm queer, but it didn't follow that he could get away with it.

A couple of times, while telling that story, friends have replied that it sounds weird to hear me described as "queer", because they just don't think of me that way. Leading to the obvious question "So, in what way do you think of me?" and the answer "Well, as Dave!"

Which gets me thinking about Elena Kagan, the current nominee for the Supreme Court, about whose putative sexuality a great deal of digital ink has been spilled recently. And a fair number of commentators have been claiming that her sexuality is not just irrelevant to them, but actively ought not be being discussed in the context of a Supreme Court nominee, because it has nothing to do with her qualifications, etc.

Which gets me thinking about the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, the hypothetical repeal of which is also getting a bunch of press lately.

Which gets me thinking about the difference between secrecy and privacy.

Actually, I was talking about Kagan with a friend recently and about my discomfort with the subtext that her sexuality was secret, and she corrected "Not secret, private." And I agree that they are importantly different, but I don't really accept the correction.

Which gets me thinking about the distinction I was ruminating about here, between silence used to empower others, and silence used to weaken others. That is, about the relationship between silence and power.

Because power is the difference, I think, between private and secret. When a queer soldier chooses not to talk about her sexuality because she doesn't feel like talking about it, and has the freedom to do that rather than being forced to do so... that's privacy. When a queer soldier wants to talk about her sexuality but can't, because doing so will get her discharged... that's secrecy.

Similarly, when a queer nominee to the Supreme Court (and I'm not saying Kagan is one) chooses not to talk about her sexuality, that's privacy. When she can't do so and still get confirmed, that's secrecy.

All of which makes the question of "not being thought of as queer" sort of fraught. Because -- and I guess this is where I've been feeling my way towards throughout this post -- there's a power differential involved, or at least there might be, and it's not entirely clear to me who is exerting power over whom, to what ends.

No conclusions this time 'round the carousel... just continuing to stir, I guess.

Comments

rikibeth
May. 24th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Gay
My "It's Complicated" is teased out thus: my lifetime number of women partners may be higher than my lifetime number of men, but, now that I am no longer in a relationship with what amounted to a One Penis Policy, I tend to form relationships with men. Except this bit about living with my best friend. Who's female. Sort of. And who's not my girlfriend. Exactly. But we're sort of quasi-married anyway, despite it not being sexual. My boyfriend situation is MUCH easier to explain for anyone already familiar with polyamory, but it's also very much one I'm not going to try to explain to my mother. So. It's Complicated.