Paying the Queer Tax
being quiet isn't the same as shutting up
It has been really hard for me to write lately. My mood and my creativity are low. It is hard to explain why, but I got an easy example of the problem.
Yesterday, a stranger left a review of our restaurant, giving us one star and telling us they would never return because we are welcoming to “freaks and cross dressers.”
Not long ago, I would have laughed and brushed it off as a bigot self-selecting out of our clientele, but given the current state of the world, I can’t let it go. Fear and anxiety flooded me. “Is this the forewarning a bigger problem, a threat, or just a Karen acting out?”
I hate how much of my thought process is, yet again, focused on basic safety and security. Many of my friends say they wish I would move near them for my safety, but this problem is everywhere and nowhere is safe.
The Invalidation of Identity
The way I feel is why these people act out like this. They want us to be afraid, to be anxious, to be silent. Knowing that doesn’t help push through the fear. In some ways, it makes it worse.
No one is invalid because a bigot says they are and no one is a failure for feeling fear, anxiety, or invalidated. It is difficult to keep going when the truth doesn’t matter to any party in this.
Yes, it is true that most of the transphobes that speak out are broken and injured people that are acting out of their pain. It is also true that they are wrong on the science and the science is on our side. The problem is, this is not an argument about facts, no matter what they say, it is about emotional validation.
Those in power don’t want to lose that power, so it is in their interest to make us fight amongst ourselves, so we don’t see and point out what they are doing.
For cis, heterosexual people, they have grown up in the cultural default that supports and encourages them to see their experience of themselves and the world as normal and normative. This is even more true for those who are male and white. They never experienced their sexuality as compulsory or their gender as assigned. This world was made by and for them to justify and celebrate their existence. Anything outside these narrow, normative bounds is rendered invalid, aberrant, and repugnant.
Anyone outside of these norms is taught to mask and deny their differences. They define us as the other, as a danger to the normative standard. Why?
Control, I will not sugarcoat it. The sole purpose of this validation structure is to exert dominance over society as a whole. If a person or group can control individual gender roles and sexuality, they control the whole person. It is a powerful kind of mind control to gas light an entire population into suppressing their own innate characteristics to be seen as acceptable in society.
Remember always that this is about policing identity, not actions. They may speak with disgust about or even legislate against particular actions, but those are used as evidence of the declared invalid state.
Freedom is a virus
The primary excuse for laws against queer people and activities is the old classic, “Won’t somebody think of the children.” Why?
With the cultural defaults defined not only as normative, but nature, that requires them to believe that everything else is unnatural. If something is unnatural, then the only way it can propagate is through contagion. Somehow, in some way, people must catch the gay or whatever other queerness they are wanting to attack.
The science has been in for a long time that homosexuality, asexuality, and transgender people are born the way they are and are not made that way through societal or psychological contagion. Honestly, that should be the end of the debate, but science denialism and grifting pseudoscience will always run to the rescue of power to elevate their own clout in the culture.
Queerness is not contagious, but freedom and liberation are. This is why it is so important for them to double down on the hatred, the misinformation, and the demonization right now because all liberation movements are dangerous to the status quo.
The Power of Freedom
Fear is poisonous to freedom, and the best way to stoke fear while making money from the people infected. It is too easy to package fear in a box labled freedom to trick people into sacrificing one for the other.
If your freedom is so fragile, it can be taken away because someone exists or you have to show them basic civility, your freedom is an illusion.
Gender and sexuality are basic building blocks of all tyrannical hierarchies.
Heterosexuality is flattened into a sterile system of control with dominant penetrators and submissive receptacles. This bolsters the misogynistic gender system in an endless feedback loop. Nobody wins in a destructive system like this.
Queerness of every kind breaks gender and shows the lies built into cis heteronormativity at its heart. Just the idea of a submissive male and a dominating woman breaks the lie, but the more normative axioms you question, the bigger the threat you are to the system.
Not all men are interested in women and not all assigned male at birth are male.
Notice that the cultural focus is always on those assigned male at birth. Amab individuals are born into a place of power and privilege that it cannot allow anyone to set it aside or it threatens the entire patriarchal power structure.
Queer liberation requires a deconstruction of this structure because it shows that the basic assumptions of the default class are lies. Culture is like the air. No one notices it if it isn’t pointed out. While homosexuals were a breeze, they could be heteronormalized into respectable queers who operate within the same patriarchal structures. Bisexuals and pansexuals were more like a rain shower because they don’t fit into the existing structures. Transgender and non binary people are a storm that blows away the lies that exist,
Transgender people show the lie in the false gender binary because we are the proof that sex and gender are not the same. Gender nonconforming people and drag queens show the performativity of gender.
I’ve always been surprised that it isn’t enough to show how gender is performed differently across cultures and time, but it is too easy for people to ignore as a result of racism and nationalism. Trans people are hard to ignore.
So they point out that when one person comes out, others in their friend group also come out.. This is the danger of freedom.
Once a person sees through the illusion of the gender binary and the default nature of heteronormativity, people are freed up to question and test their relationship to these cultural narratives.
Before the nineteen hundreds when the word homosexual was coined and named as an identity, sexuality was viewed as an action and both men and women were seen as capable of partaking in it. Recent studies have shown that potentially as much as 52% of the population is bisexual. As they are offered more freedom, more people will realize they are queer.
The Queerness Tax
Versions of this rant play on a loop in my head all the time. Should I manage to push it to the side, something happens to bring it back in short order.
It is hard to explain the creative paralysis this brings into my life. Is the work queer enough to represent my intensions? is it clear enough for people mired in cis heteronormativity to understand it? Is this the work that will make me a target of hate? Is it worth the follow up energy to make the post in the first place?
So I either don’t write or record anything, or I don’t release what I have done. Most of the time, I just want to shout incoherently, with a rage so hot it would challenge the sun.
This rage isn’t just fueled by outrages to my community, but the general state of dysfunction the world spirals down through constantly.
I don’t feel safe, and I don’t think there is anywhere I could go to feel safe. States are targeting people like me with laws and politicians are whipping up a dangerous mob against us. I am not looking for pity, but understanding.
Finding the motivation to do anything outside the fight, flight, or freeze reactions takes a lot more energy than I have when it is added to everything else happening in my life right now.
I am not quitting. I am not giving up. I just have to bank up energy to do anything. It is tiresome.
I am not going back into the closet to make the bigots happy, but I am reorganizing my life to deal with the state of the world.
Be well. Be at peace. This too shall pass.