LAMBDA Volume 27: Issue 2
Calling all Queers
A guest writer talks "flashmobs," "kiss-ins,"
"genderfucks" - oh my!
by Jon Tirpak
Culture wars concerning the LGBTIQ
community are raging throughout our country. We should wage our own war on
these cultural battlefields that will grab the attention of every public
official and citizen. What happens now will shape our political realities.
Our involvement and presence at the table is crucial. Queer organizing
creates spaces, otherwise inaccessible, for all activists and organizers to
fully articulate their demands for recognition and change.
It can be difficult, if not
impossible, to organize around what University of Michigan Queer Studies
professor David Halperin describes as, “by definition whatever is at odds
with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant.” On this notion of queerness,
Halperin notes, “There is nothing in particular to which it necessarily
refers. [Queer] is an identity without an essence.” If we are defined by our
contrast to the norm, our exclusion, our queerness, how can we hope to
As an outgrowth of radical feminism
and AIDS activism, queer organizing’s most basic tenet is that all
identities are completely socially constructed and that the formulation and
performance of identities varies across cultures.
As a movement, we cover that entire
array of socioeconomic levels, races, sexes, genders, faiths, abilities,
gender identities and sexualities. No single label can define or contain all
of us. This is the definitional difference between queer and LGBT. Within
those four letters, there are gray spaces and people who are excluded. At
its base, queer organizing acknowledges the individual differences among us
and works to destabilize identities that are not stable to begin with,
particularly sexual and gender identities.
LGBTIQ folks transgress the rigid
gender boundaries established by sexist ideology. This transgression strikes
at the roots of heteronormativity and heterosexism, which are rooted in the
invisibility and the erasure of LGBTIQ folks, who are forced to live
everyday in a political void. Queer organizing allows participants to be who
they are and not simply representatives of their entire “classification.”
Queer presence, in and of itself, is activism. It actively challenges the
heteronormative climate we feel every day, using the discourses of cultural
politics - protests, kiss-ins, “flashmobs”, “genderfucking”, and much more.
Although queer organizing doesn’t
consume itself with the desire for legitimacy in the eyes of the masses, by
default it supports the idea that visibility creates awareness and dialogue,
which in turn facilitate change. By showing Carolina’s campus that “we are
here and we’re queer,” the political players involved in the discourse must
acknowledge us. How many times do you see 50 same-gender couples holding
hands or kissing in the Pit? These activities profoundly affect campus
climate. With numbers that large, no one can say that we’re not here.
Beyond the satisfaction of breaking
through invisibility, queer organizing is fun. What LGBTIQ citizen won’t
feel a bit of wicked glee when the shocked proprietors of a restaurant on
Franklin Street realize their place of business has been taken over by
guerrilla queer forces, relaxing and enjoying themselves as anyone else has
the right to do?
Carolina needs queer organizing. The
GLBT-SA and the LGBTQ Office do great work. But there is a new student
organization forming on UNC’s campus – the Committee for a Queerer Carolina.
CQC will use direct action organizing to bring queer voices to the discourse
on campus and to maintain queer visibility and presence in a multitude of
progressive causes. By being an active, visible and tangible presence on
campus, we hope to facilitate policy change. All the LGBTIQ organizing on
campus is directly related to CQC’s goals. But CQC hopes to take part in
direct action that is more in your face and shocking. CQC wants to work
alongside other pre-existing organizations to build coalitions between the
social, political and cultural movements on campus. Because we’re here, and
you know what? We’re queer.
Come out of the dorms, apartments,
communal houses – wherever you live. Wear leather gear, get pierced, sport a
polo and a white hat, bring props (of all varieties), sag your pants, kiss
your lover(s) publicly, make noise – whatever you want to do. Show people
you are here and that you won’t be invisible any longer.
Guest writer and sophomore Jon
Tirpak, a French and women’s studies double major from Cary, N.C., can be
contacted about this article at