What does queer conversation look like?
Many of us once yearned for firm answers to our questioning, but now find community coming alive in our shared curiosity for the unknown. By virtue of its nature, queerness introduces nuance into everyday choices, experiences, postures and relationships. The mundane becomes magical in the hands and hearts of queer creatives who challenge every tradition and convention. We want to know: Why? We are no longer subordinate to simple explanations. We are explorers of our own experiences. This is a noble of expedition: an anti-colonial rendition of cultural anthropology. Who are we?
We love that question as fervently as we hate it. Wouldn’t you like to know? We’d like to show you if you ask in earnest. We can rarely give a finite answer, and when we do -- don’t hold us to it. All we know for certain is that these things change. If our identities are not mutable, then the words we use certainly are. We are constantly adapting to new knowledge and new experiences. If we aren’t changed by our encounters, what’s the point? Our language for identity is always adapting to new circumstances, information, cultural shifts, and our own desires.
Questions are connections. The inflection at the end of a sentence invites a sort of dance: I’m not telling you how it is. I’m wondering how things are for you. Are you like me? Does your difference have something to teach me? Could we be at once similar and different? Question marks denote respect. They are a testament to the strength of this queer movement: in our questions, we become curious and considerate. Questions allow us to cede the floor to others’ voices and to learn about things dear to them. This creates opportunities for powerful vulnerability. To authentically talk through the possible responses, to brainstorm aloud -- these things are profound. It is by asking questions and listening genuinely to other’s responses that we come together in care for one another.
This queer movement is actively creating new meanings and challenging those that don’t serve us. We celebrate uncertainty by mixing it up, throwing out old rules, and declining to create any stable new order. No matter how many times people outside of our communities demand that we settle into easy definitions, we will defy that outdated logic. We find our unity through inclusivity and liminality. We welcome everyone’s experiences and stand for the beauty of diversity.
How can we create meaningful, inclusive, deep, and authentic community? The most memorable conversations are never simply Q&A, a verbal volleyball. They’re Q&Q&Q&..., cycling into progressively deeper and deeper meaning. Not: “What do you do?,” summoning a quick, ineffective, and arguably classist answer. Rather, a cascade of reflexive inquiry: What makes you who you are? How do you spend your days? What are you looking forward to? Who are you proud of? What does that mean?
Of course, not every question can be followed by more open-ended questions. Some interactions are more functional than relational. Sometimes there’s not enough time. Some people aren’t amenable to that kind of conversation. Some people aren’t teachable. But when it’s possible, can we ask more?
While it is important to recognize the limitations of endless inquiry, queer identity remains an open invitation to play in that space whenever possible. This blog and these conversations aren’t about expertise or authoritarian declarations of Truth. We’ve started the conversation because we’re interested in asking about your truth.
We want to understand you & ourselves better, to engage in the kinds of relationships built by questions. What can we learn from each other? Can we support each other’s investigations? Who do you want to be?
-- Ree Bradley
“There is no 'the truth', 'a truth' - truth is not one thing, or even a system. It is an increasing complexity. the pattern of the carpet is a surface. When we look closely, or when we become weavers, we learn of the tiny multiple threads unseen in the overall pattern, the knots on the underside of the carpet” -- Adrienne Rich