The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Don’t compromise; don’t reject the queers

Marsha P. Johnson was the drag queen and transgender gay activist, that reportedly threw the first brick in retaliation to the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in NYC. This incident would later be regarded as the moment that would inaugurate what would eventually become the modern LGBTQ Rights Movement.

She was one of society’s faggots, trannies and dykes-people that refused to assimilate, refused to be erased from society and blatantly rejected social norms in the face of brutal and fatal threat, effectively giving birth to the modern LGBT movement. She was not “normal,” she was subversive in her engagement of gender and sexuality.

By virtue of action and identity, this activist was a radical; one of many who served as the shakers and movers-true embodiments of activism and resistance in their unwillingness to conform.

As such, we LGBTQ activists owe a great debt to these people who were both unafraid to be the first out of the closet and unwary to kick, scratch, and even bleed to not be forced back in.

Two past articles, written by Paul Kroeger, have disturbed me by their rhetoric of “normalcy.” They present exclusionary arguments that push for conformity and in doing so, they have made unfortunate assumptions of what it means to be part of the LGBTQ community, depending heavily on definitions of appropriate (i.e. moral) behaviors.

The history of the LGBTQ movement stands counter the argument presented by Kroeger – we cannot privilege the normal (i.e. the most heterosexual looking/acting) and marginalize those that don’t represent that.

If we do, we are counter intuitively perpetuating homophobia and gender normative ideologies. Our movement must incorporate a diverse continuum of experience, both “normal” and not.

In the attempt to assert the normalcy of gay men (and reducing the various sexual/gender groups the movement represents to just gay, cisgendered men), Kroeger posits the apparently gay-specific problem of hypersexuality.

First off, hypersexuality is a systemic problem, not just one perpetuated by the LGBTQ community. It is inaccurate to claim that almost-naked go-go boys and anonymous fondling in the streets characterize Gay Pride Parades. Because these parades are sponsored and attended by members of a controversial community, they are observed with an unnecessary scrutiny, conveniently forgetting that the same problems afflict the “heterosexual world,” like Mardi Gras or even spring break. Highlighting and subsequently implying that immoral behavior is endemic to the LGBTQ community is a traditional political strategy used by opponents (such as moral Republicans) to pressure our community with compulsory heterosexuality through notions of morality – in the process, justifying homophobic oppression.

A second problem is its notion of a universal personhood: the idea that regardless of x, y, and z, the gay individual is a “person” and thereby the same as the majority. This too works to the movement’s disadvantage. I am composed of a consistently shifting intersection of (political) categories: race, sexuality, gender, ability, etc.

As the feminist movement first asserted, the personal is political, and as such I am not just a social being. I am not just a person. I am a political being.

In terms of my sexuality, I am not just a student who happens to be gay – I am a gay student. My gayness, along with the other factors mentioned above, is an inherent part of who I am and is therefore always in the foreground of my experience, shaping how I inhabit the world and how people engage with me.

In stating that I am “x” and just happen to be “y,” I disregard “y” completely, distancing a fundamental part of what defines me, and thereby falling into an assimilationist trap that caters to the biased majority.

On a larger scale, in separating from the supposed fags, dykes and trannies when we talk about the need for normalcy, we divide our movement only to our detriment.

We cannot be afraid of pushing the boundaries of a system that inherently oppresses and confines. We cannot be afraid of being “not-normal.” We cannot be afraid of self-expression – to do so is suicide. We cannot act with the burdening fear of not being accepted.

To put it bluntly, it’s not simply about acceptance; our objectives cannot be about “acceptance” as much as they should be about “equality.” This is to say that despite homophobic attitudes, I work to be recognized as a true citizen of society. I work for the rights and freedoms of “normal” people, arbitrarily afforded them because of their apparent heterosexuality.

When we shift the perspective from one that centralizes assimilation (framed in the terms of acceptance) as the method through which we barter for equality to one that acknowledges and revels in potential and difference, we realize that in the pursuit of equality, we must have the courage to define ourselves. If we don’t, we will be as feminist Audre Lorde puts it: “crunched into other people’s fantasies… and eaten alive.”

Sammy is a sophomore majoring in anthropology and women’s and gender studies. 

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