Solidarity Against Straightness

SPEP, September 18, 2021- Challenging White Cis Heteronormativity panel – access copy

My core argument in this piece is: We should be in solidarity against straightness. I want to be on the side of straight people, against straightness as norm, institution, and system. While my own political orientation remains toward queerness of many sorts, I’ve come to think that my hazy earlier plan, to convince all my suffering straight friends that they should become queer, is both impractical and condescending. And I’ve become interested in the straightening of many non-heterosexual spaces, what my comrade Gary Kinsman is theorising as the “neoliberal queer” – if I ever thought simply recruiting more people away from heterosexuality through, you know, dating more straight girls (never a good idea), would bring about the revolution, the corporate capture of Pride and gayness, plus, like, Ellen, would convince me otherwise. In a moment when many young people no longer think of themselves as straight, where there is a certain proliferation of queer orientations, of ace sexualities and nonbinary genders, it is tempting to think that white cis heteronormativity is dying a quiet death offstage. But, alongside these proliferations, straightness as a social relation of oppression and benefit weaves its way in to our lives, a coproduction of eugenics, medicalisation, and neoliberal social structures organized around the monogamous, dyadic, reproductive family unit. How can we challenge it without recapitulating its core modalities?

 I’m interested here in how the affect, practice, and fantasy of solidarity can offer something helpful to our work for collective liberation across and with difference. To get there, I’m going to try to lay out some diagnostic criteria for straightness and consider what it would mean to betray straightness, personally, politically, and as a stabilizing social relation of, not to hammer on this point, oppression and benefit.

(I’ve taken down the rest of this paper, since it’s still very much in process, but if you’re working on this stuff and would like to read it, you’re welcome to email me to get whatever is the current draft.)

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