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August 4, 2008 | by  | in Features |
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Bifurious and Sex Positive

I KISSED AN UNGENDERED PERSON AND I LIKED IT-
IN A NONMONOGAMOUS TOTALLY QUEER AND THREATENING TO FAMILY VALUES MANNER.

All too often the queer community are pressured, by the mainstream but also by their peers, into assimilating into a containable, ‘acceptable’ queer identity.Rachael Wright fucks some shit up, and asks the question: is it really so horrible to be obscene?

Stop, just a second! Press pause on your Elton John or Melissa Etheridge, turn off that Ellen DeGeneres, Will and Grace, or The L Word on your TV screen. Take down the posters of Jodie Foster, Rosie O’Donnell, Queer As Folk. In fact, why don’t you just leave happy homo suburbia and follow me over here to the subversive queer zone?

If you are brave enough to realise there’s more to queer identity than the happy white fags portrayed in Hollywood and in mainstream culture generally, then I congratulate you! However, it’s not gonna be easy. Rejecting identities thrown upon us by the mainstream is hard enough, but challenging commonly held beliefs within our own communities, oh that’s harder than a pile of glass dildos.

Before any of you jump straight on to the interweb posting rants about how I’m a crazy separatist lesbian angry feminist, let me assure you that it would not only be a waste of everyone’s time, but would also be entirely misguided. I’m not even a lesbian, just a big raging queer (some say bifurious), so shame. Nor am I a separatist, but I am incredibly passionate about not wanting our community to be “just like straight people”, coz let’s face it, we’re not!

Straight people have straight sex (most of the time). Straight people usually don’t have to come out. Straight people usually don’t have to face the same amount of internal conflict in realising their sexuality is oppressed and straight people are NOT discriminated against and persecuted as a group, based on their sexuality. Mainstream straight culture also has a fundamentally fucked up and ridiculous way of discussing and envisioning sexuality.

It is my personal view that trying to portray queer sexualities as tame, non-threatening, and based around family values may do us as a group more harm than it will achieve. Let’s face it, trying to get mainstream society to accept us as just like them is effectively trying to get permission to assimilate. And when we assimilate, we’ll be doing so into a racist sexist homophobic society, on their terms. Coz look, look, there’s Rainbow Labour, and anyone who’s got representation in government can’t be that persecuted, right?

Wrong. It’s my fundamental belief that I don’t want any community I’m a part of to be accepted as little “threat to family life”. Guess what, I am a threat to family life, I’m a sex-crazed sex-worker with no qualms about doing anything consensual, and I wanna tear apart the institution of marriage, tear down male privilege in society, and make you all discuss your sexuality honestly and openly and without inhibition and judgement, just once. I will destroy the family structure as we know it, if I can, so fuck you mainstream New Zealand, and your opposite-sex monogamous partner and your 2.5 kids and your sub-standard sex education.

People often complain about the queer community being sexobsessed, all of our events being focused around our sexuality, and of us talking about sex too much. The bit that really tickles my fanny about this complaint is that it often comes from within the queer community. Hello, internalised homophobia?! These attitudes scream to me of repressive sex-negative views, of people believing that having sex, especially queer sex, is in some way dirty or secret, and that talking about it must be a bad thing. God forbid we offend or alarm the masses with our queeriffic sex-lives, huh, guys? But what if, after ten years of the queer community discussing sex on a regular basis, we managed to create a new dialogue about sexuality? A dialogue without binaries, without assumptions that render oppressed groups invisible, with language that empowers survivors of sexual violence, and with a dialogue that recognises each individual’s right to truly own their sexuality, without repression. It is not until sexual repression vanishes that anyone can truly and wholly give consent.

The queer community has a proud history of fighting oppression, and this is not oppression that we experience in isolation. What if the ‘them’ that we are supposedly indistinguishable from is really the default mainstream ‘them’, a ‘them’ that ignores differences? Do we wanna become a wealthy, white, able-bodied, chauvinistic ‘them’, at the cost of leaving behind the members of our communities that really feel the repression most? Political dialogue around queer rights too often relies on presenting the face that the media wants, a face that won’t challenge that status quo, and a face that won’t demand mainstream culture actually get its act together and support all members of society.

I feel that I should clarify that I’m not against ‘family’ in its widest definition, but I find that the nuclear model of the family is set up based on male control of women, and on ideas surrounding women being primary caregivers. I’m not a threat to children, monogamous couples, or elderly relations who need care in old age. However, I am a threat to a restricted idea of what a family is (an idea that most families in Aotearoa don’t fit, queer or otherwise), and I AM a threat to an institution which disadvantages women. Resisting assimilation opens up the topic of family, among other issues, to revision, and to society creating a new alternative.

I hope that after reading this, you’re gonna see things just a little bit differently. I’m not advocating that we all escape to live in communes in San Francisco. Although that could be awesome, I’m not telling you all to go all separatist on this shit. Instead, I hope that you might question what the mainstream tells us about queer identity. Start to challenge ideas of our community as one homogenous group of happy homos. Some of us aren’t happy, some of us aren’t homos, and all of us need to fight against assimilation and fight to achieve radical change.

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Comments (42)

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  1. anika moa's new girlfriend says:

    Rachael Wright is hot!

  2. Jose says:

    *Squirt*

  3. Jordan King says:

    She really is

  4. Teresa says:

    Rachael, you’re awesome! This is the best thing I think I have ever read in Salient.

    Sex is under-rated – thanks for your analysis.

  5. Rachael says:

    Thanks Teresa.
    I like positive feedback :)
    If yr interested in writing about the topic, or having input into the womyn’s issue of Salient, you should send an e-mail to Georgie Dickson (wro@vuwsa.org.nz), our Women’s Rights Officer, she’ll let you know how to get involved.

  6. anika moa's new girlfriend says:

    You may joke, Jose, but I’m dead serious. I’ve gone through so many pairs of underwear.

  7. Nicole Skews says:

    You are the wind beneath my wings babeface x

  8. “People often complain about the queer community being sex-obsessed, all of our events being focused around our sexuality, and of us talking about sex too much… God forbid we offend or alarm the masses with our queeriffic sex-lives, huh, guys?”

    I’ve got to disagree with you there, Rachael. The problem in my view with a sex-obsessed queer community is that dildos and leather are just as much a stereotype as WIll & Grace and Barbara Streisand. I applaud initiatives like the Gay Businessmen’s Association, but hypersexual events and groups create an equally restrictive identity that (a) alienates more moderate LBGT people and (b) contributes to the stigmatisation of LBGT people as sexual deviants or not “real” people.

  9. Rachael says:

    But Rory, isn’t it fundamentally alienating that the mainstream stigmatises “sexual deviants”? And is the Gay Businessmen’s Association gonna challenge that, really?

    I just think that there’s no point trying to fit queer communities (considered ‘sexual deviants’) into a heterosexist society, coz it won’t create equality. Maybe you could compare it to formal barriers to women in the workplace being removed, yet the commonplace sexual and physical abuse of women continuing, and sexism still rampant in society?

    Fitting an oppressed group into mainstream society doesn’t remove the opression, but often hides it more. What’s needed is radical culture change, and to achieve that sometimes you need to be perceived as radical weirdos for a bit.

    I personally like being perceived as a weirdo, and I don’t even like leather.

  10. Rachael says:

    Also, I’m really fuckin sick of seeing neutered queers in mainstream media. It’s not that they’re portraying as weirdos, but that they’re portraying us as limp-wristed flaky queens who either have no sex, or who have the chastest, most safely sapphic of kisses, and then cheat on our wives with a man.

  11. Q says:

    You rock my fuckin socks!

  12. Nate says:

    And you fuck my rocking socks!
    (It’s a good thing). <3

  13. “Fitting an oppressed group into mainstream society doesn’t remove the opression, but often hides it more.”

    Are you sure? Do you think it’s possible that instead it creates the public perception of, say, gay men as self-centred hedonists who are incapable of forming loving relationships? Because that’s the stereotype that fuels groups like Destiny Church, and that’s the view subscribed to by those who oppose civil unions. That’s why they believe it undermines the sanctity of marriage. It’s an incorrect and bigoted view, absolutely, but the LBGT community’s hypersexual self-image does nothing to challenge it.

  14. “Also, I’m really fuckin sick of seeing neutered queers in mainstream media.”

    Couldn’t agree with you more there. Bring back David from Six Feet Under!

  15. Rachael says:

    But the view that gay men are incapable of forming loving relationships STEMS from a view that the only sort of loving relationships are monogamous and long-term, which invalidates the experiences of everyone who’s not saving themselves for a good Christian completely monogamous no affairs ever marriage!
    That’s what we should be challenging. It’s all based on Christian patriarchal ideas about sexual purity, and monogamy being the only way to love someone, and those ideas are bullshit!

    Love can exist in so many different forms, and people should not be judged for having sex without love. Fuck, heterosexuals do it too, and I should know.

  16. Dunedin Hussy says:

    oh this makes me want to madri gras down george st. even if it’s just me and i have to put down a stolen road cone to stop traffic.

    when it comes down to it, sexuality is really all about who’s sexing who/what, so bring on the sexual conversations (the one on one types).

  17. Rachael says:

    Dunedin Hussy: I’ll Mardi Gras with you? You have some smart laydees in Dunedin, it’s hawt. Are you very involved with the UniQ? If not, maybe you should be!

  18. Rory – I think the big problem with the queer community attempting to fit in to the mainstream is that those queer identities that are still not generally accepted lose their support structures – for example, although drag queens were at the forefront of the Stonewall riots, once homosexuality became more accepted in North America, many gay leaders began looking down upon drag as a stereotype that made them look weird, neglecting all the hard work that the queens, as the most obvious and identifiable queer activists, had done. It’s great having people like Roddy Bottom (from Faith No More) and the Brokeback characters demonstrating the queer folk can be, for example, grungy and ‘masculine’, but this shouldn’t threaten the other side.

  19. “But the view that gay men are incapable of forming loving relationships STEMS from a view that the only sort of loving relationships are monogamous and long-term, which invalidates the experiences of everyone who’s not saving themselves for a good Christian completely monogamous no affairs ever marriage!”

    Okay, I personally agree with you there, but that’s a different debate. What we’re talking about here is, in your words, “challenging ideas of our community as one homogenous group of happy homos”. I’m saying that overtly aggressive posturing as sex-crazed hedonists who despise convention and resent breeders is simply swapping one restrictive stereotype for another.

    I’m not trying to be a dick, but it sounds more like this column is indulging a martyr complex rather than actually representing the interests of GBLT people as a whole. There’s a pretty broad spectrum of attitudes towards sex, even within the LBGT community, and it doesn’t seem like you’re acknowledging that.

  20. Dunedin Hussy says:

    yeah i’m slowly warming to the idea. they definitely need new faces i think and perhaps some musical direction with their sextactualar hypersexual queer events – no one listens to 90’s techno anymore.

    i only want to add, you’re very right Rachael, sex and love should not be confused. i can love my friend but not want to sex them up and i can sex a stranger if i felt the need as well.

    people shouldn’t be so quick to judge, it’s exactly the same as the notion that a man that has lots of sex with a lot of different women is a stud, yet a woman who has had sex with a lot of different men is called a slut. the only difference is the individuals who are targetted using different discourse.

  21. Tristan – I have to admit I hadn’t considered that. But I guess it then we get into the dilemmae of minority politics: at what point does a polity’s activism stop reaffirming diversity and start turning it into self-imposed ostracism?

  22. And of course pederasty becomes the most difficult line – do we support 30 year old men who want to have relationships with 15 year old boys? Yes it’s illegal, but then so was sodomy; yes it’s socially unacceptable but then so was homosexuality… so yes I agree that there is that dilemma in minority politics. And in the case of this one line I simply do not know what to decide.

  23. Nicole Skews says:

    Rory,

    Rachael is clearly acknowledging all of the spectrums in the GLBT rainbow, telling her that there is a broad range of attitudes towards sex in this community is like telling Prince that the colour purple is a nice one.

    As for Martyrdom, this piece is exploring the short fallings of mainstream heteronormative society, I don’t hear any violins playing here. Rachael may be “sex crazed” but at no point is she posturing the GLBT community as this.

  24. Rachael, in anticipation of your response:

    “People often complain about the queer community being sexobsessed, all of our events being focused around our sexuality, and of us talking about sex too much. The bit that really tickles my fanny about this complaint is that it often comes from within the queer community. Hello, internalised homophobia?!”

    This is pretty much the same argument that Zionists use to discredit dissenters within their community (see the Wikipedia entry on the “self-hating Jew”). It’s a pretty narrow-minded assertion, especially when you claim to be their elected representative.

    This isn’t a hatchet job mind you, I just think it’s worth challenging your assumptions here. :D

  25. Nicole:
    “Rachael is clearly acknowledging all of the spectrums in the GLBT rainbow”

    No she’s not, she’s dismissing the views of those in the LBGT community who aren’t as radical as her. That’s pretty clear from the article.

  26. Rachael says:

    I don’t think I’m dismissing views of those in the community, but instead challenging them, and perhaps challenging the underlying beliefs that lead to them.

    For example, I’m not ignoring the fact that there are those in the community who wanna focus solely on queers in business, or queer “families”, I’m am asking them how their ‘activism’ is gonna really challenge the roots of homophobia in society, and if it’s gonna help the entire community?

    I’m not arguing that we go out there and solely present ourselves as BDSM freaks who wanna do nothing but fuck, all day, every day, but rather that we argue for less oppressive dialogue around sexuality. And sometimes that means risking being presented as a stereotype, but surely as we challenge assumptions and sex-negativity, won’t that stereotype fade?

    Suffragettes didn’t win nothing by sitting at home and thinking that if they just acted reasonably enough, they would get given the vote in increments.

    Also, I think that comparing sex-radicals to Zionists is a bit extreme, and oversimplifies the situation, not to mean dismisses the reality of internalised-homophobia-fuelled sex-negativity within queer communities.

  27. Haimona Gray says:

    While I understand your wanting to challenge the assumptions made in the article. I have to question to what extent a straight male can delve into internal debates within the GLBT community. As outsiders to this community I question how we can judge their “minority politics”.

  28. “Suffragettes didn’t win nothing by sitting at home and thinking that if they just acted reasonably enough, they would get given the vote in increments.”

    Agreed, but then they didn’t get the vote through holding parades and pointing at their vaginas either. ;-D

    I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree, but the Gay Businessmen’s Association and others ARE actually making a difference because they dismantle Joe Public’s preconceived ideas of “the homosexual lifestyle” and present well-rounded people rather than caricatures to be ridiculed.

    I still maintain that the analogy is accurate, because you’re still saying that “internalised-homophobia-fuelled sex-negativity” is an expression of ignorance rather than a legitimate sense of individual morality.

  29. Rachael says:

    Maybe they didn’t hold parades and point at their vaginas because their main goal was to end discrimination that was based on their gender, not specifically on sexual oppression?

    Thanks for the idea about a vagina-pointing parade though. I’m gonna do it, soon as my pubes grow back.

  30. Haimona: I can see what you mean – I’m no expert, of course, but I think I’m entitled to discuss these issues as long as my contributions are constructive and sensible. I might not be LBGT myself, but I know from personal experience that there are a range of views on sex within the LBGT community, and Rachael is dismissing the ones she doesn’t agree with as self-loathing.

    The minority politics was a bit of an abstraction on my part, but I do think it’s worth considering. How many activities and events does Uniq run on campus that are, for want of a better term, ‘family friendly’?

  31. “How many activities and events does Uniq run on campus that are, for want of a better term, ‘family friendly’?”

    Movie nights! With fairy bread! That is, if you consider ‘Hairspray’ family friendly, which I do. I also consider cupcakes shaped like penises family friendly, since penises are used to create families. Although to be really inclusive we’d have to have IVF-shaped cupcakes. Hmmm.

  32. LOL

    I am thrilled to hear that. Shutting up now. :D

  33. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    I can see where Rory is coming from when he asserts that “internalised-homophobia-fuelled sex-negativity” is being cast as an “expression of ignorance rather than a legitimate sense of individual morality”. I’m certain that Rachael didn’t intend for this to be the case when she wrote the article, however it does come across as a little stereotypical.

    This is by no means meant as a condemnation of what I thought was a great article, by the way – just my .02 cents as one of those boring “opposite-sex monogamous partner 2.5 kids” types who happens to fully support the rights of the LGBT community (and anyone else for that matter) to express themselves in whatever way, traditional or not, that they see fit :) Rachael, well done on an entertaining and thought-provoking article.

    Tristan: “do we support 30 year old men who want to have relationships with 15 year old boys”. I can see the difficulty in drawing the line on what is ‘acceptable’ and what is not, considering it’s often hard to discern between vocal minority outrage and general majority concern. Age barriers seems to be the closest thing possible to a line in the sand, but then again age isn’t exactly a good gauge for maturity. But moral ambiguity should never be an excuse to allow disgusting sex crimes (like paedophilia) to happen.

  34. Dunedin Hussy says:

    Matthew_Cunningham: where do you draw the line between the maturity of a 15 year old to elicit sex off a 30 year old to that of a 15 year old who is raped by a 30 year old pedophile? promiscuity used to be a crime upon a time.

    “No she’s not, she’s dismissing the views of those in the LBGT community who aren’t as radical as her. That’s pretty clear from the article.”
    it’s pretty clear to me that it’s more of a rejection rather than a dismissal of those views.

    it’s also pretty clear that Rachael got what she wanted from this article, a reaction. basically no one should be stuffed into a category, oppressed or judged. maybe there are some people out there who do live lives of “internalised-homophobia-fuelled sex-negativity” and maybe there are some people who mirror lives of those people and aren’t sexually oppressed but who can talk for the majority or even minority? we can only speak for ourselves and i think Rachael voices her opinion rather more frankly than others, much to the displeasure of a few.

  35. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Dunedin Hussy: You raise a good point (one very appropriate to this discussion), and i’m sorry if I didn’t express myself clearly enough in my last post. It begs the question of what is and is not ‘acceptable’ and, similarly, what is and is not ‘repressive’.

    To clarify, take the definition of the word ‘paedophilia': when an adult performs an unconsentual sexual activity with a minor. There are two key words in this sentence related to acceptibility and repressiveness – CONSENT and MINOR. Each sits on opposite ends of the scale of moral ambiguity.

    For instance, I think we can all agree that ‘consent’ is a black and white issue, and any form of UNCONSENTUAL sexual activity is completely unacceptable. ‘Minor’, however (as you pointed out), is a far harder term to quantify into right and wrong. Who classifies as a minor, and under what circumstances? Age is one gauge, perhaps the best one we have, but it is rather fuzzy. Obviously a 6 year old is without a doubt a minor, but at the same time I know lots of mature 15 year olds and even more immature 30 year olds.

    Why does this apply to Rachael’s article? Because she also addresses the idea of what is ‘acceptable’ by rightfully attacking and rejecting the repressive elements of society who try to dictate a far narrower subset of acceptibility than is morally right. That’s why I support and praise her for this article. It’s this kind of irreverence for rigid conservatism that makes student politics so great!

    Matt.

  36. Sims says:

    Rachael, you are full of shit and an embarassment to anyone with eyes and/or ears

  37. Bobby says:

    Well I have to say that I’m disappointed that the comments on this page took the form of quite an interesting discussion rather than a sexually-charged-midwestern-prude-bashing-ho-down

    (but i’m secretly glad) *grin*

    I have to say, rachel, you have truly out-done yourself. conslutulations

  38. Sarita says:

    Yeah Matthew – “It’s this kind of irreverence for rigid conservatism that makes student politics so great!” – Not to sound lame or anything, but TOTALLY!! I’ve never appreciated freedom of expression so much.

    And wow, Sims. After a long and interesting debate, that is one hell of a contribution.

    Anyway, if no one was ever blunt or challenged what is ‘acceptable’ is, we’d never get anywhere.
    In one of my lectures last trimester, we got shown a list of about 15 sexual activities ranked from most to least ‘sinful’, from… I’m not sure actually, but it was from one of the Christian churches and a few centuries back. Anyway, at the bottom was a ‘chaste kiss’ – and I think sodomy came 2nd or 3rd, just after beastiality, and CONSIDERABLY above rape.
    Now THAT was full of shit.

    PS. I seem to have misplaced my eyes and/or ears. Help!
    PPS. And why have I never heard about any cupcakes?!?

  39. Laressa says:

    Excuuuuse me Rory, but last year I was UniQ president and we had plenty of ‘family friendly’ events!! I despise your ignorance, and anticipate that you haven’t made the effort to actually attend any of the events that UniQ organises. And leave Rachael alone, she is a beautiful subversive creature who provides inspiration to all that she encounters.

  40. Freya says:

    Aww, Laressa, you’re awesome, that was so sweet!

    And so true. Bitches!

  41. The devil's advocate says:

    Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how Rachael is obviously the victim of some form of sexual abuse as a child? Sounds to me like she lost her virginity to a man that was much older than her and it never got reported.

    Anyway, I’m confused as to what this sexual discrimination is exactly? If you’re upset about people ruining your fun by making snide remarks then get the fuck over it; It’s as much your right to dress and act like a fruitcake as much as it is their’s to point and jeer.

    As far as gender equality goes, in other countries sure, having to wear a burka is absurd, but what about in New Zealand? Men hold the majority or high paying jobs sure, but women make up the majority of university graduates. We’re never going to be 50/50 equal in everything because we ARE different, we’re going to have to be equal in different ways. Not that I agree with the pay disparity, but I’m thinking that’s more nepotism than straight up misogyny.

    To be honest, I think the whole sexuality thing is far down the list of things that should be fixed about society. Did someone forget that 1/3rd of the earth can barely feed itself, and you’re complaining about not being accepted for being a whore. I think I can hear violins playing.

    /flame on

  42. shocked says:

    The devil’s advocate: YOU are the reason why rapecrisis even has a need to exist. It’s not that they prevent rape but victims need to be able to feel safe about reporting it and seeking help. Rape and sexual abuse is not something to throw around and use as an insult.

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