An Initial Exposure to Queer Theory

I’ve been reading a lot since I finished Secret Ingredients on Friday, or more importantly since I finished my research assistant position.  Even though I have a lot on my calendar for the next two and a half weeks leading to my move (from Iowa City to Baltimore), it’s so refreshing to not worry about that three hour chunk of work each day, or feel guilty because I haven’t completed it yet.  All the reading is also sparking my desire to start writing again, anything from short stories to editing my novels to revisiting poetry.  I’m keeping a physical journal, which is an occupation that normally only lasts a few weeks, but I find that if I don’t try to write daily, or write a certain amount, but just pick it up at random, I do better.

Anyway, after a kind of so-so collection of essays by lesbians on “home,” Saturday I decided to read an anthology called Queer Studies that I’ve been meaning to pick up for a while.  Though I’m really interested in LGBT issues, I don’t have much academic exposure to queer theory.  This book is not strict queer theory, really, but it does have some of it, albeit with specific applications.  It was written in 1996, so it does have a bit of an out-of-touch component, especially when discussing transgender issues.  There’s a lot on hostility to bisexuality, too, which I gather has changed in the 2000s.  I did find the essays on race very interesting, though, as well as some other essays on identity generally.  I think it’s interesting for me, as a lesbian, to think about identity, because I know that my identity is at least in part a choice.  One of the essays in the book on bisexuality talks a lot about how queer identities have different elements, be they who you’re attracted to, an individual partner, social institutions, etc.  It’s interesting to think of it that way, and it helps me understand my chosen identity a little more.  Being someone who’s dated men in the past, if I think of my identity as partially shaped by social institutions – whether that be the lesbian community of which I feel a part, or the feminism that leads me to crave woman-only spaces and safety – it makes more sense.  I’ll be interested to read some more queer theory, though, that’s a little more updated.

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