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QueerHeterotopias:HomonormativityandtheFutureofQueerness

AngelaJones

SUMMARY:First,thisarticledrawsfromMichelFoucaulttoexaminethecreationof
what is conceptualized here as queer heterotopias. Queer heterotopias are material
spaces whereradicalpractices gounregulated. Theyaresites where actors,whether
academicsoractivists, engageinwhatwemightcalla radicalpoliticsofsubversion,
whereindividualsattempttodislocatethenormativeconfigurationsofsex,gender,and
sexualitythroughdailyexplorationandexperimentationwithcraftingaqueeridentity.
Second,thisarticle,utilizing GillesDeleuzeanalyzestheprocessof becomingqueer.
Thewaysinwhichqueernessdevelopsineverydaylifemustbeseenlessasaclearly
definedpoliticalprogramandmoreasaspiritualjourneyindividualsembarkon.This
article explores the development of queer heterotopias, and the problematic way in
whichqueernessisbeingmade,remade,andfixedbyacademicsandwellmeaning
activistswhowouldliketoappropriate,qualify,andfixqueersubjectivityinorderto
advancearightsbasedpoliticalprogram. Thecurrentpolicingofqueerness,byboth
heteronormative and homonormative logic works against the development of queer
heterotopias.

Introduction

"Queer"wasoriginallyanambiguousandunfixedcategory.Itwasusedasanumbrella
termthatallowedforanactor'sagencyincraftingnewsexualandgenderidentities
(Halperin:1995,Warner:1992,Doty:1993,Hennessy:1994).However,thetermis
now linked with identity politics, and is slowly losing its malleability. Queer is
becomingafixedidentity,onethatsomehopewillbringaboutthebirthofaqueer
utopia,oraspacewherehegemonicheterosexistdiscoursesceasetoregulatebodies
(Martin:1994).
Utopiasareabstractportraitsofidealorperfectsocietiesthatdonotexist.Therefore,
queerutopiasarenotpossible.However,wearewitnessingthebirthofwhatIcallqueer
heterotopias,whicharespacesforthe"other"tobetransgressive,andwhicharelocated
in real spaces. Drawing from the work of Michel Foucault, I argue that queer
heterotopiasareplaceswhereindividualscanchallengetheheteronormativeregimeand
are "free" to perform their gender and sexuality without fear of being qualified,
marginalized, or punished.[1] Queer heterotopias are material spaces where radical
practicesgounregulated.Unlikehispreviousworkonpower,in"OfOtherSpaces,"
Foucault(1986)notedthatineverydaylifeescapingrepressionrequiresthecreationof
heterotopic spaces, where individuals can celebrate their difference. Unlike utopias,
heterotopicspacescanbecreatedinreality.

Queer heterotopias are sites of empowerment. They always exist in relation to


heteronormativespacesandareshapedbythem.Queerheterotopiasexistinopposition
toheteronormativespacesandarespaceswhereindividualsseektodisruptheterosexist
discourses.Theyaresiteswhereactors,whetheracademicsoractivists,engageinwhat
wemightcallaradicalpoliticsofsubversion,whereindividualsattempttodislocatethe
normativeconfigurationsofsex,gender,andsexualitythroughdailyexplorationand
experimentation with crafting a queer identity. Queer relates to unspecified social
practicesthatchallengethehegemonicdiscoursesonsex,gender,sexuality.Toperform
queerthrougheverydaypracticemeanstoconstantlybehaveinways,whetherthrough
sexual practice or aesthetically transforming one's body, that defy the conventional
sex/gendersystem.Variousrituals,fromsexacts,togettingdressedinthemorning,to
bodymodificationsarewaysindividualsshapetheirqueernessandinturncreatequeer
heterotopias.Thewaysinwhichqueernessdevelopsineverydaylifemustbeseenless
as a clearlydefined political program and more as a spiritual journey individuals
embark on. Their everyday battles shape queer subjectivity and have political
consequences. This article explores the development of queer heterotopias, and the
problematicwayinwhichqueernessisbeingmade,remade,andfixedbyacademics
and wellmeaning activists who would like to appropriate, qualify, and fix queer
subjectivityinordertoadvancearightsbasedpoliticalprogram.
Scholarsoftenpinthehopesfortheemergenceofqueerutopiasoncyberspaceandthe
hybridizationofthebodyandtechnology (Featherstone:1995,Markley:1996,Pitts:
2000,Haraway:1991,Stryker&Whittle:2006).Appearancesincyberspaceostensibly
createspaceswheresymbolicsignifierslikesex,gender,raceetc.arenotaesthetically
performed.Thetechnobodyalsopresentsthepossibilityforthedisruptionoftraditional
binaryoppositions that allow forthe compulsoryordering ofbodies.Poststructural
feministsandleadingqueertheoriststransformedthewaywethinkaboutsex,gender,
and sexuality by calling for the deconstruction of a subject confined within binary
oppositions such as male/female and hetero/homo (Butler: 1990, de Lauretis: 1991,
Doty:1993,Fuss:1991,Sedgwick:1990,Warner:1993,Weeks:1985,Seidman:1994,
Haraway: 1991, Martin: 1994). Queerness in cyberspace can bring about this
deconstruction.Thetransgenderedtechnobodybody,forexample,isanexcitingsiteof
subversion,empowerment,anddisruption(Halberstam:2005,Stryker&Whittle:2006).
LikeDonnaHaraway,Iammesmerizedbythepossibilitiesofsciencefictionandits
presentationsofxenogensisandmiscegenation(Haraway:1989).

Thesetheorists havebeencriticized fortheir idealism (Foster:1999,Morton:1995,


Author: Forthcoming). Nonetheless, this is a great starting point for thinking about
possibilitiesformakingsubversivebodies,andhowbodiesareinscribedwithmeaning
in social space (Grosz: 1995). Under modern capitalism we have already seen the
emergenceofcyborgbodies.Acritiqueoftheliteratureonqueerutopias,focusingon
theemergenceofqueerheterotopias,requiresthatwemovepastthefascinationwiththe
cyborgbody,particularlyasromanticizedinthetransbody.Thisarticlewillinvestigate
the development of trans subjectivities in particular. However unintentionally, trans
subjectivitiesareequatedbysomequeertheorists,activists,andindividualswiththe
idealperformanceofqueerness.Transidentitiesareseenasaprimarystrategytodisrupt
orunhingethesex/gendersystem.Whiletransidentitiesmostcertainlyaccomplishthis,
itisdangeroustolinkqueernesswithtransidentitiesbecausetheyarenottheonlyway
toperformqueerness.Discursively,academics,whowriteoverwhelminglyabouttrans
identities,arehelpingtofixthequeeridentity. Thereisalackofliteratureonhow
queerness develops in everyday life, and is not just about creating an androgynous
genderaestheticorutilizingtechnologytotransformone'ssexand/orgender. These
academicsarequalifyingqueerness,andthroughtheirdiscursiveattemptsatcelebrating
thesubalternarefixingthetermqueer.

QueerasaPoliticalProgram

Thequestionofhowfashioningqueeridentitieswillinformpoliticalactionandsocial
movements is important (Epstein: 1994). The current literature on queer utopias is
flawedbecauseithingesonthecreationoffixedidentitiesandsubcultures(Berlant&
Freeman:1992,Berlant&Warner:1998,Halberstam:2005),whichseemstocontradict
theverypurposeofthetermqueer.Originally,inthe1990s, thetermqueerwasre
appropriatedinanefforttodisruptinclusiveandessentialistcategorieslikegayand
lesbian.[2] It is, however, questionable whether radical sex practices, subversive
aesthetic performances, and "alternative lifestyles" are adequate on their own for
thinking about the emergence of queerness. It seems the quest for liberation from
essentialism is largely failing. Queerness is constantly related to androgyny,
transgendered bodies, and samesex desire. Because many academics and activists
intendtousequeertofurtherapoliticalprogram,centeredongainingcivilrights,they
missqueer'sutilityforindividual andhumangrowth.Theyareworkingagainstthe
term'soriginalpower.

Queerheterotopiasdependupontheabilityofindividualstoexploreandexperiment
withtheirdesires.Queerheterotopiasarespacescreatedbyindividualswheretheycan
exploreandpubliclypresentnewsubjectivities.Ifthetermqueerisfixedandbecomesa
recognized identity, then queer heterotopias are not possible. The romanticism
surroundingthequeeridentitymightbedangerousasitendsupconstructinganother
fixedidentitythatlimitsagency(Namaste:1991).Thecreationofqueerheterotopias,
through multiple subversive performances of sex, gender, and sexuality visavis
transmogrification of bodies, might push the boundaries of discourse to a point of
rupture.Leavingourpoliticalhopesanddreamsoflegitimacyaside,wemustexplore
how queer heterotopias will not just satisfy a political program but a human need.
Moreover, as we utilize the queer identity to fashion a new political program for
collectiveaction,weendupcreatingnewformsofalienationandbigotry(Gamson:
1995).Ifwefixqueersubjectivity,webegintoalienatethosewhodonotfitthenew
modelorprototypeofqueerness.ADeleuzian frameworkwillassistus inthinking
furtherabouthowqueernessisdeveloping,andhowqueerheterotopiascandevelop.

GillesDeleuzeandQueerHeterotopias

Thefutureofqueertheory,queerpolitics,andqueerheterotopiasreliesonnomadology,
or Gilles Deleuze's notion that we are not fixed beings. Deleuze wanted to release
Western thought from the chokehold of essentialism. Gilles Deleuze's concept of
assemblageshelpsusthinkcriticallyaboututilizingtechnologytoshapequeerpractices
andsubjectivities."Ahumanbodyisanassemblageofgeneticmaterial,ideas,powers
of acting and a relation to other bodies" (Colebrook: 2002). Life is a series of
connections; there is no beginning or end that we can somehow uncover through
research. Also drawing from Michael Warner (1993) we can only imagine the
emergenceofqueerheterotopias;wecannotconfigureanexactprogramorprescription
forthefutureofqueerness.WhilethroughoutthisarticleIinterrogateexistingstrategies
forcreatingqueerheterotopicspacesandpresentillustrationsofpossibilities,noneof
this is meant to prescribe an exact vision of queerness; this article just utilizes a
Deleuzianframeworktoexploreitspossibilities.

Mimesis,whetherthroughdragortransidentities,isapromisingbutlimitedstrategyfor
creatingqueerheterotopias.Itcannotbetheonlystrategyweusetodisruptessentialist
discoursesanduniversalizingsubjectivities.Thisqueeridentitymaylimittheabilityfor
subjectstobecomeunfixed,unstable,andmalleable,whichistheultimategoal.From
Deleuzewedrawthequestion:inwhatwayscanwedeterritorializethebodyinan
efforttobreakdownthesubject(Grosz:1999,Gatens&Lloyd:1999)?Theemergence
of assemblages may enable the dismantling what Gilles Delueze called molar
categories, or what many call binaries. Can there be bodies without organs, or
technologicallyconstructed bodies within complex systems of desire and power
relationsthatcontinuallyproducesomuchdifferencethatthesubjectmightdisappear?
Queerheterotopiasrequireaposthumanvisionthatnotonlyseekstodisruptbinaries
like, man/woman, male/female, hetero/homo, but also human/nonhuman (Haraway:
1991).Cantherebenostableidentity?Inorderforqueerheterotopiastoflourish,there
mustbeamoveawayfromstableidentities,nottowardsthem,aswearecurrently
witnessing.InJudithButler'smostrecentworkshesays,"itseemscrucialtorealizethat
alivablelifedoesrequirevariousdegreesofstability"(2004:8).Theideathathavinga
fixedorstableidentityisahumanneedissociallyconstructed.Ourcompulsoryneedto
havefixedidentitieswascreatedbyaneedforrigidsocialorder.Whilehavingfixed
subjectivitiesisasocialneed,thereisnoreasontobelievethathavingastableidentity
isahumanneed.Tomymind,toflourish,thehumanconditionneedstransformation.A
transgenderedperson,abodymodifier,etc.,donotnecessarilydesiretobesomething
else;itistheprocessoftransformationthatfeedsthehumansoul.

Rethinking the idea of queer heterotopias requires that theories of difference,


particularly sexual difference, abandon all fascination withmetaphysics (Colebrook:
2000,Braidotti:2005),giveupthenotionthatpoliticalactionrequiresfixedidentities.
Thedemiseofthecompulsoryneedtoorderandcreateanyfixedidentity/subject/body
is the key to developing queer heterotopias further. However, creating queer
heterotopias, or spaces where the infinite performances of queerness can exist and
flourishfreefromregulationandmarginalization,freefromviolence,andfreetoexist
andberecognized,cannotbeaccomplishedifwehaveafixednotionofwhatqueer
bodieslooklikeorhowaqueerbodybehaves.

Whilecraftingqueerheterotopiaswillallowforhumangrowthandhumansatisfaction,
it may thwart the political project of many queer activists. If queer is not a fixed
identity,itmakes collective actionhardertoorganize.Perhapswemustrethinkour
goals.Isqueernessjustapoliticalstrategytoclaimlegalrecognition?Thiscannotbethe
onlygoalofthequeerproject.Queerpoliticscannotjustbereducedtothestrugglefor
marriageequality,equalprotectionlaws,therighttolegallychangeyoursex,and/orthe
legalstruggletoendthecoercivesurgeriesofintersexedbodies(justtonameafew).
Thisliberalistapproachtoqueerpoliticsislimited.Individualsneedsocialrightsas
well.Therighttoexist,tobeseen,tobeheard,tobeacceptedasa"viablebody,"and
therightexploreourdesires,freefromfearreprisalisasocialright.

Bycreating queer heterotopias individuals are creating spaces where they force the
largerheteronormativesocietytorecognizequeerbodiesasviableontheirownterms.

Recently, Judith Butlerastutely notedthatwhatmanyindividuals seemtodesire is


simplytobea"livablebody."Shewrites:

Thetaskofallthesemovementsseemstometobeaboutdistinguishingamongthe
normsandconventionsthatpermitpeopletobreathe,todesire,tolove,andtolive,and
thosenormsandconventionsthatrestrictorevisceratetheconditionsoflifeitself...what
ismostimportantistoceaselegislatingforallliveswhatislivableonlyforsome,and
similarly,torefrainfromproscribingforallliveswhatisunlivableforsome(2004:8).

Thecurrentqueerpoliticalprojectasksforacceptancefromtheoverarchingpolitical
structure. Queer heterotopias are spaces created by queer individuals that demand
recognition.Inrecognition,Imeanthatindividualsdonotaskforlegalsanction;they
askonlytoberecognizedasviablebodies.Atthispoint,havingspaceswherebodies
arefreetolive,literallybreatheandwalkdownthestreetfreefromregulationand
marginalization isasuccess.Queerheterotopias arethesespaces.Legal sanctionor
legitimacyisnottheonlystrategyforliberation.Fornow,ifindividualscanmerelylive
outsideofthebinaryconstructions ofsex,gender,andsexuality,theyareliberated.
Queerheterotopiasarespaceswhereindividuals,ofinfinitegenders,sexualities,and
radicallytransformedbodiescan,byliving,interactingandcreatingtheirownspaces,
takepowerandbeempowered.Theydonotneedtoaskforit.

BeyondMimesis
Mimesisreferstoimitationorrepresentationofanalreadyexistingform.Intheworkof
Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno the mimetic capacity of the individual is a
strategyforadaptation.Mimesisisthenameansbywhichanactorcanblurthebinary
subject/object. Difference is created in the process by which individuals imitate
something already in existence. Where Adorno draws primarily from a biological
model,MichaelTaussigapplies themimetic capacity tothesocial realm. Forthese
authors,mimesisisnotjustimitation;italwaysreproducesanother.Hedefinesthe
"mimeticfaculty[as]thenaturethatcultureusestocreatesecondnature,thefacultyto
copy,imitate,makemodels,exploredifference,yieldinto,andbecomeOther"(Taussig:
1993:xiii). Mimesis is ameans bywhichtoexperience alterity. Acopycannever
reproducetheoriginalandcanneverfullycapturetheessenceoraura(Benjamin:1969)
oftheoriginal.Therefore,mimesisalwaysproducesanother.Ifwedrewfromthese
authorswecouldconcludethatthedevelopmentofqueerheterotopiasdependsonthe
processofotheringandthecreationofmaterialspacesthatcelebratedifference. For
them,mimesismightbeameansbywhichtoachievethispluralityofidentities.

Poststructuralist theorists discussed the possibilities of producing ruptures within


discoursesthroughtheemergenceofdifferenceandthemultiplicationofthe"other."
Forinstance,poststructuralfeministslikeLuceIriggaryandJudithButlerbothdrawon
aLacanianframeworkthatseesthesubjectasmediatedbyalinguisticsymbolicorder,
which is conditioned by the compulsory ordering of the body visavis binary
constructions. Butler pays acute attention to the social context which shapes the
language, and hence the performance, of gender. In Butler's earlier work, Gender
Trouble,(asopposedtoherrevisedideasinUndoingGender),themimeticcapacityof
theactorcanproducesubversiveperformancesofgenderthatpushtheboundariesofthe
discoursefromwithin.Thismimeticcapacityisconditionedbyheterosexistdiscourses,
andtheseperformancesarenotconsciousorwillful.Butlerwarns:

Toclaimthatthatthesubjectisitselfproducedinandasagenderedmatrixofrelations
isnottodoawaywiththesubject,butonlytoaskaftertheconditionsofitsemergence
andoperation.The'activity'ofthisgenderingcannot,strictlyspeaking,beahumanact
orexpression,awillfulappropriation,anditiscertainlynotaquestionoftakingona
mask;itisthematrixthroughwhichallwillingfirstbecomespossible,itsenabling
culturalcondition.(Butler:1993:7)

Thestrategieswedeveloptobringaboutqueerheterotopiasarenotassimpleastakinga
dressonandoff.Wemustworkwithinthediscoursesatourdisposal;thereisnogetting
outsidethematrixofpower.

In order to push discourse we will need to move beyond Butler's focus on gender
performativity and the discursive realm and place more emphasis on actual bodies
(Grosz:1994).Inmyview,mimesis,orthereplicationofalreadyexistinggendered
subjectivities is a limited strategy for the deconstruction of binaries and creating
ruptures in discourse. Individuals can and do create new subjectivities. The more
individuals create spaces where they can freely explore and experiment with
subjectivityandtheirbodies,themorewewillseequeerheterotopiasappear.

Judith Butler invokes important questions about the possibilities for subverting
hegemonicdiscoursesthroughmimesis.Shefirstquestionsthebinaryconstructionof
sexandgender.

Takentoitslogical limit, thesex/genderdistinctionsuggestsaradicaldiscontinuity


betweensexedbodiesandculturallyconstructedgenders...thereisnoreasontoassume
thatgendersoughtalsotoremainastwo.Thepresumptionofabinarygendersystem
implicitly retains the belief in a mimetic relation of gender to sex whereby gender
mirrorssexorisotherwiserestrictedbyit(Butler:1990:6).

The discourses on sex and gender are inextricably linked, and both are social
constructionsthatconfinethebodywithinarigidbinaryconstructionmale/female.
Butlerquestionsthefixityofthesecategories.Shearguesthatthepseudoconnection
betweensexandgender,ortheinaccuratenotionthatsexdictatesgender,wascreatedto
maintainheteronormativeorder.Butlerarguesthatallgenderisaperformanceandthat
thereisno"true"essenceofsexand/orgender.Therefore,asforTaussig,forButler
mimesisisnotmereimitation.Onecanonlyimitatethatwhich"really"exists.Ifthe
sex/gendersystemisasocialconstructionthenthereisno"real"wayto"be"maleor
female.Wearesexedandgenderedthroughlanguage.

Consider the medical interpellation which (the recent emergence of the sonogram
notwithstanding)shiftsaninfantfroman'it'toa'she'ora'he',andinthatnaming,the
girl is 'girled', brought into the domain of language and kinship through the
interpellationofgender.Butthat'girling'ofthegirldoesnotendthere;onthecontrary,
thatfoundinginterpellationisreiteratedbyvariousauthoritiesandthroughoutvarious
intervalsoftimetoreinforceorcontestthisnaturalizedeffect.Thenamingisatoncethe
settingofaboundary,andalsotherepeatedinculcationofanorm(Butler:1993:78).

Tomymind,iflanguageisusedtoconstructgenderedandsexedbodies,thenqueerness
too are discursively constructed. Currently, some queer activists and academics are
usingheteronormativelanguagetoconstructqueerness.Forexample,becomingqueerin
theUnitedStates,might entail thatqueerparents might (as Butler'sexample above
suggests)nametheirchildrenAlex,Jordan,orReilybecausetheyareconsideredgender
neutralnames.However,somequeerparentsmightclaimthatnamingachildwitha
penisMarymighthavemoretransformativepossibilities.Namingachildwithapenis
Marymerelyreversesthebinaryoppositionandminimallychallengesit.Ratherthan
appropriatingalreadyexistingnames,createdwithinheteronormativediscourses, why
not then create innovative ways to utilize existing language for describing and
transcribingqueerbodies? Onecouldarguethatactor,GwenythPaltrow andsinger
Chris Martin's decision to name their daughter Apple was transgressive. These
examplesaimtopointoutthelimitationsofwhatwemightcallsubversivemimesis,or
utilizingexistingheteronormativestandardstoattempttosubvertthesex/gendersystem.
Utilizing "ungendered" language to describe bodies may have more transformative
powerthanutilizingastrategyofsubversivemimesis.

Discourses on sex and gender are also linked with the discourses on sexuality.
Performancesofgenderarealsoconditionedbyheteronormativediscoursesthatseekto
regulatedesire.
Theinstitutionofacompulsoryandnaturalizedheterosexualityrequiresandregulates
gender as a binary relation in which the masculine term is differentiated from the
feminine term, and this differentiation is accomplished through the practices of
heterosexual desire. The act of differentiating the two oppositional moments of the
binaryresultsinaconsolidationofeachterm,therespectiveinternalcoherenceofsex,
genderanddesire(Butler:1990:223)

Performancesofgenderalsorequireadherencetothehetero/homobinary.Moreover,
genderperformancesdeemed"normal"thenrequireactorstoperformsexualitiesthat
ostensibly "match" theirgender. Theconstruction ofmasculinity andfemininity are
linkedwithdesire.

Thecategoryofsexisneitherinvariantnornatural,butisaspecificallypoliticaluseof
thecategoryofnaturethatservesthepurposesofreproductivesexuality.Inotherwords,
thereisnoreasontodivideuphumanbodiesintomaleandfemalesexesexceptthat
suchadivisionsuitstheeconomicsneedsofheterosexualityandlendsanaturalistic
glosstotheinstitutionofheterosexuality(Butler:1990:112).

Queer heterotopias are spaces where sex, gender, and sexuality are subverted
simultaneously. There may be no way to dismantle the linkages between these
categoriesbecauseonecategoryonlyreifiestheother.Canindividualsbehaveinways
thatsubvertthismultifacetedprocess?Yes,ifinsocietyfemalemasculinityisequated
withlesbianismormalefemininityequatedwithbeinggay,thenindividualscancraft
genderedsubjectivitiesthatdisruptthisfallacy.Forexample,thesubculture"theBears,"
agroupofhypermasculinegaymenintheUnitedStates,havefoundawaytoperform
queernessthatdoesnotconformtosociety'sexpectations.Theytendtohavealotof
bodyhair,facialhair,andadoptagenderaestheticantitheticaltoeffeminacy.Their
adoptionofaworkingclassperformanceofmasculinityasmeansbywhichtoperform
theirsexualitydisruptsthetraditionalassociationwitheffeminacyandgayness.InNew
Yorktherearegrowingcohortsofyoungmenwhocallthemselves,"homothugs."Like
theBears,thishypermasculineyouthsubcultureaimstodemonstratetosocietythatone
canperformqueerinawaythatdoesnotconformtosociety'snotionsofwhatagay
manlookslike. Theseperformances,likedrag,attempttorevealthatthereisno"true
essence"ofsexualidentity.

Butlerpositsthatthebodyisconstructedbyexistinggenderdiscoursesandtherefore
ourperformancesofgenderareconditionedbythesediscourses.Iarguethatthefuture
ofqueerheterotopiashingesupontheopeningofpossibilitieswithindiscoursesthat
reconfigure the way bodies may perform sex, gender, and sexuality. We might,
ultimately, have more agency than Butler's theories allow in radically shaping our
bodies.Whileactors'performancesofgenderarestructuredbythelargerhegemonic
discourse, I believe individuals have more agency than Butler's work suggests.
Individuals can utilize these discourses to create new, radical, and subversive
performances;theycanrecreatetheiridentitiesandsubjectivitiesusingtheavailable
discourses.Thesetacticscanblurthebinaryconstructionsofsex,gender,andsexuality.
Butlerherselfsuggeststhispossibilityinherearlywork:

Thistextcontinues,then,asanefforttothinkthroughthepossibilityofsubvertingand
displacing those naturalized and reified notions of gender that support masculine
hegemonyandheterosexistpower, tomakegendertrouble, notthroughthestrategies
thatfigureautopianbeyond,butthroughthemobilization,subversiveconfusion,and
proliferationofpreciselythoseconstitutivecategoriesthatseektokeepgenderinits
placebyposturingasthefoundationalillusionsofidentity(Butler:1990:334).

What does 'subversive confusion' look like? When any individual utilizes the
technologiesnowatourdisposaltotransformtheirbodyinwaysthatcreateconfusion
whenonlookers cannotimmediatelyorderthesebodies,theyarecreatingsubversive
confusion. Howcanindividualsmakegendertrouble? Is subversivemimesisanideal
strategy fordeveloping queerheterotopias further? Aredrag queens anddragkings
goodexamplesofsuccessfulattemptsatsubversiveconfusionandgendertrouble?
The performance of drag plays upon the distinction between the anatomy of the
performerandthegenderthatisbeingperformed.Butweareactuallyinthepresenceof
threecontingentdimensionsofsignificantcorporeality:anatomicalsex,genderidentity,
and gender performance... In imitating gender, drag implicitly reveals the imitative
structureofgenderitselfaswellasitscontingency(Butler:1990:137).

However,tomymindtheparodyfoundindragshowsonlyminimallypushesdiscursive
boundaries. Becausedragperformers arefetishized byaudiences andseenbyeager
kibitzers as a parody of a "true" identity, such performances lose their subversive
qualityandtheirtransformativepossibilities.Whiletheavidqueertheoristrecognizes
theironyinthisperformance,theonlookergenerallywillnotreadthisperformanceas
subversive. Drag is viewed as mere imitation by heteronormative society and is
generally perceived as a spectacle, a comedic performance consumed by cultural
tourists. Therefore,drag,aprimeexampleofsubversivemimesisisalimitedstrategy
forsustainingqueerheterotopias.

Queer heterotopias were formedinopposition toheteronormative spaces wecannot


dismisshowthebehaviorsofqueerindividualswillbeperceivedbyothersinsociety.
Understandinghowqueerperformanceswillbeseenorreceivedbythelargersocietyis
important. In order to thwart the negative responses and reactions, which are often
violent, from bigoted individuals, carefully anticipating these reactions are crucial.
Moreover,thelegitimizationofqueerbodies,therighttoexist,isnotjustaresultof
queerindividuals'publicperformances.Managingthenegativeresponsesfromdifferent
sourceswithinheteronormativespacesisanimportantpartofqueerpolitics.

PrivilegingTechnoBodies

Manyscholarssuggestthatthereistransformativepowerinthemimeticperformances
of transsexuals and the transgendered community (Stryker & Whittle: 2006,
Halberstam:2005).AsTaussignotes,themimeticfacultyalwaysreproducesanother.
Therefore,inproducinganother,transsexualspushtheboundariesofdiscourseandthe
binariesofsex,gender,andsexuality.However,whiletransbodiesdocause"trouble"
withinthesex/gendersystem,theirstrategiesofsubversivemimesisarenottheonly
waypeoplecandeveloporbehavewithinqueerheterotopias.Transsubjectivitiesare
becomingconflatedwithqueernessandseenastheonlystrategytoradicallyunhinge
thehegemonicdiscoursesofsexandgender,andhenceproducequeerheterotopias.
Bothqueerandheteronormativesocietycurrentlyseemtoequatequeernesswithpeople
whofitundertheacronymLGBT.Ifpeoplelimitqueertotransandgayidentities,they
arelimitingthepowerofthetermqueer.Queerisanunfixedsubjectivity,butmany,not
allacademicsandactivistsseemdeterminedtofixthecategorytosuittheirownneeds.
Unfortunately,thepropensitytowardconformitymaybecausingmanyindividualsto
seekoutafixedandalreadyestablishedqueeridentity,ratherthanexploringtheirown
desires and bodies. Taking our cue from Donna Haraway we can imagine other
subjectivitiesthatalsocauseabreakdownofthesex/gendersystem.

Wecanbegintoimaginethepossibilitiesfornewsubjectivitiestoexistbyexamining
thehybridizationofhuman,animal,andtechnology.DonnaHarawayhasopenedup
possibilitiesforthinkingaboutsubvertingbinariesandthewaytraditionalbinariesare
alreadybeingbrokendown.

A cyborgisacyberneticorganism,ahybridofmachineandorganism,acreature of
socialrealityaswellasacreatureoffiction.Socialrealityislivedsocialrelations,our
most important political construction, a worldchanging fiction. The international
women'smovementshaveconstructed'women'sexperience',aswellasuncoveredor
discoveredthiscrucialcollectiveobject.Thisexperienceisafictionandfactofthemost
crucial,politicalkind.Liberation restsontheconstructionoftheconsciousness,the
imaginativeapprehension,ofoppression,andsoofpossibility.Thecyborgisamatterof
fictionandlivedexperiencethatchangeswhatcountsaswomen'sexperienceinthelate
twentieth century. This is astruggleoverlifeanddeath,buttheboundarybetween
sciencefictionandsocialrealityisanopticalillusion(Haraway:1991:149).

Wearealreadybecomingcyborgs.Sciencefictionandmodernityhavecollided.The
emergenceofthecyborgbodyisbreakingdowntraditionalbinaryconstructionslike
male/female.Evenfurther,itbreaksdownimportantbinarieslikehuman/nonhuman.
Thecyborgortechnobodyopensupthepossibilitiesforaskingnewquestionsabout
subjectivityanddestroysessentialcategoriesoforganization.PerhapsReneeRichard's
presenceonthetenniscourtandOscarPistorious'[3]sprintingsignalthecomingof
queerheterotopias.Theybothcertainlyforceanewdialoguewithinsocietyaboutthe
usefulnessoftraditionalbinaries.Moreover,astheseothersemergeandmultiply,they
forcediscoursetoexpandtomeettheirneeds.Forexample,recentlytheInternational
OlympicCommitteeallowedtranssexualstocompeteintheOlympics.Onamicrolevel
individuals can force society to slowly change merely by behaving "queerly." The
hybridizationofbodiesandtechnologiesforcespeopletorethinkhowtheyunderstand
andperceivehumanlife.

Hybridizationproducesthemultiplicationandamplificationofdifferenceandidentities.
Theincreaseinhybridizationislinkedwiththeriseofglobalcapitalismandadvanced
technology(Braidotti:2002,2006).Thepossibilitiesofthetechnobodyaretempting.
However,itcouldalltooreadilybecomeyetanothergrandnarrativewheretechnology
willbetheweaponofrevolution.Moreover,theromanticismofthetechnobodyisonly
helpingtocreateyetanotherfixedidentity(tobeexploitedandmarginalized).However,
new technologies are a strategy for creating queer heterotopias because new
technologiescanassistindividualstofurtherdeveloptheirownqueerness.

The proliferation of multiple queer heterotopias requires that we think through the
possibilities of a posthuman society. There is no essential subject. The popular
tendencybornintheradicalendeavorsofsomequeeractivistsandqueeracademicsto
fixqueernessbyculturallymarkingqueernesswithandrogynousaestheticsandgayand
lesbian encounters is slowly creating an essential queer subject. Poststructural
feminismalreadyopenedthedoortorethinkingtheessentializingofthecategoriesman
andwoman.DeleuzeandHarawayhavealsoopenedadoorthatasksustoimaginethe
possibilityoftherebeingnofixedbeings.Afuturewithnofixedsubjectivities,spaces
where individuals can feel free to explore and experiment with their desires, their
bodies,andeachotherarethebasisofqueerheterotopias.
QueerAsBodiesWithoutOrgans

Queerheterotopiasrequirethatweabandonmetaphysics.Wemust"free"ourthinking
fromtheconfinesofessentialismandfixedcategoricalthinking.Wetendtoseethe
worldasasetoffixedentities.Butthereisnofixedplaneofexistence;information,
geneticmaterial,rain,ideas,andbloodallflowthroughoutlife,atdifferentspeeds,and
allaffectoneanother.ForGillesDeleuzeweshouldfocusontheeffectsoftheflowsof
all these diverse entities on bodies. It is in our interactions with other bodies that
potential arises for new bodies that Deleuze calls, "bodies without organs." The
emergenceofqueerheterotopiasdependsonthisfreeflowofentities;entitieswithno
order and no organization. Queer heterotopias are constituted by "bodies without
organs."Thebodywithoutorgans"isnotatallanotionoraconceptbutapractice,aset
ofpractices.YouneverreachtheBodywithoutOrgans,youcan'treachit,youare
forever attaining it, it is a limit" (Delueze & Guattari: 1987: 14950). If we learn
anythingfromDeleuzeitisthatwewillforeverperpetuallybebecomingqueer.

Queerheterotopiasarespacescharacterizedbyinfinitesetsofsocialpractices."The
BwOiswhatremainswhenyoutakeeverythingaway.Whatyoutakeawayisprecisely
thephantasy,andsignificancesandsubjectificationsasawhole"(Deleuze&Guattari:
1987).Thenqueerheterotopiaswillexistwhenwetakeeverythingawayallorder,all
fixedcategories.Itisthusorderthatstructuresthebodyandhenceitisthisorderthat
mustcease.Therearepracticesofdesirethatdisruptthisorder.

The masochist uses suffering as a way of constituting a body without organs and
bringing forth a plane of consistency of desire. That there are other ways, other
proceduresthanmasochism,andcertainlybetterones,isbesidethepoint;itisenough
thatsomefindthisproceduresuitableforthem(Deleuze&Guattari:1987:1557).
Wecannotgiveprimacytooneformofsubversiveperformanceofdesireoveranother.
Themasochist has the potential ofbecoming abodywithout organs.Crucially, the
creationofmultiplebodieswithoutorganscouldcausequeerheterotopiastoflourish.
This line of thinking allows us to think in terms of immanence rather than
transcendence.Queerheterotopiaswillrequiretheendoffixedorganismsandthefree
flow of desire. Like the masochist, we can become vessels of freeflowing desire.
However,wecannotbecomefetteredtoadesire;noindividualhasonedesire.Our
desiresaremultiple; wearepolymorphouslyperverseentities.[4]Inaddition,desire
cannotbeseenasonlyrelatingtosexuality.Desireisfluidandcanrelatetoawide
rangeofpracticesthatseektosatisfyimmediatewantsofthemindandbody.However,
ifanindividualallowsonedesiretoconsumetheirtimeandthoughts,andusesthat
desiretoadoptanidentity,theyaredangerouslyfixingtheirownsubjectivity.Instead,if
individualsrecognizetheirmultipledesiresandutilizeeverydaytoexploreanewone,
theyarebecomingqueer.Becomingqueerisnotapoliticalprocess;itisaspiritual
journey.

BecomingQueer

Howdoesanindividualbecomequeer?Becomingqueerisnotaboutcraftingafixed
identityorculture.Itisaboutplayingwithyourindividualdesiresandengaginginan
ongoingspiritualprocessofexperimentationwiththosedesires.Queertheoristscannot
affordtominimize this point.Becoming queerandthe queerheterotopia cannotbe
envisionedasacollectiveprojectwithprogrammedvisionsofhowweneedtoperform
queer.Whileperformancesofdragmaybeanexperimentinbecomingqueerforsome,
andmasochismthewayforothers,everyindividualwillachievequeernessvisavis
theirownprocessofbecoming.Again,thisarticledoesnotaimtodefinequeernesson
itsownterms.Theillustrationsprovidedhereweremeanttojustserveaspossibilities;
the possibilities for creating queer bodies are infinite and a personal everyday
adventure.Finally,inrecognizingthatweareperpetuallybecomingqueer,constantly
changing,andconstantlyexperimentingwithdesirelogicallymeansthatwecannothave
fixedidentities.Byretainingfixedidentities,weshutourselvesofffromtheconstant
experimentation that is required for becoming queer, or a body without organs.
Moreover,havingfixedidentitiesasthebasisforthecreationofqueerheterotopiaswill
leadtoexclusion.Wecontinuallywitnessthisprobleminpraxis;gaymenhavebeen
kickedoutoflesbianturf;transindividualshavebeenexcludedfromgaypolitics.The
policingofqueernessleadstoexclusion.

Creatingaqueerheterotopia canbemorereadilyenvisionedifwethinkoutsideof
already existing binaries. The mimesis of already existing sex/gender performances
(foundindrag)andposthumanhybridizedperformances(foundintransidentities)are
notcompetingstrategies;theyarebothpartoftheinfiniteprocessofbecomingqueer.
However,wecannotstopatthesestrategies. Creatingqueerheterotopias isbothan
innerandouterbattle.Becomingqueerisnotjustaboutaperformanceoraboutsexual
acts; it is also a mindstate and an inner battle that occurs within the individual.
Queernessisnotaboutbeingpreoporpostop;itisnotjustaboutsamesexrelationsor
membership in LGBTQ organizations. For example, an individual maybe becoming
queerbyacquiringfullbodytattoosthattransformtheirbodyintoanother.However,it
is the spiritual process of tattooing, the connection between skin, desire, ink, pain,
needle,mindframe,machine, power,anotherbody(theartist), andthereactions of
peopleinsocietythatsignalstheirbecomingqueer.Queernessisfoundintherepetition
ofongoingprocessesofbecoming.Theindividualmustcontinuetheseexperimentations
withalterityinordertocontinuebecomingqueer.Inthisexample,onehasnotbecome
queer once one's body is covered in tattoos. Becoming queer requires an ongoing
processofexperimentationandinteractionswithmultipledesireswiththeirbodiesand
theirminds.

Dismantlingtheorganismhasnevermeantkillingyourself,butratheropeningthebody
toconnectionsthatpresupposeanentireassemblage,circuits,conjunctions,levelsand
thresholds, passages and distributions of intensity, and territories and
deterritorializations measuredwiththecraftofasurveyor...andhowcanweunhook
ourselvesfromthepointsofsubjectificationthatsecureus,nailusdowntoadominant
reality?(Deleuze&Guattari:1987:160).
Queerheterotopiasarearadicalposthumanvisionwherenothingisfixedandthereare
noboundaries,andnohierarchies.Thesearespaceswithnoorderedcategories that
qualify and rank bodies. This will require the radical transformation of bodies,
subversiveperformances,andtransformingourminds,oursouls,andourthoughts.It
seems that queer theorists and queer utopian hopefuls have pinned their hopes on
subjectification.While,Itoofindthemanipulationofthebodythrougha"confused
mimesis"(Scheie:1994)alluring,ultimately,Imustwonderiftheseperformancesonly
reifysubjectification.Thefocalpointofqueerpoliticscannotjustbethebody;queer
bodiesdonotjustlookqueer;thesebodiesbehavequeerly.Whileourbodiesaresitesof
possibilities, we must be careful about naming these performances and reifying the
performances into identities. If all queer performances en masse despite their
differencesconstitutequeernessthennoexclusionispossible.

Asnewqueersubjectivitiesarecrafted,itislikelythatundercapitalismtheywillbe
commodifiedandexploited;becomingqueerthendemandsconstantexperimentation,
movement,andchange.Movingawayfromfixedidentitieswillthenalsohelpthwartto
problemofcommodificationandexploitation.Desiremustbefreedfromtheconfinesof
aheteronormativeorder.Becomingqueermeanswemustseeourselvesasfreefloating
entities of desire. Most importantly, becoming queer entails a constant process of
spiritualexperimentation.Individualsareincreasinglylookingforalternativeroadsto
spiritualityoutsideoforganizedreligion.Themostinterestingaspectofqueernessisthe
internal liberation experienced in this process,not the political emancipation that it
seems many queer activists are concerned with. In my view, spirituality relates to
introspectionandbecomingqueerprovidesarewardingmeansbywhichtoexploreones
desiresandtheirrelationshipwiththeexternalworld.

HomonormativityandtheFutureofQueerness

Themajorproblemthatfacesthoseinvestedinthequeerpoliticalprojectisthegrowing
problem of homonormativity. Lisa Duggan vocalized this growing problem within
queer politics in her paper, "Feeling Neoliberal: Homonormative Desires, Imperial
Desires,"deliveredatthe2006conference,Historicism,Homonormativity,andQueer
Political Formations. Asqueerheterotopias develop,they arebeingstifled bysome
wellmeaningpoliticalactivistswhoengageinwhatwecancallapoliticsofexclusion,
as they marginalize those individuals who do not fit into their homonormative
standards.Asqueerpolitics,particularlyintheUnitedStates,hasbecomeabsorbedby
the fight for equal marriage, those who do not conform to this type of politics of
respectabilityarebeingmarginalized.Thegrowthofqueerheterotopiasisbeingstymied
by this strategy. There are many kinds of individuals who reject the hegemonic
discourses on sex, gender, and sexuality. Trans identified people, intersexuals,
bisexuals,polyamorouscouples,justtonameafew,areallfightingfortherighttobe
legitimized bodies, and hence find space for the celebration of their queerness.
However,oftentheyarealienatedfromqueerpolitics.Thisseeminglystrategicmoveis
actuallycounterproductivetothedevelopmentofqueerheterotopiasandqueerpolitics
ingeneral.

While not en masse, there are many queer theorists and political activists that are
engagedinanongoingprocessoftryingtofixaqueeridentitythroughdiscursiveand
politicalcampaigns.LGBTQactivistsandacademicsarecontestingqueerness.Abattle
isemergingoverwhoisallowedtobequeer.Isanyonewhorejectscompulsorygender
identitiesqueer?Areallselfidentifiedgaymenandlesbiansqueer?Canbisexualsbe
queer?Itseemsthatmanyarestilltrappedwithinthebinaryframeworksthatcondition
howweunderstandsex,gender,andsexuality.Manyclaimtobepartofagrowing
queermovementbutthenalienatebodiesthatdonotconformtotheirideasofwhat
queernessshouldbe.Ifasexually"straight"bodymodifieridentifiesasqueer,would
somesaythemodifier'squeernesswasnegatedbytheirsocalledheterosexualdesires?I
wonder if a heterosexual foot fetishist would be banished from developing queer
publics.Inmanyspacesthequeernessofthesebodieswouldbecontested.Iamafraida
growing cohort of activists and queer theorists might be quick to question the
authenticity of these selfidentified queer people. Queer heterotopias are not
characterizedbyanyclearlydefinedsetofpractices;theonlyrequirementisthatthe
practicessubverthegemonicdiscoursesthatregulatethebody,particularly,relatedto
sex,gender,andsexuality.Queeractivistsareleadingpeopletothewrong"promised
land."Theyarepointingpeopleinthedirectionofpoliticalemancipationintheformof
civilrightsthatonlybenefitaparticularsegmentofqueerpeople.Instead,developing
queer heterotopias should provide a greater sense of legitimacy, power and self
empowermentthantherightsbasedmovementdevelopinginqueerpolitics.

Queerisasetofunidentifiablepractices.Thebeautyofbecomingqueer,itsliberating
potential,liesinthefactthatitisunidentifiableandnotfixed.Becomingqueerisa
spiritualjourneynotjustapoliticalone,apointalltooreadilyglossedoverbysome
queertheorists andactivists. Ifactivists andacademics continue tofixandregulate
queernessaccordingtoheteronormativelogic,andinsomecaseshomonormativelogic,
they will stifle the emergence of new queer heterotopias. The current policing of
queerness works against the development of queer heterotopias and spaces for the
empowerment and liberation of all those who reject heteronormative standards. In
praxis,queerisbeingfixedandrecognizedasrelatedtosubversivemimeticgender
performances,whetherintransidentitiesorandrogynousgenderaestheticsorasrelated
tosamesexdesires.Thisarticleaimedtopointoutthegrowingproblemofpolicing
queerness. However, it was not the intention of the author to then lay out a fixed
alternativeprogramtoachievequeerness.Rather,queernesswaspresentedhereasa
constantprocessofexperimentationwithourdesires.Becomingqueerisanindividual
andeverydayspiritualjourneyandqueerheterotopiasaresimplyspaceswherethese
infinitepracticesgounregulatedandarenotmarginalized.Ifqueerisbeingfixedand
reduced to identification within the dominant acronym LGBT, then the future
developmentofqueerheterotopiasisinjeopardy.

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[1]ForMichelFoucault'sdiscussionofheterotopiasseehis1967lecture,"DesEspaces
Autres" or "of Other Spaces." Foucault, Michel. "Of Other Spaces," Diacritics 16
(Spring 1986), 2227. In addition, the reference here to resisting marginalization,
qualification,andpunishmentistoFoucault,Michel.(1977).Disciplineandpunish:The
birthoftheprison(A.Sheridan,Trans.)NewYork:Vintage.
[2]SeeGeorgeChauncey,GayNewYork,foraninsightfuletymologyoftheword
queer.
[3]Famousathlete/sprinterwithtwocarbonfiberprostheticlegs.
[4] However, unlike Sigmund Freud, in queer heterotopias the recognition of
polymorphouslyperversesexualityisnotseenaspathology,underdeveloped,and/or
unhealthy. Instead of being socialized away from our multiple desires, queer
heterotopiasnurturethesedesires.
AngelaJones