Queer has seveal meanings in English like “weird”, “abnormal”, “of dubious character” or “perverse”. The term “queer” has been adopted an alternative definition during the last third of the 20th century, when it was chosen by individuals and groups of people as a demonstration of self-empowerment, which was to be used as a self reference, which enabled them to turn the tables on any insulting connotations which were previously linked to the word and to avoid violation. To us, “queer” is not a collective term for non-heteronormative ways of living, nor for gender-associated concepts or practices that one generally links with terms like “lesbian”, “gay” ,“bi” or “transgenderl”. “Queer” is rather an instrument, which allows for investigation and revelation with regards to hegemonic assumptions of what gender is supposed to be, what types of sexuality are legitimate how desirable bodiesshould look and much more. This creates the possibility to examine issues as diverse as homophobia, transphobia and sexism in high-performance sports, the so-called same-sex marriage, the romantic two-person relationship or homophobic and/or racist structures within the gay big city life style, in a trenchant and exemplary way. What’s exciting about the term “queer” is that it functions on different levels. On the one hand, one can make use of the “queer-coloured glasses”, through which a process towards normativity or limitation through the impact of hegemonic relations is analysed respectively.They are a point of view, an investigative method and a strategy of questioning. On the other hand (and now to touch upon the political reality), the idea also holds a tangible, rebellious dimension: “Queering society” – an active disturbance of the societal balance of power, which in turn publicly scrutinises and denounces it.
Normality. Normalisation. Normativity
On a daily basis we deem reality as something unquestioned, often as something unquestionable as well, or simply as “natural.” Balance of power (e.g. in gender roles), which is created day by day yet remains at the same time unexposed, is in some way thought of as a silent requirement. “Queer” gives us the opportunity to make the invisible visible but also to blur and confuse that which is far too obvious and apparently evident, to deal out criticism, but also to proclaim utopias for acting within a binary male-female programmed matrix and putting it into practise.
Gender – “Race “– Class
During the development of the “Queer Theory” the triad of Gender – Class – Race has proven very fruitful to visibly deconstruct the balance of power and privileges. Gender relations can, for instance, never be looked at separately from racist and class structures: The livingworld and experiential scope of a white, German, middle class family who openly defines themself as lesbian and who lives with their child in the countryside will mostly differ radically from the livingworld and experiential scope of a single, black, German academic from a big city, who is a self-defined heterosexual and who, every now and then, seeks sexual encounters with other men. However, they are also in turn difficult to compare to a white, female migrant worker who is a self-defined heterosexual and who is married to someone from abroad without any prospect of receiving a German passport.
The Heteronormative Matrix and Varieties/Possibilities of Desire
The romantic dual-person relationship between a (cisgendered) “woman” and a (cisgendered) “man” and their 1.4 children – this can’t possibly be all there is! Or can it? “Queer” wants to address all forms of desire without prejudice and bias, whether it be hetero/homo/bisexuality, or be it polygamy or polyamory, be it cuddle sex, bondage, fist fuck or asexuality. What’s important is solely the general view for questions like: Who determines what is good, proper sexuality? Whose privileges are strengthened by this kind of normative setting?
Criticism of Identity Politics
“Queer” does not want to institutionalise new identity categories, yet has its roots, amongst others, in the criticising of LGBTI identity policies, the exclusion and segregation they produce, and points to something that can be described as the creation of a homonormative matrix.
Queer views have also come to focus more on the human body as a subject over which battles for this heteronormative matrix are (literally) fought out. Why is transsexuality still pathologised? Why is it still widespread and common practise for children with ambiguous gender to be put through genitally mutilating operations in order that they belong to one of the two genders? The body is also of interest when in its absent and invisible form. The invisibility of elderly people and people with impairments in images which are publicised to the public is terrifying. In this context, questions surrounding the production of “beauty ideals” through images within the cultural industryarealso presented. Exclusion is also brought about through the manufacturing of these “beauty ideals”. The queer view also focuses on the exploitation of bodies. For instance, when asking how the heterosexual matrix and sexuality links in with the natural reproduction of a nation?
Critique – Action – Utopias
All of these theoretical question marks possess elements of everyday life and we want to make them visible. Apart from criticising the normative “normal” state of this society we additionally want to show how an alternative reality might also look. Dreams, ideas and utopias can act as approaches for queer practise and behaviour.
paranoid paradise #2 was a queer film festival in leipzig/germany 011
“I have done a little bit of living… I have been disappointed in many things, have suffered great pain, and have had many illusions shattered. But I have also learned that human relationships are deeper, wider, more mysterious, more diverse, more perverse, more intense, more free, less definable and infinitely more beautiful than I was ever taught that they could be. The word queer sums up that hope for me, the hope that there is more than one kind of sex, more than one kind of meaning to romance, and far more than two genders.” asher bauer “what queerness means to me” / tranarchism