X Marks the Spot

It’s the challenge to a cartographic imagination that struck me.

Just to give an example of the problems with the heroic model of queer activism and scholarship, consider the recent uproar over bullying in schools. […] The reality of bullying and gay teen suicide is probably quite different from the media engineered showdowns between bullies and sissies. First, just because a teen is gay and kills himself, does not mean that he killed himself because he was gay. Second, looking for hard and fast reasons for suicide, particularly in young people, is a fool’s game and it ignores the multiple pressures facing young adolescents on account of the messed up worlds that we adults pass on to youth. Finally, the representation of adolescence as a treacherous territory that one must pass through before reaching the safe harbor of adulthood, and this is the explicit message of the “it gets better” campaign, is a sad lie about what it means to be an adult. In fact, to distort the saccharine message sent out by Dan Savage and his boyfriend, sometimes “things get worse” … The touchy feely notion embraced by this video campaign that teens can be pulled back from the brink of self-destruction by taped messages made by impossibly good-looking and successful people strongly recounting the highlights of their fabulous lives is just PR for the status quo, a way of patting yourself on the back without changing a thing, pretending to be on the front lines while you eat caviar and sip champagne in the VIP lounge. By all means make cute videos about you and your boyfriend, but don’t justify the self-indulgence by imagining you are saving a life.

The indignation is righteous. And embedded in this diatribe is the notion of multiple life worlds — a subtle if clear reminder that however messed up they may be they are not a single totalized world covered by a unique story of progress. It’s just way messier. Even the use of the second person pronoun makes the reader in part complicit in the champagne sipping. Cheering on the indignation is not enough.

All from a footnote from Jack Halberstam “Queer Betrayals” in Queer Futures: Reconsidering Ethics, Activism and the Political edited by Elahe Haschemi Yekani, Eveline Kilian and Beatrice Michaelis.

And so for day 2592

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