gay vs. queer


I read Edelman's use of "queer" vs. "gay" as being very distinct, and because it's a pretty important split, I wanted to hear others' opinions about how you allz are reading this. My understanding of "Queer" draws heavily from my understanding of the Lacanian signifying/real space. I don't claim to have a very complete or deep understanding of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, but, I read the act of signifying as being necessarily incomplete, and producing this space of exclusion which is unspeakable and in part unthinkable. However, we develop a relationship with things in this outside space through the act of (or is it the act that produces? I'm unclear on this) Joissance, which is the perverse enjoyment of this relationship to outside things, maybe because of some kind of subconscious drive or something, but at any rate you end up with this outside composed of what you couldn't/didn't want to (I'm confused on this) signify. Would love to hear how/if I've managed to butcher Lacan on all this.

At any rate, I read him as then basically asserting that within reproductive futurism as the dominant political ideology, "queerness" becomes the space of sexual practices outside of this, in which gays and lesbians fall because their sexual practices can't be inscribed (although they can certainly jump on the bandwagon and adopt) within the grand narrative of 'the future for the children'. So heterosexuals can engage in "queer" sexual practices as well, but there's always the latent possibility that an image of a smiling child will convince them to have sex for the purpose of having children, so they aren't as totally all out completely committed to it in the same way that gays and lesbians are. Therefore, queerness isn't a positive, inherent identity to rally around and build constructive communities (as being gay/lesbian might be), but instead a political weapon to turn against an oppressive linguistic/political system. How do other people read the notion of "queerness"?

I like your distinction between how Edelman uses queer and gay, queer connoting the political weapon that can be used to expose (and I guess destroy?) the current oppressive political system. I used his definition on page 17 that queers are "all so stigmatized for failing to comply with heteronormative mandates" as my guiding principle behind the political uses of queerness and then sinthomosexuality (though this term seemed hazier by specifying homosexual vs. queer within the name itself). Considering the page 17 definition, I was wondering if many or all other forms of stigmatized, non-heteronormative lives would then be considered queer--asexuality, for example. Considering the child's special import in our future-forward society, I thought that child-lovers would be an interesting example. On the one hand, child-lovers are nearly universally stigmatized for their attraction to children. On the other hand, their love of/attraction to children is often heterosexual. Is "the pedophile" an example of a queer sexuality or a limit concept exemplifying society's love of children? Seems like it's an indistinct gray zone between the two, shocking to and renounced by our political system--the case of the pedophile could be useful to consider in Edelman's argument.

i think that morefuntocompute's reading of Edelman's "queer" is quite useful, and that it would, indeed include, as you mention, these other deviant sexual identities. It seems that queerness, in Edelman's terms, is not so much a political weapon as an identity abstracted from its immediate politics into a rhetorical strategy of hyperconformity. Within this rhetorical category are clumped all those whose acts and mode of living defy reproductive futurism, and in essence advocating, in some capacity, for a Childless future. Initially upon reading on page 17, Edelman's call for a queering of the self: "the queer must insist...on queering ourselves, and our investment in such social organizations" I was under the impression he was really just asking as all to be gay. But when abstracted into its rhetorical use, queerness must then include a politic and value-set that extends beyond identification with a sexual orientation.

The line "queerness can never define an identity; it can only disturb one," struck me as reminiscent of Haraway (17). I wonder how similar Edelman's stance on queer identity is to Haraway's concept of negative identity, as an identity that is based on affinity rather than correspondence to an ideal Subject, and how this might shed light on Edelman's use of queer rather than gay. For instance, the adoption of 'queer' permits talk of 'queering' identities, rather than identifying or not identifying as gay, which immediately raises the issues context - that how one identifies as gay varies wildly depending on gender, ethnicity, religion, etc. In this sense, queerness seems to demand a politics of affinity so strongly that I'm not sure why Haraway didn't use it.