The Queer Strategies

The local “Pride Center” is having a retreat for youth this month.  They are still scraping for programming.

We are looking for workshops that contribute to the lives of LGBTQA youth. This may include (but is not limited to): Advocacy/Education, Understanding Intersecting Oppressions, and Wellness/Self-Care.

Those are the top three things these kids need to learn to contribute to their lives?  “Understanding Intersecting Oppressions?”

That Women’s Studies model seems to have really serious limits to me.  Unless we can understand what kind of constraints — oppressions — that the system of gender puts even on normative white christian men, the people who are often seen as being at the top of this pyramid of oppression — we can never understand how everyone is bullied by social convention.

What I think they need to learn are the strategies for being queer in the world.

How do you construct a persona that is both wild and tame, both bold enough to be uniquely you so you can be authentic and mild enough to fit into others needs so you can get what you need?

How do you actually enter your own hell to question, challenge and deconstruct all the habits and assumptions you ended up with while also being a well assimilated member of the group who makes others feel safe & comfortable?

We need our jobs and our friends and our sex partners and our grades and our family, and all of those require that we meet the expectations of others. And we need our own voice and own style and own breathing room, and all of those require we not be bound up in the expectations of others.

This is the challenge of creating a persona, being both authentic and assimilated in our own way.   How queer is too queer, too bold and wild, how queer is not queer enough, too too meek and tame?

And more than that, how do we learn to embrace others who make that balance in a different way than we do?  The others who identify like we do, but just seem to be too much of a flamer or too much of a normie?   How do we find a way to support their queer choices even if they are choices we would never make for ourselves?

For example, as a trans-femme I know that people often see me as too mild, because they never take the time to understand my wild heart and mind.

I suggest that queer theory, which venerates the power of individual choice, rather than venerating the power of group identity and oppression, is a key to acknowledging and affirming others as unique individuals, to affirming yourself as a unique individual with your own mix of wild and tame choices.

The Six Responses to challenge in the world — Conceal, Concede, Confront, Convert, Clown, Calm — are important strategies to consider in facing everyday life.   Each one of them can be useful, especially when alloyed together.

That’s what I would want to tell queer kids if I had an hour and a half with them.   Just my old training in elementary education coming back, I guess.But I doubt they would want to hear from queer old me.  That’s something else coming out, I fear.

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4 thoughts on “The Queer Strategies”

  1. Doing this next Saturday:

    The Queer Strategies: Lessons In Being Yourself For A World That Wants You To Be Someone Else.

    People are very glad to tell you who you should be. They often feel a duty to “help” you be more like their vision of what a cool, smart, successful, happy person should be.

    The Queer Strategies are tried and true tips for being yourself in a pressure filled world. They centre around the Six Responses you can make when being challenged about being too queer in the world.

    How can you be a great participant in life, getting what you need, while still being boldly yourself? The Queer Strategies can help you find a way to be both unique and a graceful member of society at the same time.

    Callan Williams is a trans shaman who has been supporting people live their best queer lives for almost thirty years.

  2. I did this. I had five students, only one of whom chose to take my session. I had to meet them where they were, which meant talking about their challenges in living a queer life.

    The MSW sent to checkride my session said that the students appeared to “get a lot out of it.” Good, but it wasn’t worth my time and effort just to lead a rap group.

    And the “workingclass disAbled trans.genderqueer.femme who has been mixing social justice with social awkwardness since his teen years” and is now a “sexuality and social justice educator currently the Program Director of the Pride Center” didn’t find my approach simpatico.

    Do I think that women’s studies, which originally decried and devalued trans, has now colonized queer and trans with their own politically correct identity politics? Well, yes, I do.

    No programs for me at the Pride Center, I suspect.

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