“I am queer.”
Is a sentence that struggles free from gender.
The “he/him/his” sitting uncomfortably in my signature block
Signals to others it is appropriate to categorize me
And put me in a box with all others who are so-called “masculine” in this language game.
I am fine with that.
I conform to all sorts of rules I didn’t agree to when engaging through language.
No one asked my opinion on why I can say “I am queer,” but not “I queer am.”
And so it is with grammatical gender:
It’s a tool my mother gave me to exploit the world around me so that it would be
Helpful to hear my mother speak and decipher simply whether she referred to my father or my sister.
But masculine as a language’s classification for nouns and pronouns is not the same as masculine as a cultural norm or social ideal.
And the unfortunate reality is that these two masculines affect one another, such that:
A tension emerges between the sentences:
“I am queer.”
“He is queer.”
The “he” in “he is queer” acknowledges a transgression of a particular type and trope:
Behind “He is queer” is a story of a little boy turning hyper-introspective and obsessively critical of
Every flick of his queer wrist,
Every placement of his queer tongue,
Every step of his queer gait,
Every tone of his queer voice,
Every question into his queer interests,
Every witness to his queer creativity,
Every judgement upon his queer transgression of the masculine that exists when no one speaks.
Authenticity, for me, has meant acknowledging that the masculine that exists in silence is not a meaningful aspiration for me.
I engage in the rules of the language game, but will not engage in the rules of the social game.
Not because I think that the silent masculine contains no intrinsic value to society—I don’t think that.
But for me the rules of the social game reach too far, demand too much… and for too little reward.
I refuse to redact what I bring into a room in exchange for a mask for masculinity.
These queer wrists whirl
This queer tongue lisps loquacious
This queer gait glides
This queer voice sings:
Question and witness this queerness transgress and exploit
Every rigid masculine commandment in my way.
“I am queer.” is a declaration.
“He is queer.” is a confrontation—a challenge I did not ask for, but embrace.