Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

Problematizing (or maybe just complicating) everything. (Subject: queerness, race, high school)

LBTA training (Sunday) went well. I already knew the basic workshop training stuff from Bodywise, but there was a lot of cool LBTA-specific stuff. We watched part of Does Love See Color?, a video about interracial relationships. It was interesting, though we didn’t do a whole lot with it and i’m not sure how much we’re gonna do in workshops. My favorite answer to the question was “Of course love sees color. Love sees everything. The question is whether seeing that color is going to prevent you from loving someone.”

We talked about defining basic terms, and just as in the labeling discussion a week or two ago, i was struck by how different people’s personal connotations/denotations of words are. Basically this strikes me when people definitions/understandings of terms are different from mine. It’s interesting to me that i’m more uncomfortable using the word “queer” than i am the word “dyke” when it seems to be the reverse for most people here at Smith, at least whom i’ve come across. I knew the dictionary definition of “queer” of course, but it really wasn’t part of the vocabulary that surrounded me, so queer=weird/bad was never really part of my brain. Then i was introduced to Lauren Martin’s definition of “queer” and loved it. Somehow i’m more familiar with the term “dyke,” though, as an insult and also as a word with a very specific meaning, referring to a very particular kind of lesbian. So i see it as a word that can be reclaimed but that isn’t mine to reclaim and that i can only use to describe people who themselves claim it. So outside of the Bubble i use the term “queer” and phrases such as “queer community” quite frequently and don’t think anything of it. You have to call me directly on the fact that “queer” has a history of being insulting and makes many people uncomfortable and so on, because that totally doesn’t enter my head. Even inside the Bubble, though, i rarely use the word “dyke” because my brain always pauses and i assess whether it’s okay for me to use it.

From some GLSEN material in our packet:
Queer: A controversial term that some LGBT people still consider derogatory; others, most often academics, political progressives and young people, have embraced the term because of its gender neutrality and implication of social non-conformity.

From Lauren Martin’s essay “The Mixed-Race Queer Girl Manifesto” in her zine Quantify #1:
For the past few years I have just considered myself queer. To me, queer merely means I don’t fit into the dominant heterosexual paradigm. It means I can be attracted to girls, boys, both, or no one. It’s a large, fluid category that goes beyond hetero/homo/bi/asexual.

I’m also ordering a copy of weetziefae’s zine partly because in it she talks about the word “queer.”

She is insane, by the way. Last night we were IMing and she said:
i will rock your socks and take them to an ani concerrt
your socks and i will compete over cute grrls

But i’m digressing.

This past August (it feels like so much longer ago than just a few months ago) i was, as i so often do, thinking a lot about various things and i actually e-mailed the head of the English department at my high school. You can read my e-mail here, and then her response here if you’re interested.

Last week my friend Joe IMed me:
I thought of you in my African American Literature class
we give little oral presentaions
poems, songs, artwork that has impacted us and our views on culture...
specificly African American culture...
(is that right - who cares...)
so I brought in two passages
one from Native Son...
and realized when I was reading it...
that we had never talked about it in class
that it was this book that we read
that was packed full of racial tensions, violent acts...
and Ms. Brady glossed it over...
in a reading response journal
and of course AP English always makes me think of you...
when I finished I said "I read that my junior year of high school - and didn't understand it..."
it was just one of those amazing moments
thinking what I thought of it the first time around
I'm ashamed what I thought of it the first time..

That’s really interesting. I had never thought about that until he mentioned it, that here was a book rich with race and violence and all sorts of interesting, problematic things to discuss, and we just did our reading response journal and never spoke of it.

Switching back to queer stuff, the LBTA is looking to change its name. One of the options is Spectrum. Spectrum is what i wanted to call the GSA-type organization a couple other seniors and i tried to start our senior year. But we got busy being seniors and nothing ever came of it. I think that will be my major regret regarding high school. Not doing that. I don’t think i would consider my high school an “unsafe” place to be out, but it’s certainly not a place i think people would feel comfortable being out -- hence why no one myself included was openly non-straight in all my memory of my high school. I would love to go back to my high school and talk about “gay” issues, encourage the starting of some sort of GSA, but i really don’t know where i’d start. I really should talk to people like Julie and Rachel about that. I also really want my high school to do the Day of Silence.

Before Linguistics class today we talked briefly about how the Army has discharged 9 gay linguists due to their sexual orientation, despite the fact that the U.S. desperately needs people who know Arabic. “Don’t they know all the good linguists are gay!” my professor said. I love her sometimes. (She’s also a vegan and has accidentally said “carnivore” when she meant “cannibal.”)

I’m such a big fan of Google’s news search feature.

According to this article, “two of the soldiers were studying Korean, one was learning Mandarin Chinese, and six were studying Arabic.” The author continues to say that:
As a linguist and graduate of the Defense Language Institute, a former platoon sergeant later First Sergeant at the school, I can reassure everyone that despite Gamble’s allusion, the discharge of six soldiers enrolled in the initial study phases of Arabic language, is not going to impact the war on terrorism or national readiness.

Army Training and Doctrine Command spokesman Harvey Perritt told the AP that there were 516 neophyte linguists enrolled in the Arabic language course during 2002, and that 365 had actually graduated from the very difficult course of study in Monterey so far.

However, this article states that “One of the men was within weeks of certification as an intelligence collector, the most sought after linguist in the military.”

While i do think it’s ridiculous to argue that someone shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the military (though i do understand the arguments for celibacy during military service) i do think it’s important that it be pointed out that these are not the best and the only linguists the military has. It’s also a reminder to me that i’m quick to look for complications to ideas/conclusions i don’t agree with, but that i need to remember to dig deeper in all cases. (In this case, my immediate reaction was “I know the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy is stupid. Look, here’s proof.” And while that may be true, i still need to interrogate the information.)

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