When I set about writing this editorial, I came across one of my favourite quotes by Irish author James Joyce who references the inner monologue of Stephen Dedalus who thinks to himself, ‘the language in which we are speaking is his, before it is mine’. Whilst this excerpt from Joyce’s 1916 novel propels a Joycean discourse around national identities and colonialism, it got me thinking about who communicates our queerness, who has crafted the tools we need to ‘queer’ the mainstream, and just how much of our own self-expression is queer, in the sense that it emanates from within rather than as an array of hermetically sealed, ready-made phrases. As queer people, it’s useful to reflect on labels, categories and identities that often are modified by prefixes that create binary oppositions and by extension, ‘Othering’, not femme enough, not MASC enough, not gay enough, non-monogamous and so on.
In this light then, as we will often define ourselves by our exclusion from those ‘other’ groups, are we part of a hierarchy of categories that regulate us or empower us, or even both? Is the queerness that we express a language predicated upon the agency of articulation that sustains our queer selves? Does this give us the ability to define our parameters, to formally put ourselves in the spotlight? Are we then empowered however, by those same restrictive labels that we seek to exceed and refine. It is worth remembering that queerness itself is a product of reverse-discourse, of reverse engineering an abusive slur into a weaponized web of empowerment. Communicating queerness has a double-burden of representation for many people that don’t fit in. To deviate is to disobey, and to deliberately differentiate yourself sidelines you implicitly. People tend to accept difference, that is, if you arrive as ‘different’- but if you deviate, derail and transgress the fixity of how you’re seen- you risk relegating yourself to the exiled, the deserter, the betrayer. Queerness gives us the language and the permission to be Proteus, to metamorphosize, to transgress and transcend any societally constitutive limitations that demarcate ‘either/or’ lines of negotiation. In communicating queerness we, paradoxically, resist assimilation by marking ourselves as different through those historically derogatory descriptors.
This issue has sought fit to reflect in how we communicate our queerness and whose queerness we can communicate. The diverse strategies that our wonderful contributors have deployed herein to communicate their own realities of articulating the queer experience then, exemplify this in very complex, but very brilliant ways in which, as queer people, we choose to communicate who we are, in all its varieties and flavours. As a point of departure for this editorial, this issue would ask our readers to reflect on what exactly it means to communicate queerness- how we express our beautifully queer selves, and why we, despite the adversity that we might face, continually refuse to put down our pens and why we persistently write ourselves, our queer selves into a world that can, at times, sit on the precipice of erasing the tools that we need to keep sharpening, to keep refining and to keep going.
The Queerlings Editors