“There is always something queer about dreaming of utopia, for it means living inside straight time while designing for another time and place.”
‘Queer’ and ‘LGBTQIA+’ are terms often used interchangeably. However, I struggle to do so because my queerness is my lens, it is how I occupy space.
Queerness is an irredeemable strangeness and non-conformity. It is shapeless. Queerness is metaphysical because of the juxtaposition of this absurdity to the conformist society we exist alongside. I wonder whether the experience and existence of queerness can tackle oppressive structures without becoming oppressive.
Our understanding of sexuality has always been bio-essentialist. It is based upon how we are socially conditioned to perceive bodies where we reduce sex to penetration and the lack thereof, further creating sexual power structures of the penetrator versus the penetrated. Queerness allows for the space of re-imagination, such as understanding sexuality from the lens of attraction rather than sexual acts or the lack thereof.
I observe around me a binary which ranges from cis heterosexual to queer, but it is not that simple and creating more binaries is destructive. We tend to then normalise the behavioural descriptors that define these categories. Within LGBTQIA+ spaces we have already begun to observe the alienation of individuals who do not adhere to the stereotypical expectations of their respective gender identities and sexual orientations.
Challenging binaries that manifest in various aspects of our social identity also brings forward a need to question a binary that fundamentally constructs caste – purity and pollution, evoked to exercise superiority and inferiority respectively. Due to this, one cannot overlook, how to the average caste-privileged cis-heterosexual individual, queerness is a pollution to the institution of the family.
Historically, great lengths have been achieved to protect the family bloodline. The first is the perpetuation of endogamy to ensure caste purity amongst families. Besides endogamy, various cultural practices have been undertaken, these include natalism and reproductive labour, strict monogamy, and the adoption of the nuclear family.
The nature of ‘Brahmanical Patriarchy’ is such that these practices are gendered in a binary manner due to which there is the oppression of women and marginalised genders. The first of these practices is the demand for reproductive unpaid labour from female-bodied individuals. It includes raising a child of good health both mentally and physically, as well as sustaining a healthy and hygienic environment for the child to grow up in. It is ironic that the capitalist mindset has not been able to produce a means by which this labour, the labour that actively replenishes the labour market, could be fairly compensated.
Without the gendering of labour, present economic systems will cease to exist. We are yet to understand family and companionship outside of the gender binary, as well as the traditional family unit. Reimagining the household to be queer, seems radical at first but when looked at in simple terms, simply means to reimagine the household with absurdity and non-conformity.
When looking at non-conformity being a core principle of the phenomenon of queerness, one should see neurodivergence as a facet of queerness. There is a fundamental difference in the way queer individuals perceive time and space as opposed to their non-queer counterparts. Once famously written by Erika Heidewald, “I believe that neurodivergent people are inherently part of the queer community because no matter how we express them externally, our internal experiences of gender and sexuality do not conform to traditional cishet norms.”
The demand for normative productivity from individuals who process time and space incongruously is inhumane. That is not to say that there are not queer individuals who are working hard and succeeding at participating in a labour force that exists in opposition to their existence, however, the existence of exceptions is not an excuse to demand the same of others. The destruction of capitalist notions of productivity ultimately lifts the barriers put in front of disabled and queer folks to keep them from practising their crafts.
I truly believe that queerness is the answer. Historically speaking, queer individuals have survived through organised community, mutual aid networks and unionisation, so this is a clear indication that the community can act as a collective.
There is a powerful message to be disseminated here, that being queer is not just an identity, but rather a powerful phenomenon that centres on a person’s agency to self-determine. The future we seek is not impossible, there is a need to break down identity politics and understand queerness as an act and not a being. So much value is attached to expression and aesthetics, while practically speaking queerness is resistance and rebellion.
This is a power that is collectively and equally owned, a power that cannot oppress, hence, it is only fair to mark our futures as a Queertopia.
Shinoy is a recent graduate from the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts and a current EQUAL Fellow at The YP Foundation, a legal aid fellowship for queer-trans individuals