Power, politics & queerness

Liam Arne discusses the politicised choices we all make on a day to day basis. Everything from our clothing to our gender identity is politicised - it's what you do with that that counts! Be loud, be proud, but make sure you leave room for others to be heard. 

Queerness is political in every action we make. Everything we do, intentionally or otherwise, is political, and it is high-time we recognize it, value the intersectionality of our experiences, and empower each other to engage with politics head-on. 

Our clothing is political; it demonstrates our relationships with class expectations, social success, and self-expressions of personal identity, the identities thrust upon us, and the unfair threats to our safety those choices can entail. Our accent and vocal affectations are political; they betray who we really are- or who we want to be perceived as. Our gender is political; our identity and our expressions of our gender (if we have one) are fundamentally challenging to a patriarchal system which dominates our beings as queer people. Our sexuality, queer or otherwise, is political. In its plurality, sexuality is a spectrum with a variety of influences and interests, and demonstrating that reality in its diversity is a subversive act. Our education is political; it frames how we see the world, demonstrates our access to social mobility, and how we use it as a function of politics. Our interests are political; when I express publicly and enthusiastically that I love RuPaul’s Drag Race (despite its many problematic features which deserve to be addressed), I am confidently and proudly declaring myself queer as hell. How we shop and eat and drink is political, how we use our voice is political, and most obviously, how we utilize our right to vote is political.

Living in 2017 can be a terrifying experience. Donald Trump, an open racist, misogynist, ableist, and sexual violence perpetrator, is the president of the United States and selected a vice president who actively opposes queer rights and rolls back protections for queer students. Article 50 has officially been triggered and Britain is intoxicated by xenophobic hysteria. Populist fascism is sweeping the world and impacting politics on every level, targeting Muslims at home and abroad most of all.

Income inequality rages, as we face governmental policies which seek to marginalize fair and equal access to enriching opportunities, and better qualities of life. Racism, colourism, and ethnic discrimination plague our societies and particularly our “justice” systems, resulting in the mass incarceration and state-sponsored violence against people of colour. Homophobic attacks in night clubs and the rising statistics regarding the murders of trans women of colour in the streets, suggest a terrifying threat daily to all queers.

Whilst it can often feel like we have no power in these harrowing times, this demoralizing belief is simply the message these oppressive actors, forces, and structures want us to internalize in order to demobilize and deconstruct our movement. When seeking ways to harness this power inside you, I suggest amplifying your voice while making room for others. Never be afraid to share your thoughts and experiences but allow people with different experiences and paths to tell their story rather than dominate dialogues. They are dialogues for a reason: listen to what others have to say and provide welcoming and supportive spaces for authentic discussion. 
As long as their opinions do not violently invalidate and violate your or others personhood, hear them out. Empathize with those that may differ in orientation from yourself and open your ears to understand the myriad of reasons for why they have come to believe what they do. Do your best to forgive gaps, or some beliefs that may be ignorantly offensive, and above all, acknowledge that we all started somewhere and that we can all grow together without judgment. I did not have perfect comprehension of intersectional queer and feminist politics at one point, but all that matters is that I made efforts to grow through the support of others. Be that support to someone else, if you have the energy.

Finally, vote! Even though we can feel out of control of political systems that they are stacked against us (which they are), we have to counteract this negativity any way we can, and that includes putting people in power that may represent us and our interests. If we don’t vote, we allow other people to control our destinies, our policies, our realities, our rhetoric, and our futures. If national elections feel out of reach for your voter impact, emphasize how you can impact your local community because a few votes mean a great deal on lower scales. Don’t be too proud- make a difference and stand up against oppression through your queer money, power, and voting capabilities like it’s the only thing that matters.