Genes and gay identity and Chasing Amy and bisexuality

Liza Featherstone lfeather32 at
Wed Feb 10 11:23:41 PST 1999

In a desperate attempt to control posting urges, as coldly and mechanically admonished a while back, here's a semi-succinct stab at responding to a range of things:

As Angela said a while ago, the idea should be to destabilize heterosexuality. The Gay Gene thing was covered by the mainstream media way out of proportion to its scientific credibility (for lucid mockery of the science and a shrewd take on the social context read the chapter in Marjorie Garber's Vice Versa, in some other ways a silly book but never mind) precisely because it does NOT do that. The idea that everyone is firmly destined to be sexually oriented in a particular way is immensely reassuring to heterosexuality because it means that gays will safely stay in their camps, they're not coming for your children, you can socialize with them w/o any of that homoerotic desire rubbing off on you -- how comforting. I'd argue that acknowledgement of bisexuality and other kinds of gender/sexual changeablity does destabilize heterosexuality, actually a lot more than a rigid attachment to gay/lesbian identity categories does...because it suggests you, Mr joe heterosexual could be next. you could wake up one day and want to take another boy up the ass. which in fact, is true. and destabilizing. on the other hand if its all been determined by birth there's no need to worry. a queer politics increasingly -- as I believe it is, to a degree -- focused on queer sexuality as behaviors and desires rather than FIXED ghettoizable communities and identities, is going to not only be a more accurate reflection of what i will quaintly call reality, it's also going to convince more people that it's about them, or that it could be about them... a pretty necessary thing in a politics i'd say. i'm not insensitive to the psychological comfort or incremental political gains that other queer people point to in the Gay Gene thoeries...nor the psycho-political reasons for what Yoshie marvellously and quotably terms "bi-weariness... but in the long run i think these things are shortcuts that won't get any of us where we really want to be.

as for Chasing Amy, I should perhaps clarify:when I said soooo many people liked it, well, hate to divide folks up in this crude manner but those were ALL straight people (well, and mainstream critics, many of whom I don't know what they do for fun). none of the queer women I know liked it at all, whether bi or lesbian or whatever. I actually did think the spoof on black nationalism and its commodification and on the way whitey eats that shit up was funny (and the guy's performance perhaps a little Judyesque?). I should admit that I somewhat cluelessly thought the fact of having a lesbian fall in love with a guy in a mainstream movie *was* potentially destabilizing (though I knew it very easily could and probably would end up being just the opposite) before i saw it. lesbians fall in love with men every day. straight women fall in love with women every day. though those narratives have VERY different effects and meanings in the context of a hetero society, any story like that could be destabilizing if done interestingly... But this one sure wasn't.


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