Queer Notions

Dissent has long been a staple of the queer perspective. From Oscar Wilde's views on Victorian primness to Camile Paglia's musings on Hillary Clinton's lesbianism, non-heterosexual writers and activists throughout the ages have provided us with plenty of opinions and political positions to ponder. A healthy dose of criticism even within queer circles ensures that where two or three are gathered, there's sure to be five or six viewpoints.

Plumbing the main channels of queer thinking, as well as the backwaters, ensures that the foundation of such ideas won't rot with the passage of time. Even though the public debates emanating from lecterns and literary journals rarely solve the problem of finding a date, choosing an adoption agency, or peeling the backing off that rainbow sticker, the arguments remind us that the landscape of the queer world is forever shifting.

This month's issue of Q takes a closer look at several interesting nodes on the queer map. Take, for example, the latest work of Eric Rofes. The author of Dry Bones Breathe, a newly-published book about AIDS and its effect on gay-male culture, Rofes recently visited Minneapolis at the invitation of the Minnesota AIDS Project and spoke with Q about his new tome (see p. 15). Gay men no longer experience AIDS as a crisis, Rofes contends, and AIDS service organizations will have to call off the state of emergency and reorganize their approaches to prevention and education if they hope to succeed. Rofes, once a proponent of safe-sex campaigns, now admits he's unsure such efforts have widespread effect. If gays already flaunt the conventional rules by coming out, he explains, what's the likelihood that they'll obey public directives in their private affairs?

Many queer activists are pressing hard for access to at least one convention, however: marriage. Q columnist Ken Darling this month assesses the prospects for legalizing same-sex unions in Hawaii--an idea whose future, once deemed sunny, now seems bleak. Even if the state's Supreme Court rules on the matter by the end of the year, as was once predicted, Hawaiian voters are likely to face a referendum on queer marriage in November. The outcome of the Hawaii situation is sure to impact the push for gay marriage across the country: Have activists put too much stock in a pro-gay judicial decision?

Finally, Q contributor Melodie Bahan casts a skeptical eye in the direction of the "post gay" philosophy in her new column, "Queer Studies." Never heard of post gay? Bahan, a former president of the New York City chapter of the National Organization of Women, hadn't either, until she stumbled upon a reference to the tempest-in-a-teapot debate in a newspaper from her old hometown. Despite her take on the topic (see p. 7), Bahan was happy to see queers mentioned in the mainstream press. Enrolled in an individualized-study program at the University of Minnesota, she's currently studying the ways that gays, women, and African Americans are represented in print journalism. "It's surprising how new this field is. The research is just starting on gays and lesbians," Bahan says. "Studies of African Americans in the media began in the '60s, studies of women took hold in the '70s, but gay representation in the media has just started in the past few years. Coverage has been really, really bad, but it's getting better incrementally."

Q's own coverage of queer life is also getting better too, we hope, by offering more provocative opinion pieces. Whether you agree with Rofes, Darling, or Bahan remains to be seen, of course, but we're sure you'll find their soapbox stances incisive, insightful, and even entertaining.

Correction

The name of a Twin Cities artist who designed an AIDS memorial in Loring Park was misspelled in the July issue of Q Monthly. The installation's designer is Mollie O'Conner.

 
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