Sunday, September 29, 2013

Elizabeth Hassler on queer, here, and what we are building

on queer, here, and what we are building

Here is a poem about queer space,
which I am writing instead of
going to tonight's Queer Student
Union meeting because I am sick.
In three-dimensional space I lost my voice
(my voice is ordinarily
my defining feature---more about speaking privilege,
and the terrors of Day of Silence,
in later poems),
so I will stay home and write myself a space
(in the context of a space
other people have written for me to write in)

This verse begins in a confession:
most of my friends
are queer. Most of
my friends are feminists; some of
the ones who aren't have very
purposely Quit the Movement
citing racism and other
complex intersections.
A lot of my friends
are disabled; a lot
of the ones who aren't
or who don't use that language for their experience
struggle in different ways
with projects of living
in their bodies and their minds.
A lot of my friends are white,
and I think that's a problem.
A lot of my friends are nerds
or geeks
or awkward.  Shit, none
of my friends are Republicans.

People who
are sure that makes me terribly closed-minded
and mean or man-hating or whatever
should go hang out on the opposite side of the couch
from the woman who
concern-trolled me about my “serious lesbian denial”
and hating my cripped-up body(???)
after my last n-q post.
Y'all, I am even nice to people who hurt me on purpose.
I just also
construct spaces very intentionally,
because it is hard

to do anything else. Like,
if people have meetings in their houses
with stairs,
my wheelchair-using body can't go.
And not just because
my sense of direction is . . . where?
I have gotten lost
in a house I lived in,
so obviously
I negotiate space
with careful planning only.
We talk about built environment
for the ADA, but not
for building communities.

Built environments:
at Crippled Children's Services
(which is not actually called that anymore),
therapy hurt.
I have been taught
not to value the knowledge
of my own discomfort,
bodily or otherwise.
I have sat in meetings and classes and spaces
that made me jump out of my skin
without saying anything
(you will remember that
my voice is ordinarily
my defining feature)
I have been taught
not to refuse.
This is the house compliance built (or
its opposite): well,

Rebuilding houses
with unmastered tools:  queer space,
for me,
is because even crippled girls
should probably be allowed boundaries.
Queer space
doesn't always have boundaries
(like with the ex
whom the “serious lesbian” hurting antagonist
insists was my girlfriend),
but it feels safe for my body
except when it is loud

or condescending. It is the house
and the home from which I might start my revolution.
Queer space is where
I can hold all of my acts
and collage my life a self:
come home. Neuro-queer
space is because home is my desire and my body,
and because that shi(f)t doesn't separate.
I have fumbled over this naming
lately, over this need
to have neuro-queer and the original NeuroQueer
and all subsequent iterations too
mean, you know, queer space. To have
queer, here, mean things about the lives of our bodies
and our patterns of relation,
not (just) about making the world strange.
It is because I don't want
my inconvenient body displaced
for other kinds of truth
(and maybe I shouldn't worry,
but I have been taught
I want to tell the world I love it;
I don't keep keys to the queerness gate
in my mouth
or police our gardens for unidentified plants,
but I like
the idea that there are borders
to our fertile places.

No, disability space is not enough
to keep my body mine.
There are complex lattices
and supported trellises
and queer flowerings of crippled desire involved
in making this here, hear, hirstory
[“hirstory” is a collaborative project
like history, but unfinished]
of a body known.

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