Monday, November 4, 2013

The definitive meaning of Queerness - there isn’t one. Guest post by Kylie Brooks

I do not entirely know if  I identify as NeuroQueer, but I wanted to go ahead and discuss the Queer part of NeuroQueer.

What does it mean to be Queer ? What is the purpose of Queerness ?
[Here is a picture of someone's hand signing the letter Q in ASL. Can't see the rest of the person.]

For me, I use the literal meaning of queer as in strange, odd.

Queerness is strangeness or oddness. Okay.

The meaning of Queerness as taken tends to mean not being heteronormative and not being cisnormative.

But doesn’t disability and race run up against heteronormativity and cisnormativity?

I am a Black bisexual trans woman. If I were to be a Black cis straight man, I am quite sure that heteronormativity and cisnormativity would be barriers for me anyway because of my learning disability, my severe to profound sensineural deafness and my cerebral palsy.

How does my short term memory issues and mild cognitive limitations conflict with the tenets of heteronormativity and cisnormativtiy?

How does my being Deaf conflict with the tenets of heteronormativity and cisnormativity?

How does my wheelchair using, non-ambulatory status conflict with the tenets of heteronormativity and cisnormativity?

How does my Blackness and the racialization of Black masculinity conflict with the white supremacist forms of cisheteronormativity?

Queer community, this is a discussion we need to have - a vital one - so that our intersectional complexity can show.

I personally define Queerness as not being cisheteronormative and/or who desire to resist the cisheteronormative society.

Even in the situation which I outlined just now, I believe that I can be straight and cis and queer because my life in my intersections is not supported by the cisheteronormative society with regard to my Deafness, my learning disability and my cerebral palsy.

I think that queer experiences that we have are all unique and situational and should be respected, recognized and acknowledged.

--Kylie Brooks

Friday, November 1, 2013

Autistics Speaking Day: I Speak To Thank

Today is Autistics Speaking Day, which has a rich and sort of unfortunate history.  I haven't got long to write, but what I have to say is big and cannot be unsaid on this day.

The rich unfortunate history has to do with people going About Us Without Us, and when some of our own tried to say something about it, these 'do-gooders' seemed to express, to put it charitably, irritation. What they did not seem to do was listen, at all, even though they said they were doing whatever they were doing for our own good. We are doing this for your own good lalala hushup you ingrates we can't hear you... 
[Visual is the red-circle-with-a-slash symbol of crossing-out, being itself crossed out by a bigger symbol of the same shape backwards done up over it in rainbow colors. Superimposed on this are the words "Autistics Speaking Day Nov 1 2013" in writing suggestive of how monks illuminate manuscript.]
But I know many people who not only listen but go so far as to seek us out and amplify, and they are basically in three communities, and I am hoping to introduce many of them to one another at TASH if I can, or get started here, and all of you, see how I switch pronouns here, but I do it on purpose for a change: all of you are beautiful, and I thank you.

You who listen and amplify are some of you parents whose children also are Autistic, and you wanted to find us, and you were not so busy trying to find ways we could not possibly be like your child that we should be invisible forever: so you sought and found us, and you are our beloved friends.

You who listen and amplify are some of you scholars, scholars with other disabilities, queer scholars and scholars of color, community scholar activists who did not just brilliantly theorize amongst yourselves about how we were not at the table: but you decided to get it started and do something about it, and you are our beloved friends.

You who listen and amplify are some of you people of practice, people whose life work is devoted quite literally to making sure the voices of some of the most vulnerable and invisible among us are able to be found and witnessed, and sometimes you are hardly seen, and sometimes you are mistreated and disrespected by bigots who call themselves greater and more acceptable things, but they are not. You are greater, and the greatest: you put yourself on the line for us and our voices, and you are our beloved friends.

When I first decided to write about this I was going to name your names, and I hope you are not sad that I did not, because for me the reason is so happy that tears of joy spill softly from my eyes now. In this small time of being myself in the open, and in community, I have met so many of you. The movement of Disability Justice even only when considered in the Autistic Community has so many true real Allies who are heart and brain and hands, and you who are reading this know you are my beloved friends and know who you are, that my babies would wake up and get hungry if I tried to list all your beautiful selves separately.

And anyway, we are not separate. We are joyously together.

Thank you, my friends, for caring that we speak.