QUEER IS HIP, QUEER IS COOL
Dogmas in the Queer Scene
[The following text was created by a working group within the larger Queeruption Berlin group, Winter 2003. The group hopes it will generate thought, discussion, and positive action, both at Queeruption gatherings and in other queer spaces. Comments, questions, debate, etc., are welcome.]
Queer spaces are about Freiraum* -- spaces where we have the freedom to dismantle restricting, acquired codes of sexual and bodily behaviour. But the overenthusiastic practice of unrestrained sexuality, "free love" and bodily inhibition has led to the establishment of a queer "convention". The presumption is that this practice is to be expected, and that everyone will take part. Queeruption and other queer spaces are characterised by an excessive sexual atmosphere and close bodily contact. People who don't fit in are either excluded or, worse, forced to participate against their will. It seems that the subject of physical boundaries is discussed only superficially. People have been pestered, or subjected to physical contact against their will. There has been sexual harassment, people have been groped, in order to find out what they have in the way of genitals, and other similar assaults have occurred.
* Not everyone has the same aim in mind when it comes to breaking down bodily frontiers.
* An excessively sexual atmosphere can put pressure on those who are not sure of their limits, or don't want to expand them anyway.
* An atmosphere where these presumptions dominate stops people from achieving a relaxed knowledge of their own boundaries.
* It becomes harder to set limits and to state them, when they go against this convention.
* This then makes it harder to say "no". A physical or verbal no is anyway not always respected.
* A "yes" to physical proximity, or intimacy can also include limits, which people should be sensitive to.
* If in doubt, ask.
* Freiraum means being open (honest and accommodating) and this openness involves responsibility, respect and sensitivity. If people feel uncomfortable or excluded then it's the opposite of Freiraum.
* We want sensitivity, respect, dialogue and debate in queer spaces. And lots of it!
* We must all take these issues into account when planning queer events and at the events themselves (before/during/after -- e.g. making flyers, doing a performance on the subject etc.) We need more safe spaces at queer gatherings where people can talk about their experiences of things like racism, sexism, transphobia and disrespect towards their boundaries. These spaces should be treated as equally important and not be pushed to one side. We should have structures in place so that when planning a sex party a non-sexual, equally valid, alternative space is set up.
* Ultimately it's about us feeling good about being together, and feeling respected. These safe spaces can help achieve this.
* Queer spaces are not perfect! Queer is not "hip" and "cool". We need continual discussion.
*Not aware of a snappy one-word translation for Freiraum. Literally "free-room"; more like "freedom". Defined as "the opportunity to move freely and develop one's individual ideas", it's used in practice, in left-wing, feminist, alternative and now queer texts, to mean the actual place, or context, in which this can happen. Think it's clear from the text. Could it be a word that needs to enter the English language?!