At the Borders of Queer Nation
< < I am. - Prologue || Voices 1 > >

What is?
The construction of sexual categories in the nineteenth century formed groups of people who were no longer fully in their regional, political, social, or religious communities. (Phelan 1994: 149)
It is commonly accepted in much of academia that our categories of sexuality have been constructed within a certain cultural and historical framework. Their journey from sin to deviance to disease to lifestyle (with many detours and stops along the way) is an oft-retold story, and the oppression springing from a culturally denigrated role is well-documented and a rallying point of community and political action. In the post-Stonewall era of gay liberation, histories and theory flourish, strengthening communities which flower in further acts of cultural production and self-definition. Just as Katherine Verdery "call{s} these centuries of arguing about the Romanian people, its mission, its enemies, and its interests the production and defense of the Romanian Nation," (Verdery 1990:81) I would call these years of arguing about the essence of "gayness," its boundaries, its history and its political interests the production and validation of gay and lesbian identities for themselves and within a larger world.

Because of the perception of "groupness" within lesbian and gay culture, because of the explicit comparisons made between their positions and politics and those of other minority (often ethnic) groups, and because of turns of phrase like "Queer Nation," I use the literature of nationalism, ethnicity and racial identity variously as metaphor, heuristic and criticism for and of identity politics based on sexuality, and the ways bisexuality intersects1 with larger lesbian and gay understandings of the world. Benedict Anderson commented about the acquired "universal" status of national identities, such that everyone can, should, 'have a nationality' just as one has a gender, age.. {race, sexuality}. People who share these identities are thought of as being deeply alike in certain ways: "however individual members of the nation may differ, they share essential attributes that constitute their national identity."(Handler 1988:6) The content of this identity, the essential thing shared, is often identified in terms of culture; and culture is one thing treasured and asserted by many lesbian/gay identified people:

that whole set of values, assumptions, symbols and styles of behavior... that allow us to believe we have more in common with someone else once we know he or she is gay. (Altman 1987)

  1. Or "bisexualities intersect"

< < I am. - Prologue || Voices 1 > >