My Queer Problem – And Ours,* 2001

I noticed early on the strange dialectic forms which took the shape of behavior in people. I would feel a sense of alienation, and some inner hatred which would force them into fear and anger. I would be beaten, mugged, and left bleeding on the ground from people I have never met. I had a strange effect on them, and I wanted to make myself less noticeable, “to remain a shadow – timid, but a survivor”. So “I began to take precautions to make myself less [queer]. I would move about with care, particularly late in the evening.”** I would change my high falsetto voice to one that contains a deep macho rubric. This effect had made people more comfortable when talking to me. When I sat down, I would spread my legs apart to give more space to my package. I substituted my eccentric colorful wardrobe to one of bland flannel shirts and blue jeans. These customs began to have such a healthy effect on people I would meet. They would be more open, relaxed, and comfortable. I began to be conscious of my effect on people, and relaxed in my position, the surroundings I inhabit. I took more control over where I went, making sure as not to allude to some sense of otherness that would scar their minds. I might stop by a bar once or twice a night to get my daily intake of alcohol which many of my age and gender would at specific times of the day. It began to be a regular discourse in masculinity, where I would be easily confronted with definitions of identity that would not ostracize me. At these bars, I would sometimes procure beautiful women, where numbers were often retained in my book for later use. It began to be a contest with my fellow kind as to how many I would lay in one evening. They were sometimes jealous of my luck, and I became the typified personification of dominant male patriarchy. I became cultured by these indulgences which seemed to have no immediate repercussions. I became wealthy in my circle of friends. They accepted me. I was no longer understood or identified as other. I was subverted, normal. And in this, I began to understand the role that alienation takes in identifying one’s self through the term of “otherness” – things that diverge from the majority, things which define the self through representations in society. I began to live on the border of identity, where the reactions I catered to subdued the general uneasiness of most people; it made their lives safer, enjoyable. I was no longer the butt end of a joke, I was making jokes.

*Reference to Norman Podhoretz, “My Negro Problem – And Ours,” which discusses the hatred he feels for blacks, and his fear of them.
**Brent Staples, “Just Walk On By” discusses the transformation in the sphere of context of how people view him. How his fact of “blackness” labels and insinuates certain things which latch on and slowly seeps into his identity, where he becomes infused as a personification of prejudice.


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