I'm fond of saying that most faggots wouldn't know feminism if you hit them over the head with it, but usually this isn't as funny as it sounds. So often it means that my sex life stays separate from my politics, the gestures of passion don't grow impassioned. I’m trying to create a space where the rigor of politics builds desire into something I can finally imagine. Unfortunately, I can't necessarily say that I've seen politicized people treat one another better, but I want to know what it would mean to build a culture of possibility.
I'm trying to talk about faggotry and feminism, how they intersect so clearly in my life but elsewhere they’re rings around one another. Feminism taught me to politicize every choice, including the ways in which I claim desire. I want to say that faggotry taught me to claim desire, including the ways in which I politicize every choice. Just because that sounds symmetrical. It would make things easier.
Kids on the playground called me faggot way before I knew that I had choices. I mean boys -- it's boys who called me faggot. Years before I knew what it meant, at least the cocksucking part, and then years more before I realized they didn't know about the cocksucking part they just knew I wasn't going to become a man if I didn't play by their rules. I hated them, and I hated their rules.
When I realized that it was gender they were seeing not desire, that little boys are monsters because of their parents and the cultures that makes them enact violence in order to access power -- when I realized these things, that's when I realized I needed to be a faggot because it was the only way they wouldn't win.
This was feminism: I was claiming a space outside in order to break apart their rules. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First I claimed freak, right? Because I wanted to scare people into giving me my own space. I wanted to inspire kids beaten down still showing a spark not to care about everyone else. I would never have used the word kids -- we were already 14, 15, right? Anyway, that was after I decided to cook my own meals, do my own dishes because I saw the way this was required of my mother.
No need to track whether I was a feminist before a freak, a freak before queer, queer before faggot. I know this all took a while, that each layer makes the other, that none of this prepared me for the relentless dehumanization in gay male sexual spaces. Gay was never an identity I embraced, someone on the street would say are you gay? No, darling, I would say -- I'm a faggot.
The problem with gay male sexual spaces is that they’re almost like some homophobe on the street, demanding your adherence to the worst norms of masculinity unless you want your head bashed in I mean a blowjob. And feminist spaces, where the energy is so high the possibilities bright and glowing but I look around for faggots and I can count them on my fingers, sometimes just one hand.
Mattilda blogs at nobodypasses.blogspot.com