What is ‘Queer Space’?

Posted: January 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

I have been using the term “queer space” without defining it. I have appropriated it from Foucault via Halberstam, but I feel free to mutate it as I work with it. I use it to refer to social spaces with tolerance for difference and ambiguity. These are the cracks in the social system where new styles of dressing and living become possible. In Deleuzian terms these are spaces where deterritorialization occurs. I am not using queer as a synonym for LGBT. I do not consider all LGBT spaces to be queer. Some of them have become consumerist and thoroughly mainstream. One dyke I talked to called it the ‘gaystream.’
Queer space is not physical, it is a field of possibility in a social space. I organize queer space by wearing my outfits and by being out and open about my gender explorations. Queer space recedes and becomes less possible when I hide my difference when I try to “pass” as either gender.
My view of queerness is heavily influence by my background with ethnographic studies and Latour / Actor Network Theory. I see queerness as something that an actor organizes in her environment. She performs it and recruits others to participate in her idea. I do this by making friends and recruiting them into my gender project, and by just showing up and being visible day after day. Spaces become queer for me because I recruit allies who support me in my performance/structuring of queerness. Paraphrasing Bruno Latour I would call this a Program of Action.One of my most basic programs might be “I am femme and male. I claim the right to be here, and not to live in fear of violence.” I further this program and create queer space by living my lifestyle.
In conclusion, queer space is essential for me as a gender explorer. It is not a simple physical space. We bring out queerness in a place at a certain time by manifesting our difference and supporting the queerness of others or simply accepting it. Queer space is a rip in the dominant social fabric where I allow myself to be “Other” or queer and to explore and create a new self.

  1. sublimefemme says:

    Hi Jasper, This is very interesting, and how fun that you’re working with such thought-provoking texts and concepts.

    I’m all for the utopian and liberatory, and I love the idea of a space of possibility. However, isn’t space also a fundamental category through with power and inequalities are enacted and sustained? E.g. queer sexual spaces that are public but hidden because only queer know about them/see them. Doesn’t this have everything to do with the marginalization of queerness in our world?

    Looking forward to reading more about the spatial dimensions of your gender exploring!

  2. Jasper Gregory says:

    SublimeFemme, you make an interesting point about space as a category of oppression. I agree with your take, but I feel like it is more powerful to be operating on the margins away from the loving attention of the mass media, and medical and scientific discourses. In a sense I feel that trans-masculinity evolved in a marginalized queer space. It has been ignored by the mass media and scientific discourse and has retained and developed its revolutionary potential. Trans femininity on the other hand has been thoroughly ‘stratified’ by media stereotypes and a medical establishment which defined and constructed the MTF transexual.

  3. […] heteronormative community (you don’t have to come out to come in). Though the queer space is elsewhere defined as “the cracks in the social system where new styles of dressing and living become […]

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