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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Proclamations of the Red Queen

12th April 2010

Refusing “Dialogue”

Posted by: Craig Young

In the latest Utne Reader, there are a couple of articles that perplex me somewhat, albeit for different reasons.

In the first, Stephanie Fairyington provided a recent article on ‘choosing’ sexual identity and went on to rehash the whole dreary endless ‘essentialist’/’social constructionist’ debate within LGBT academia over the last twenty years or so. In my case, I don’t ever recall being straight, so from my perspective, my sexual identity is either the result of genetic or early infantile developmental hardwiring. We cannot ‘choose’ to be lesbian or gay, but can we ‘choose’ to act on our lesbian/gay desires and relationships? Yes, although discriminatory social structures also impede the expression and formation of the latter, which is what Fairyington neglects to mention.

In any case, does gay aetiology matter any more? I don’t really care if any ignorant fundamentalist redneck views my sexual identity as ’sinful’- it is a question of incommensurate discourses and seperate life spheres and theirs doesn’t have legal and social enablement for its core premises, so it has shrivelled to a privatised enclave. Inside it, they’re quite free to carry on with their own beliefs, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, worship, conscience and expression.

In the second Utne piece, Jonathon Odell discussed what happened when he accepted an invitation to speak as a  (deep breath) “ex-fundamentalist gay Southern Christian recovering alcoholic” at a fundamentalist seminary in the US Midwest. Although he did manage to establish some empathy and connection with some open faculty and students, the leadership and conservative teachers closed down the ‘dialogue.’ My problem is this- ‘telling stories’ may be personally cathartic for the participants, but is authentic LGBT/fundamentalist ‘dialogue’ possible?

And why should we want ‘dialogue’, anyway? I do believe in critical detailed analysis of the opposition’s viewpoint premises and construction of rebuttal of their mendacious claims about areas of debate that affect us, but I do not believe in actual cohabitation with them. At the end of the debate, we should be aiming to end their remaining meagre areas of discriminatory legislative influence, which applies to adoption policy alone in contemporary New Zealand.


Stephanie Fairyington: “Gay Option” Utne Reader May/June 2010: 27, 29

Jonathon Odell: “Coming Home” Utne Reader: May/June 2010: 64-67.

Tags: Politics · Religion

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