What is queer power? And where does it come from?
Last week I called for our communities to work together in the fight for intersectional liberation, and in turn, joy for every member of our LGBTQ+ communities. I believe that many of us are keen to see positive change in the world, and yet, at the same time, we can feel powerless and hopeless in the face of *gestures vaguely at everything.*
So then, where do we get our power? Where do we find our hope? As marginalised people ourselves, how do we push back against systems of hate, domination and oppression? Where do we even begin?
Queer power isn’t as out of reach as you might think. We saw so many examples of it at the Manchester Pride Festival this year. Take, for example, at Superbia’s Manchester is Queer Exhibition, where there was art celebrating overtly feminine men, glorifying sex subculture and giving voice to trans women’s anger. Take, for example, the unabashed confidence and open sexuality of the trans and non-binary performers at Trans Filth and Joy. Take, for example, that there were prayer rooms at a Pride event, and they were actually used by religious queer people. Take, for example, the use of the Quiet Spaces, allowing people (especially our neurodivergent communities) to take space and rest in a period of over-stimulating partying and protesting. Take, for example, all of the intersectional joy outlined in last week’s post, cheers of happiness in spite of all the world’s hate and suffering.
None of the above examples are things that are commended or praised in a queerphobic world that would see us erased and divided. But by rejecting what those who hate us expect of us (ie - expecting men to be masculine, queer sexualities to be shameful, trans voices to be erased, queerness and religion to be incompatible, and for there to be no space for neurodivergent people in our social events), we in turn undermine the authority these expectations have. They cannot define us or limit us because we have taken their expectations and subverted them, forcing a reconsideration of our identities and bodies in relation to the rest of the world. It’s about flipping the script, taking the power back, saying no to our oppressors and breaking free from the limitations they’ve placed on us.
This can sound a little complicated, but it can really be quite simple. Take a moment to reflect on the parts of yourself that a queerphobic society doesn’t celebrate. Do you break any gender norms or refute any stereotypes? Do you have any spiritual or radical beliefs? Are you a member (or want to be a member) of any subcultures or countercultures? To find your queer power, identify these parts of yourself and don’t hide them away. Instead, celebrate them! Loudly and proudly! And then use them as a site of strength in your resistance.
Next week, in my final post about this year’s Manchester Pride Festival, I’ll write about what to do with your queer power. What actions you can take in the fight for intersectional liberation. Until then, keep your eyes peeled for Manchester Pride’s year-round opportunities to explore and use queer subversiveness, such as Superbia, our queer arts and culture offer, and Youth Pride MCR, which gives queer young people safe spaces to learn and connect while platforming their voices, art and queer power.
Where is your queer power? How will you use it?