Proceedings: Opening Panel: Vicky
Queer Disability Conference 2002
San Francisco CA
QD identity -What is QD?
Identity: culture and community building, making spaces, celebrating selves
Politics are personal; personal is political
Sex (doing it not being it) is important
Intersextions: liminality of queerness and disability/deafness
(Please read word for word as these are quotes)
What I learned from Alison
A few years ago Alison wrote "subjugated knowledges" or "reverse
discourses" operate as forms of resistance because they positively
prove the existence of people, bodies and experiences not found within
the histories and narratives created by dominant groups in society. Our
lives challenge the naturalness and rightness of the dominant discourses
and categories such as race, gender, sex and disability.
Alison also quoted Susan Sontag as saying that
"illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone
who is born holds dual citizenship in the kingdom of the well and in the
kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer (in the original) to use only
the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged at least for
a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place."
(1993, page 3).
In response Tanis wrote "And some of us have become visible citizens
of that other place, using our bodies as our passports. People with disabilities
are frightening to the non-disabled because our citizenship is made clear:
in and with our bodies, we testify to both the existence and proximity
of that Otherland. For those of us who live (and breath) Disability Culture
or Deaf Culture, the "nightside" can actually be FUN! Some of
us like the Otherland.
I do -queerness is also fun!
(Try to follow my pacing- some is for dramatic effect when I say BI I
want the pause leaving it hanging then ill say polar.. tri.. pause then
Asking me about Queer Disability: what is it or who is it? is like being
asked to expose myself.
So I will.
I want to officially come out- and finally admit yes I am a closeted academic.
Although Vicky writes from a personal and political space I yearn for
those library stacks and crowded classrooms.
I also want put to rest any rumours about Vicky's identity.
I am BI-
POLAR. Among the other disabilities, this is one I hide most often.
I also see myself as TRI-
sexual- I will try anything. But preferable me and two women. The reason
I say this is because I want to talk about liminality in my presentation
and I want you to have the image of me inbetween two women. I want sex
to be on your mind.
It is on mine. A lot. Smile. We need to be perfectly clear that while
queerness and disability are not ALL about sex, sex is definitely a part
of who we are and if not for sex some of us would not be here- not identify
or simply cease to exist.
(This section just interpret- no need to read)
Nations and Border Crossings
Crossing between Canada and the US
Mixed race- my own First Nations heritage and my daughter's Jamaican past
And passing using Alters
(READ THIS NEXT PART OFF THE OVER HEAD ITS TRICKY)
Polarity, or opposites- construct gender, disability and sexualities as
inverses of each other. This does not allow for the nesting of disability
the complexity of gender or the fluidity of sexuality. Becauseour our
lives are lived as wholes and not parts we need to be understood as mixed,
not discrete and not bounded. (Except if we have been bad or ask nicely)
Power is dispersed, indeterminate, subjectless, and productive, constituting
individuals' bodies and identities. It operates through the hegemony of
norms, political technologies, and the shaping of the body and soul. In
one book, Foucault argues that power operates not through the repression
of sex, but through the discursive production of sexuality and subjects
who have a ''sexual nature.''
I think I am one of those subjects
(Again another part to read)
The concept of liminality comes from anthropology and it is quite relevant
if we see queerdom and cripdom as geographies of culture. In this way
the project becomes our bodies, our selves our whole beings and the land
Being liminal is tantamount to being naked of self, or full of self, neither
fully in one category or another- neither male nor female, neither here
nor there not of duality but between control and loss of control. It is
where multiplicity of gender and disability and sexuality is made possible.
SHADOWS and DUSK
Liminality refers to a land betwixt and between. A chaos a fertile nothingness
and a storehouse of possibilities. I believe queerdisability embodies
this liminality and I know this is where I live. I do not see it as a
marginal status at all but a center. It is a fluid and creative place
to live unfixed, unfettered open and seeking.
Corbett and Vicky once wrote that disabled lesbian mothers are not roleless
Being gay, disabled, Black and
. These additive models of oppression
are rooted in the either/or dichotomous thinking of Eurocentric, realist
models which quantify and rank people. We resist being slotted., fixed
Replacing the additive models with an understanding of the interlocking
axes (i.e., hooks) of difference creates possibilities for new paradigms
like queer disability.
In the overlap and displacement of domains of differences the intersubjective
and collective experiences of queerness or disability community are negotiated.
It is the ongoing negotiation, and ever emerging performances of difference
that seeks hybrid transformation as more than one plus one but 3 or 5
or 9 or infinity squared.
Using spectrums of identity differing oppressions are interactive. By
looking at how the "matrix of domination is structured," it
becomes possible to explore how multiple oppressions work on several levels
and within different contexts.
(The last part just interpret not necessarily read but be aware of the
words I choose)
Today I am happy with the deeply embodied disruptions which I construct
as "home." My body, is MINE. My vertigo, my deafness, my respiratory
distress, my ataxia, my allergies and my psychosis- all mine. And as Carol
Gill has said- No you cannot take them away from me. My sexuality is also
mine. I claim my clit, my tits, my mouth, my tongue and all my senses.
I enjoy my body. As do others.
I do not claim control over the environment around me but I know I am
a co-creator of my reality.
I am aware of the cultural taboos against giving voice to deviant admissions.
I am also not suggesting that you make such claims. I am perhaps telling
you that my place, my space, my land is not the dark and dangerous world
but a joyful and multiorgasmic home; where I can be me.