Homophobic stereotypes describe gays and lesbians as solitary, isolated and lonely. Indeed, queer identity is achieved by the lonely undertaking of a mythic journey beneath the surface of things. We go down into the dark, deep immensity of the Underworld. We follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. Like Orpheus, we create unearthly music. Like Dorothy, we will make irreplaceable friends. We are bound to meet death, and our own fear of death, as we subvert the inevitability of breeding. We wrestle with the bad witch, cajole the ineffectual wizard, and contest the Underworld for our beloved. We integrate despised and fearful aspects of female power and male vulnerability. We encounter our own failure. We face self-doubt and find, to our great surprise, we already have the courage, heart and brains that we’ve been seeking. Finally we click our red heels together, and say “There’s no place like home.”
of the Nommo, androgynous water spirit and mythic ancestor of the Dogon
is homosexuality – an underground reservoir of cool, sweet water. Queer
answers the heart’s deep yearnings for place and identity. To reach this
home one must travel alone, beneath norms, expectations and established
forms of relationship. Once we drink there, we are irrevocably changed.
Homosexuality sets us apart from whatever other communities, religious
affiliations, class, race and family alliances claim us. The queer
community gives us a name and a home, though it scarcely exists. No
institutions support it; no place defines it; no spokesperson can
represent it. The community is “an ephemeral, woven network of belonging”
that depends on our participation. Orientation continually weaves both
self and community.
Shadow: Carol Warren
writes, “The gay world, because it is stigmatized and set apart, is one
that demands total identification. Thus a person who affiliates with the
community and accepts gay identity possesses a rarity in contemporary
life: a total and all-encompassing core of existence by which to answer
the question Who am I?”
And yet the question, “Who am I?” is perhaps best navigated through
its unanswerableness. Queer precludes the closure and limitations implied
by fixed notions of identity. Our orientation can stay open and fluid,
slippery and wild.