by Jen Graves
on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 2:51 PM
David M. Halperin wrote an essay called "Normal as Folk" in today's New York Times, and it has several high points. One is its reminder of what style is:
“Whenever speech or movement or behavior or objects exhibit a certain deviation from the most direct, useful, insensible mode of expression or being in the world, we may look at them as having a ‘style,’ ” Susan Sontag wrote in 1965. Style itself represents a deviation from the ordinary. It has to stand out, or stand apart from the world as it is given, in order to qualify as style.
In this formulation, style comes awfully close to what is also known simply as queerness.
The kind of "gay [male] style" that Halperin is extolling is the kind that performs a "refusal of canonical masculinity": drag, camp, anything that's not gaystreaming. He celebrates its subversive potential, and warns of the potential internalized (or more overt) sexism and homophobia of those whose reactions to this version of gayness are visceral and negative, even if those folks are themselves gay men.
But how come the word "queer" is nowhere to be found in this piece? Maybe there's a perfectly good reason. It might be worth hearing.