"Bubble Gum." Toronto Street Art. 2013.

i am Compelled to write

The exigence of this essay lies at the heart of the intersection between my personal and political lives – between my being and doing queer [1]. My recent queer studies work centers on my personal negotiation of the marriage equality movement, homonormativity, and understanding my own upcoming, same-sex wedding as a political act. I see getting married to a woman as being queer; I consider refusing to get married because it is a heteronormative institution as doing queer – both are personal and political. I find myself sitting defiantly on the side of marriage equality, yet I feel ambivalent about marriage itself. It seems to make sense that queers should, at the very least, have the option to refuse participation in marriage rights/rites. This project is a way for me to negotiate the “queer feelings” I am experiencing, and to better verse and insert myself in the ongoing conversation on gay marriage from a critically queer perspective.

My approach draws on alternative, specifically queer, rhetorics as a way of negotiating these competing discourses and the tension between publics and the private. More than not, academic writing asks writers to argue rather than explore, to speak rather than listen, to tidy up and close rather than unravel and invite. Using Jonathan Alexander and Jacqueline Rhodes' theories of queer rhetoric alongside David Wallace’s explorations of what compels us, as scholars and whole human beings, to write, I employ alternative rhetorical strategies as a vehicle to navigate the vast wastelands of my multiple subjectivities. Rather than confidently moving forward with a clear, linear argument in mind, I am instead inspired by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s question: “what if instead there were a practice of valuing the ways in which meanings and institutions can be at loose ends with each other? What if the richest junctures weren’t the only ones where everything means the same thing” (Sedgwick 6-7). This project is my investigation of those loose ends.

I’d like to thank the thoughtful anonymous reviewers and extremely supportive editors at Harlot, especially Kate Comer, Ben McCorkle, and Jason Palmeri. Special thanks goes out to the extremely talented Paul Muhlhauser, who patiently materialized my vision in his development of this custom webtext.

And to my first readers — my soon-to-be-wife, Ginny, and my mentor, Sherrie Gradin: thank you for being thoughtful sounding boards for my endless queer rants and ideas. I dedicate this piece to my loving parents, who not only taught me to be who/whatever I desire, but also for encouraging me to use the voice I have when I am compelled to do so.