I think it’s a really interesting post but I think the overlaps in motivation for migrating to those areas ARE much more complex than is presented there. I do think it’s a great study of how raced and classed ‘in-groups’ are created and the author does a good job questioning the assumptions that surround phrases like ‘radical queer’. She also says a lot of insightful things about how people essentialize the Bay Area, etc.
However, I also thought some of the instructions at the end were pretty gross: “Oh, I’m not pointing fingers or anything, but if you have the means to you should really consider moving back the area where you grew up. If you’re resistant to this idea, examine your privilege lol” Yeah, go fuck yourself. I am no longer in contact with most of my biological family for good reason. The place where they live, and where I went to high school, holds no opportunities for me. I’m not going to ‘examine the privilege’ that allowed me to leave that toxic living situation for good. It would be great if marginalized young people had MORE of an ability to be mobile, and class wasn’t such a huge obstacle for so many people in moving to a place where they could be happy and comfortable. But telling everyone else to go back ~~~home isn’t going to solve that problem. Home, roots, and family don’t always mean positive things to people, and it’s NOT always because of unchecked privilege. Nobody has an obligation to stay close to their biological family, in a place they were born into by chance.
Same general idea: “If you can afford it, go live in boring suburbs further away from your friends and other queer people!” Once again, go fuck yourself. Especially for people who came from shitty situations themselves and might not HAVE strong family connections or previous experiences of community, living closely within a community of friends is really important. The author needs to realize that the need for self-care, in cases like this, may trump everything else.
W/R/T “moving home:” I took that as “it’s not about me, so it’s not about me.” I’m “home” now for the time being and I know it’s not safe for me to live and work here in the long run, and I absolutely don’t have a support network that works for me. That isn’t true for everyone who “escapes” from their shitty hometown (sometimes full-fledged city, just not radikewl enough) though, and you know, by moving away we are all complicit in the ongoing problems of our place of origin - it’s still the right decision in the present though for me and I guess for you. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask people in general to think about whether going “home” and helping to make it a better place is feasible for them. I think it’s also a very different question for cis queers than it is for a lot of trans people who don’t want to be tied to where everyone knew us “before” and the constant “did they recognize me” anxiety. So I mean, staying home isn’t good for you or me, but maybe some people should take an honest accounting before moving to where they’ll get laid and party more (there may be a lot of politicized work to do at home anyway).
I appreciate some acknowledgement that gentrification is complicated as fuck and a natural part of capitalism, and what I take from it is again, do an honest accounting and if avoiding being part in that is not feasible for you, then it’s not feasible for you and it doesn’t make you a rotten person (there is no existing outside of capitalism except to lifestylist scumfucks and even then…), and besides, there are ways to help offset the negative effects on the neighborhood you’re gentrifying.
this article is really really good, please read it
re: commentary. yes, but/and
my sitch is that in demographic terms I am in many ways less of a gentrifying force in the hip queer bubble I currently live in than in the “up-and-coming” (spew) area I grew up in (although we’re talking suburbs of a large city rather than small town vs. city, which makes the issue of isolation from queer-normative community less pressing).
but my plan is still to move back there, because the difference is that in the area I grew up in — I know the shopkeepers, I know elderly people, I know people who are different to me — I’m part of a community other than young white liberal Arts educated queer hipsters. I have a real connection to the area. I know all my parent’s neighbours up and down the street. I can’t remember the names of the neighbours to either side of me in my current house. I have no committment to the area and no roots here.
I remember one time as a young teen, I was alone at home when I fell very ill. I was able to stumble out into the street and find someone I knew to take me to the doctor. I couldn’t do that here. Nor could any child I had. Not with the take-and-move-on young adult renter’s life I’m living. I am, I hope, going to live a life that extends past my late twenties. I want to be around children and old people. I want to live somewhere where I feel like I can have a future and a past rather than one endless hedonistic present.
I take the core of the original post to be that, for queers, community across difference is a more worthy and useful goal than community around similarity — which essentially reproduces a hegemonic norm, just a different one, where thin young abled white “alternative” queers with access to tertiary education are centred and everybody else is marginalised. the idea of “radical community” is a sham and a fraud. the communities that are important are the broad and fractured ones I’m already part of, not the ones I could attempt to build with the .0001% of the population that agrees with my take on Gramsci and likes my haircut and doesn’t ask “so, do you have a boyfriend?”.
obviously taking personal responsibility can sometimes cross over into individualism or martyring yourself or weird appropriation of “authentic” and pure lifestyles (like anti-capitalist middle-class intellectuals seeking employment in the trades because it’s more politically sound than being a writer or something). graftversushost makes a good point re: the complicated nature of keeping in touch with one’s past for trans people. I’m generally uneasy about critiques of queer spaces coming from queers who are actually able to live in straight world if we have to. I mean, I’m cis and more or less normatively feminine and have had serious relationships with cis men and probably will again sometime down the line, averages being what they are. Giving up queer spaces simply would not be as much of a sacrifice for me as it would be for many of my friends. I think queers like me — invisible queers, queers who are sometimes in hetero or hetero-appearing relationships — need to stop being so hung up on proving that we’re just as queer as anyone and have a real think about the very real expanded opportunities and mobilities we have. not everything is about individual identity, some things are about collectivity, how other people treat you and how you move through the world.
anyway, this is something I’ve thought a lot about and changed my mind on many times. but ultimately I keep coming back to the conclusion that I need to stop thinking about how I can be blameless and start thinking about what I can do, and what it will cost me and others, and is it worth it? & I think those questions, at least, are ones anyone can ask themselves, wherever they are.