Notes on Pride

Unexceptionally Queer: Jasbir Puar's Terrorist Assemblages

June 1, 2021
June 2021 marks a decade since coming out of the closet and 10 years of going to prides. In true fashion I feel ambivalent (celebratory and cautious) about what this month means and how that meaning has been coopted. I thought the best way to express myself would be in the love language of all academics: references. For the next thirty days I will post a book, text, article, album, film, or other piece of work each day that has taught me about queerness, its limits, its possibilities, or just made me feel something (akin to pride maybe?). And to be multilingual, posts will feature my other love language: playlists. I’ll include tracks from my annual pride playlist (which I’ll put on iTunes and Spotify soon). This year’s is aptly titled “Summer of ‘21 Sins.” I’ll also try to make some kind of public Dropbox for all the readings. Don’t worry, the memes, mess, and polite shade will be interspersed and uninterrupted. Share. Think. Reflect. And Enjoy. Happy Pride Month, Kittens... xoxo -Your Favorite Professor’s Favorite Professor 💋 🥂

Puar, Jasbir K. Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times.

Durham: Duke University Press: p. 42. Figure4. Embody(’s‘‘ComeTogether’’advertising campaign). ∫2006. PlanetOut Inc. All rights reserved. Produced by PlanetOut Creative Services Group; Christy Shaefer, Creative Director.

Terrorist Assemblages (Jasbir Puar)

“In Terrorist Assemblages, my primary interest is in this process of the management of queer life at the expense of sexually and racially perverse death in relation to the contemporary politics of securitization, Orientalism, terrorism, torture, and the articulation of Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian sexualities. I argue that during this historical juncture, there is a very specific production of terrorist bodies against properly queer subjects.” (Puar, Terrorist Assemblages, p. xiii)

“National recognition and inclusion, here signaled as the annexation of homosexual jargon, is contingent upon the segregation and disqualification of racial and sexual others from the national imaginary. At work in this dynamic is a form of sexual exceptionalism—the emergence of national homosexuality, what I term ‘‘homonationalism’’—that corresponds with the coming out of the exceptionalism of American empire. Further, this brand of homosexuality operates as a regulatory script not only of norma- tive gayness, queerness, or homosexuality, but also of the racial and na- tional norms that reinforce these sexual subjects.” (Puar, Terrorist Assemblages, p.2)

Puar asks us to think about what bodies are left out in national projects for LGBTQ+ acceptance and tolerance and how the LGBTQ agenda became imbricated in US imperial projects, like the War on Terror, to make gays and lesbians seem like good, flag loving, Americans like everyone else. What is the Faustian bargain made when LGBTQ+ folks accept the state’s inclusion and rights to marry, serve in the military, adopt and reproduce? Do we become “Straightened” by institutionally? Do we consent to the imperial, colonial, and carceral projects of the state: the War on Terror, the War in Iraq, the continued policing and gentrifying of black and brown neighborhoods to build “gay friendly” neighborhoods? Though I disagree with the universalizing reach of homonationalism (everything is homonational now), Puar sticks with me precisely because she compels us to ask what queers forgo (sexual liberation, critique, anti-imperialism etc) in order to accept the agenda of the state (domestication of sexuality, trans-exclusionary politics, war, the destruction of black and indigenous life, among many other things). In short, what other fabulous possibilities might exist for us beyond marriage, children, military service, pride, or trying so hard to prove that we are “just like everyone else?”