Queer is the New Black
There is a perception that suddenly Queer people, ideas, and fashion are everywhere. Trans folks are in the news. Queer parents are the focus of articles. Same-sex couples are in advertisements. Queer Pride clothing is in all the stores (at least for this month).
Are Queer folks really gaining traction in mainstream society? Sadly, no. What is gaining traction is the idea that Queer people are somehow taking over and spreading non-heterosexuality through the culture. This idea that everything is much more Queer now than it used to be is flourishing and is fueling the idea that something has to be done to prevent this takeover.
One response has been the current flurry of laws aimed at restricting our participation in sports, our ability to use restrooms, our representation in school curriculum, and our access to medical care. These laws create an environment in which Queer people are not only marginalized but demonized. We are seen as dangerous predators who, if given the chance, will: take over sports by participating as “the wrong gender” thereby unfairly winning; attack people in public bathrooms; push non-Heteronormativity on children, and force doctors to give care to people against whom they have a (religiously or morally rooted) bias.
Another response has been to attempt to co-opt Queerness by using it as a form of entertainment, as exemplified by the success of shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Orange Is the New Black, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Broad City, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. If those weren’t enough, we have Lil Nas X coming out, Billy Porter telling the world that is Queer and HIV+, Eliot Page publically embracing being Trans and Nonbinary, and Willow Smith coming out as Bisexual.
While all of those things might seem like a Queer bonanza, they did little to actually highlight the reality of Queer people’s lives, influence public perception of Queer folks, or change the steady drumbeat of anti-Queer rhetoric and policies that have come from local, state, and national governments. In fact, the phenomenon of showcasing famous Queer people, whether through tantalizing tidbits about their personal lives or through showing Queer lives curated for an audience, does very little to change…