Gloria Anzaldua's Queer Mestisaje

By Barnard, Ian | MELUS, Spring 1997 | Go to article overview
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Gloria Anzaldua's Queer Mestisaje

Barnard, Ian, MELUS

In the 1992 "queer issue" of The Village Voice, Dennis Cooper quotes Johnny Noxzema and Rex Boy characterizing the Canadian publication BIMBOX, which Noxzema and Rex Boy edited:

You are entering a gay and lesbian-free zone.... Effective immediately,

BIMBOX is at war against lesbians and gays. A war in which modern

queer boys and queer girls are united against the prehistoric thinking

and demented self-serving politics of the above-mentioned scum.

BIMBOX hereby renounces its past use of the term lesbian and / or gay

in a positive manner. This is a civil war against the ultimate evil, and

consequently we must identify us and them in no uncertain terms....

So, dear lesbian womon or gay man to whom perhaps BIMBOX has

been inappropriately posted...prepare to pay dearly for the way you

and your kind have fucked things up. (31)

Readers unfamiliar with recent debacles within lesbian and gay political circles might be forgiven for at first assuming this to be a particularly scurrilous instance of violent homophobia. But, of course, the BIMBOX editors are themselves gay, and anti-homophobic activists, and theirs is actually a fairly typical articulation of what has by now become a relatively familiar opposition in political and cultural realms between lesbian and gay activists and queer militants and, in academia, between lesbian and gay studies and queer theory.

The queer sensibility and aesthetic embodied in BIMBOX has been articulated and flaunted in the queer 'zincs of the 1980s and 1990s--"alternative" lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender periodicals, often relatively cheaply produced and locally distributed, and usually espousing and embodying a militantly non-assimilationist ideology.(1) BIMBOX suggests its contempt for the orthodox procedures of publication and distribution employed around much lesbian and gay writing that has attained corporate legitimacy by advertising itself as "free to those who deserve it" (qtd. in Holy Titclamps Zine Explosion 3). The titles alone of some of the other 'zincs suggest their oppositional relationship not only to mainstream straight publishing and politics, but also to mainstream lesbian and gay publishing and politics: Pansy Beat, Not Your Bitch, The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy-head, fever, so you can rest zinc. One of the lesbian 'zincs calls itself Up Our Butts, a particularly rich title for readers who have followed the feminist sex wars between the journals Off Our Backs and On Our Backs, and the lawsuit between the two (see Brown-worth)! To clarify its distance from the categories "lesbian" and "gay," the Minneapolis 'zinc Holy Titclamps comes stamped with the instructions "file under `queer'" on its cover--presumably for the benefit of perplexed bookstore clerks! Destabilizations of lesbian and gay identity abound in the 'zincs. QT promises an article on "the faggot who thought she was a lesbian." The contents of Scab #2 are described in a blurb for the 'zinc as "Bitch Nation, anti-William Burroughs stuff, pro-gaybashing with map of gay areas, anti-SPEW convention article" (Holy Titclamps 9).(2)

The prevalence of sexism, racism, and classism in official lesbian and gay culture and politics, as much as in the hegemonic heterosexual establishment, is a frequent subject of the 'zincs. In the September/October 1992 issue of the 'zinc Infected Faggot Perspectives, Christian Salvador, described as "a short, left-handed, 18 year old, Pilipino, cross-dressing, pimpleless whore who's been entertaining the idea of water-sports; part-time queer activist" writes:

Early this last year I was introduced to west Hollywood--What is it?!

It's two blocks of 21 and over white fags who don't even notice the existence

of women standing two inches from them, much less a little

thing like me..

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