Academic journal article Liminalities

Question(ing) One in the Coatlicue State: A Call for Creative Engagement in the LGBTQ Movement

Academic journal article Liminalities

Question(ing) One in the Coatlicue State: A Call for Creative Engagement in the LGBTQ Movement

Article excerpt

There is a false separation between rhetoric and performance (Calafell; Wander). In a special issue of Text and Performance Quarterly, Mindy Fenske and Dustin Bradley Goltz, the editors of the issue, write, "working between and across disciplinary boundaries and distinctions, as well as within the spaces they share, is a collaborative and collective process full of possibility and danger" (1). Indeed, performance studies scholars and rhetoricians within the issue discussed how both subdisciplines criticize, invite, and produce talk about civil discourse (Wander); how race is embodied and lived in/between both discursivity and materiality (Flores); how it is time to "finally bring performance studies and rhetorical studies into regular and lasting mutuality and collaboration" (Morris 106). Given these interconnections, I follow Bernadette Marie Calafell's lead by using a "performance lens to push back methodologically against traditional approaches in rhetoric, hoping for more complex approaches to embodiment, resistance, and cultural nuances-particularly when examining work by historically marginalized groups" ("Performance" 115). In this essay, I utilize performative writing and rhetorical criticism to place embodied performances of marriage for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*-1, and Queer (LGBTQ) couples into greater conversation with archival texts, such as the law. To bridge the (false) gap between performance and rhetoric, I develop the Chicana feminist concept of the "Coatlicue state" (kwat-LEE-kway) into a performative aesthetic that monstrously fuses performative writing and discourse analysis.2

The Coatlicue state represents both performative writing and rhetorical analysis. Fenske and Goltz explain "performance and rhetoric are aligned, divided by lines, share lines" (1), and likewise, the Coatlicue state "can entail the juxtaposition and the transmutation of contrary forces as well as paralysis and depression" (Anzaldúa, Reader 320). As a first-generation and working-class Xicano3 student, I have dreamed of some possibility for upward mobility for a long time, and as I look one last time at the home I shared with my husband for the past 6 years, I don't know if I am ready to leave the state of California for my doctoral program in the state of Colorado. Why am I resisting leaving this state? I should be eager to leave, yet I feel paralyzed. What am I afraid of? Suddenly the overwhelming pull between morality and identity manifests: What will my marriage become when I leave this state?

Coalicue is the Aztec goddess of creation and destruction, and as a metaphor for simultaneous duality and embodied contradiction, Coatlicue states are a borderlands affect grounded in ancient Mesoamerican sacred beliefs (Bost 193). By holding onto contradictions, such as rhetoric/performance and morality/ identity, I enter into a state that critically examines the darkest parts of the "self and society, self in society, and self as resistant and transformative force of society" (emphasis in citation, Alexander 423). This Coatlicue state blends "women of color feminist theories, performative methodologies, and critical rhetoric as methodological tools" (Calafell, "Performance" 115-116) to analyze the framing strategies utilized by the LGBTQ movement and the Christian Right during the Question One vote for same-sex marriage in Maine during the 2009 election cycle. Further, I issue a call for creative engagement by scholars, performers, and activists to create bridges that span the vast chasms of our differences.

With so many scholars, performers, and activists doing the rigorous and challenging work of naming difference and mobilizing resistance, I ask: who is doing the work of bridging and healing differences? Essentially, I am calling for more strategies and tactics4 for the LGBTQ community and her allies that locate, invent, or resist from the Coatlicue state. Currently, the LGBTQ movement is multiply divided within-LGBT politics versus Queer politics (Slagle; Warner; Yep, Lovaas, and Elia) and White Queer politics versus Queer People of Color (QPOC) politics (Anzaldúa, Reader; Cohen; Johnson, "Quare"; Johnson, "Bordering"). …

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