Direct Engagement: Munoz!


Munoz begins his essay with a description of the way that performing queerness on a stage has multiple signifiers because of the many ways that queers and queers of color have been disadvantaged and discriminated against by society. Munoz offers artist Marga Gomez's performance in her metaphoric bedroom as an act of resistance to the Bowers vs Hardwick Supreme Court decision which effectively removed the right of privacy from gays and lesbians. By performing from her on stage "bedroom," she is challenging her lack of privacy and owning her queerness in a way that she is opening herself up from her own accord as opposed to being exposed by the government.
Munoz defines disidentification as something that is meant to: "be descriptive of the survival strategies the minority subject practices in order to negotiate a phobic majoritarian public sphere that continuously elides or punishes the subjects who do not conform to the phantasm of normative citizenship." To put disidentification into my own words, I would say Munoz is saying that they are survival strategies for oppressed minority groups in order to exist in a world that constantly punishes them for existing in a non-normative framework. Munoz also posits that it is possible to exist within and outside of dominant practices while utilizing disidentification survival strategies. I wonder how it is possible to simultaneously exist within and outside of a space. Perhaps it is participating in mainstream Capitalism, for example, while also resisting in other ways such as performing a queer gender or unintelligible sexuality.
Munoz says that these identities-in-difference come from a failure to adopt society's identity norms and create a counterpublic sphere of identity. Munoz provides a definition of identity by Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis that states that identity is assimilating to a certain model. By disidentifying, you are resisting assimilation into the model that has been created for us. He discusses Sedgwick's argument that by identifying with something, you are disidentifying with some other identity. This is similar to Judith Butler's idea that in order to create the heterosexual, one most construct the opposite: the homosexual.
Munoz moves to discuss Marlon Brigg's discussion of queerness as always being associated with whiteness, a problem we still face today. Much of the gay rights movement is still seen as "white-faced," or represented only by upper-middle class, white, gay men. This leaves out the possibly for representation for queers of color, of lower class, of lesbians, of transpeople; the list goes on and on. We have a very homonormative ideal about the LGBT rights movement and it's main struggle: gay marriage. This exclusion combined with the racist idea that the African American community is somehow more homophobic and intolerant of gay people makes the gay rights movement a very racist space.
Munoz delves deeper into the idea of working against and within a dominant ideology, clearing up some of my previous confusion. He states that, "this 'working on and against' is a strategy that tries to transform a cultural logic from within, always laboring to enact permanent structural change while at the same time valuing the importance of local or everyday struggles of resistance."

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