1. When posed with the assignment to discus the terms surviving and thriving, I wanted to discuss their individual meanings and compare and contrast the two. I wanted to find a way to link them together and put them in convesation with one another in order to uncover why they had been linked with one another. My trusty Merriam Webster dictionary defines surviving as, "to remain or continue in existence." I few apply this to the It Gets Better Project, we can think of suvival as literally remaining alive in the fae of harassment and bullying where suicide seems like the only option. Thriving, in contrast, is defined by Merriam Webster as being fortunate, prospering, or being successful. I see the two as linked but not mutually constitutive of each other: one does not need the other in order for it to exist. One may survive without thriving, which is a cmmon critique of the It Gets Better Project. (critique article comment). While some may physically survive their adolescent years, they may not go on to succeed and thrive later on in life. The "It Gets Better Project" also defines success in a very specific, homonormative way. This brings us to Halperstam's critique of success in their book, "The Queer Art of Failure." In his own personal video submission to the project, Dan Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, describes the ways that they were able to survive the bullying and harassment from their peers and family members and grow up to live "normal" lives. The way they define their success is through an extremely normative framework: they joined a monogamous relationship, adopted a child, participated in Capitalism, etc. Their definition of life improving and "getting better" relies on one very specific definition of success.
2. What is queering? Upon first entering this class, I had minimal prior knowledge of what it meant to "queer" something. I only had a notion of queer as a sexual identity. I never had terribly positive feligns towards the classification "queer" because I felt it grouped me under an umbrella term where I didn't fully belong. Upon reading E. Patrick Johnson's piece, "Everything I Learned About Quare Studies I learned from my Grandma," I realized that he had nailed my feelings exactly: that "queer" homogenized oppression. I knew that my experience as a white gay, male bodied, cisgendered individual was vastly different than a lesbian woman of color, a male to female transgendered person, or a Latina, bisexual female. Johnson put my feelings into words by stating how suffering is trivialized when we group every person with a non-normative sexuality into one large medley of otherness. I had only learned about queer as a verb froma previous Gay Men and Homophobic class which defined queering as turning something on its side. I struggled to understand this word I had previously only thought of as a noun and change my usage to verb form.
I began to understand queering as a critique, a way to change the way we view an object, space, institution, a way to question normativity and offer another view entirely. I began to understand queering as a way to understand the deeper intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, ableism, (the list goes on and on, however I don't wish to be disrespectful and trivialize any other "isms") and how they affect the way we interact in the world. I was immediately troubled with how we would queer things for the Queer This! assignment, but I began to understand that we were looking at perhaps popular culture or politics through the lens of a queer theorist.
3. In looking back on the process of tracking my term, I realize how strongly this project has affected me emotionally. I think studying the "It Gets Better Project" guaranteed that it would be an emotional project simply because of the nature of project and what it was created for. When the news began to begin to report on the anti-gay bullying related suicides, (Note: I say begin to report because GLBT teens are statistically more likely to commit suicide so I argue that because of the particular political climate of the country, these stories struck an emotional nerve with the country,) I watched in horror at the way that our society had given these kids no choice in their eyes but to end their lives. Having experienced bullying as a child/teen because I performed a different gender than most other boys at my age, I could feel for those kids. I understood their pain, yet to a vastly different level because suicide was never on my radar as an option. I was particuarlly struck by the story of Jamey Rodemeyer, a fourteen year who had created an "It Gets Better Project" video submission, urging teens to seek the validation and support from friends and pop culture icon, Lady Gaga. The horrible irony was that several months after posting the video, Jamey did in fact take his own life. His story garnered incredible media attention, which I believe was because of the fact that he had created an "It Gets Better" video prior to his death.
Through tracking this term, I learned to question the way we define success or what we consider life "getting better." I was also interested in critiques that said that for some people, it didn't always "get better." They said that there wasn't a universal, optimist outlook and sometimes people's lives got harder after high school, or simply stayed the same.
I found the blog to be a helpful tool because it allowed us to continue conversations outside of class. While I thought this was great in theory, I found that it made the conversation never ending. I find it helpful for me to separate class time with other aspects of life and the blog made it so that I constantly should've been online participating. I found Twitter to be an after thought, partially because I have a personal Twitter account so I never checked my academic one.