In recent years the landscape in which youth are growing up in has changed significantly especially in regards to advent of social media and an increased representation of same sex attracted persons in the media. This has had a major impact on the way in which same sex attracted youth construct their personal identity resulting in a moving away from the previously established Homonormitive queer community. This change also has social and socio-political ramification.
Before I begin to analyse the “post-queer” movement and its effects on same sex attracted youth, I would like to redefine a few terms which are commonly used though for this instance would be considered broad terms. The term queer is referred to as people who describe themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, while same-sex attracted refers to persons who are same-sex attracted, but do not necessarily describe themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexualeither due to a rejection of the community, or not subjecting their personal sexuality to these terms. Secondly “queer community” is in reference to the larger collection of people who see themselves as what I stated earlier as queer.
In the following I will be analysing articles in relation to same sex attracted youth within the school system, and how social changes, and changes in media has lead them to identify their sexuality, and reflect on it in ways that weren’t available to previous generation. I will also be looking at issues such as bullying and suicide, and ways in which this could be combatant, and comparing it to the current discourses adopted by schools.
According to Marshall (2010) the queer youth have traditionally been “portrayed as…victims of adult homosexual predators, [&] overbearing mothers” (p.69-70) however this trope has made significant movement away from this, towards a more biological viewpoint. Marshall compares this to pop culture through third party comprehensions of characters through their coming out. Though this is the basis of his contention, he also focus’ heavily on queer youth and their analysis of this in a social context, displaying that these stereotypes are not only (close to) irrelevant to Same-sex attracted youth, but the youth themselves are analysing the texts and writing themselves in or out of these contexts. As is stated “the key interpretive problem is not the absence of gay and lesbian representation… but its presence… causing young people to critically distance themselves from stereotypes.” This itself is the forbearer of the post-queer movement which is becoming a more significant way of life for these student.
From this writing in & out of the context, same-sex attracted youth feel as though the former stereotypes are not applicable to themselves, and fell as though the social justice issues which haunted older generations are more historical then a current issue and no longer feel as though they need to push social justice issues. This itself displays what is occurring within the older generation of same sex attracted persons who detach themselves from the queer community.
Part of the analysis of these media characters has resulted in same sex attracted youth describing characters as “useless” as they represent what is commonly perceived within the public forum as gay stereotypes. The youth are also analysing the way in which the characters are being portrayed based off their own experiences, and whether the character is “sexualised or relationship based” in their portrayal is being reflected by these person, showing that dichotomy of relationships which has now become a way of these persons lifestyles.
Talburt (2010) reflects on how queer studies has somewhat stuck itself within what was a GLBTI linear social progression which does not reflect the community as a whole. As there are many facets to what can be considered the samesex attracted communities, and contrary to Marshalls (2010) positive outlook on same sex attracted youth, Talburt (2010) focuses more heavily on “epidemic queer youth suicide” caused in part to homophobia which is cultivated within the school grounds. As a result she reflects on how the post queer movement has sucked away focus from such issues and the political virulence as a result of queer theory becoming somewhat monotonous, and what can be considered as passé.Because of this it is inferred that action needs to be taken within the school environment to tackle homophobia during a student’s developmental stages.
Talburt (2010) also talks about how rationalism is being misconceived as forms of liberalism and neoliberalism though socially the link between may be highly associated, rationalism does not directly lead to liberalism as one is a social perception while the other is a method of social analysis. This in itself is being question by same-sex attracted youth, where the association and is being cultivated and is resulting in same-sex attracted youth are socially progressing beyond identification as a victim, and instead a member of society.
As a conclusion, Talburt (2010) states that Queerinterventions that aren’t about sexuality, but universalising tendencies and removing the “queer stigma” is a part of rewriting the wound culture of don’t don’t ask don’t tellpolicies as a cultivation of shame in same sex attracted youth within the school environment.
Berlant (1998) covers a case study set in New York which was taking place when sex on premises venues (SOP) were being shut down if they were within a certain distance from another venue, which with a large collection of SOPs being concentrated on gay streets, which means that in these districts a large number of venues would have to close down. Also covered by this was an amendment which prevented SOPs from existing within a certain distance of places of worship, or places of education, and these further restrictions could mean that whole districts could be forced to close, pushing queer culture underground. Berlant (1998) puts this down to the misconception that “sex acts are… the most intimate communication of them all” (p555) and that “these are people whose reproductivity governs their lives, their aspirations… to everyone and everything else” (p564). These concepts though fundamental to some aspects of societyignores the way in which queer culture functions, as formally meeting places were relegated to beats (places where same sex attracted people meet up for anonymous sex) where a lack of control can result in the passage of sexually transmitted diseases, and/or cultivate areas where hate crimes can take place.
On reflection of this fifteen years on, as this article was written during the queer movement it has ignored the advent of accelerated internet connections, their ubiquity, and introduction of smart phones. Applications for smart phones such as grindr and blendr has allowed for same sex attracted people to congregate in safe spaces and develop friendships without the need of places for them to initially meet each other. Other sources of online media such as gaydar andmanhunt has also allowed the same thing through means of an internet connection. This has greatly changed the way in which same sex attracted people are able to converse and meet new people to such a degree that it has in fact facilitated movement away from the gay agenda and in some cases a counter culture.
Social media has also created an alternative place for social support where same sex attracted persons are able to converse with people of the same tendencies, and are able to add emotional support and break down stigmas of isolation which person may be a partied to. Though these SocialMedias such as twitter create an echo chamber of agreeing opinions, this can also help with person looking for other persons of similar persuasions and similar social and political opinions on these topics. This has also attributed to in a breakdown of isolation and improvement in mental health within same sex attracted communities of recent years.
Harris (2012) take a look at the medias representation of same sex attracted persons and the sanitisation of their sexuality in the media. This is attributed as not only a negative concept, but also touches on how this sanitised sexuality perception breaks down stereotypes of the angry gay and works to breakdown discomfort which heterosexual people may have, and apply as their knowledge of same sex attracted people. This increased level of comfort with same sex attracted people increases their tolerances and understanding of same sex attracted people they may know. This same effect took place under the Oprah generation with people becoming more comfortable with race relations, though Ellen herself seems to almost avidly avoid the topic of sexuality with any of her subject matter.
Harris (2012) describes this “assimilation” (p78) as a rejection of queer culture and a wanting to be average, and worries about how same sex attracted youth may sanitise their own sexuality to avoid conflict, cultivating a hetero-normative environment which could be oppressive to the individual.
It is mentioned that the year prior to the release of this paper (2012) that within Australia there were 615 students who had reported homophobic comments or slurs, and 80% of people who identify themselves as a part of the queer community reported being abused in school, whether that be physical or verbal abuse. Harris (2012) interrelates these statistics with 40% of schools not having any means of support for same sex attracted students. It is also mentioned that this is the iceberg of the abuse and the lack of support available for same sex attracted persons.
Tilsen (2011) emphases the importance of establishing a stable identity is the primary task of not only all youth, but is tantamount to the establishment of the new same sex attracted youth culture, as opposed to feeding of the previously establish cultures, and makes comparison to other similar movements such as the women’s movement and the civil rights movement in the United States. The article goes into movement of what is thought to be the base of same sex attraction, from a socially induced one as was stated early by Marshall (2010) towards a biological cause and how this cultivates a dichotomy of male/female, homosexual/heterosexual. It is therefore touched on by Tilson(2003) that the born this way outlook poses other issues for people who do not fit into the binary-ism of gender and sexuality, and excludes bisexual, transgendered, and intersex persons.
Tisen (2011) also touches on lateral discrimination from persons involved in earlier queer movements who perceive themselves as fighting for the rights which have allowed the younger generation of same sex attracted persons did not only not contribute to, but also may be perceived as working against the causes which they worked towards while living aBourgeois lifestyle which they ironically set out to establish.This lateral discrimination feeds into other issues students must forgo so to establish their identity.
Additionally, Tinsen (2011) also touches on the issue of students coming out, and how the feeling of necessity of this is a systemic issue in itself. By having young same sex attracted youth setting out to define their sexuality it adds restrictions to their perception of how they establish their identity. The necessity for the defining of sexuality is tocombat the same sex attracted youths own feelings of shame of dishonesty they may be feeling. By imposing definitions on sexuality imposes a sexuality on the youth, breaking down exploration of their sexuality and forces Identity formation, as opposed to allowing it to develop organically.
It is mentioned in Talburt (2010) the work of Meyer (2007) of work titled “But I’m not queer: What straight teachers need to know about queer theory” and its need to be implemented across the curriculum. Meyer (2007) goes in to cross curricular support services to be implemented in schools, methods of removing homophobia from within the classroom, and helps a progression beyond the tradition of the queer activist past. By implementing these it would help break down sexual discrimination allowing for tendencies towards liberation from former in house oppression which Harris (2012) referred to.
As far as policies are concerned in regards to same sex attracted students there are no real policies outlined, instead there are materials available to school with how to deal with issues that may arise with same sex attracted students, though these are guidelines which may or may not be accepted by the school as an organisation. This does present a few issues in so far as the lack of uniformity between schools means that possible perceived discrimination can take place. It is also apparent according to Harris (2012) 40% of schools lack any support for same sex attracted students. Mayer’ (2007) idea of creating guidelines that can be implemented, and theubiquitisation of same sex attracted issues throughout the discourse could help with decreasing the high rate of bullying and high suicide rate.
The changes which have taken place through the democratisation of media are currently creating new outcomes which same sex attracted youth perceive their own identity, and this can be seen with the current generation of same sex attracted young adults which has constructed a dichotomy between the previously defined queer community and a counter homonormitive culture where same sex attraction no longer defines their Identity but is incorporated into it. Though those within the queer community may take umbrage at what they perceive as a embracing of heteronormitivity, this progression towards the “blurred lines” of sexuality allows the social construction which same sex attracted youth are constructing their identities in.
By constructing this new social future for same sex attracted youth, issues of bullying and suicide rates can be foreseen to drop in coming years, removing the stigmatisation of same sex attracted youth issues need to be tackled directly. In the meantime strategies need to be constructed within the classroom, not only to allow guide youth towards a fluid understanding of their identity, but to raise awareness and remove social stigmas constructed in regards to same sex attracted youth.
Marshall, D. (2010, Jan 21). Popular culture, the 'victim' trope and queer youth analytics. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 65-85.
Susan Talburt & Mary Lou Rasmussen (2010, Jan 21). 'After-queer' tendencies in queer research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 1-14.
Harris, A. (2011, Sept 21). The EllenDeGeneration: nudging bias in the creative arts classroom. The Australian Association for Research in Education, 78-90.
Lauren Berlant & Michael Warner (1998). Sex in Public. The University of Chicago Press, 24(2), 547-566.
Tilsen, J. (2012). QUEER AS YOUTH: RESISTING THE HOMONORMATIVE OF IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT. University of Winnipeg, 1-27.
Meyer, E. (2007). But I'm not gay: What straight teachers need to know about queer theory. Queering straight teachers: Discourse and identity education, 15-32.