(This video is an excerpt from the movie Raspberry Reich – it’s a quite funny parody of the theories of Wilhelm Reich and the Red Army Faction. Worth watching before the morality police on YouTube flag it as inappropriate.)

In a response to my last post on Conceptualising Queer Oppression, @ndy raised a simple question that I’ve found surprisingly difficult to answer:

what would a ‘queer’ world look like? and, further, given this vision of a future imagined community, what forms of authority and power would be abolished / in what ways would they be transformed?

The need for a vision of a future set of social relations, even if they are seemingly utopian, could certainly help provide a better feel for exactly what is wrong with contemporary sexual relations and, even more importantly, what needs to be done.

The vision that dominates most the the current gay rights movement is the liberal State paradise, one based on legalised protection of “gay rights”, education programmes promoting “gay is OK”, “nice” media representations, etc, etc. Not exactly inspiring, huh?

So what would a radical queer vision look like? I’m really not sure, but here is one scenario.

Most queer theorists and those that study sexuality will attest to sexual identity as being a social construction. The fact that the homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual identities were invented only as late as the 1890s by medical institutions and discourses attest to this. Rather than sexuality being something innate, biological or inherent, it is something that is learned.

Compulsory heterosexuality is the notion that there exist institutions and discourses that ensure that what is learned is that heterosexuality is natural and normal, and anything else is deviant and unnatural. Compulsory heterosexuality requires of people that they practice sexual relations that are exclusively heterosexual, and that they in turn police other people’s sexuality.

So, obviously queer liberation involves the destruction of compulsory heterosexuality. But it is a curious thing that the development of compulsory heterosexuality came about at the same time and through the same institutions as the invention of sexual identities. Indeed, they can hardly be separated. Does this mean that queer liberation actually means the destruction of identities of sexuality?

While some feminists I have talked to found the vision terrifying, there was something I found quite appealing in the description of sexuality in Ursula Le Guin’s book The Dispossessed. Here, sexual identity seemingly didn’t exist, and instead there existed various sexual practices that could be freely engaged without reference to any associated sexual identities – akin to sexuality prior to the 19th Century, just without the hierarchy of sexual practices.

The problem is I cling to my identity as gay – I feel I need it as a base from which to recognise and fight heterosexism. This is similar to how the feminists mentioned before felt about the dissolution of gender in The Dispossessed. However, I think the dissolution of sexual identity would be the natural result of the end of its social significance, ie., queer liberation, at which time there would cease to be a need to base ourselves in this identity.

This is my point: queer liberation cannot simply be the vision of the liberals of equality and peace between sexual identities, as these identities are themselves constituted on material and social inequalities. Rather, the destruction of heterosexism, compulsory heterosexuality and patriarchy would result in the disappearance of identities of sexuality and an unconstrained fluidity of sexual practices.