|Review By: Richard Watts|
Editors Queen and Schimel, whose prior anthology Switch Hitters was a subversive take on gay and lesbian erotica, launch another salvo at rigidly defined sexual identities with their new book, a timely exploration of what it means to be truly queer.
From Kate Bornstein's lively introduction onwards, these essays and stories personalise what it means to step beyond the limited boundaries of lesbian, bisexual and gay identities into the twilight world of postmodern homosexuality. Although some of the essays in the anthology flounder in jargon, the majority are comprehendible by boffins and bogans alike, being well written and clearly explained.
But just what is postmodern homosexuality, and who, or what, is a PoMoSexual, and what kind of bars do they drink in?
Remember that scene in the film Go Fish, where the sex-positive dyke Daria is abducted by a jury of her lesbian peers and is asked to justify having had sex with a man? She refuses to identity as bisexual, indeed does not see the need to do so. For Daria, there is no problem in identifying as a lesbian who sleeps with men. That's the kind of thing PoMoSexuals is all about.
It's about blurring the boundaries and stretching definitions. It's about lesbians who get off on gay porn; men who have identified as gay all their lives suddenly having affairs with women, or at least fantasising about it, and wondering how to take the first step (this book will give you some ideas). It's about dykes fucking fags with strap-ons. It's about post-operative female-to-male transsexual fags dating pre-op lesbian men. And it's about so much more.
The book contains fifteen essays, divided up into seven chapters. Each chapter deals another blow to identity politics. The first section, Beyond Definitions, gets us familiar with the basics, by discussing exactly what these words we use mean. What you think when you think of "gay" may not be what the word means to me, and vice versa. Words get in the way sometimes, they fence us in. The walls of our communities are constructed of words and definitions; not particularly strong foundations on which to build a movement, when you think about it. Greta Christina has obviously given the subject much thought, and her essay, "Loaded Words," explores the dangers inherent in assumptions and definitions.
D. Travers Scott's Le Freak, C'est Chic! Le Fag, Quelle Drag! in the chapter The Politic Identity: Questioning Reputations, turns a wry eye upon this community which we have created with our flawed and constricting definitions, while in the same chapter John Weir amusingly explores the singles scene in heterosexual San Francisco and how a gay boy goes about picking up a girl when he's never tried it before.
Other essays are more formal, such as Marco Vassi's Beyond Bisexuality, in the chapter Don't Fence Me In: Bi/Pan/Omni-Sexuals, which illustrates the author's deconstruction of sexual identity by way of several geometric models. Vassi discusses a new sexual identity, one that has healed the internal male-female gender duality, that goes beyond hetero and homsex into an entirely new realm: the metasexual. The same chapter gives us Carol Queen's Beyond The Valley Of The Fag Hags, questioning the need for fucking as the only means of expressing sexual and emotional affection between men and women, regardless of which gender they are primarily attracted to. In Queen's own words, "I want a queer connection, a reminder than boys and girls don't have to play those tired old games even when they chose to play with each other." All of these essays are in their own way transgressive and seductive. They speak to us of unlimited possibilities, of sexual fluidity, and freedom without restrictions of any kind. This is what queer really means. It's not just an umbrella term to describe the various facets of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgenderedidentity. Queer is about the spaces in between those words, as well as the words themselves. PoMoSexuals is an enlightening and informative anthology that I highly recommend to everyone, regardless of whether you identify as a sexual outsider, an academic, or simply as someone interested in the evolution of sexuality.