Not just confined to gender, effeminacy straddles many other forms of identity, including class, disability, and race.
And with manhood constantly cast as an achievement, there will always, inevitably be those who fall short of it.
Queer politics must rally these “faggots” and strive to defend the right of every adult and child to be camp.
The experience of having been a non-normative “boy” haunts much of trans politics too.
Campness has been consistently disavowed, along with blackness, by the politics of respectability, which refers to refers to attempts by marginalized groups to police their own members and show their social values as being continuous, and compatible, with mainstream values rather than challenging the mainstream for what they see as its failure to accept difference. Sedgwick was among the earlier theorists to identify this trend in her provocatively titled 1991 piece“How to Bring Your Kids up Gay”.
Much as mainstream gays deny campness and try to forget their boyhood, trans liberals want nothing to do with the black sex worker drag queens who rioted against the police to liberate gay spaces.Racism effeminates black men by treating their claims to be human with foundational scepticism, always viewing their bodies and behaviour through the framework of the state’s sovereign role to combat criminality.This alienation of black and Muslim populations from civic life has produced the need for a new politics, well beyond the remit of the conventional left, and only in the early stages of being understood by communist theory.Closeted gay men have, of course, always been found regularly in gay spaces.In a recent article, James Cuby makes the distinction between the closeted men he encounters in gay spaces, and the openly camp “faggot”, which these hetero-passing men are in fear of becoming.In her new book Living a Feminist Life, Sara Ahmed argues that feminist activists should embrace the moniker “Killjoy”.