At first blush, queer economy brings me visions of nothing but trouble. SF Party Queers shirking the lifestyle possibilities of a politicized, radical notion of queerness for the fearsome economies of social capital. We trade in looks and glares. Our rat race hustles from club to club, deals are made in the mess on the dance floor, our daily bread comes 140 characters at the time, tweet by tweet. It’s hideous.A definitional version looks like this: economy comes to us from the Latin and Greek, a combination of oikos (house) and nomos (manage)…how do you manage your house, girl? Queer arrives via the Scottish and possibly Germanic dialects before that, stemming from roots meaning oblique, peculiar, perverse. Pervert, itself, shares a root with subvert, and in a queer economy, we indeed find power and sustenance by managing our affairs in off-center, non-traditional ways. This side-angle strategy to managing our lives–to problem-solving–is a profound asset.
Through our queer lives we are given a deep education in the failings of a system bent on hegemony. Living a life outside the bounds of normalcy shows us normalcy’s seams. This situation levies upon us a certain amount of adversity–the climate outside the norm is harsh. (And harsh in different ways for different queers: let us remember the intersectionality of our oppressions) I, in my eternal stretch toward hopefulness, choose to believe that this long-form adversity of a life lived queer acts much the same way as short-form adversities like earthquakes and hurricanes might: it brings us outside the horrifying, demeaning habits of everyday capitalist life and gives us reason to act out an ethic of love and mutual aid. To form familial bonds and understand the power of self-actualization, DIY, and communal action. Our adversity also serves to remind us of the struggles others face–to wear away at the xenophobic shield society asks everyone to uphold.
In our facebooked, single-serving, over-marketed, sample-anything society, we see that in the face of capitalist hegemony (straight economy?) caring for people we don’t know is not just being a good person, it’s a political act. To live a queer life: to build lives that transgress or at least
expand the walls of the straight world is to be politicized. For queers to come back around to a depoliticized queer economy of parties and “liked” statuses is a willful act of ignorance. We have the opportunity to manage our houses quite differently than much of society–we have the opportunity to economize upon our lot in life for the greater good of people.
And let me be clear, what I’m heading for is utopia. It’s my old standby. Fantasies and tastes of it most certainly keep me living. I define it as a better world for all of us (not just some). I don’t think that’s inaccurate and I also don’t think that’s impossible. Utopia comes to us from roots meaning “no place”. It’s like no place you’ve ever been. And how do we get no place we’ve ever been? Best not take the road we’re on, we all see where that’s headed.. Best to take the side route. The oblique entrance. The peculiar method of managing our days will get us there best. The queer economy.
This is what keeps me afloat: difference.
…Contrast. Subtleties of light. Comparing where I am now to where I could be. At heart, I’m a tinkerer. I get my thrills from small successes leading to larger goals. From honing the edge of everything to a finer and finer point. When I think of my queer economy, I think about my preferred definition of Making a Living: not how one makes money, but how one makes a life on the daily. All animals do it. Many of us human animals do it in large part by making money. But there’s more to a life than that, we all know. So how do you make your living?
I come from a Do It Yourself home and a DIY punk scene and a DIY camp aesthetic. At my core, I believe every othered member of our society has some version of a DIY ethic because otherwise we would be extinct. I believe that, whether we notice it or not, each act of doing it ourselves is a profound act of empowerment. Not that self-reliance is on a pedestal for me–interdependence is just as important, if not much more so. More that we live in an economic system that is wrecking our planet and every living thing upon it and that wretched, untenable, self-destructing system says that it is simply *the best* way to get things done and make lives better. That system cannot abide by people doing it themselves because that system cannot abide by anything that is free. Things that are free are freeing. Doing it ourselves is about building a life beyond capitalism, even if it’s actually just about mending, sharing, or brutal necessities of poverty.
I make my living by divining difference: I stay afloat by seeking what needs to be fixed and finding ways, large and small, to fix them. By doing it myself and in communities that do it themselves. To accept a politicized life is to accept the long haul. The long haul is always in need of sustenance, and sustenance comes from these daily acts of freedom. Tiny tastes of a better world. Sips of utopia.
About Annie: Annie Danger is ravenous. She won’t stop until she gets your soul. She wants to share, though, so don’t worry. Annie is a trans woman born and raised in Albuquerque, NM and living in the SF Bay Area 12 years strong. Annie is a performing artist specializing in earnesty, social archetypes, and camp that bends the rules of camp. She loves a hybrid–are you one? Two? Well, just consider becoming some. Find her on the web at www.dangertattoos.com or on Facebook as Annie Danger.
The More Than You Ever Knew Cabaret: Trans Women’s Hearts In Giltter, On Stage will be premiering on June 6th at the African American Arts and Culture Complex as part of the 2012 National Queer Arts Festival. Annie is writing, directing and performing in this cunning and hilarious show about unspoken truths of queer, trans women’s experience. Our promise to you: no sob stories.
Trojan X, a collaboration with Keith Hennessy to be present-ed in the fall of 2012. Trojan X looks at the secret passages of cultural upheaval, asking the public of San Francisco’s Mission and Financial districts to, please, look a gift horse in the mouth.
Visit Annie Online here.