Queer and Then? by Michael Warner in The Chronicle

In his article in The Chronicle, published January 1 2012, Michael Warner writes about the history of queer and queer theory.

… What is often forgotten about that moment is that the term came from grass-roots politics before it became theory. Act Up had already made possible a politics directed against shame and normalization, and aiming at a complex mobilization of people beyond sexual identity. It in turn gave rise to other groups, including Queer Nation—whose name seemed, as I recall, mainly hilarious to all of us who heard it.

The emblematic example of that kind of street politics, for me, was an anonymous, photocopied broadside that was handed around during the 1992 primary season. (Its author, the artist Zoe Leonard, was a member of Fierce Pussy, a lesbian feminist group with roots in Act Up.) It began with a simple declaration that looked like a familiar kind of lesbian politics: “I want a dyke for president.” (In queer studies, that would now be called “homonationalism.”) But very quickly, the prose morphed into a set of wishes that, from clause to clause, gained in evocative power as they moved away from anything that might be imagined within legitimate politics. I quote the remainder in full, because it is not widely remembered or reprinted:

And further down Warner continues: … At its best, queer theory has always also been something else—something that will be left out of any purely intellectual history of the movement. Like “I want a dyke for president,” it has created a kind of social space. Queer people of various kinds, both inside and outside academe, continue to find their way to it, and find each other through it. In varying degrees, they share in it as a counterpublic…

Read the whole article here

Michael Warner is a professor and chair of the department of English, and a professor of American studies, at Yale University. Among his books is The Trouble With Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life (Free Press, 1999).

Helsinki, Saturday January 21 2012, 1pm at Kolmen sepän aukio, Mannerheimintie 14

Photo: Heidi Lunabba

Photo: Heidi Lunabba

Below is the invitation, as it was stated on facebook:

Soon there will be a presidential election in Finland. We are gathering in the name of art and democracy. We who dream of another system. We who dream of something better. Join us for a collective reading at Kolmen sepän aukio, one day before the election! We will be reading Zoe Leonards I want a president… from 1992. The text will be read in Finnish, Swedish and English.

We will meet 12:45 pm at Kolmen sepän patsas. At 1 pm we will start reading, again and again, until 2 pm. Bring your heart, brain and voice!

Spread the message to everyone you know.

The action is politically independent. The collective reading project is initiated by artists Malin Arnell, Kajsa Dahlberg, Johanna Gustavsson and Fia-Stina Sandlund in collaboration with artist Zoe Leonard in connection with the Swedish parliament election in 2010. The text that is read is an adaptation of I want a president…, Zoe Leonard, 1992.

Organizer in Helsinki is the network Kulturfeministerna

Suomen presidentinvaalit ovat kohta. Kokoonnumme taiteen ja demokratian nimessä. Me jotka unelmoimme toisenlaisesta järjestelmästä. Me jotka unelmoimme jostain paremmasta. Tule mukaan kollektiiviseen lukemiseen Kolmen sepän aukiolla päivää ennen vaaleja! Luemme Zoe Leonardin I want a president… vuodelta 1992. Teksti luetaan suomeksi, ruotsiksi ja englanniksi.

Tapaamme klo 12:45 Kolmen sepän patsaalla. Aloitamme klo 13, ja jatkamme lukemista, yhä uudestaan ja uudestaan, klo 14 saakka.

Tuo sydämesi, aivosi ja äänesi mukaan! Levitä viestiä kaikille jotka tunnet.

Aktio on poliittisesti riippumaton. Kollektiivinen lukeminen on taiteilijoiden Malin Arnellin, Kajsa Dahlbergin, Johanna Gustavssonin ja Fia-Stina Sandlundin yhteistyössä Zoe Leonardin kanssa aloittama projekti Ruotsin eduskuntavaalien yhteydessä 2010. Luettavat tekstit on vapaasti käännetty Zoe Leonardin tekstistä I want a president…, 1992.

Järjestäjä Helsingissä on Kulturfeministerna verkosto


Snart är det presidentval i Finland. I konsten och demokratins namn samlar vi nu ihop oss. Vi som drömmer om ett annat system. Vi som drömmer om något bättre. Kom med i en kollektiv läsning på Tre Smeders plats dagen före valen! Vi läser Zoe Leonards I want a president… från 1992. Texten kommer att läsas på finska, svenska och engelska.

Vi samlas vid Tre smeder kl 12.45. Kl 13.00 börjar vi läsa, om och om igen, fram till kl 14. Ta med dig hjärtat, hjärnan och rösten!

Sprid meddelandet vidare till alla som du känner.

Aktionen är politiskt obunden. Det kollektiva läsningen är initierad av konstnärerna Malin Arnell, Kajsa Dahlberg, Johanna Gustavsson och Fia-Stina Sandlund i samarbete med konstnären Zoe Leonard i samband med det svenska riksdagsvalet 2010. Texterna som läses är fria översättningar av I want a president…, Zoe Leonard, 1992.

Arrangör i Helsingfors är nätverket Kulturfeministerna

PDF for print in Finnish