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

El poster que pille en Espacio Trapezio

We found this video uploaded by on Nov 21, 2011

Madrid, Thursday November 17 2011, 7pm at Plaza de Chueca

The state of the political debate in Spain has been of increasing importance and urgency for the public opinion, situation that has been especially stressed by the growing economic crisis and its deep implications in the transformation of the democratic context in matters of popular sovereignty and representativity.

Since May 2011 several protests have been taking place across the country, reclaiming the sequestered representation of the population’s will within the government’s legislative and economic measures, criticising the given construct of the “political class”. The escalation of tension between the right wing opposition, the ruling left wing party and the openly manifested discontent of the population have determined the decision to bring the presidential election forward to November 20th 2011. Given the aforementioned political coordinates the four performers have been invited to realize the public reading of Zoe Leonard’s text.

The claims expressed in Leonard’s text reveal similar political demands and concerns to the ones performed by the protesters in Spain, proving the validity of the text and the importance and urgency of its vindications. The decision to revisit those concerns through their deployment in the public realm and inviting the population to participate have somehow updated the pre-existing text’s content and explored different possibilities for its diffusion and reactive potential. In light of the ways art penetrates the political, and accounting the open similarities between the characteristics of the piece and the demonstrations, it seems like further framings for its realization are no longer needed. The course of events has created the environment in which this action has escaped is contingency to become a necessity, a reaction to the absence in the perception of the situation, an intervention in its deployment as agents instead of spectators.

Curated by Clara López in collaboration with Espacio Trapezio

With the support of IASPIS, The Swedish Arts Grants Committeé’s International Program for Visual Artists

Photo: Sara Moralo

Photo: Lisa Nyberg

Photo: Lisa Nyberg

PDF for print in Spanish

Copenhagen, Tuesday September 13 2011, 5pm at Rådhuspladsen

Action/Kollektiv oplæsning: Jeg vil have en statsminister …

Der er snart folketingsvalg i Danmark. I kunstens og demokratiets navn samles vi, der drømmer om et andet styre, om noget bedre. Kom og læs i kor på Rådhuspladsen to dage før valget. Vi vil læse en tilpasset version af Zoe Leonards I want a president… fra 1992. Teksten vil både blive læst op på engelsk og dansk.

Vi mødes kl. 16.45 ved Rådhuspladsen. Kl. 17 begynder vi at læse højt, om og om igen, indtil til kl. 18.

Medbring hjerte, hjerne og stemme! Spred budskabet til alle, du kender.

Malin Arnell, Kajsa Dahlberg, Johanna Gustavsson og Fia-Stina Sandlund

Aktionen er uafhængig af partipolitiske interesser. Det kollektive oplæsningsprojekt blev oprindeligt initieret i forbindelse med det svenske riksdagsvalg i 2010 og finder nu sted i København som en del af udstillingen ”Terms of Belonging” på Overgaden Institut for Samtidskunst.

Photo: Johanna Gustavsson


PDF for print in Danish


Århus, Tuesday September 13 2011, 5pm at Rådhuspladsen

PDF for print in Danish


Tallinn, Friday June 10 2011, 8pm on Freedom square at the stairs of the War of Independence Victory Column

Join us for a collective reading on Friday, June 10 in Tallinn! We meet 7.45 pm on Freedom square, at the stairs of the War of Independence Victory Column. At 8 pm we will start reading, again and again, until 9 pm when we either separate or celebrate. Bring your heart, brain and voice!

The text will be read in Estonian, Russian and English.

Make your voice heard. Join us in Tallinn.
Malin Arnell, Kajsa Dahlberg, Johanna Gustavsson and Fia-Stina Sandlund

The Action/Collective reading took place in connection to the exhibition »Untold Stories« at Kunstihoone – Tallinn Art Hall, Estonia (curators Anders Härm, Airi Triisberg, Rebeka Põldsam).

Untold Stories Exhibithion Catalogue PDF