I have been thinking alot about why freedom of sexuality and gender expression (from "sluttily"-dressed womyn, to trans people, to gays and lesbians) are often seen as some kind of "bourgeois deviation," or as some form of individualism. Why havent these forms of self expressions been acknowledged firmly, surely and definitively, as part of the textures of working class life among the left? Why has it been framed so much as counterposed to working class life? The efforts and works of Black feminists and working class queer peoples' rebellions (Stonewall, Compton Cafe rebellion etc) have shown that these are working class lives, these are the emotions and struggles and expressions of working class people.Queer and Trans identities and lives are not middle class inventions.
I feel like the language of how race and sex etc are divisions within the working class do not sufficiently explain how queer and trans struggles are part of the class struggle. I think the way we understand race and its relationship to capitalism, should not just automatically be applied to how we understand gender and sexuality. Too often, the left makes this mistake -- and it is a product of under theorizing/sloppiness/not taking gender seriously, and is most easily exemplified in my mind by the "intersectionality" model. I am so critical of the intersectionality model because...it is so boring!! I am not trying to be downplay the need to understand the multitude of peoples identities and experiences and to have solidarity around these different identities and experiences. But, what is the texture, the life, the changes, the experiences of living as a person with disabilities, as a person of color, as a trans person...what is the social relations of each of these groups to capitalism? To one another? The intersectionality model is so shoddy in explaining any of this. It just assumes one form of oppression fits into another, and precisely because of that, it doesnt explore the differentiated, though connected functions of gender, race, sexuality, disabilities in relation to capitalism.
But my point was, that while race is a specific identity category of capitalism --- Black, white, Asian, Latino, Native, etc that is specifically a creation (since we are all the human species), gender and sexuality are processes that are not confined by categories. They are processes that include all people. The same thing with disabilities. Gender, sexuality and disabilities are life processes that are not specifically creations of capitalism. They are human processes and desires that are...dare I say it, natural! They are historical to the extent that today we use certain terms and associations with them, and that these identities can be modern (ie. in the way that John D'Emilio discusses it, specifically a product of capitalism) and defining characteristics and identities of individuals rather than a set of behavior that doesnt necessarily define someone. They are also historical to the extent that we need to choose to accept that certain part of ourselves and have that be part of what defines us in this society.
I think there are 2 levels of struggle in queer and trans liberation. On the one hand, the ability of those who have chosen to express their gender or sexuality under these oppressive homophobic and transphobic patriarchal conditions, ie. against queer and trans oppression or violence targeted against queer and trans folks, and then there is another level of struggle for us as societies to open space for everyone to have space to accept, question, understand, experiment with our sexuality, gender and the like, which cannot happen under the context of capitalism.
I think by saying that queerness/genderqueerness/trans identity is a texture of working class life, I want to say that there are aspects of working class life that provide these spaces, choices for working class people. It is obviously fraught with contradiction, but peoples' self activity, desire for self expression, ability to be vulnerable to themselves and accepting of each other's transgression of social norms out of love, open up these spaces.
So many random ideas in my head. I am also thinking about disability, aging and the nursing home industrial complex too...