The discourse of coming out has historically served as an effective vehicle to build and sustain the LGBTQ movement in the United States. It has also been utilized as an empowering resource that enables queer people to establish a queer identity organized around self-awareness and self-expression. However, queer of color critique and transnational queer theory argue that the prevalent discourse of coming out is built on a particular kind of queer experience and geography, which is usually from the standpoint of White, middle-class men of urban U.S. citizenship and is rarely derived from the experience of queer people of color and non-Western queer subjects. Taking an intersectional perspective, Snorton interrogates the racialization of the closet and proposes a sexual politics of ignorance—opposed to the disclosure imperative in coming out discourse—as a tactic of ungovernability. Centering the experience of Russian American immigrants who are queer-identified, Fisher proposes a fluid and productive relationship between the “closeted” and the “out” sexuality that resists any fixed categorization. Focusing on the masking tactic deployed by local queer activists, Martin theorizes the model of xianshen, a local identity politics in Taiwan that questions the very conditions of visibility in dominant coming out discourse. As a decolonial response to the transnational circulation of coming out discourse, Chou delineates a “coming home” approach that emphasizes familial piety and harmony by reining in and concealing queer desires. Being cautious against the nationalist impulse in Chou’s works, Huang and Brouwer propose a “coming with” model to capture the struggles among Chinese queers to disidentify with the family institution. These alternative paradigms serve as epistemic tools that aim to revise understanding of queer resistance and queer relationality and help people to go beyond the imagination of coming out for a livable queer future.
Megan Elizabeth Morrissey
Deriving from José Esteban Muñoz’s foundational 1999 text Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, disidentification is a theoretical heuristic and performative practice that is an essential framework for thinking through, and living in, intersecting sites of marginality and oppression. In particular, disidentification is a heuristic that provides critical scholars with a framework for theorizing the relationships between subject formation, ideology, politics, and power while also offering people from marginalized communities a way to navigate intersecting forms of oppression and enact agency. Scholars use disidentification to refer to performances that minoritarian subjects engage in to survive within inhospitable spaces, while nevertheless working to subvert them. Thus, as both a theoretical framework and a performative practice, disidentification is an antiracist tool that can be utilized to theorize and respond to normative power structures including Communication Studies’ modes of disciplinary knowledge production. Indeed, the discipline of Communication Studies is diverse, but in spite of this, what coheres this expansive body of scholarship is an investment in understanding how communication produces, scaffolds, organizes, and potentially revises our world. Disidentification, by foregrounding identities and experiences of difference, offers Communication Studies researchers a way to consider how one’s life can be understood in relation to others, within the social structures that govern daily life, and within the ideological commitments that organize our experiences.
Queer Asia, which critiques the multidimensional flows of power (e.g., globalization, market capitalism, state capitalism, and/or Western queer formation), is a process of reimagining historically specific and culturally saturated nuances of minoritized sexualities and genders in and across Asia and Asian diasporas. This process redirects attention to cultural productions of Queer Asia as disjunctive modernities. By this means, contemporary global capitalism enables a paradoxically contested space of temporality through which new geopolitical imaginaries of minoritized sexualities and genders can emerge. Consequently, Queer Asia troubles, remixes, and remaps how the logic of Whiteness that operates as a global, colonial, imperial, and capitalist power homogenizes culturally heterogeneous paradigms of minoritized sexualities and genders through LGBTQIA+ identities, discourses, and politics. Three topics—identifications and affinities, relationalities and spatialities, and media and popular culture—represent indefinite and unlimited possibilities of Queer Asia. Accordingly, examining these topics in light of the cultural productions of Queer Asia provides possible pathways to expand the current circumferences of queer studies in communication, which is known as a very White, Western, and US-American discipline.
Scholarship engaging queer theory in tandem with the study of colonialism and empire has expanded in recent years. This interdisciplinary area of research draws from queer of color theorizing and women of color feminists who made these links during queer theory’s emergence and development in social movements and within the field of women’s and gender studies. Together, queer of color, (post)colonial, transnational feminist, and Indigenous scholars and activists have highlighted the centrality of gender and sexuality to colonial, settler colonial, and imperial processes. Among the alignments of queer and (post)colonial inquiry are their emphases on social transformation through critique and resistant praxis. In the communication discipline, scholarship queering the study of colonialism and empire has emerged in critical/cultural studies, intercultural communication, rhetoric, media studies, and performance studies. Two broad thematics defining this scholarship are (a) decolonizing queerness by identifying how queer theory, LGBTQ activism, and queer globalizations have reinforced Whiteness and empire; and (b) queering decolonization by identifying how heteropatriarchal, binary, and normative systems of sex, sexuality, and gender contribute to colonial processes of past and present.
The emerging subfield of queer communication pedagogy (QCP) marks an educative praxis that centers the liberation of queer and trans subjects and, specifically, those who are most violently impacted by racist cisheterosexism in the form of carceral logics and policing. Intersectional articulations of sex, gender, and sexual difference are disciplined and literally policed both in and out of the communication classroom. Course design, for instance, provides a disciplinary means for justifying the violent repression of sex, gender, and sexual difference in the classroom through activities that insist on a compulsory framing of gender in binary terms. Or, policing can emerge in the racist cisheterosexist pedagogue’s gaze that communicatively constitutes “incivility” out of racialized sex, gender, and sexual difference; this is evidenced in the violent policing of queer and trans students of color beginning with the school-to-prison pipeline and on into higher education settings where educators are empowered to call on campus police forces to remedy what they perceive as “unruly”—queer—students. QCP reflects histories comprising both critical communication pedagogy (CCP) and queer pedagogy. CCP, itself informed by critical pedagogy, is committed to liberatory educative ends driven by praxiological means derived of lived experience in historical context. That is, critical pedagogy takes as a point of departure lived experience as a means of resisting intersectional oppression and, in turn, enacting progressive social change. CCP strives toward these liberatory goals through communicative means, specifically dialogic encounters between/with/as students-and/as-teachers. Conversely, queer pedagogy refers to a destabilization of pedagogical presumption implicating the racist cisheteronormative foundation informing carceral-centered knowledge production and educative engagement. In turn, queer pedagogy labors toward the abolition of carcerality including the prison industrial complex and police state. Taken together, QCP marks an activist-oriented educative praxis that labors toward liberation of queer and trans subjects through the abolition of racist cisheterosexist carcerality.