Young Man Popkin: A Queer Dystopia

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Contribution to Book

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Publication Title

This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation




Suicide is enfleshed. Queer bodies are enfleshed. More queer kids commit suicide than straight kids. Teenage suicides are highest among queers. More queer kids are attacked than straight kids. Kids who survive the teasing and the attacks grow up. Queer childhood haunts. Grownups internalize these sufferings. Queer bodies suffer from othering. Herculine Barbin/Alexina lived in what Foucault calls a “happy limbo of non-identity.” A neither here nor thereness. But heteronormative desire cannot stand ambiguity, androgyny, shifting borders, slippery parameters. Heteronormativity demands freeze-frame sexuality. Herculine Barbin/Alexina was finally determined to be “‘truly’ a young man.” What is at stake here, Foucault remarks, is Truth. “Do we truly need a true sex? With a persistance that borders on stubbornness, modern societies have answered in the affirmative” (xi-xiii).