Queer'oes, No. 1: Queer Heroes You May Never Have Heard Of
As a queer person, my heroes are important to me, especially in what is often a cold and violent world. They help me to put my best foot forward—to be brave, no matter what conformity screams at me. I've decided, during what feels like a difficult time to be genderqueer, to collect some extra, lesser known queer heroes—or queer'oes, if you will. But I only moved to the USA 15 years ago, so in terms of my knowledge U.S. history, I'm a 15 year-old! That's why these queer'oes may be known to you, even though they are new for me.
Over the coming days, I'm going to be sharing some of the queer'oes I've been discovering, and I welcome you to comment, tweet, or FB me, and let me know who your own queer'oes are.
1. Mark Fisher & Bob Rafsky: Sometimes, we forget the power of our bodies. For oppressed minorities in this society, our bodies can feel invisible, mis-read, and/or rejected—and, so often, they are. But when Mark Fisher decided, before he passed, that on the eve of the 1992 election, his dead body would be placed on the steps of George H.W. Bush's Midtown Manhattan re-election offices, he proved how powerful our physical selves can be—even beyond death.
Bob Rafsky, Fisher's partner, who also had AIDS, gave an impassioned and brilliant funeral speech. It began, "Let everyone here know that this is not a political funeral for Mark Fisher, who wouldn't let us burn or bury his courage or his love for us anymore than he would let the earth take his body until it was already in flight. He asked for this ceremony, not so we could bury him, but so we could celebrate his undying anger." Here is the video of the speech, though I'll warn that as well as being passionate and angry, it contains images of Mark Fisher's body.
"Mark's spirit will haunt you," said Rafsky in the funeral speech, "until the end of your days. So that, in the moment of your defeat, you'll remember our defeats, and in the moment of your death, you'll remember our deaths." What an act of sublime activism in the face of hatred and oppression. True bravery.
You can find the full eulogy here, with thanks to Speakola.
More queer'oes to come, folks! And don't forget that being different in an oppressive society is an act of heroism in itself.