While “LGBT” is a common term, I don’t really like it. I have a hard time identifying with it, and when I speak or write about sexuality, it’s questionable whether I do so under its banner. (Some would certainly think so, but I beg to differ.)
I’ve never been sure which of the letters fits me best, even if you include “Q,” that Y-vowel of the sexuality spectrum.
Am I gay? Well, some might think so; I certainly sleep with more men than women, but I have deep and problematic issues with the term and its associations, never mind the many lads who fall under its banner. Gay men, on the whole, have a dreadfully limited scope of erotic practice, making even straight people look zesty in bed, which is saying something. A search on Manhunt for any checkbox denoting something more interesting than, say, “threesome” or “married,” yields a paltry show of profiles in even the faggotiest of cities.
Generally I self-identify as “bisexual,” which feels a little better, but still not quite right. For starters, it’s maddeningly unspecific. Additionally, it implies a buy-in of a gender binary, along with a parity of desire for said binaries. It also doesn’t help that many gay men treat bisexuality like an unwelcome dinner guest, wishing it would politely up and leave, or alternatively, confess to its own non-existence. (Dan Savage, of all people, lambasted the term for years, recanting only years later in a post still dripping with condescension and snark.)
If I’m not quite gay, and if we presume that bisexuality is a jolly fiction (never minding that “homosexuality” is a social construct), what does that leave? Lesbian? Well, definitely not. Trans? Not really. Queer? Well, hmm.
In theory, “queer” should account for a vast swath of the underrepresented sexual populace. In practice, it’s seemingly confined to a clique of crotchety, Adbuster-reading vegans who congregate at Diesel Cafe, or equivalent. I count queer-identified people as friends, and am glad they have a term to embrace, but it ain’t for me. Mired in a history of caustic politics, and ensconced in a social scene where I’ve never felt entirely welcome, “Queer” faces similar problems to “Bisexual”: it speaks volumes, without saying a goddam thing.
One purpose of this blog is to explore what I call Augmented Sexuality, a term influenced by @pjrey and @nathanjurgenson, who write about “cyborgology” and augmented reality, arguing that humanity, in its contemporary state, cannot be understood without accounting for the digital condition.
To this end, it makes sense to think about a sexual paradigm that encompasses the various forms of sexuality that transcend “LGBT(Q),” particularly those that find a primary source of expression online. Enter QuAKE.
The term, echoing “BDSM,” efficiently condenses more terms than its acronym implies. To wit:
- Qu: Queer, Questioning
- A: Asexual, Ambiguous, Alternative
- K: Kinky, Kinsey
- E: Experimental, Eclectic, Ethical (as in “ethical slut“)
More than the sum of its parts, QuAKE allows for a broad definition of sexuality that doesn’t give a (literal) fuck about gender; rather, it conceives of sexuality as a vast process, and fluid paradigm, through which emergent desires performatively utter themselves.
The term doesn’t necessarily seek to displace LGBT, as provide it with counterpoint, the better to illustrate the multifarious ways in which sexuality is constructed (or “prosumed,” to use another Jurgensonian term), irrespective of gender preference(s).
Further, it embraces the digital as a medium through which sexuality is, again, prosumed — perhaps unsurprisingly, owing to the sexual fluidity of cyberspace itself, and its seemingly endless ability to both facilitate and inculcate renditions of eroticism that would otherwise lack the means to exist, either quite so vividly, or at all. (Furries, anyone?)
“QuAKE” provides a monicker — a label, if you must — for those, as myself, whose desires fall outside the realm of gender preference, and instead veer towards kink, aesthetics, and a certain transcendence of (rather than subservience to) a singular, dreadedly Aristotelian version of the “real self.”
The trappings of LGBT represent an outdated paradigm that, in the name of liberation, unwittingly represses. Sexuality, particularly experienced through the shadowy, lustrous, poignant world of BDSM and alternative subculture, deserves a better term, and one that can evoke the vivid flavors of joissance oft sought after by those of us with the palate to appreciate them.