The use of queer as an umbrella term is not a description of an empirically or pre-discursively existing quality common to certain forms of difference, but a normative conception of how difference is to be understood: abjected forms of difference should be positively embraced not merely despite but because of the way they clash with prevailing social norms. Put another way: queer does not describe static pre-political facts about subjects who are essentially queer, but articulates difference-in-conflict with a society that seeks to dominate and constrain it.

There is no politically neutral act of naming. To name a collection of people queer is to impose a meaning on that collection of people that those people do not necessarily endorse. It is without a doubt an exercise of symbolic power. But this is equally true of any other name you might choose for anything. The term ‘gay’, for example, is not embraced by all of those for whom it is routinely used. There are plenty of men who fuck other men who do not call themselves gay, not simply because they are closeted or because of internalised homophobia, but because they do not see themselves reflected in the political, cultural and social dimensions of gay identity. Supposedly non-political merely-descriptive terms such as ‘homosexual’ or ‘men who have sex with men’, on the other hand, are often rejected precisely because they detach sexual practices from forms of community that give them meaning. Any attempt to aggregate a set of particulars under a common term involves an overwriting of their particularity. The coherence of any particular symbolisation is purchased through an elision of some dimension of reality, which is always infinitely more complex and heterogeneous than language can cope with. The alternative is to never have names for anything.

The terms we choose to announce ourselves collectively are never simply descriptive of pre-existing realities, but are attempts to produce forms of collective subjectification at particular historical moments to engender particular forms of solidarity and struggle, and as such are necessarily tied to the exigencies of organising resistance. ‘Gay’, ‘lesbian’, ‘transsexual’, ‘transgender’, ‘bisexual’ (as well as the ever-evolving alphabet soup names for The Community) are all terms insisted upon by particular political factions at particular moments in history as assertions of the positive social value of particular forms of difference against stigmatisation, criminalisation, violence and discrimination. Queer likewise is a response to a perceived need to develop new forms of self-definition due to the shift from repression to co-optation and assimilation in straight society’s strategy for our containment. It is a conscious project to outmaneuver the dynamics of co-optation through understanding ourselves not in terms of positive attributes we supposedly commonly possess but negatively and fluidly in terms of our common relation to structurally enforced norms. The repurposing of the slur ‘queer’ is inextricable from this definition because it is precisely from the position of abjection it implies that we choose to fight: we are the other that straight society must continually exclude in order to sustain itself and it is on that basis that we organise.

Clearly there is always a multiplicity of interacting factors behind any particular disavowal of queerness, but the debate over the term has oddly tended to proceed as if these always and everywhere originate in a pre-political innocence rather than being potentially strategic interventions by agents with their own divergent political commitments. Sure, there are those for whom the term itself is for them too strongly associated with shame and violence who do not embrace the label ‘queer’, but share a commitment to the kind of politics it implies. But equally, there are those who reject the term because their politics has an essentially conservative orientation: e.g. those in positions of power within the LGBT community who are threatened by the kind of political community queer attempts to bring into existence, those for whom the queer rejection of respectability undermines their project of securing acceptance through conformity and integration etc.

The act of naming is inherently contentious. It necessarily takes place in the midst of the contradictions of a particular point in time and involves decisions about how to respond to those contradictions. Calling ourselves queer is a political decision and not everyone is going to like it. Fine. Agitation for radically transformative change is never going to be about finding nice language that everyone can get behind. It’s inherently divisive, and ongoing debate is a necessary correlate. But that debate is between those who wish to define our collective experiences of difference in a hostile society in terms oriented to a particular kind of fight, and those who oppose and seek to prohibit that definition. Those in the latter camp have not chosen a neutral position and there is no reason to treat their wishes as sacrosanct.

 

UPDATE 8:34 01/07/2016:

Since publishing this piece I have received explicit threats of cyber attacks from the far right. Screenshot below:

cyberthreats

UPDATE 8:34 01/07/2016:

cyberthreats2

UPDATE 22:39 06/07/2016:

cyberthreats3

Who is Ann Marie Waters?

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Ann Marie Waters with Tommy Robinson (Pegida UK, formerly of the English Defence League and British National Party)

The links in this section document the evolution of Waters’ involvement in the far-right, dating back to 2013. She founded Sharia Watch in April 2014 and joined UKIP in May 2014. On the 4th January 2016 she was named as one of a three-person leadership team of Pegida UK, along with former British National Party and English Defence League member Tommy Robinson, and Paul Weston at the organisation’s relaunch.

‘Sharia Watch UK and the Metamorphosis of Ann Marie Waters’, Hillary Aked, Institute of Race Relations, January 21 2015

 

“In her speech, Waters linked Islam to child abuse, saying (16:08) ‘it’s all linked to Islam’, which she characterised as a dangerous ‘ideology’ being ‘appeased’, adding (17:45): ‘it is exactly the same appeasement that is allowing young girls to be raped in Britain, it’s got nothing to do with race, it’s got to do with the fact that we will not confront the misogyny at the very, very heart of this religion’.”


“Sharia Watch states that it works ‘to document the advancement of sharia law in Britain’. But much of its output attacks Islam in its entirety. Its articles range from the absurd (a conspiracy theory suggesting that halal meat is funding terrorism) to the deeply offensive, such as a piece entitled ‘Shariah and child abuse – is there a connection?‘, claiming that sharia law ‘stems from the justification of acts of physical and sexual violence of one man some 1,400 years ago.’

Articles appearing on its site include one  written by Sam Solomon, a key player in the UK’s anti-Muslim scene, and a guest post by Alan Craig of the right-wing Christian People’s Alliance, who campaigned against the building of a new mosque in East London. Despite these connections, and the fact that the activities of Sharia Watch UK have strong echoes of the English Defence League’s ‘creeping Sharia’ discourse and the hysteria in the US over the so-called ‘Ground Zero mosque‘ it has been granted a veneer of respectability by some.”

‘NSS council member and OLFA spokesperson continues to build links with EDL supporters’, Bob Pitt, Islamophobia Watch, October 1 2013

‘Anne Marie Waters finds some new admirers’, Bob Pitt, Islamophobia Watch, July 7 2013

‘Why I am proud to be in UKIP’, Anne Marie Waters, July 22 2014

IN PICTURES: Anti-Islamisation ‘PEGIDA’ Group Launches UK Chapter, Liam Deacon, Breitbart, 4 January 2016

Ann Marie Waters and Atheist Ireland

`Program for World Atheist Convention, Atheist Ireland, 2011

Michael Nugent (chair of Atheist Ireland) appears on a panel alongside Ann Marie Waters at the World Atheist Convention.

‘1,500 Women Speakers Worth Listening To’, MichaelNugent, August 29, 2012

Waters appears on a list of “women speakers worth listening to” compiled and published by Michael Nugent on his website.

‘Secular Sunday #68 – In Before the Bell’, Derek Walsh, 14 April 2013

Ann Marie Waters profiled by Atheist Ireland in their newsletter.

‘EWTS 2013 Ann Marie Waters on politics and campaigning’, Atheist Ireland Youtube Channel, 7 July 2013

Ann Marie Waters speaking at the Atheist-Ireland organised Empowering Women Through Secularism conference, on a panel that also featured Atheist Ireland Human Rights Officer Jane Donnelly.

Demythologising the rifts part 1 – the women in atheism panel at the World Atheist Convention in Dublin, MichaelNugent.com, October 20 2014

Ann Marie Waters is described as an “Irish campaigner for equality” in two locations in a piece written by Michael Nugent, published 5 months after she joined UKIP.

‘Atheist Ireland gives Taoiseach open letter on blasphemy law signed by Richard Dawkins and others’, Atheist Ireland, 11 February 2015

Ann Marie Waters appears (on behalf of Sharia Watch) as a signatory of Atheist Ireland’s open letter concerning Ireland’s blasphemy law.

Recent statements on Pegida

Opposing street thuggery in Dublin and incitement to violence, MichaelNugent.com, February 9 2016

In a piece containing zero criticism of Pegida, Michael Nugent comes out in opposition to the militant antifascist mobilisation against the organisation, which successfully prevented their demonstration from taking place.

‘Dublin Anarchist Bookfair breaks agreement with Atheist Ireland’, Atheist Ireland, 21 April 2016

An official statement by Atheist Ireland claims that Pegida violence is carried out by “the minority of violent people who attend the anti-immigration events of Pegida throughout Europe”.

Context here. In his latest response (link) Michael denies that he has supporters:

“Some people seem to think that I have ‘supporters’ on my blog. I don’t. People choose to comment on my blog based on their own agency. Sometimes they support things I say, sometimes not.”

According to this standard, people could only be said to be supporters of Michael if he was in some way in control of their minds, an absurd and implausible defence.

The below material largely speaks for itself and I encourage people to disseminate this information as widely as possible. I encourage those involved in Atheist Ireland who are concerned by my treatment to raise the matter internally within Atheist Ireland. A folder containing all of the screenshots I have taken relating to this situation can be found here: (link)

(My pronoun is ‘they’, the individuals below are aware of my trans status and correct pronoun)

Harassment on Slymepit.com

Note that tina, Shatterface and Steersman have been commenting persistently in Michael’s defence on his blog since this post.

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(full size images here)

On MichaelNugent.com

Note that all of the below material remains on Michael’s website as of 16:00 22/02/16 Some of the more egregious material seems to have been deleted at some point in the last 24 hours, which would imply that the below has been read by Michael and remains on his site regardless.

 

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Note: since Michael is fond of throwing around defamation threats, let me make clear from the outset that “support” in the title is intended in the sense of “provides material support”. I do not allege that Michael agrees with the hate speech he allows to be spread via his website. (dictionary definition)

He did

He did

On 15th Feb 2016, Atheist Ireland chairperson Michael Nugent published a piece titled “The outrageous smear that I am using homophobia to defend misogyny” (link) where he published publicly friends-only posts from the personal facebook page of queer writer Aoife Fitzgibbon O’Riordan. Aoife had described Michael’s reference (in a publicly available article) to a gay man (whom Aoife and I know personally) as having “flounced” away from the Atheist Ireland stand at the GPO as “dog-whistle homophobia”.

Against my better judgement, I entered the ensuing comment thread to defend Aoife’s (and the man who was the subject of the statement’s) characterisation of the usage of the term as homophobia. The argument is in the comment thread and I won’t add to it here except to say that Michael’s insistence that the characterisation of a statement as homophobic is only permissible if the person making the statement can be shown to have a generalised ideological hatred of LGBTQ people would render it impossible to name virtually any homophobic speech – i.e. speech that transmits or lends support to negative attitudes towards LGBTQ people – as homophobic (a state of affairs that would suit the likes of the Iona Institute, but should be intolerable to genuine progressives).

Eventually, one of Nugent’s supporters, having presumably decided to Google me, came across a post by anti-trans bigot Cathy Brennan on a site she uses to attempt to associate trans people and their supporters with rape and abuse where I am accused of “harassing feminists online” and posted the link in the thread. My explanation of the link as coming from Cathy Brennan prompted this (now deleted) comment:

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Cindy then attempted to post a series of links in support of the thesis that trans women are men who pretend to be women in order to gain access to women’s spaces and rape women and girls (see image at top of post) but these were caught in the website’s comment’s filter. She then made a number of comments (1 2) alluding to the transmisogynistic conspiracy theory that trans women use accusations of transphobia to try and force lesbians to have sex with them. A number of Nugent’s supporters in the thread proceeded to misgender me despite my already having stated that I am AMAB trans much earlier in the thread and despite my repeated assertions that I am not a man and don’t want to be called “dude”, (1 2 3 4)

I contacted Michael Nugent first via Twitter to make him aware that his website was being used to spread anti-trans hate speech:

I then emailed him with the same request to denounce the transphobia of his supporters and/or delete the comments:

email1(full size image)

Michael’s response was to do neither, but rather to publish the links provided by Cindy in support of her claims that trans women are rapists (1 2) which includes a slew of links to the anti-trans hatesite TransgenderReality. The only anti-trans post he deleted was the one I directly linked to him, claiming he would look over the comments tomorrow. At the time of writing all of the other anti-trans posts, including the links to the hatesite remain on his website.

He did, however, find the time to remove a number my posts referring to malicious false allegations made against me by Cathy Brennan, something I did not ask for and did not want. This would imply that Michael read all of the comments in the thread (how else would he have known which comments to delete?), decided to remove those that pertained to my experience of victimisation by a transmisogynstic bigot, but decided to leave in place those that contained hate speech directed at transgender people, while allowing to be published previously unpublished comments purportedly supporting claims that trans women are male rapists.

He emailed me back to say that he had done this and I replied to say that if he hadn’t the time to moderate the thread he should have left Cindy’s comments unpublished (at this point I had not yet deduced that he must in fact have read the thread and had no problem allowing hate speech to remain on his site):

email2(full size image)

Michael replied to say “Feel free to explain what you mean by a hate site, and how the links posted support that description, and I will take that into account.” Clearly this meant he was still online, had been alerted to the content of the comments he chose to publish, and declined a second opportunity to remove obvious unambiguous hate speech from his site:

email3(full size image)

Clearly then, Michael is aware that his site, a resource and platform that he controls, is being used to spread destructive lies about transgender women and has chosen to continue to make that platform available for the dissemination of those views. In other words, he has chosen to knowingly provide material support to transmisogyists. Why? Does Michael believe that the claim that trans women are male rapists could be anything other than a weaponised lie designed to make trans women’s lives less livable? How then can he claim an unimpeachable position as an LGBTQ ally that would allow him to speak over LGBTQ people and decide what does and does not constitute homophobia?

At least he likes my music though.

UPDATE 12:00 19/02/16: Michael has now written a blog post about me where he confirms he read the transmisogynistic comments, “spent an hour on the phone discussing [the thread]” and at the end of that concluded that the “allegation” that asserting that trans women are male rapists constitutes hate speech “required more serious reflection”. Again, why does Michael think this could be anything other than a lie designed to whip up hate, that it might potentially be a sincere legitimate contribution to public discourse? All of the hate speech and the links to the hatesite (which he made a positive  choice to publish) are still publicly visible on his site.

Writing is difficult for me at the moment, but I feel the need to say something, publicly, about the “Marriage Equality” campaign and the referendum process, and to say it now, not afterwards. So I’ve decided to collect together the various things I’ve written for facebook posts, as a fragmented gesture towards a queer analysis of what we’ve just gone through.

Personally, I’ve found the referendum process very demanding. Demanding both in the sense of the strain it’s placed on my emotional resources, and in the sense that its produced a slew of moralising demands from marriage advocates which I’m expected to meet. I’m sick of it. At a time in my life where I’m trying to navigate the complexities and risks of openly living a trans life in a hostile society, I’m sick of being told that I’m being insufficiently attentive to the needs of people twice my age who just want to get married. I’m sick of demands for solidarity that are never going to be reciprocated. I’m sick of having to reaffirm that I think discrimination is bad every time I speak about anything other than why same-sex couples should be able to get married. I’m sick of people who want to talk about discrimination but couldn’t give a shit about the discrimination against forms of kinship and family outside the marriage norm that will persist after this referendum passes. I’m sick of marriage being allowed to stand for equality, and of “marriage equality” being treated as the sine qua non of progress for queer people.

My experience of the referendum has confirmed everything I already knew about same-sex marriage politics: Marriage Equality is a politics that must consume all others. It can only function by filling the entire space of queer representation; by monopolising concepts of progress and futurity; by homogenising and flattening queerness into a single issue, a single striving, a single (conservative) picture of the actualisation of queer freedom; by insisting that it and it alone has always been the liberation implicit in our politics. It demands our participation and we cannot refuse. All of us, whatever we wish, whether it benefits us or not, must suffer through a torrent of abuse and behave ourselves, lest our refusal to tolerate violent homophobic speech acts jeopardise a campaign that won’t even afford us the dignity of demanding rather than asking for the meagre concessions being offered to us. (And if you don’t Marriage Equality will call the cops.)

So vote Yes, please, so that we can be spared a rerun of this shit.


fb post for Workers Solidarity Movement:

“Marriage equality” represents a victory for conservatives within the LGBT movement in narrowing and limiting the horizons of ur politics, and for conservative and homophobic social forces in diffusing and recuperating the potential for radical transformative change opened up by the gay liberation movement.

Despite attempts to re-write history by assimilationist LG(B(T)) organisations, inclusion within marriage is not all we have ever wanted. Queer politics has always put forward a vision that proposed a far more substantive concept of equality than just the end of formal legal discrimination: a concept of equality that cherishes difference and diversity, rather than precribing a single ideal based on heterosexual monogamy. Rather than seeking inclusion only for those who are willing and able to conform to the norm, we should seek the abolition of state marriage, the decoupling of rights from aherence to particular norms, and full social acceptance for the full diversity of forms of sexuality, kinship, affinity, alliance and affection. “Marriage equality” is a setback for that vision.

By attaching rights and social acceptance to compliance to a specific norm, we reaffirm that those outside that norm are undeserving of the same rights or social acceptance. We reinforce the idea that difference is to be punished and policed and excluded.

But, whether we like it or not, this is what’s happening. The question for those of us who remain outside, and who hold a vision of a better world in our hearts, is how to advance that vision despite the setback this represents. This is a moment for queers to recognise ourselves as an autonomous political movement, which hopes and fights for a different future than the dismal politics of pro-marriage, and to recognise that we must build communities that can turn our dreams into concrete political action, because no one else is going to do that for us.

fb post on Automatic Writing page

Anti-marriage politics is not anti married people. It’s not advocating your relationship should be banned or forcibly broken up. It’s opposing the idea that your relationship is superior to everyone else’s, that it’s deserving of greater support and protection than everyone else’s, or that it, uniquely, deserves to be built in to the material and legal structure of society. It opposes the coercive application of norms built around an idealised heterosexuality because it wants an end to coercive norms governing relationships, sexuality, gender and identity, not because it wants to replace them with different ones. (So could you please stop the “radical queers imposing their views on us” nonsense? Thanks.)

public fb posts on personal page

If the same-sex marriage referendum passes the primary benefactors will be older more privileged LGBTQ people in monogamous same-sex relationships. If it fails, the people most harmed by a climate of emboldened homophobia are the young, the closeted, the precarious/marginalised and the highly visible queers. I feel like hardly anyone wants to talk about this.


I feel really uncomfortable with most of the standard rhetorical deployments of things like “the gay community”, “the LGBTQ community”. My reasons for this are both personal and political, and tbh the two are blended to the point that it’s hard to separate them. Community means belonging, if it means anything, and whenever I’ve encountered The Community what I’ve felt is not belonging but alienation. I remember sitting in the student bar in Maynooth in first year with what was then the GLB and trying to figure out what the fuck to say to a group of people who were literally talking about Bonnie Tyler and Madonna all night (as if what it is to be queer is to embody a threadbare hand-me-down version of camp sensibility), and wondering where I was going to fit in if I didn’t even fit in the spaces that were for me. I felt much the same looking around at the different LGBT political groups whose politics were (despite whatever good work they surely do) all so fluffy and liberal and incrementalist; where radicalism is basically measured (quantitatively) by how loudly and insistently you demand the exact same reforms, rather than anything qualitative about the stances you take or the things you do. I couldn’t relate to it. As far as I could see, there was nowhere to express the negativity (both of the dialectical revolutionary-critical and nihilist/depressive variety) that was (and continues to be) a major part of how I relate to the world, no one who thought and felt like me. And this was what “community” seemed to amount to: compulsory positivity, compulsory rainbow fluffiness, compulsory liberal representationalism. In other words: yet another injunction to be someone other than who I wanted to be.

So I feel like this way of talking about community – as a kind of primordial unity of the queers – is basically reactionary. Most of the time these days I find it deployed against me as a form of command, to moderate my speech, to subordinate my desires and hopes to some mandatory loyalty to The Community, to undertake activity that I find humiliating, like going door-to-door begging for rights I don’t even want. This sense of community is a fiction, the fiction that we all share a common outlook, common strivings, common political goals, common needs, common desires, merely on the basis of who we are. We don’t. I’ve nothing in common politically with Leo Varadkar, or your average masc-seeking-similar Grindr dweller, or whoever. This kind of primordialist thinking about community is always going to end up with a least-common-denominator politics that seeks to represent everyone and as a result ends up representing the most conservative and privileged voices and excluding the rest. It’s tied up with assimilationism, whitewashing, homonormativity, pro-capitalism and liberalism. It demands solidarity and sacrifice from queers like me that’s never going to be reciprocated. It’s a trap, basically, that we’ve got to break out of.

But community is also essential. As queers we live, to varying degrees and in varying ways, precarious lives – lives constantly threatened by the soft genocidal politics of heteropatriarchy. We need relations of support, spaces where we are affirmed in who we are, access to forms of belonging. We need community, both to make our lives that bit more livable and to enable collective political action. Personally, I’ve been feeling much more of a sense of being part of a community in recent times. The people around me are amazing and supportive, and I feel safe enough to be publicly trans in quite a confrontational way. But the people who enable that are not all queers; many of them are straight anarchists, socialists and feminists. And tbh I feel a lot more supported by good pro-queer straights than I do by the LGBT mainstream, who I often encounter as people who want to police my identity and silence my speech.

So to me “community” is not about who you are but what you do. It’s a construct, one that’s fluid, mobile and contingent. It’s a set of relations we build together in order to protect and enable one-another, not something we form merely because we share a common identity, or a common relation to power structures. It’s something that does not exist, so its necessary for us to invent it.


If the term ‘equality’ is to have any substantive meaning, it must refer to a society radically and qualitatively different from the one we now inhabit. When people say things like “Vote Yes for Equality” or “Vote Yes to a fairer Ireland” or “Vote Yes: let’s treat everyone equally”, it does more than simply advocating support for a reform that will end some forms of discrimination against some queers – it works to launder ongoing structural racism, misogyny, class exploitation and the structural homophobia and transphobia that will persist long after this referendum passes. It is meaningless to talk of equality in a society that permits the racist and punitive detention of migrants in direct provision, or the brutalisation and murder of pregnant (usually migrant) women in Irish hospitals, or the class-based robbery of austerity, or the subjection of trans people to arbitrary, restrictive and humiliating gatekeeping processes in order to have their gender legally recognised. So call for a Yes vote, but don’t call it equality.

Speakers (not in order of presentation)

Paul McAndrew
A non-monogamous gay man living in Cork and a member of WSM who has been out as both queer and anarchist for thirty years and is in favour of equal marriage.

Eilís Ní Fhlannagáin
Has been active in radical trans women’s circles for the past two decades. Her activism focuses on trans women, their access to quality health care and employment, poverty, and transmisogyny within feminist communities. Her work has been mentioned in Mimi Marinucci’s “Feminism is Queer: The Intimate Connection between Queer and Feminist Theory”, as well as Sybil Lamb’s “How Not To Have A Sex Change”. She currently lives in Dublin where she is writing a book about starting an underground orchiectomy clinic. She blogs, very infrequently at http://hacklikeagirl.wordpress.com/

Aidan Rowe
A queer anarchist activist and writer who will criticise the goal of assimilation through inclusion within marriage and ask what the next steps are for those with a more radical vision of queer liberation. Aidan blogs at https://automaticwriting1.wordpress.com/

Fionnghuala Nic Roibeaird
Fionnghuala is a queer anarchist-feminist from Belfast and a member of WSM. Her main activism has been around Palestine and Pro-Choice politics. She will talk from a northern perspective where the majority party is openly homophobic and where there has been an upsurge of homophobia recently.

Janet O’Sullivan
Is a bisexual activist, who was the first Bi person to be visible on national TV, she has also done bi visibility interviews on radio. she runs Bisexuals for Marriage Equality on twitter and facebook, and is a member of the Bi+ network. she is also a sex education and Reproductive rights activist and blogs at Janet.ie

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