Queer As In Rejecting Oppressive Social Norms

Queer As In Rejecting Oppressive Social Norms

This reflection on Romans 12: 1-6a was offered by Nichola Torbett at the June Wild Church service at Kirkridge.

Today we are celebrating queer liberation, which is an embodiment of this mandate “not to be conformed” to the world as it is currently structured, to uphold the power and privileges of an elite few. 

Queerness means, simply, peculiarity–a failure to conform to the norms of society, many of which were promoted to protect power hierarchies and the extraction of resources from the many–human and more-than-human–for the benefit of a very few at the top of the hierarchies.

In this sense, nature is so queer. I’m talking about the orca whales attacking cargo ships and the buzzards pooping on border patrol towers to scramble transmissions because, you know, migration is natural. I’m also talking about every single species, at this point, who has managed to adapt and escape and evade capture and co-optation by the profit motive. As performance artist and transgender fashion designer Alok Vaid-Menon says, “We riot because the flowers rioted first.”

By queer, I mean not a subset of people based on who you are having sex with or even who catches your eye on the street or in the supermarket, but a vibrant and growing network of people and other beings committed to celebrating the gorgeous and shocking diversity of creation in all its fabulousness.

Queerness, as we’ll talk about it this afternoon,  is not first and foremost a sexual orientation like gay or straight, but a spiritual stance, even arguably a political stance, that longs for and works toward collective liberation, freedom from every system that thwarts the thriving of all life just as weirdly and fabulously as it was created to be. Queer liberation works toward the breaking down of every system of oppression, even at a cost to what, maybe, has seemed normal or appropriate or right in the past. Bell hooks wrote about ‘queer’ as being about the “self that is at odds with everything around it and that has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live.” Nature, in this era, is so queer.


A gossamer dragonfly perches on an orange plant.

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