Michael and I have matching lime-green bandanas wrapped around our necks. We lean against the pristine white colonnades of Tate Britain’s foyer, chatting about queerness, cruising and embarrassment.
Every so often, my eyes dart to the right. I’m still listening to Michael – but I’m also conscious of the pose I’ve struck, left arm resting over my head against the white column, legs clad in indigo denim and scissor-crossed. I’m seeing whose gaze I catch over the upturned collar of my bleached denim jacket.
There’s a cute androgynous person with short dark hair, tanned skin and angular earrings leaning against the ornate balustrade by the staircase. Our eyes hold each other for a few suspended seconds, bolstered by wide smiles – then break away back to our companions. The bands of brightly-coloured fabric wrapped around our wrists and necks, dangling from our back-pockets and bound across our foreheads create a playful context to engage in something that often seems incredibly po-faced and serious. I think of the hate-stare of cruising guys, brows knitted in a ‘v’ of intense scrutiny, sizing up your cut versus the explosion of laughter that tumbles out of my body as I lay on my back, the fitted sheet crumpled like a tissue.
“What’s wrong?” they ask.
“Nothing! I’m just having a really good time.”
Belly-laughs during sex.
The cutie to my right crumples in a fit of giggles and hushed talk with their friends.
I think of J. Halberstam in The Queer Art Of Failure talking about a ‘queer and fluid form of knowing, that operates independently of coherence and linear narrative or progression’, a ‘silliness’ which ‘leads…to new and different forms of relations and actions’.
I’m at a fancy function for a gay men’s mental health charity that is replicating the body issues it purports to address with a poster stuffed with chiselled white bodies, hairless nipples, gleaming teeth and a drag queen. The men here have all had their chinos and polo necks sprayed on, and a vogue troupe-for-hire slices lines through the air. I want to do a flailing, stumbling stage invasion in honour of this silliness. A queer silliness that doesn’t take OPULENCE and SUPERIORITY and FIERCENESS as its primary objective. It’s not that I don’t admire these things in some way, I love the Brooke Candy video; but I’m more interested in carving a vague, clumsy freedom for myself because I often feel very vague and clumsy.
Do you want to join my Boring Queer Collective? It’s not very interesting, and there isn’t very much to tell you. It’s essentially a loose assemblage of people doing pointless administrative tasks like making Google Spreadsheets and listing the composite materials of douche bulbs.
Michael and I continue chatting. We’ve been ‘Cruising For Art’, a kind of silly cruising at Tate Britain as part of their Queer and Now festival, where the erotic potential still-exists and the one-on-one performances are serious in the sense care has been taken over them, but it’s playful in a way that traditional cruising doesn’t seem to be (not that I would know, of course).
Anyway, unrelated, I love this quote from Mark Fisher’s The Weird And The Eerie:
“We could go so far as to say that it is the human condition to be grotesque, since the human animal is the one that does not fit in, the freak of nature who has no place in the natural order and is capable of re-combining nature’s products into hideous new forms.”
With bare feet and obscene jelly on the furry floor.