I constantly ponder the essential question of "nature or nurture?" especially since it is at the core of critical thought on deviant sexualities and queer theory. Some people believe our gender and sexuality are shaped by genetical make-up and other biological factors. Conversely, some people believe these facets of identity are shaped by culture and social interaction. But matters of the self are not so easily stuffed into black and white test tubes that make it easier for social scientists to wrap their heads around. There are obvious overlaps of this binary categorization. Insert Queer Theory, which arises out of a rejection of this binary.
In my own life, I am aware of both biological and social indicators that have shaped my queerness. I had a great-grandfather who lived alone for over 50 years after being widowed, lovingly making quilts for himself and his extended family...this wasn't necessarily the most traditional thing for a man to do at the turn of the century...was he potentially gay? I also have a nephew whom is now openly gay. So there may be a "gay gene" in my family. On the flip side, I can recognize specific social instances and group settings that helped mould my queer self. Even at an early age, I never felt very aligned with men or boys, I was always more comfortable with my mother and girls, and so my playthings were always girl-oriented. In my formative teens, I found my "community" in riot grrls and other outcast characters on the fringes of my high school social fabric. Essentially, I was "raised" (in punk fashion) by those for whom "normal" society was not enough. It was not until very recently that I have understood this community as profoundly shaping me in queer ways.
But my ultimate decision to "come out" was an incredibly personal decision, and didn't happen exclusively by peer influences. In fact, my "coming out" was marked more by what it was not, than what is was. I did not have emotional break-downs or blubbering confessions to everyone I knew. I did not experience an intense moment of enlightenment. I simply realized that the feelings I had always had for men could be real... and not exist only in my imagination. A quiet humming revolution. A tremor of self-actualization.
And so this notion of binary-rejection is one lens through which I am attempting to understand the world and all its workings. (Yes, I am comfortable riding the fence!) In particular, I am interested in applying the nature vs. nurture perspective to the varied subjects I encounter in my reading and observations of visual culture. I also hope to enhance my own queer theoretical skills by framing my writing within the argument of nature vs. nurture.