To put it bluntly, queer thinking has very little, if anything, to do with gay sex. The only connection is that being gay is, for the time being, seen as something “strange” or “different,” so those who are gay must naturally think outside the box at the present time. That will change as prejudice and misunderstanding of LGBTQ people is exposed and reduced. (When being LGBTQ is no more a big deal than being left-handed, we will, sadly, stop being “special.”) “Queer” just means special, unusual, peculiar, or different. And all of those things are good!
Queer thinking is really about dismantling rigid categories, crossing boundaries, and blurring lines. It’s about thinking in color rather than in sharp black and white. Queer thinking withers in mutually-exclusive, confining boxes, and it flourishes in ambiguities and uncertainties.
Human psychology generally likes nice, neat, tidy categories. The real world does not. So often, our description and engagement of the real world likes to fit the entire complex world into our little tidy categories. Much as Procrustes’ bed is violent to every visitor, our basic human temptations can be “violent” to the beautiful, rich diversity of the natural world. LGBTQ people are part of that richness, and since we don’t fit people’s expectations ourselves, we more easily resonate with queer approaches to pondering the world.
The principle Natura non facit saltum (“nature does not make a leap”) has been known for a long time, and what is true of nature is true of nature’s God. Our world has so much natural beauty. One example of how God thinks of categories is seen every day. Two of the most beautiful things in nature are (1) the spectacularly blue sky on a sunny day, with a few cumulus clouds speckling the firmament, and (2) the cold, crystal sky in the middle of the night on a clear day, with billions of stars speckling the heavenly glory. Both of these things are sublimely beautiful, and both were created by a priesthood-power dividing act: “And I, God, saw the light; and that light was good. And I, God, divided the light from the darkness. And I, God, called the light Day; and the darkness, I called Night; and this I did by the word of my power, and it was done as I spake; and the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Moses 2:4-5, see also Genesis 1:4-5 and Abraham 4:4-5).
Yes, God “divided” the light from the darkness, but He did not leave a clean break between the two. He left an overlap and thus a blurring of the two, which we admire as sunset and sunrise. Twice a day, we are reminded that God blends the categories. God does not turn day to night like a light switch. He creates spectacular fireworks in the sky twice a day, as an eternal reminder that the most precious, the most fleeting, and the most beautiful moments of the day are the queer ones. Full day and full night are beautiful, but the greatest glory is where they overlap and are ambiguous.
Queer people are sunset people. We inhabit the space between categories. We blur people’s expectations. I’m male, but I don’t fit everyone’s presupposition of what a male is like. I’m Christian, but I don’t fit everyone’s presupposition of what a Christian is like. Latter-day Saints, in fact, are a queering of Christianity. We are a peculiar people, called to be different, chosen to be special. LGBTQ Mormons are doubly queer, and brilliantly beautiful. We are a peculiar people (1 Peter 2:9).
3 thoughts on “Introduction to Queer Thinking”
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Thanks for your thought provoking essay. You expressed things so well that it opened up understanding for me. By the way, I am left-handed. I do feel special for it, even though I didn’t create it. I identify with fellow left-handers, and relish the timeswhen minor obstacles are thrown in my path by right-handers.
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