WEEK 2 | One Giant Soft Head And Queer Futurity
Updated: Mar 16
Experiments have begun. During this week I visited Bishopsgate Institute to consult good old books. I looked at what works they stored around fertility, found the language too often centred around social control and class: studies from the 50s on ‘unmarried women’ and ‘the role of abortion’, nothing about male infertility. At first sight I didn’t find anything about the exact intersection I am interested in either: queerness + fertility. I know UCL library will be much better for this, and as an alumna I can consult their collections, however the process to gain access to the library is proving to be longwinded and annoying.
Accepting Bishopsgate as my only option, I delved into ideas of ‘queer futurity’, because the future of queers and queering the future is a central topic that helps me unpack and understand my desire to have a family and the questions that necessarily follow: what is a family? What is a queer family? If queer futurity means growing in non-heteronormative directions, what does it mean for me as a queer cis migrant woman and my vision as an artist? Whilst struggling to accept my own and my partner’s unexplained fertility, queer theory became the only system of thinking that helped me out of some pretty dark internalised voices: I’m talking essentialist bullshit sneaking in behind my back and the fucked up way of romanticising ‘natural’ conceptions, births and so on. Queer theory gave my heart, my mind and my body space. For once, I thought that being queer was an advantage, despite living in a system that doesn’t make it easy to express it, and despite the fact that going through fertility treatment has been the most heteronormative cage I have ever put myself in. I can’t quite keep count of all the ways in which it’s impacted my life, my practice and my questioning on these topics, but welcoming and holding onto my queerness and listening to all of the questions I hear within myself is a huge part of this residency. I’m not certain I know where this will lead me, but I read this as a good sign. Knowledge is partial, truths are fluid. There will be no absolutes in this creative development.
Five hours in the library flew by: I looked at Judith Butler’s classic, Undoing Gender, chapter 5: “Is Kinship Always Already Heterosexual?” This question has been in my head for a while, in particular because I’ve often been attracted to alternative kinship practices, those that wouldn’t fit in within the traditional ‘nuclear’ model (mother, father, baby/ies). When I was younger, to discuss alternatives with people in my social bubble meant to be looked at with confusion at best, derided many of the other times. Things feel different now, but here I am wanting a baby in my thirties, being diagnosed with sub fertility, being made feel like I am broken, or that I timed it wrong, or that I don’t deserve access to the best possible treatment and being treated like I’m the only person with an issue compared to my cis male partner and becoming aware of all of the obstacles put in
place for what seem like specific groups of people to have the family they want whilst Mc. Fertility companies thrive around me taking thousands of pounds out of people’s pockets, sometimes with very dubious eligibility processes.
"QUEERNESS IS NOT yet here. Queerness is an ideality, Put another Way, we are not yet queer. We may never touch queerness, but we can feel
it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality, We have never been queer, yet queerness exists for us as an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness's
domain. Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present. The here and
hew is a prison house, We must strive, in the face of the here and now's totalizing rendering of reality, to think and feel a then and there. Some will say that
all we have are the pleasures of this moment, but we must never settle for that minimal transport; We must dream and enact new and better pleasures,
other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new worlds. Queerness is a longing that propels us onward, beyond romances of the negative and toiling
in the present. Queerness is that thing that lets us feel that this world is not
enough, that indeed something is missing. Often we can glimpse the worlds
proposed and promised by queerness in the realm of the aesthetic. The aesthetic, especially the queer aesthetic, frequently contains blueprints and schemata of a forward-dawning futurity. Both the ornamental and the quotidian
can contain a map of the utopia that is queerness, Turning to the aesthetic in
the case of queerness is nothing like an escape from the social realm, insofar
as queer aesthetics map future social relations. Queerness is also a performative because it is not simply a being but a doing for and toward the future.
Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world."
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WEEK 2'S GOOD EGGS:
We are campaigning for EQUAL ACCESS to NHS free fertility treatment across all CCG’s in the UK for all LGBT+ women & people in our community; Currently it is a ‘postcode lottery’ & some areas provide access, some only after ‘six privately funded attempt’, & some provide nothing at all. We are working with the NHS & some of the CCG’S to CHANGE this to ensure equality for our community.
Another area we feel requires further support is within pregnancy, birth & postnatal services within the NHS; merely because times have changed, the LGBT+ community are having families at an exponential rate & so policies need reviewing & updating.
The Queer Birth Club was founded by AJ Silver - They / Them out of necessity to fill the void of LGBT+ inclusion in the birth world.
AJ is a highly trained and experienced birth & postnatal Doula, a probationary breastfeeding counselor and a qualified babywearing consultant.
Their works have been shared by AIMS, you can click here to see the article, Birthrights and The Student Midwife Journal have also shared AJ's work on their social media and, they have been guest on podcasts such as: Badass Birth , Sprogcast & Plus size and Pregnant. .
Their course has been taught all around the UK at universities, NHS trusts and private companies, it has been made mandatory education for many birth worker schools and booked by companies such as: The NCT, Abuela Doulas and Maternity Voice Partnership.
They bring together the stories and experiences of members of the LGBT+ community; Adding and amplifying the voices of the overlooked and often invisible minorities in the birthing world.