By: Erin O’Daniel
No matter our race or gender, we are tied together. In these political times, we are choosing to imagine a future where everyone is not only safe, but free to live with joy and pleasure. This is part of our Pride month series where TakeAction Minnesota members share how their activism and politics has been shaped by queerness.
I was recently asked, “What’s it like to be queer in Duluth? Will you write about it?” Hmmmm… a delicious and dastardly task, especially during Pride month when all kinds of queer are visible to the naked eye.
Greedy little queer that I am, I want it all, the queerest and sexiest experiences possible. I want the best of queer in my pocket/pants all the time – and especially as delicious, warm, lilac-ed up, sexswimmingkiss filled summer rolls into town.
In general, I answer “Being queer is Bliss.”
Being queer! is like finding the most ravishing, fresh, colorful, surprising salad bar ever. A little of this! A little of that! A million flavors exploding in my mouth, perfectly mixed together. Being queer is the end of day exhaustion after hours of frivolous and full body outdoor fun. Being queer is the art in a museum that washes away doubt and confusion from the soul. It’s all color, shape, sound, sensual immersion in the best experiences of life.
I love moving through the world challenging the status quo, upending white het cis cultural norms while being attracted to/hunting womxn++ in ways that are feminist, consensual, gender expansive, and radical. Queer is equal parts poetry, science, and sex. Queer is the big picture, the delicious demand for things to be weirder, more vivid, supple, rooted and raging with dynamic growth.
Being queer in Duluth though often feels like the opposite of the erotic. There’s a literal invisibility of queer sex, sexuality and pleasure here. That’s why the queerness visible in the front windows of Prøve Gallery during April’s Honesty, Tho show was soul quenching. Our queer bodies, our sexuality, and our pleasure were literally hanging in a storefront window on Lake Ave.
In Duluth, queer feels like gay/lesbian/bisexual’s quiet cousin. Queer is invited to the table/used/easily accessible/available when defined strictly by who folx date/marry/couple with.
Queer sexuality (who we are at the intersection of our sexual and queer selves) is lost in what feels like a white cultural, sex-negative fog that envelopes our whole city on even the sunniest days, but especially during winter and “spring”. Queer feels like a passive, quiet state versus an active, vocal one in Duluth.
I want to say here I think we thrive as a seasonally “queer” place. We shift constantly depending on the weather outside. We are internal people during winter making creative magic. We come out of our holes in the summer and spin into each other — physically, emotionally, artistically, politically, sexually. We want to devour all that’s delicious and enticing. We relearn how to touch, flirt, f*ck each other. We fight our own silence every spring.
Synonyms for silence (v.) are suppress, quash, smother, curb, stop, put an end to, gag, stifle. The opposite is to encourage, give confidence, support, persuade, promote, advance, hearten, and cheer.
I ask you, what would a Duluth that encourages+ Queers and Queer sexuality look/feel like? What’s the difference between keeping our queer sexuality private and keeping it a secret? What if we allow queer love and queer lovers to shift with, to come in and out of season?
Duluth presents an opportunity for us all to actively demand that queer sex and queer sexuality be lifted up — as a commitment to pleasure, on the individual and community levels, and collective healing. Being open about how our queer lives and queer bodies know pleasure is critical at this time when reproductive and sexual freedoms are at an unprecedented risk.
To be queer is to be free. I imagine a world and a Duluth where we all have access to and can engage supreme pleasure. Our queer sexuality is pleasure. Our queerness is shared power. I want it for you and I want it for me.
Queer Duluth Duluth. Queer Duluth.
Erin O’Daniel is a writer, artist, and gender expansive womxn living in Duluth. Erin is also a TakeAction Minnesota leader and activist. Hxr writing can be found at www.erinkodaniel.com.
- Take action to build a Minnesota where everyone can live full, joyful lives. Email email@example.com to meet with an organizer in Duluth, St. Cloud, or the Twin Cities.
- Share how queerness has shaped your politics and activism, and how queerness can push our movements to be more imaginative, visionary, and transformative. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.