(For anyone who isn’t aware of what “queering” means in this sort of context: “queering the narrative” or “queering the discourse” means shifting the focus from the cishet white perspective that is generally taken as the default, finding ways to challenge the norm and bring other voices and perspectives into the center.)
The Fourth of July can feel alienating to me, and to a lot of people like me. Many of the people who are the most vocal about their declarations of patriotism are the same people who would like to keep us from having rights and push us back in the closet. “My country, right or wrong” is a scary sentiment to hear when your country doesn’t recognize your identity (M or F only), won’t let you marry someone you love (same-sex marriage is in, but polyamorous marriage is still out), and in some cases won’t even let you use the bathroom. Although most of my loved ones aren’t directly in danger from the racialized violence of the prison-industrial complex, we are very aware of its existence. And our justice system’s “boys will be boys”/ “she was asking for it” attitude towards gendered violence is always hanging over us.
One of our neighbors has had red, white, and blue bunting out on their porch for at least a month. It’s sad that my immediate thought when I saw such an energetic display of love for my own country was “I wonder if that person hates me.” It’s even sadder that that’s not an unreasonable concern to have.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t love our country. We just love it differently. It’s not “My country, right or wrong”; it’s “I will make my country better.”
And I think the best way to observe Independence Day in that spirit isn’t with fireworks or with cookouts, but with a resolution. At the beginning of a new year, we generally resolve to improve ourselves; at the beginning of a new year for our country, I am going to resolve to take concrete steps to improve it, and I invite anyone who wishes to do the same to share their resolutions in the comments.
Happy Birthday, America. This coming year, I resolve to:
- Vote against Donald Trump
- Join a volunteer organization, to help improve my community
- Take care of myself and my loved ones, because we’re part of America too
- Work to care for the piece of America I live on in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner
- Challenge hatred and bigotry wherever I see it
Happy Independence Day. Let’s work towards an America that we can be completely proud of.
Featured image courtesy of The Amazon Iowan. If you enjoy this blog and want to help support Queer Homesteading, consider donating to my GoFundMe.