I'm angry. I'm angry for being condemned to death by strangers saying, "You deserve to die" and "AIDS is the cure." Fury erupts when a Republican woman wearing thousands of dollars of garments and jewelry minces by the police lines shaking her head, chuckling and wagging her finger at us like we are recalcitrant children making absurd demands and throwing a temper tantrum when they aren't met. Angry while Joseph agonizes over $8,000 a year for AZT which might keep him alive a little longer and which does make him sicker than the disease he is diagnosed with. Angry as I listen to a man tell me that after changing his will five times he's running out of people to leave things to. All of his best friends are dead. Angry when I stand in a sea of quilt panels, or go to a candlelight march or attend yet another memorial service. I will not march silently with a f[uck]ing candle and I want to take that goddamned quilt and wrap myself in it and furiously rent it and my hair and curse every god religion ever created. I refuse to accept a creation that cuts people down in the third decade of their life. It is cruel and vile and meaningless and everything I have in me rails against the absurdity and I raise my face to the clouds and a ragged laugh that sounds more demonic than joyous erupts from my throat and tears stream down my face and if this disease doesn't kill me, I may just die of frustration. My feet pound the streets and Peter's hands are chained to a pharmaceutical company's reception desk while the receptionist looks on in horror and Eric's body lies rotting in a Brooklyn cemetery and I'll never hear his flute resounding off the walls of the meeting house again. And I see the old people in Tompkins Square Park huddled in their long wool coats in June to keep out the cold they perceive is there and to cling to whatever little life has left to offer them, and I think, ah, they understand. And I'm reminded of the people who strip and stand before a mirror each night before they go to bed and search their bodies for any mark that might not have been there yesterday. A mark that this scourge has visited them. And I'm angry when the newspapers call us "victims" and sound alarms that "it" might soon spread to the "general population." And I want to scream "Who the f[uck] am I?" And I want to scream at New York Hospital with its yellow plastic bags marked "isolation linen," "ropa infecciosa" and its orderlies in latex gloves and surgical masks skirt the bed as if its occupant will suddenly leap out and douse them with blood and semen giving them too the plague. And I'm angry at straight people who sit smugly wrapped in their self-protective coat of monogamy and heterosexuality confident that this disease has nothing to do with them because it only happens to "them." And the teenage boys who upon spotting my "Silence = Death" button begin chanting "Faggots gonna die" and I wonder, who taught them this? Enveloped in fury and fear, I remain silent while my button mocks me every step of the way. And the anger I feel when a television program on the quilt gives profiles of the dead and the list begins with a baby, a teenage girl who got a blood transfusion, an elderly Baptist minister and his wife and when they finally show a gay man, he's described as someone who knowingly infected teenage male prostitutes with the virus. What else can you expect from a faggot? I'm angry.
Queer Nation, 6-xx-1990, text of a manifesto originally passed out by people marching with the ACT UP contingent, “History Is a Weapon: The Queer Nation Manifesto,” http://ww.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/queernation.html **parentheses used to modify for the sake of correct sentence structure
To be queer is to be a walking zombie, a living dead. They have it wrong—the dead no longer live amongst us, queerness is undergoing a process of constant death; their calls for “reanimation” and a better normal future are extensions of humanity’s project to annihilate difference. Any and all futurism is born out of the murder of the queer.
Allison Kafer, 5-16-2013, Associate Professor of Feminist Studies @ Southwestern, MA, PhD, Claremont Graduate University, BA @ Wake Forest University, “Feminist, Queer, Crip,” pg. 28-31, google books
No Future for Crips Lee Edelman has famously argued that queers and queer theory would be better off refusing the future altogether. (“Fuck the Future,” as Carla Freccero puts it.)“ Building on Lauren Berlant’s work on the ﬁgure of the child in American politics, Edelman argues that futurity—an investment in and attention to the future or futures—is almost always ﬁgured in reproductive terms: we cannot “conceive of a future without the ﬁgure of the Child." As a result, the Child serves as "the telos of the social order," the one for whom we all act, “the fantasmatic beneﬁciary of every political intervention.“ I-Ie offers as an example abortion rhetoric, noting that both pro-choice and antiabortion activists frame their ﬁght as on behalf of the children." Patrick McCreery traces a similar parallel among both opponents and supporters of gay marriage: depending on ones stance, gay mar- riage either destroys children's well-being or enhances it, but both sides agree that the future of children is what is at stake in the debate and therefore what should guide our decisions.“ For those in both ﬁghts, then, the struggle becomes no longer about rights or justice or desire or autonomy but about the future of “our” children. Both of these examples show the slipperiness of arguments based on the Child and reproductive futu- rity; one can mobilize the same rhetoric toward mutually opposing goals. What Edelman draws out is the coercive nature of such frames: it is not only that we can use the “future of our children” frame but that we should or must use it; politics itself is and can only be centered around the Child, foreclosing all other possibilities for action.Reading from a queer crip perspective, I can easily see the ways in which “the future," especially as ﬁgured through the “Child,” is used to buttress able-bodied/able- minded heteronormativity. First, the proliferation of prenatal testing, much of which presumes that all positive diagnoses will be “solved” through selective abortion, is a clear manifestation of compulsory able-bodiedness and able-mindedness. As we will see in the following chapters, pregnant women with disabilities and pregnant women whose fetuses have tested “positive” for various conditions are understood as threats to the future: they have failed to guarantee a better future by bringing the right kind of Child into the present." Thus the idealization of the Child as the frontier of politics, the framing that troubles Edelman, should concern crip readers as well; discourses of reproduction, generation, and inheritance are shot through with anxiety about disability. These sites of reproductive futurity demand a Child that both resembles the parents and exceeds them; “we” all want “our” children to be rnore healthy, more active, stronger and smarter than we are, and we are supposed to do everything in our power to make that happen. The Child through whom legacies are passed down is, without doubt, able-bodied/able-minded. Second, a politics based in futurity leads easily to an ethics of endless deferral. "We're held in thrall by a future continually deferred by time itself,” Edelman notes, and this deferment serves to consolidate the status quo.“ Focusing always on the better future, we divert our attention from the here and now; “We are rendered doc-ile,” in other words, “through our unwitting obedience to the future."“ This phrasing is telling: “held in thrall,” “rendered docile,” “unwitting obedience”—each phrase signals stagnation and acquiescence, an inability to move in any direction because of a permanently forward-looking gaze. This deferral, this ﬁrm focus on the future, is often expressed in terms of cure and rehabilitation, and is thereby bound up in nor- malizing approaches to the mind/body. Disability activists have long railed against a politics of endless deferral that pours economic and cultural resources into “curing” future disabled people (by preventing them from ever coming into existence) while ignoring the needs and experiences of disabled people in the present.” This kind of focus on futurity does disabled people no favors, yet it is one of the most common ways of framing disability: we must cure Ierry’s kids now so that there will be no more Ierry’s kids in the future. Moreover, everything from sterilization to institu- tionalization, from bone-lengthening surgeries to growth attenuation, has been jus- tiﬁed on the grounds that such acts will lead to better futures for the disabled person andlor for their communities. Within these discourses, disability cannot appear as anything other than failure.Third, eugenic histories certainly bear the mark of reproductive futurity. Even keeping only to the United States, and only to the past one hundred years or so, exam- ples abound of how concerns about the future of the “race” and the future of the nation (futures often depicted as intertwined) have been wrapped up in fears and anxieties about disability. Tens of thousands of people diagnosed with various “defects” were targeted by eugenic professionals and policies for the ﬁrst half of the twentieth cen- tury, classiﬁed. and managed in order to contain the alleged risks they posed to public health. The category of “defectives” included not only people with disabilities but also people from “suspect” racial, ethnic, and religious groups as well aspoor people, sex- ual “delinquents,” and immigrants from the “wrong” countries. All were united under ﬂexible concepts of degeneracy, defect, and disability, with "feeble-minded” serving as one of the most eifective, and expansive, classiﬁcations of all. People placed into one or more of these categories might be tracked by family records oﬂices, institutionalized and segregated from the public, sterilized against their will, barred from entering the country, or, in extreme cases, euthanized. Schools and universities included the study of eugenics in their curriculum, both disseminating and reifying these concepts of degeneration and defect. In many states, sterilization came to be seen as a necessary means of protecting the health of the race and the nation from further degeneration; as Oliver Wendell Holmes asserted in the infamous 1927 Buck v. Bell decision uphold- ing Virginia's compulsory sterilization policies, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough."‘»' While many overtly eugenic policies began to wane in the 1930s and 1940s, eugenic ideologies and practices did not fully disappear but rather ﬂourished well into the Cold War and beyond." Virginia’s sterilization law was not repealed until 1974, and coerced or forced sterilization of women of color, poor women, indigenous women, and disabled women persisted throughout most of the twentieth century; even today, under cer- tain circumstances, disabled people can be sterilized without their consent, and poor women, immigrant women, and women of color continue to have their reproductive futures curtailed by the courts and the legislature.” Institutionalization remains a common response to disabled people, particularly those with "severe" disabilities; despite the Supreme Court’s 1999 decision in Olmstead, which aﬂirmed the right of disabled people to live in their home communities, many states continue to prioritize funding for institutions over funding community-based care.“ State governments across the country are responding to budget crises with cuts to health care and dis- ability services, especially in-home attendant care; given that many disabled people require such services in order to live independently, disability rights activists and health advocates note that even more disabled people, especially disabled people of color and low-income disabled people, are being forced into nursing homes or out onto the street. These trends do not bode well for the futures of disabled people, even as they are touted as necessaryfor preserving the future health of the state and the nation.Indeed, at one time or another, each of these practices—sterilization, segregation, exclusion, institutionalization—has been justiﬁed by concerns about “the future” and particularly future children. For example, Mary Storer Kostir, an assistant at the Ohio Bureau of luvenile Research, argued in a 1916 publication that "physically rigorous but mentally feeble persons are a social menace. . . . Their children threaten to overwhelm the civilization of the future. . . . [We] must also consider our children, and not burden the future with an incubus of mental deﬁciency?” In making her case for segregat- ing those labeled “feeble-minded,” Kostir weighs the futures of “our” children against those other children, the ones who are mentally deﬁcient, threatening, and burden- some. A 1933 pamphlet by the Human Betterment Foundation similarly warns against the “burden” of "feeble-minded” children, noting that the failure to practice “eugenic sterilization” produces effects that are “disastrous . . . in future generations.“ In these kinds of eugenic discourses, children serve as the sign of the future; the kind of future that awaits us will be determined by the kind of children we bear. Illness, “defect,” “deviance,” and disability are positioned as fundamentally damaging to the fabric of the community: polluting the gene pool, or weakening the nation, or destroying a fam- ily’s quality of life, or draining public services (or, often, some combination of the four). To put it bluntly, disabled people were—and often are—ﬁgured as threats to futurity.Whole books have been written about each of these practices, and this brief, sweeping history cannot begin to do justice to the material or, especially, to the bodies invoked by this material. Such broad summaries all too easily erase differences among people with disabilities, differences not only of race, class, sexuality, gender, and his- tory but also of impairment; there are many bodies falling through the cracks of this overview. And yet, it is imperative to establish a pattern, to demonstrate that we have long felt and acted on the belief that disability destroys the future, or that a future with disability must be avoided at all costs. It is this pattern, these histories, that makes the question of the future so vexed. I can see clearly how futurity has been the cause of much violence against disabled people, such that “fuck the future” can seem the only viable crip response.