I will preface this text by saying that I am a paraphiliac (including map + zoo), transid (including transage), pro consang, and multiple other things that are grouped under “radqueer” by those who do use this term. I also do not have a problem with those who describe their individual paraphilias as queer.
The term “radqueer” has been coined and recoined in two slightly different definitions. The first one includes paraphilias and other non normative identities under the queer umbrella. The recoin omits this part and makes a focus on queer people who are allies to other non normative identities. My problems with the recoin are trivial – I am not a queer who’s an ally to paraphiliacs, I am first and foremost a paraphiliac who is also queer. So I will focus on the original definition. It’s also worth a note that, while I usually use “queer” as a synonym for all marginalized gender expressions and gender preferences (or lack of such), here I will mostly talk about people who consciously identify as queer and put some kind of a political meaning into it.
I do not consider my paraphilias and my transids queer, and this is something rather important for me. I feel that way due to the current state of the queer community and my disappointment in it.
The current queer community makes a big emphasis on defense of sexual deviance, public recognition and acceptance of kinks, inclusive sex ed, opposition to puritanism – however, we are not included in this. From the point of view of the average person with “queer as in fuck you” in bio and posts like “support your fellow freaks or else”, the map community is a dangerous homophobic hoax, made up by 4Chan. They are genuinely convinced that they are the pinnacle of freakiness and deviance, and that everyone else who appears more non normative than them is just a troll, trying to reenact the “slippery slope” metaphor. I messaged them in private, I saw other people ask them in public, whether their defense of freaks includes us, and there was nothing but hostility and troll accusations.
This is a pretty distinct type of mapmisia/paramisia. When a cishet conservative, a gay terf/tehm, a kink-critical LGBT exclusionist sees the map community, they don’t have a problem acknowledging that we exist as a community – they just hate what they see. When a typical “radically inclusive” queer activist sees us, they want to deny what they saw. They also support an erroneous view of mapness as something that doesn’t exist as a sexual attraction, but as a desire for control, so they can pretend the map community is not a community united by a common identity.
Observing this all made me feel betrayed and disappointed in “queer” as a potential political identity. When I say “paraphilias are not queer”, it can be understood in two ways – one, material, the queer community is a hostile place for paraphiliacs, it is plainly and simply not good enough and not safe enough for us, and two, ideological, paraphilias are not included into queerness by mainstream queer ideologues despite their own claims that the queer identity is radically inclusive, which makes these people hypocrites. Me saying “paraphilias are not queer” is a form of criticism of the queer community.
And here the radqueer identity obscures this problem. It creates a situation where both us and the people who wish to erase us praise this identity as “radically inclusive”, but mean two completely different things. And only they still are included in it in practice, can feel safe with a stranger that presents as openly queer, can use resources, made by queer people for queer people.
A metaphor for it that I made in dms with my girlfriend the other day is a city with a policy to give all citizens a gold coin every day. The citizens who get the coin praise their city for this policy, but there is still a group that does not get any, and they’re erased and not spoken about. What good would it be, if instead of protesting the unfair treatment, the disadvantaged citizens made coin replicas out of candy wrappers and also joined in claiming that everyone gets a coin every day? It still wouldn’t be something the rest of the city accepts as real money, and now describing the injustice would be more complicated too. “Radqueer” is that candy wrapper for me.
I can suppose that people who see the queer identity as something with some metaphysical value – not just a sign of having a community and being allowed to exist in that community, but a symbol of something greater – may still want to have all non normative identities included into queerness just out of principle. But for me only something that’s not exclusionary in practice deserves to be elevated to a symbol of inclusion.
I am queer – I am a nonbinary transgender man who is on mutisexual and asexual spectrums. But my interactions with the mainstream queer community are not really different from my interactions with the general society – I pretend to be normophiliac, just like how I pretend to be cis and straight. The queer community has problems, these problems need to be addressed and fixed. And for as long as the queer community hates paraphilias, calling my paraphilias “queer” feels like a trap or an offer to gentrify myself.