In our café discussion, we talked about Judith Butler’s argument on heterosexuality as the “origin”, gender performance and whether coming out is actually liberating.
I found Butler’s discussion on heterosexuality setting itself as the “origin and the ground of all imitation” very interesting as I have never thought of it that way (339). In examining her claim, it is true that in many cases when observing same-sex couples, they seem to imitate the boundaries set by heterosexuality, where one of them possess feminine characteristics and the other masculine. These binary oppositional characteristics are present in most cases with the few exceptions. This led our group to question whether it is actually an imitation or just a coincidence.
For Tishara, Butler’s her argument about how gender is “performative” very interesting (341). This led our group to question, if adhering to a certain norms as a female and male is performance, can actively deviating from these normative, binary oppositional gender roles, also be considered performance?
Fatima found the question Butler posed about what people actually come out to be fascinating. She has never considered the experience of homosexuals after they openly identify as gay or lesbian. Rather, I have always considered the simple act of coming out as liberating and a smooth sailing experience from there on out. It is an important question to consider, what are you coming out to? Perhaps discrimination, biased laws, and exclusive societal norms.
We also agreed with Fatima that even more so, the major act of coming out makes one incredibly vulnerable and perhaps the only motivation to do so is the expectation that it will be freeing and remove the secrecy shrouding one’s existence. However, to come out and be classified as something that in itself is limiting does not meet such expectations. Instead, as Butler points out, coming out can be another instance of being boxed into what you are ‘supposed’ to be. In doing so, we agreed that, ultimately one is never truly free from the “supposed” gender performance that we adhere to in our society.
In conclusion, our group posed this question: is it even necessary to ‘come out’ to embrace a sexuality that doesn’t even define oneself or is it better to live and let be. Ultimately, this is something that must be decided on a personal basis and only after a critical exploration of the self.