- queersexlife: Autobiographical Notes on Sexuality, Gender and Identity
Meet Terry Goldie! If you're looking to learn more about the man, here are some of my favourite juicy bits: He's fifty-seven years old. His adolescence in Saskatchewan in the early sixties was void of sexual acts, and included a relationship with a father who was sickened by his appearance, and a mother who tried to redirect his sexuality. Perhaps this relationship with his mother explains Goldie's apparent bisexuality that he describes as more about his partner's pleasure. He lost his virginity with a man thirty-five years ago. His chapter 'I Never Took It Up the Ass' is a misnomer; he identifies himself as a bottom and writes about yearning 'to feel the power of the man I am receiving.' He's a moaner. He's less into casual encounters and prefers to cruise 'bars or elsewhere, leading to conversations, discussion, and sexual relations, often as not at a later time.' In terms of a partner, he 'would rather have a convivial guy who has his ups and downs than an inarticulate jackhammer.' Goldie's queersexlife includes these and other autobiographical details inviting readers to follow him in theoretical conversation. Despite these personal conversations, this is a work of theory that uses autobiographic techniques to make some of the theoretic vectors more accessible.
According to Goldie, he is working as a bricoleur, piecing together stories from his life with theory and culture. The cultural texts he selects, from the Crying Game and Paris Is Burning, to Seinfeld and Oprah, including (of course) pornography, demonstrate the range of mirrors into which Goldie looks to see both queer theory today and his own subject position. The book explores his views on erotic pleasure, bisexuality, coming out, anonymous sex, anal sex, and homosexual children. He is less interested in situating identity politics and instead attempts to explain the illocutionary functions of his own life. As he writes, instead of exploring ethical issues he's trying to answer the question, 'How have I acted and what does that mean?' At times, Goldie is so steeped in today's academic theory that his articulations of queerlife work like perlocutionary acts. He does, in fact, acknowledge how this book works as 'a performance, a spectacle, a showing-off.' So, just as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak refers to herself as a 'postcolonial informant,' Goldie shares Spivak's space as the queer informant whose tendency has been to 'always homosexualize.' Like many scholars working in queer theory today, many of the descriptive terms for subject positions are up for grabs, and Goldie continues to struggle with these dilemmas. Goldie flip-flops among such terms as the homosexual, gay male, and queer; for some young theorists and non-theorists alike, each of these terms means a very specific thing and relates to a very different [End Page 510] constituency. I'd say he's working within the terrain of a queer world view, and I'd encourage him to land his subjectivity on a world view that places theory ahead of queer identity. As a lover of theory, and queer theory in particular, queersexlife held my attention and consistently engaged me in anger, passion, and intellectual rigour.
Goldie writes about the fun he has with 'good wood' as a penis hunter; he reminds us, however, '[A]t the end of it there is always a man attached.' Similarly, queersexlife is a rich theoretical text, worthy of attention, as long as you don't mind learning about Goldie's intimate sexual life 'at the end of it.'
Mark Lipton, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph