- In the Wake of “The Violence of Heteronormativity”: Reflecting on, Contending with Affective Remains
This forum takes up space in the pages of QED to take time, relationally, collectively, invitationally, insistently. The time it takes is in service of a reflecting upon and contending with the affective remains (see Yep in this forum) of Gust Yep’s 2003 essay “The Violence of Heteronormativity in Communication Studies: Notes on Injury, Healing, and Queer World-Making.” The essay was part of the groundbreaking collection Queer Theory and Communication, which addressed the discipline’s absences from and violences to queer communities, and in doing so contributed to a certain kind of insistence and visibility of people, experiences, and structures that, as Yep notes below, the discipline is simultaneously poised to address and perpetuate. The double bind of writing about the violences of heteronormativity is that through the attention brought about through writing one comes into contact with the very experience of it. This is not to say that the double bind remains a trap in which one remains locked. Indeed, as Yep and the contributors to the forum demonstrate, through and from the bind emerge processes of recognition, experience, feeling, naming, writing, that resistance, reimagination, healing, and worldmaking.
For the 100th anniversary of the National Communication Association meeting in 2014 in Chicago, forum contributor Naida Zukić organized a ten-year retrospective panel on Yep’s “The Violence of Heteronormativity.” She labored [End Page 112] to organize a panel across academic generations, social locations, points of entry into as well as departures from, and strategies for resisting, reworking, and healing the violences of heteronormativity. The roundtable, which included many authors represented here, generated a lively discussion that—as most discussions on confronting, dismantling, and healing heteronormativity do—felt incomplete and undone. Later in the winter of 2014–15, Zukić approached the two of us to further organize and coedit a publishable forum that continued the conversation. Given its editorial mission of queer worldmaking, QED made the most sense for the forum, and editors Charles E. Morris and Tom Nakayama were receptive to host us. As it perhaps should, the move from conference to publication remains incomplete and replete with absences.
We recognize the incompleteness and the absences, the constraints, normativities, and choices that accompany us throughout this project. We neither excuse nor account fully for the incompleteness and absences. Rather, we attempt and practice the reflecting and accounting labor and relations that Yep and others call for in the service of something else. As we reflect inward, we gesture outward. This is also to say that Zukić’s invitation gave the two us an opportunity to do some of this together and in relation to one another, which was to be our first such collaboration and further provided for the deepening and extending of our ongoing relationship in ways that included different and more frequent forms of contact. Again, this is to point to the ways that for those of us who live, write about, and develop relations through and against the violences of heteronormativity, that its violences not only permeate across spheres and relations of our lives, that those circumstances in turn are the grounds from which healing relations are secured, nourished, and nurtured. More on this practice in our concluding pieces to the forum in the form of letters to one another.
This is further to locate this forum, and its unfolding within the specificity of the ongoing spectacular and mundane normative violences that we have lived through as we, the two of us, each contributor, you, have individually, collectively, and relationally endured, survived, and continue to reel from and against in all the ways that happens. Pulse. The November 2016 elections. The ongoing and repeated state-sanctioned and state executed murders of black people. The ongoing and repeated state-sanctioned murders of trans people, especially trans women of color. Each and every intersecting instance of state-sanctioned act of violences against bodies and the planet. At some times these violences were channeled through writings; at other times they meant the halting of writing. In different ways and different times, violences in relation...