Johns Hopkins University Press

These are the axes:


Bodies are inherently valid


Remember death


Be ugly


Know beauty


It is complicated






Reconstruct, reify


Respect, negotiate

—Mark Aguhar

I still remember how I felt after reading Mark Aguhar's axes for the first time. Recognition and validation gave way to inspiration and aspiration—it was literally easier to draw breath. Here were nine principles about which a better world might turn: axes. Or else, here were nine rhetorical weapons, tools with which to chop, hack, or cut through the arborescent: axes. Here were words to live by, sacred script and profane scripture, gifted by a queer and trans-feminine Filipino American who relished her fatness and her fire. Whenever I have shown Aguhar's axes to friends and strangers, I have noticed a similar shift in them: a release into a queer of color communitas too infrequently felt. The axes teach us many things, among them, this: Mark Aguhar had a way of making the world feel survivable for those who were never meant to survive.1 [End Page 181]

She was an artist perhaps most famous for work she posted to the online microblogging platform Tumblr under the handle "calloutqueen."2 There she housed her axes and many other expressions of alterity between 2010 and 2012. The site was as fragmented and fluctuating as the artist herself, and any account of it can only proceed in kind. Initially titled notheretomakefriends, Aguhar's blog was populated early on with the minor musings of minoritarian life and visual renderings of her gay male objects of desire, a preoccupation that would endure for the callout queen in varied forms. Over time, critical theory and personal drama disillusioned Aguhar, and she, in a self-consciously and self-critically politicized move, renamed her blog Blogging for Brown Gurls. Under this heading, the aesthetics of her ordinary existence and the existence of her extraordinary aesthetic projects emerged online as so many dismissals of whiteness, masculinity, thinness, and all things hegemonic while affirming brownness, femininity, and fatness for herself and others. Given her artist statement's description of her work as "a continuous exploration of queer expression and what it means to have grown up gay on the internet," it comes as little surprise that her highly sexual watercolor and textile-patterned pieces, her rope sculptures, and her text-based works such as her famous "Litanies to My Heavenly Brown Body" and, of course, "The Axes" still circulate widely in queer and trans corners of both the art world and the internet, easing the breathing of many like her who might slowly be suffocated otherwise.3

In this essay, I seek to understand what it was about Aguhar that made her (indeed, to this day, makes her) such a source of minoritarian sustenance. Minoritarian is a term I draw from the work of José Esteban Muñoz, whose thinking will serve as a touchstone throughout this writing. In Disidentifications—"one of the earliest texts to popularize the use of 'minoritarian' for contemporary readers in queer theory, performance studies, and critical race theory," according to Joshua Chambers-Letson4—Muñoz writes, "Although I use terms such as 'minoritarian subjects' or the less jargony 'people of color/queers of color' to describe the different cultural workers who appear in these pages, I do want to state that all of these formations of identity are 'identities-in-difference.'"5 I characterize Aguhar primarily as a minoritarian subject throughout this writing—as opposed to, say, a Filipino American or trans subject specifically—to account at once for all the identities-in-difference that she claimed and all the similarly identified communities that claimed her: Filipino American and trans, but also queer, fat, and femme—the list could go on. And while this characterization threatens to run roughshod over the various specificities of Aguhar's alterity, I aim to avoid this trap by foregrounding those specificities and the intellectual traditions associated with them when doing so can clarify [End Page 182] some aspect of this essay's thesis: namely, that Aguhar's social media–based performance offers an urgent model of minoritarian self-care.

For example, by taking a cue from Aguhar's racial and gendered embodiment, we can begin to understand what is at stake in studying her. The field of Filipino studies, especially in its feminist formations, has long provided fertile ground on which to stand while thinking through the problem and performance of care work. This is because of the formidable scholarly response to a geopolitical situation in which the Philippines has operated as a "labor brokerage" state, to borrow Robyn Rodriguez's language, that actively prepares and sends its citizens, most often its women, to serve as caring laborers of various kinds abroad.6 The result is what Rhacel Parreñas has described as an "international division of reproductive labor" in which Filipinas working as maids and nannies devote themselves to sustaining the domestic life-worlds of First World women and their families.7 Arlie Hochschild has used the phrase "global care chain" to describe similar phenomena.8

While conceding the value of these frames, Martin Manalansan has criticized the heteronormativity that structures them.9 He argues that "we need to expand our idea of 'care work."10 It is a claim that hangs on the 2006 documentary Paper Dolls, directed by Tomer Heymann, which focuses on queer and transfeminine migrants to Israel from the Philippines as they care for their elderly charges by day and perform as drag queens by night. For Manalansan, the documentary demands that we "think of the chain of care … as a series of conflicting and diverse bonds between labor, emotions, and corporeality that do not line up neatly in terms of gender binaries and normative familial arrangements."11 This renovation of the chain of care paradigm stretches the concept so that it can account for subjects like Aguhar and their diasporic performances of kabaklaan, a term that, according to Robert Diaz, indexes both a range of queer and trans Filipino subjectivities and a mode of performance characterized by "being over the top" and "being aware of one's being over the top," a mode of performance with the potential to "transform spaces often seen as unimportant and frivolous"—say, Tumblr—"into sites of solidarity, creativity, and care."12

Notably, Manalansan's critique of the chain of care paradigm is not limited to a critique of the subject that it presumes. He also implies that the paradigm neglects the performance of self-care, which Michel Foucault famously casts as a practice of critical askesis, "an exercise of the self on the self by which one attempts to develop and transform oneself, and to attain to a certain mode of being."13 Manalansan's critique of Filipino-centric care theory tunes Foucault's philosophy so that it harmonizes with Heymann's documentary. In the process, Manalansan pivots the discourse from a care for others to the care of the self, [End Page 183] and carefully crafts a scholarly song about aesthetic performance's propensity to support "self-cultivation" and "fulfilling forms of sociality."14 I extend Manalansan's insights when I return to Foucault's formulation of self-care and its uptake within queer of color critique later on in this essay. For now, though, it suffices to say that for Manalansan, as for Aguhar and myself, the care of the self can be a politically urgent performance through which minoritarian subjects might fashion themselves more pleasurable, livable lives.

To take this position on self-care is also to guard against a certain paranoid impulse within both academe and activism that would disarm minoritarian subjects by dismissing their efforts at self-sustainment as somehow always already co-opted. When Wendy Brown posits that neoliberalism "figures individuals as rational, calculating creatures whose moral autonomy is measured by their capacity for 'self-care'—the ability to provide for their own needs and service their own ambitions," she does so to provide a necessary critique of neoliberalism's (un)ethical economy.15 What Brown wants us to understand is that The Right Thing To Do under neoliberalism is only "Right" in the partisan sense. It is not determined by any considered ethical calculus but instead evidenced by one's self-sustainment and success within a marketplace whose inherent structural inequality and social antagonism is violently disavowed. The value of Brown's critique of neoliberal (im)morality cannot be overstated. But self-care, as Manalansan implies, is more than mere proof to be employed by neoliberalism's (im)moral mathematics, and I worry that Brown's formulation risks this reduction of the concept. Perhaps because she connects "needs" to "ambitions" with a conjunctive "and," Brown's invocation of self-care makes it difficult to locate the dividing line between survival and the entrepreneurial.

Many contemporary activist critiques of the care of the self take a similar shape. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, the writer and esteemed grassroots intellectual, makes this observation in her urgent book, Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice. There, she offers a critique of an article titled "An End to Self-Care," written by the "organizer and communicator" B. Loewe. According to Loewe,

self-care stands as an importation of middle-class values of leisure that's blind to the dynamics of working class (or even family) life, inherently rejects collective responsibility for each other's well-being, misses power dynamics in our lives, and attempts to serve as a replacement for a politics and practice of desire that could actually ignite our hearts with a fuel to work endlessly.16

There is a lot to take issue with here: the idea that self-care belongs to the middle class; the claim that self-care is inherently a rejection of collective responsibility; [End Page 184] the view that it dampens our desire to act in pursuit of a better world; and, underpinning each of these, the assumption that self-care names only one kind of activity with only one knowable set of effects. Rather than asking tempting ontological and epistemological questions of self-care ("what is self-care as such and what does it mean?"), it is my sense that a better method for assessing self-care practices is given in the question of performative or parrēsiastic particularity ("what does this or that performance of self-care do?"). Writing in this latter vein, Piepzna-Samarasinha frames Loewe's article as an argument "against any focus on care and healing in radical movements,"17 an argument with the potential to "make shit so much worse for folks with disabilities and chronic illnesses, parents, and caretakers trying to be activists."18 While she concedes that "self-care—like non-Western, non-biomedical models of healing—has been co-opted by people who want to make money off it," she insists on the irreducibility of the care of the self by emphasizing the many forms it might take and the many ways those forms have aided in working-class, racialized, and disabled survival.19 For Piepzna-Samarasinha, we are not posed with an "either/or" decision between self and collective care.20 Rather, one can accomplish both simultaneously by knitting during an organizing meeting, by cooking for a comrade, or by writing one's truth onto the internet and into the world from the soft warmth of one's own bed.

This image, of Piepzna-Samarasinha caring for herself and others online, returns me to the performances of self-care that Aguhar staged on Tumblr. Indeed, the argument that I mount around minoritarian self-care is also an argument about the caring capacities afforded by new media. To uplift Aguhar as a standard-bearer of a certain kind of self-care is to challenge caricatures of the practice like the one forwarded by Loewe that render all self-care as a private, individualist act lacking in political potential. This is because Aguhar's Tumblr-based performance of a minoritarian care of the self is always pitched toward what media studies scholar Zizi Papacharissi has termed an "affective public."21 For Papacharissi, the concept of the affective public provides a frame through which to comprehend what "mediated feelings of connectedness do for politics and for publics networked together through the storytelling infrastructures of a digital age."22 The concept is an affectively attuned evolution of another theorized by thinkers like danah boyd and Mizuko Ito: the "networked public." According to boyd, networked publics "are simultaneously (1) the space constructed through networked technologies and (2) the imagined collective that emerges as a result of the intersection of people, technology, and practice."23 And when Ito writes that "the term networked publics is an alternative to terms such as audience or consumer," she might as well be writing about [End Page 185] social media–based performances like Aguhar's.24 What matters here are the ways in which Aguhar's online performances of self-care, by both summoning and sitting within an affective public, must also be understood as a connective (if not always collective) kind of care. I develop this claim in opposition to blog theories—in this essay, Jodi Dean's—that would downplay the political potential of networked social media's caring affordances. And because it is Aguhar who inspires these scholarly moves, I also understand this writing as a contribution to a growing literature at the intersection of media studies, performance studies, and critical race studies exemplified by scholars such as Minh-ha T. Pham, Lisa Nakamura, and Wendy Chun, whose insights prove central to the conclusion of this writing.

At this point, if what I am about to say feels too sudden, it should, because what it references was. In March 2012, at the age of twenty-four, the callout queen, Mark Aguhar, took her own life. She was survived by her parents, her brother, her friends, you, me, and many others. We are still grieving the sudden loss of a queen, a loss that threatens always to leave us at a loss for words or a way forward. What follows, by consequence, is less a totalizing account of Aguhar's life or work than it is a humble reckoning with her dying and the strategies she used throughout her life to keep that death at bay, care-full strategies that might be taken up as arms in the ongoing war of attrition that subjects like Aguhar seek to survive every day. The next section of this essay locates the points at which the performance of a callout and the care of the self intersect in order to situate Aguhar within a genealogy of queer and feminist of color confrontation and/as care. The section after that combines the affectively charged disaffirmations of callout culture with Aguhar's aesthetic efforts to affirm minoritarian life in order to theorize a uniquely revolting performance of self-care. I then examine what it means to perform "revolting self-care" in the context of a minoritarian affective public, before concluding the essay by attending to the implications of Aguhar's self-annihilation for my analysis.

The Callout Queen

Beyond simply assuming the moniker on Tumblr, in what sense was Mark Aguhar the "callout queen"? In an essay posted to the website Bully Bloggers—a queer, academic sort of speaker's corner—Roy Pérez frames Aguhar's participation in callout culture as a praxis of "critical flippancy."25 A friend of Aguhar's and a guide for this essay, Pérez epitomizes Aguhar's flippancy by turning to one of the many hateful and anonymous messages sent to Aguhar on Tumblr: "You look like a whale, ok?" to which Aguhar responded, "U LOOK LYK A [End Page 186] WHALE OK." Aguhar's capital lettering and creative misspelling mock her accuser while assuming a loud and proud posture for her allies. She performs mastery over internet communication's aesthetics as a way to mark the internet as her territory, her safer space. It is a response that seems to suggest that Aguhar views her online assailant not only as a bad person but as a boring one as well. Callout queen, indeed. Pérez reads the flippancy in Aguhar's response—a flippancy that Aguhar herself explicitly avowed as a favored tactic in the micropolitical melee—as a discerning move to flatten antifatness and other assaults on social media. Pérez writes,

What she called flippancy was less about refusing to take things seriously and more about shutting down the mode of bad-faith elliptical debate that reigns on the Internet in order to carry out the real talk about day to day survival under white supremacy. The Call Out Queen's way of switching registers when she needed to—from confessional, to theoretical, to capricious, to sneering—gave critical substance to her flippancy, mocking a hater while empowering the one who dared to laugh it off.26

The relay Pérez identifies in Aguhar's critical flippancy between "mocking" one's oppressor and "empowering" oneself is central to the minoritarian mode of self-care I am theorizing.

Foucault draws his understanding of the care of the self from within Greco-Roman antiquity. An outline of this influence appears in an interview titled "The Ethics of the Concern for Self as a Practice of Freedom":

Among the Greeks and the Romans—especially the Greeks—concern with the self and care for the self were required for right conduct and the proper practice of freedom, in order to know oneself [se connaître]—the familiar aspect of the Gnothi sauton—as well as to form oneself, to surpass oneself, to master the appetites that threaten to overwhelm one.27

When Foucault speaks of freedom, he means something distinct from but related to liberation, which we are to understand as the general overcoming of a calcified system of domination. As an example of the liberatory, Foucault cites the struggles of colonized peoples to overthrow their colonizer. Practices of freedom, by contrast, are the performatic modes by which one navigates relations of power at all scales of social life. Foucault offers the negotiation of power within quotidian romantic relationships as exemplary in this case; nearer to my own purpose, we might consider any number of micro-interactions on social media within the frame of freedom as well. If the care of the self is required for the proper practice of freedom—that is, a practice of freedom that aspires to a minimum of domination—it fulfills that requirement as a performance of critical askesis. In other words, the care of the self, as Foucault formulates it, [End Page 187] can be understood as an ongoing performance through which one cultivates a critical attunement to one's position within ever-changing power relations so that one can conduct oneself, practice freedom, and pursue pleasure—erotic and otherwise—ethically in relation to others, for others.

Muñoz has listened closely for the resonances between Foucauldian self-care and contemporary minoritarian survival strategies. He reminds us that in order to speak about the self-care of minoritarian subjects, we must imagine a social order beyond the Greco-Roman context. This is because, in that context, women, noncitizens, and slaves were barred from the practice of the care of the self by their subordinated status in social, civic, and political life. In Disidentifications, Muñoz recalibrates Foucauldian self-care for queer of color critique in pursuit of "a minoritarian ethics of the self," emphasizing "the ways in which representations of and (simultaneously) by [the minoritarian] self signal new spaces within the social."28 He is writing about the ways that Pedro Zamora cared for himself as an HIV-positive queer person of color while on MTV's The Real World. He is writing about the way this televised self-care made the practice seem possible to onlookers. It is my belief that Aguhar's public performances of self-care carry a similar potential, but, again, it matters that they are transmitted online rather than on television. While both Tumblr and TV promise experiences of what Karen Tongson calls "remote intimacy," networked social media afford immediate access to a sociality unyielded by broadcast media.29 Simply put, representations of and simultaneously by the minoritarian self are more frequent and available online—new spaces within the social abound.

If Aguhar's social media–based self-care engenders such spaces, it does so, in part, through a critically flippant participation in callout culture that is also a performance of parrēsia. In The Government of the Self and Others, Foucault argues that "one cannot attend to oneself, take care of oneself, without a relationship to another person. And the role of this other is precisely to tell the truth … and to tell it in a certain form which is precisely parrēsia."30 Usually translated to mean "free speech" or "free spokenness," Foucault understood parrēsia as a "particular way of telling the truth" in which speakers put themselves in some degree of danger by speaking a frank criticism that they believe to be true.31 To understand Aguhar not only as a practitioner of the care of the self but also as a performer of parrēsia is to understand her as a directive, instructive model with the help of whom others can improve their own performance of self-care. By aiding others in their performatic approximation of the care of the self, the parrēsiast catalyzes the proliferation and development of ethical practices of freedom in the social. But the parrēsiast is importantly not tantamount [End Page 188] to the pedagogue. Though she enables her listeners to better attune to themselves as ethico-political beings—to better know themselves—in parrēsia "the person who tells the truth throws the truth in the face of his interlocutor, a truth which is so violent, so abrupt and said in such a peremptory and definitive way that the person facing him can only fall silent, or choke with fury, or change to a different register."32 This is the shared affective logic and potential of callout culture and parrēsia, and this is the convergence of the two in Aguhar.

This is not, however, to imply that the practice of parrēsia and the outcry of a callout are conceptually identical performances. The callout is a descendent of parrēsia; it is always parrēsiastic. To say this is, first, to distinguish Aguhar's participation in callout culture from her attackers' assaults. If the performative force of the latter is backed by structural inequality, the parrēsiastic force of the former is better seen as the consequence of speaking truth to power—more on this in a moment. Additionally, to position parrēsia as precedent to the callout is also to emphasize the affective experience of its performer. A callout eschews the emotional labor endemic to the care-full pedagogical encounter between the minoritized subject and her student, the kind of emotional labor demanded by the callout's other: the "call in." Callouts are rarely polite, rarely soft, rarely easy to receive. As such, critique leveled in the form of a parrēsiastic callout may become the target of tone policing. Or else, such critique might seem rhetorically or affectively out of scale, irrational, apart from reality, or excessive.

Of course, any formidable feminist should already be skeptical of these criteria for dismissal. With Sara Ahmed, we might name the dismissed subject of callout culture (Aguhar, in this instance) a "feminist killjoy": that willful figure who becomes a collective problem by exposing a problem within the collective: an "affect alien," alienated from others by (their perception of) her inappropriate affective response to a naturalized system of oppression.33 One might even want to call Aguhar a "Filipino diasporic queer killjoy artist," which is the term Jan Christian Bernabe uses to describe the artist Jeffrey Augustine Songco. It is a fitting title for Aguhar insofar as she, like Songco, rejects the normative expectations that constrain queers and Filipinos by prioritizing failed bodies over good subjects in her art practice. But it is also a title that Aguhar exceeds, both at the level of identity and at the level of artistry. In other words, it is the parrēsiastic character of Aguhar's art of living—both ordinary and minoritarian, inclusive of her art practice proper even as it exceeds it—that distinguishes her as her own kind of killjoy and earns her the title "callout queen." The point is not simply that Aguhar's art interrupts uninterrogated joy but also that Aguhar makes the interruption of a callout seem artful. Audre Lorde [End Page 189] had this gift, too. And, in considering the confrontation of callout culture, we do well to recall the racialized point Lorde makes in her famous essay "The Uses of Anger": the affect that saturates a critique, even and especially when that affect exceeds expectation, is as much a part of the critique as any of its conventionally logical elements. Affect carries vital information. It can alert us to the stakes of a given claim as they are experienced by the individual making that claim. This remains true whether or not we find the claim compelling at the level of logical argumentation.

Lorde, Ahmed, Aguhar: I submit with this list a queer (and trans) feminist of color genealogy of parrēsiastic praxis that is also a genealogy of callout culture. Imagine Lorde delivering "The Uses of Anger" to an audience of white women, awaiting a potentially antagonistic collective response. Imagine Ahmed resigning from academe and then speaking about it in public to draw attention to an institution's careless mismanagement of sexual misconduct. Imagine Aguhar posting critically flippant responses to transphobic trolls, risking their possible return to her page, their revenge. These are not the overrepresented carceral caricatures that have come to stand in as callout culture as such—the online and in person assaults, the public shamings, the disposability politics, and the exiling of persons from communities for the making of a mistake. Rather, these are social modes of self-care that preserve their performer's inner resources by avoiding an ongoing obligation of emotional labor. They are performances of self-sustainment that seek, in the theater scholar Donatella Galella's stunning formulation, "to redistribute misery and form communities of fellow feeling."34

In my attempt to consider the performance of a parrēsiastic callout, I am inclined to follow a path less traveled in the field of performance studies. Foucault distinguishes parrēsia from classic performance studies analytics such as John Searle's "speech act" and J. L. Austin's "performative." Parrēsia, for Foucault, is a "speech activity," the opposite of the performative utterance.35 Reading Austin, Foucault compares the performative and parrēsia thusly:

A performative utterance requires a particular, more or less strictly institutionalized context, an individual who has the requisite status or who is in a well-defined situation. … what makes it parrēsia is that the introduction, the irruption of true discourse determines an open situation, or rather opens the situation and makes possible effects which are, precisely, not known.36

To take up parrēsia within the discourse of performance studies is therefore to depart from the "definite game" of the Austinian performative and to embrace the unknowable risk of parrēsia's irruptive potentiality.37 "Parrēsia is the ethics of truth-telling as an action which is risky and free."38 It is a minoritarian [End Page 190] tactic and a theoretical line of flight that spans the discursive and the embodied. Against Austinian performativity, parrēsia more nearly aligns with Diana Taylor's notion of "the animative," an affective and animating designation that aggregates "potentially chaotic, anarchistic, and revolutionary" activity.39 Not only does performing parrēsia constitute its own modality of self-care insofar as it self-defensively dismisses detractors while conserving the subject's own emotional and energetic resources; to insist on parrēsia as a necessary analytic for the works that I analyze here is also to insist on the capacity of Aguhar's performance of self-care to radiate outward toward others, and to open an overdetermined situation out into unknowability.

Revolting Self-Care

In a reading of two of Aguhar's ink and watercolor pieces—IF UR GAY I WANT 2 FUCK U and EVEN IF UR STR8 I STILL WANT 2 FUCK U 2—Pérez identifies Aguhar's "attraction to white masculinity" as a frequent preoccupation of her blog.40 Each of the two paintings juxtaposes Aguhar's body with a seemingly undifferentiated mass of (mostly) white men wearing white briefs. While in IF UR GAY I WANT 2 FUCK U Aguhar is seated in lotus pose above the men, in EVEN IF UR STR8 I STILL WANT 2 FUCK U 2 she lies on her back beneath the men who all stand upright in a grid. Pérez plausibly suggests that "by diagramming this erotic field, Aguhar draws a queer heuristic for owning, learning, and unlearning desire."41

Following Pérez again, we might wish to frame Aguhar's aesthetic engagements with white masculinity as performances of the care of the self. In addition to IF UR GAY I WANT 2 FUCK U and EVEN IF UR STR8 I STILL WANT 2 FUCK U 2, a series of photos posted to Tumblr of apparently white men wearing Aguhar's rope work—living, S&M-inspired sculptures—is instructive to this end. Across the earlier reaches of the callout queen's self-presentational domain, white men are captured within the bounds of Aguhar's will—hands tied to their sides, behind their back, and otherwise. Each work can be seen as an aesthetic enactment of the care of the self in that each tangles with Aguhar's desire for white masculinity so that, echoing Foucault, these appetites might not overwhelm her. But these works also do not seem to strive for the absolute undoing of that desire in order to redirect it elsewhere. Loyal to the spirit of S&M, the ropes in the photographs function both as constraints and as erotic adornments. By submitting these men to her own aesthetic and sexual proclivities, Aguhar submits herself to them in turn. [End Page 191]

Figure 1. IF UR GAY I WANT 2 FUCK U, by Mark Aguhar. Courtesy of the Estate of Mark Aguhar.
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Figure 1.

IF UR GAY I WANT 2 FUCK U, by Mark Aguhar. Courtesy of the Estate of Mark Aguhar.

[End Page 192]

Figure 2. EVEN IF UR STR8 I STILL WANT 2 FUCK U 2, by Mark Aguhar. Courtesy of the Estate of Mark Aguhar.
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Figure 2.

EVEN IF UR STR8 I STILL WANT 2 FUCK U 2, by Mark Aguhar. Courtesy of the Estate of Mark Aguhar.

[End Page 193]

However, in a Tumblr post from January 2011 titled "TL;DR," or "Too Long, Didn't Read," Aguhar issued a new mission statement for her blog, one that decidedly departed from the aesthetic strategies for dealing with desire that I have just described. It is ultimately expedient to quote her at length:

I'm going to make it my goal to make my work entirely intentional in who I depict and how. I'm going to keep blogging about queers from just about every part of the spectrum other than mainstream attractive white gay males. … [white gay cis-males] don't need me to help them, and I don't need to destroy my own sense of self by reproducing their privilege.42

"TL;DR" approaches a Foucauldian performance of the care of the self on altered terms. It is motivated by the feeling that an erotic field, like the one identified by Pérez in Aguhar's art, can and must also be gleaned as a field of unevenly distributed caring relations. The politics of sexual desirability and the politics of quotidian care are always deeply intertwined; caring capacities are everywhere conscripted in service to normatively desirable bodies—often white, thin, able-bodied, neurotypical, and, within certain queer worlds, masculine.43 Indeed, the less one is able to successfully inhabit or perform any of these co-constituting categories of convention, the more uncertain one's access to intimate relations of care may be. "TL;DR" therefore evinces Aguhar's sense that a performative reiteration of her desire for, identification with, and valorization of the normative ideal threatens to obliterate her when (re)enacted within the digital space of her self-presentation and self-preservation. Her subsequent choice to dismiss white masculinity through the parrēsiastic callout and to proliferate images of conventionally undesirable queers of color on her blog should therefore be understood as a counteridentificatory self-making, world-making, and caretaking endeavor.

Aguhar's curatorial project of blogging for brown girls is an exemplary performance of what I term "revolting self-care." Revolting self-care is what happens when the counterattack of callout culture is coupled with minoritarian valorization. It is a performatic practice that seeks to destroy and transform one's own and others' identifications with and desire for normative ideality. The ethico-political promise of such destruction and transformation lies in the redistribution of the nourishing and erotic impacts of representation, desirability, and care from the elite elsewhere to those marked for social and literal death as a result of their failure to approximate normative ideals. And, crucially, revolting self-care is nothing like neoliberal individualism. Aguhar's mission statement's insistence that white men do not need her to help them implies that her care of the self is also a care for other others, an assistive [End Page 194] aesthetic intervention that is notably and necessarily durational, an ongoing performance of self-critical self-sustainment.

I describe Aguhar's self-care as revolting for several reasons. From a Foucauldian perspective, Aguhar's performance of self-care can be viewed as a "revolt of conduct."44 In Security, Territory, Population, Foucault defines a revolt of conduct as a movement that "seeks to escape direction by others and to define the way for each to conduct himself."45 Given that care is a genre of conduct, Aguhar's performance of self-care can be considered a revolt of conduct insofar as it aspires to an anti-normative arrangement of caring relations, an aspiration that can be glimpsed in Aguhar's visual art. A watercolor posted to Aguhar's artist website (another Tumblr) titled "Patriotism (asia boys)" depicts two thin and naked Asian boys engaging in a sex act on a gingham picnic blanket next to a slice of apple pie.46 One of them, wearing a star-spangled banner bandana, lies on his back licking the head of the other's penis. The other buries his face in bandana-boy's ass. Though the piece is less obviously self-referential than the text-posts that populate Aguhar's personal blog, one can still read the piece as a careful exercise by Aguhar on herself. The ironic juxtaposition of patriotic symbolism and Asian-on-Asian gay sex depicts the assimilative tendency of Asian America within the scene of homosexual eros. The drawing signals an attunement to these relations of power with its parrēsiastic dismissal of the possibility that homosex, even between racial others, constitutes a threat to the national order of things—particularly if those racial others are otherwise normatively construed within regimes of beauty's construction. "Patriotism (asia boys)" functions both as a public, parrēsiastic irruption of harsh truth in the face of a gay of color mainstream increasingly complicit with US nationalism and as a reminder from the self to the self, a critically flippant disaffirmation of modes of minoritized life that inch too closely toward the sanitized station of normative citizen-subjectivity at the expense of others. I apply the category of the revolting to Aguhar's aesthetics, then, to account for her revolt against normative ideality through critical counteridentificatory tactics such as destruction, disaffirmation, deflation, dismissal, and flippancy.

Alongside the disaffirmative tactics of callout culture, it is crucial to note that many of Aguhar's most potent performances of self-care take form in her ubiquitous selfies and self-tapes wherein she spectacularly valorizes herself while performing herself as a paradigm of abject life. In a video posted to her blog on January 17, 2011, a shirtless Aguhar can be seen applying a cream to her body.47 Her hair is tied in a small bun that sits atop her head, and her lips are red with lipstick below a thick brown mustache. The video shows her [End Page 195] applying the cream to her skin as she looks either into the camera or, presumably, at her own image previewed on a screen below the camera. "I Wanna Be Adored" by the Stone Roses plays in the background. Throughout the video Aguhar accentuates her breasts. She pushes them together to form cleavage. She places her hands behind her neck, as if either baring them proudly or signaling submission to an objectifying order (or both). The caption captures this ambivalence: "THE UNFORTUNATE REALITY THAT MY BODY IS A POLITICAL SITE AND MY SELF CARE IS A RADICAL ACTION." These acts exemplify Aguhar's indulgence in what Diaz describes as "kabaklaan" insofar as they emphasize her brownness and transness alongside an understanding of everyday life's attritional condition and the care that that condition necessitates. The filmed acts amount to a performance of "puro arte," Lucy Mae San Pablo Burns's term for those animated Filipino embodiments that express, among other things, "the gall, the guts, and the sheer effort needed to put on such a display" at all.48

In another display of this sort, the callout queen is faceless and on all fours.49 She wears a white, mesh crop top and sunset-colored short shorts, intentionally showing off the fatness of her belly. The caption to this photo, on the one hand, is saturated with vulnerability to and rage against the seemingly endless antifatness she faces everyday, stating, "The sins of my body are punishable by constant public derision."50 On the other hand, the caption professes a self-certain empowerment because of that same anti-fatness. She writes, "I'm glad my body continues to have such amazing public power; who else is as legendary as me."51 The photo, for its part, elucidates the transmogrification of oppression into empowerment that is captured in the caption. In the image, Aguhar objectifies herself and her fatness, which paradoxically produces herself as a fat subject that objectifies. Such self-objectification enacts revolting self-care in that Aguhar is both subject and object and therefore neither subject nor object; she is abject in the Kristevan sense.

For Foucault, the care of the self is a creative activity through which the subject can cultivate a particular "style of living" or "aesthetics of existence," one that may diverge from normative standards of embodiment and ethics.52 By referring to Aguhar's self-care as revolting, then, I continue with Kristeva and imply that Aguhar's aesthetics of existence are abject. An abject aesthetics of existence valorizes abject ways of being a self in the world that may be viewed as beautiful or, as Mia Mingus puts it, magnificent53 by those who know better but that are also, as Judith Butler suggests, "unsupported by the regime of truth."54 In cultivating an abject aesthetics of existence, Aguhar becomes a force that unsettles normative subjectivity and conduct even as she also avails [End Page 196] herself to abjection—that ongoing process by which outcasts are outcast by those seeking to produce themselves as subjects within normative regimes of intelligibility. But if this fact implies unavoidable attrition for Aguhar-as-abject, it also presents her endurance as a source of inspiration for those similarly experiencing abjection and attrition.

Virtual Separatism

Revolting self-care is characterized by the simultaneous disaffirmation of the normatively desirable and a generous valorization of the normatively undesirable. The practice is perhaps best encapsulated in what is arguably Aguhar's most famous work: "Litanies to My Heavenly Brown Body." The piece is in two parts. The first performs the rage, pain, and resentment that fuels the disaffirmation in Aguhar's oeuvre. Lines include but are not limited to "FUCK YOUR WHITENESS," "FUCK YOUR BEAUTY," and "FUCK YOUR JUDGING ME FOR SELF CARE." Part 2 returns us to Aguhar's practice of minoritarian valorization. Lines include "BLESSED ARE THE PEOPLE OF COLOR MY BELOVED KITH AND KIN," "BLESSED ARE THE TRANS," and "BLESSED ARE THE HOT FAT GIRLS." This latter half of Aguhar's litanies clearly reference the Christian Bible's beatitudes. By bestowing her blessings on unfortunate others, Aguhar casts herself as a Christ-like figure with the power to remap the realms of the sacred and the profane, the holy and the unholy, the cared for and the uncared for. With this observation, we are briefly returned to Aguhar as the parrēsiast aiding others in the care of the self. As Foucault writes, parrēsia can be viewed as "a virtue, duty, and technique which should be found in the person who spiritually directs others and helps them to constitute a relationship to self."55

"Litanies," like the practice of revolting self-care that it mirrors, expresses a separatist structure of feelings; part 1 functions as a "Do Not Enter" sign for the privileged, while part 2 acts as a welcome mat for the marginalized. Muñoz has written of his wariness around separatism, arguing that "[separatist] enclaves are often politically disadvantageous" due to the dominant order's dependence on minority factionalism and isolationism.56 While I agree with the apprehension of Muñoz's position, my intention with this writing is to dwell in the counteridentificatory impulses of revolting self-care in order to glimpse the resources that make themselves available in minoritarian publics of separatist respite, especially those affective publics that induce feelings of belonging and connectivity while eluding permanence or calcification. Consider that any experience of separatism that Aguhar's aesthetics might actualize on [End Page 197] Tumblr diverges not only from experiences of separatism that are bound by space and time but also from experiences of separatism that privilege singular axes of identitarian sameness. Aguhar's minoritarian separatism is a separatismin-difference posed against a majoritarian public sphere. In other words, what emerges through the encounter with Aguhar's online oeuvre is an ephemeral, contingent, and contested experience of virtual separatism, of feeling that one is a part of a social world that thankfully stands apart from normative ideality. And to those inclined to believe that all separatisms have been virtual in the sense of being porous and penetrated by uninvited interlopers, I would simply say that Aguhar's is unique in that it is not spatially bound. Its existence on networked social media enables an alleviation of minoritarian isolation by allowing the neglected increased access to sociality and solace, from wherever they may be.

We might think, for instance, of queer and trans youth of color who may be forced to survive the small minds of small towns. Nothing less than the thinkability of a livable world is at stake in their arrival at Aguhar's page. By observing Aguhar's ability to withstand an onslaught of majoritarian vitriol, these youth might become better able to live through intense conditions of un-belonging. Upon encountering Aguhar and her other followers, a young queer and trans girl of color might be provided with caring relations, recognition, and respite that may not otherwise be available. Minoritarian isolation may be suspended, and something more sustainable may be attained. The very intimate affective public of virtual separatism is nothing less than a bastion within the permanent war of the present, a source of affective and social sustenance for minoritarian life paradoxically rendered both possible and impossible by the nonspace of networked social media.

The fact of these care-full provisions complicates and supplements theories of new media that are skeptical of communications technology's value for leftist politics. In Blog Theory, Jodi Dean rightly asserts both that digital social networks circulate affect and that "affective networks produce feelings of community, or what we might call 'community without community,'" virtual separatism by another, less particular name.57 However, Dean asserts that this affective circulation does little more than reify "communicative capitalism," or "that economic-ideological form wherein reflexivity captures creativity and resistance so as to enrich the few as it placates and diverts the many" (4). The circulation of affect within social network technology under communicative capitalism, she insists, is best understood through Jacques Lacan's theory of drive, a death drive that does not pursue a lost thing lacked but loss itself. Dean explains: [End Page 198]

Understanding this circulation via drive enables us to grasp how we are captured in its loop, how the loop ensnares. First, we enjoy failure. Insofar as the aim of the drive is not to reach its goal but to enjoy, we enjoy our endless circulation, our repetitive loop … googling, checking Wikipedia, mistrusting it immediately, losing track of what we were doing, going somewhere else. … Second, we are captured in our passivity, or more precisely, by the reversion of our active engagements and interventions into passive forms of "being made aware" or "having been stated." … Outraged, engaged, desperate to do something, we look for evidence, ask questions, and make demands, again contributing to the circuits of drive.


My point is not to suggest that Dean's analysis of communicative capitalism is wrong or without value. Writing from the rubble of the United States' 2016 presidential election, I am intimately familiar with communicative capitalism's co-optation of political emotion and activity. I no doubt share Dean's desire for collective and anticapitalist political organization at the largest possible scale. But I also argue that, in her reduction of affective circulation to either the jouissance or anxiety of drive, Dean too easily disregards the relevance of caring relations to the study of networked technologies.

Two moments in Dean's text especially evince this dismissal. In the first, Dean references blogs and social networks that are "by and for teenage girls" (63). Though she concedes that such networks "produce affective spaces where [teenage girls] express themselves, share their feelings, and reach out with a little hope that someone will be touched and reach back" (63), this brief acknowledgment of the caring relations potentiated by networked media ultimately slips into a paranoid reading of feminized blogging as a marketing of social life. While Dean rightly warns that "feelings can be profitable" (63), she understates the value of the care received within such sites. This impulse to undervalue care can also be glimpsed in Dean's treatment of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's concept of affective labor. Dean admits that affective labor—especially that performed by women, often for little or no pay—"produces social networks" and feelings of "vitality and security, or care and belonging" (113). Despite this, though, and against the Deleuzian thrust of Hardt and Negri's claims, Dean argues that the affective dimensions of social networks "should not be reduced to desiring productivity or a nurturing emotional practice" (119).

To present a picture of digital social media as a technology of capture alone, Dean chooses to discount the value of care as an affective force and relational practice within affective publics. She reduces a mediated ecology of care to so many "contributions" that, for her, amount neither to critical thinking nor to political action—"communication for its own sake" (102). Put simply, Dean disavows a view that positions the performance of care as political. In so doing, she relies on and reifies an old, deeply gendered rendering of what constitutes [End Page 199] the political as such, a move that is perhaps unsurprising given the racialized and gendered bifurcation of feeling and thinking at the base of Dean's central call for media theory "to forswear the affective enterprise of contributing the feeling-impulses of hope and reassurance and offer thinking instead" (32).

I want to insist on the political value of considering online performances of self-care such as Aguhar's as performances of affective and reproductive labor. In staking this claim, I am inspired by Audre Lorde's famous words: "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."58 Lorde's words, written as she waged a losing battle with cancer, resonate with the death knell that inevitably haunts any consideration of Aguhar's life's work and work's life. They serve as a reminder to all of us: self-care is a labor that assists in the reproduction of life. It is, quite literally, a matter of life and death. This is true not only for queer and trans people of color living in rural isolation but also for diasporic subjects, especially migrant workers and the undocumented, who often live at great distance from loved ones with little recourse for return; for the fat and/or disabled who, due to physical or emotional exhaustion or immobility, often rely on social media for social life; and finally, to quote Aguhar's litanies, for the "BELOVED WHO I DIDN'T DESCRIBE, I COULDN'T DESCRIBE, WILL LEARN TO DESCRIBE AND RESPECT AND LOVE."

The queer and trans, the femme and feminine, the Filipina and the fat, the other abandoned others: these are the subjects of Aguhar's virtual separatism because their interconnected experience of vulnerability to violence inclines them toward the creative capacities of mutual care. Drawing on the philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, Wendy Chun has argued that certain performances of online self-exposure "relay their singular stories in a form that seems to deny singularity."59 Considered as so many such performances, the aggregation of Aguhar's visual art, selfies, text posts, and litanies can be glimpsed as "a reaching toward community, which stems from both what seems to be held in common but also what can never be: the singular experience of abuse and vulnerability."60 What matters here is the singular plurality of subjectivity within what I have been calling virtual separatism—the priority of "we" to "I," the contiguous confluence of "we" and "I." From this vantage point, the nonspace of virtual separatism actuated by Aguhar becomes legible as a permeable and intersubjective gathering in and through which subjectivity reaches toward a sharpened ethico-political awareness of our differentiated singular plurality. Here, the Foucauldian formulation of "the care of the self for others" can be read less as the statement of temporal or ontological priority that it is usually understood to be (one cares for the self in order to better care for others) and more as an [End Page 200] assertion of temporal and ontological singular-plural simultaneity (the care of the self as a care for others; the care for others as the care for the self).

"Remember Death"

I am not sure if Eve Sedgwick had a subject like Aguhar in mind when she wrote, in 1994, of lesbian and gay studies' preoccupation with the suicides of queer youth.61 Nevertheless, Aguhar's loss, pace Sedgwick, is both queer and now, both trans and brown. And we can count her loss among a number of femme losses in the second decade of the twenty-first century, a period of time that Piepzna-Samarasinha has called "the femme suicide years."62 As I come to the end of this writing, the question remains: how can we consider Aguhar's self-care alongside her suicide? Some might seek recourse to Aguhar's psychic interiority for explanation. Such persons would likely cite the depression and grief that flooded the end of her life, a tide that rose in the afterlife of her sister's suicide about a year prior to her own. There is also a reading that would recuperate her death for the project of revolting self-care. This reading would insist that Aguhar's death despite self-care is a critique of the wretched world in which we live, a critique that testifies to the urgency of revolting self-care's proliferation as a tactic expressive and generative of structures of feeling capable of connecting minoritarian life back to itself. One reader of an earlier draft of this essay articulated this approach to understanding Aguhar's self-annihilation in this way: "[Practices of survival] exist in revolt against conditions that make them necessary, conditions in which failure is often likely, if not inevitable. The failure to survive does not negate the practice, it is its reason for deployment."

I worry about equating suicide with a "failure to survive." While this way of reading self-annihilation damns an unjust world that is certainly worthy of damnation, it also risks robbing Aguhar of agency and autonomy in her final act. What if suicide for her, or someone like her, was something nearer to success? I would ask whether we can bear the question long enough to answer it, but some of us never have that choice. I didn't the winter I lost my friend Cris, another unprecedented queer and trans creature, under similar circumstances. What if we understood suicide not as a failure but as a line of flight directed away from an impoverished present? What if this is what we should take away from the encounter between Aguhar and a follower, posted to her blog years prior to her death, in which the follower comments, "I believe I can fly," and Aguhar captions the comment, "my suicide note"?63 Maybe. But those of us who have survived the suicide of another know that the reasons for their self-annihilation are ultimately and painfully unknowable. When a loved one [End Page 201] chooses to leave life behind, those of us left behind with it have only to grieve and to reconcile the impossibility of explanation with the incompossibility of explanations. "Incompossible": a word I borrow from Tavia Nyong'o, who uses it as a way to keep queer of color realities that could have been, that perhaps should have been, within our reach.64

In the end, it seems only fitting to return to an instruction from the callout queen herself, one found in the epigraph that began this essay, "The Axes": "Remember death." Dylan Rodríguez, in Suspended Apocalypse, impels us to remember the "essential relation of death" that dwells in the chasm between the "Filipino" and the "American," the latter term soaked in the blood of the former because of an ongoing project of white supremacist genocide.65 Else-where, Eric Stanley has documented queer and trans death to establish that "queer" names "the collision of difference and violence," excessive violence.66 For Stanley, queer life amounts only to a kind of "near life or a death-in-waiting" emptied out by a feeling of nonexistence.67 Together, these arguments imply that to remember death as queer and trans Filipino Americans is to remember that we exist, laugh, and love, to the extent that we do, in the shadow of death and under the weight of irresolvable antagonism. To remember death, therefore, is not only to remember that death is inevitable for all of us. It is also to remember that, especially for some of us, death is both now and then, it is as slow as it is fast and frequent: it is the defining immanence of our abjection. To be revolting is also to be depressive, decaying, degenerating, decomposing, dying. In her book Death beyond Disavowal, Grace Hong argues that under neoliberalism, the fact of death is that which must be disavowed in order to access the life-sustaining apparatuses of biopower.68 To the extent that we forget death, whether Aguhar's or any other, we become complicit in the production of death. It would seem that we have little choice, then, but to embrace the militant melancholia that Muñoz describes when he reminds us to "bring our dead with us to the various battles we must wage in their names." It is in this spirit that I conclude with another of the callout queen's parrēsiastic lines of inquiry and instruction, words to live by, to die by: "Will you remember me when I'm gone? Will you remember me for coining the term 'butch pageantry'? This is all I ask of you, my children. Go forth and proselytize."69 [End Page 202]

James McMaster

James McMaster James McMaster is assistant professor of gender and women's studies and Asian American studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is currently working on a book project that puts the discourse of care theory into conversation with queer, feminist, and Asian Americanist critique and cultural production. His writing has appeared, or will soon, in the Journal of Asian American Studies, TDR: The Drama Review, Transgender Studies Quarterly, and Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory.


0. My thanks to the Editorial Board and staff at American Quarterly, my anonymous reviewers, Karen Shimakawa, Ann Pellegrini, Tavia Nyong'o, and Kimberly Alidio for pushing me and this essay to be better. I am also very grateful to Roy Pérez and Michael Aguhar for all of their help.

1. Here I am invoking Audre Lorde's "A Litany for Survival."

2. Mark Aguhar, Blogging for Brown Gurls,

3. Mark Aguhar, "Artist's Statement,"

4. Joshua Chambers-Letson, After the Party: A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life (New York: New York University Press, 2018), 15.

5. José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 7.

6. Robyn Magalit Rodriguez, Migrants for Export: How the Philippine State Brokers Labor to the World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), x.

7. Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Servants of Globalization: Migration and Domestic Work (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001), 29.

8. Arlie Russell Hochschild, "Global Care Chains and Emotional Surplus Value," in On The Edge: Living with Global Capitalism, ed. Will Hutton and Anthony Giddens (London: Jonathan Cape, 2000).

9. Since Manalansan's intervention, more scholars have analyzed the performance of care in the Filipino diaspora in nonheteronormative ways. See Allan Punzalan Isaac, "In A Precarious Time and Place: The Refusal to Wallow and Other Migratory Temporal Investments in Care Divas, the Musical," Journal of Asian American Studies 19.1 (2016): 5–24; and Gina Velasco, "Performing the Filipina 'Mail Order Bride': Queer Neoliberalism, Affective Labor, and Homonationalism," Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 23.3 (2013): 350–72.

10. Martin Manalansan, "Queering the Chain of Care Paradigm," The Scholar and Feminist Online 6.3 (2008),

11. Manalansan.

12. Robert Diaz, "Biyuti from Below: Contemporary Philippine Cinema and the Transing of Kabaklaan," TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 5.3 (2018): 405–6.

13. Michel Foucault, "The Ethics of the Concern of The Self as a Practice of Freedom," in Ethics Subjectivity and Truth, ed. Paul Rabinow, trans. Robert Hurley and others (New York: New Press, 1997), 282.

14. Manalansan, "Queering the Chain of Care Paradigm."

15. Wendy Brown, "Neoliberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy," Theory and Event 7.1 (2003): 15.

16. B. Loewe, "An End to Self Care," Organizing Upgrade, October 15, 2012,

17. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice (Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp, 2018), 206.

18. Piepzna-Samarasinha, 210.

19. Piepzna-Samarasinha, 209.

20. Piepzna-Samarasinha, 208.

21. Zizi Papacharissi, Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology, and Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

22. Papacharissi, 7.

23. danah boyd, "Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications," in A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites, ed. Zizi Papacharissi (New York: Routledge, 2011), 39.

24. Mizuko Ito, introduction to Networked Publics, ed. Kazys Varnelis (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008), 2.

25. Roy Pérez, "Mark Aguhar's Critical Flippancy," Bully Bloggers, August 4, 2012,

26. Pérez.

27. Foucault, "Ethics of the Concern of the Self," 285.

28. Muñoz, Disidentifications, 143.

29. Karen Tongson, Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries (New York: New York University Press, 2011), 23.

30. Michel Foucault, The Government of the Self and Others: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1982–1983, ed. Frederic Gros, trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Picador, 2008), 43.

31. Foucault, 52.

32. Foucault, 54.

33. Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), 57.

34. Donatella Galella, "Feeling Yellow: Responding to Contemporary Yellowface in Musical Performance," Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 3.2 (2018): 67.

35. Michel Foucault, Fearless Speech, ed. Joseph Pearson (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2001), 13.

36. Foucault, Government of the Self, 61–62.

37. Foucault, 66.

38. Foucault, 66.

39. Diana Taylor, "Politics of Passion," E-Misferica 10.2 (2013),

40. Roy Pérez, "Proximity: On the Work of Mark Aguhar," in Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility, ed. Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Johanna Burton (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017), 283.

41. Pérez, 286.

42. Mark Aguhar, "TL;DR," Blogging for Brown Gurls, January 31, 2011,

43. This claim is in no small way informed by the work of Caleb Luna. See, for instance, Luna, "Romantic Love Is Killing Us: Who Takes Care of Us When We Are Single?," The Body Is Not an Apology, September 18, 2018,

44. Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–1978, ed. Michel Senellart, trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Picador, 2007), 194. It is true that Foucault prefers the term counterconduct to revolts of conduct because "the word 'revolt' is both too precise and too strong to designate much more diffuse and subdued forms of resistance." However, I retain the language of revolt in order to retain the affective propulsion of the term's revolutionary connotations and for reasons related to abjection that become clear later in this essay.

45. Foucault, 195.

46. Mark Aguhar, "Patriotism (asia boys)," April 1, 2011,

48. Lucy Mae San Pablo Burns, Puro Arte: Filipinos on the Stages of Empire (New York: New York University Press, 2013), 2.

49. Mark Aguhar, Call Out Queen Zine, ed. Juana Peralta and Roy Pérez, January 4, 2014,

51. Aguhar.

52. Foucault, "On the Genealogy of Ethics," 260.

53. Mia Mingus, "Moving toward the Ugly: A Politic beyond Desirability," Leaving Evidence, August 22, 2011,

54. Judith Butler, "What Is Critique? An Essay on Foucault's Virtue," Eipcp: European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies, May 2001,

55. Foucault, Government of the Self and Others, 43.

56. Muñoz, Disidentifications, 14.

57. Jodi Dean, Blog Theory (Malden, MA: Polity, 2010), 96. Hereafter cited in the text.

58. Audre Lorde, A Burst of Light (Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books, 1988).

59. Wendy Hui Kyoung Chun, Updating to Remain the Same: Habitual New Media (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016), 162.

60. Chun, 162.

61. Eve Sedgwick, "Queer and Now," in Tendencies (London: Routledge, 1994).

62. Piepzna-Samarasinha, Care Work, 192.

63. Mark Aguhar, Blogging for Brown Gurls, May 22, 2010,

64. Tavia Nyong'o, Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life (New York: New York University Press, 2019), 6.

65. Dylan Rodriguez, Suspended Apocalypse: White Supremacy, Genocide, and the Filipino Condition (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), 105.

66. Eric Stanley, "Near Life, Queer Death: Overkill and Ontological Capture," Social Text, no. 107 (2011): 3.

67. Stanley, 1.

68. Grace Kyungwon Hong, Death beyond Disavowal: The Impossible Politics of Difference (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015).

69. Mark Aguhar, Blogging for Brown Gurls, September 25, 2011,

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