Our queerantine was a failure.
Jack Halberstam, in The Queer Art of Failure, suggests that queers have always failed “exceptionally well,” arguing that failure offers certain rewards, such as escaping the “punishing norms that discipline behavior and manage human development with the goal of delivering us from unruly childhoods to orderly and predictable adulthoods” (2011:3). My partner of 14 years and I quarantined together with our polycule—my other partner and her other brand new partner I had never met before—for three months. It was an experiment in putting into practice our theoretical and political commitments—ways of loving and living and creating queer kinship as alternatives to the heteronormative nuclear family structure.
The queerantine was polyamory on steroids. We each were faced with confronting some of our deepest vulnerabilities. We did not communicate well, sometimes. We played 5th grade telephone games and got pissed about things that she said that she said about you but didn’t tell you to your face. We took turns threatening to leave or suggesting that others should. We had multi-day fights about pillowcases and nachos and sex. We took turns having angry meltdowns. Just a few days ago, one of us left. We are all hurt and angry and take turns blaming each other, but we also all know that it took 4 to create this dynamic.
Four generous and smart people created a dynamic that was so toxic and all-consuming that we all had a difficult time putting as much time and attention as we wanted to our work, our other relationships, and political action in this important moment. We are coming out of the fog and are remembering how big the world is and are trying to redirect our energies while also trying to repair our relationships.
There were also moments of beauty and care and fun and joy and pleasure. We cooked for each other and gave each other haircuts and helped each other move cities and celebrated birthdays and book publications and dissertation defenses and a new job.
I hope we will look back and realize that we have learned something, but right now we are all angry and hurt and are disappointed