In a Queer Time and Place/Brandon Archive (Warmington)

Judith Halberstam argues that there is a misconception about the functions and locations of queer time and space.  There are several points, and at times counterpoints, to unravel in Halberstam’s work.  I will concentrate on areas that I feel need to be examined and hashed out.  For example, Halberstam discusses the time and space of gay men during the AIDS epidemic and how that place and moment creates the necessity to examine the present because there may not be a future.  She discusses the poetry of Mark Doty and gives examines of his poem to illustrate the urgency of now for the gay man in the time and space of AIDS.  At the same time, Halberstam explains in her introduction that out of this time/space developed a way of living that was removed from the expectations associated with “birth, marriage, reproduction, and death” (5).  This is one of the first sections were Halberstam expresses that there are positive results that grow out of difficult situations and it is our misconceptions that often prevent us from locating these outcomes.  There are also spaces that have been left out or ignored.  Recognizing what is missing from an examination of these spaces and analyzing causes of particular omissions, enables a queer critique that moves away from focusing on “white male subjects” (6).  She argues that Samuel Delany accomplishes this in Times Square red, Times Square Blue whereas Harvey does not in The Condition of Postmodernity.

Halberstam’s also discusses the relationship between gendered identities and class.  She argues that gendered roles were created in relation to the modes of production in a capitalist space.   This becomes relevant in her critique of the misconceptions and missing elements that exist in the archive that has grown out of the association of non-urban areas as a dangerous space for queers.  The accounts of the murders of Brandon Teena and Matthew Shepard have been reshaped by upper/lower class, urban/non-urban and queer/straight binaries.  This archive has alienated queers that have found safe spaces within rural America.  This archive also omits the construction of gendered roles in rural spaces.  While there is no question that being masculine permits a level of comfort/safety, this is not necessary the driving mechanism in royal America for a gay man to be masculine.  Instead, Halberstam exams the need for men to be masculine in order to be viewed as able bodied workers in the workforce of royal America.  This same concept can be applied to women; it is not only acceptable but necessary for straight women to have masculine qualities in order for them to be valued in the work force of rural America.

I am having difficulty understanding what Halberstam’s believes was the cause of Brandon Teena’s murder.  On one hand, it seems that Halberstam is arguing that the traumas that exist due to class struggles, gender bending and racial tensions cause white males to fear subjugation and eradication may be the cause but on the other hand she seems to caution us not to lump all of rural America into this argument.


1.  What are we to conclude about the differences of rural and urban spaces in relation to space and time?

2.  We have been discussing the positive aspects of social media and the ways in which networking exists in these spaces.  What about the negative spaces that have also been produced? I am specifically thinking about cyber bullying and exploitation.  I think theTyler Clementi story must be considered in this conversation.  Tyler Clementi

2 thoughts on “In a Queer Time and Place/Brandon Archive (Warmington)

  1. alexislothian

    I think your question about the cause of Brandon’s murder stems from the seeming incommensurability between Halberstam’s desire to understand his move to Falls City as empowering within the context of his own life, and the acknowledgment of the fact that clearly his murder was motivated by a hatred and fear of the “secret” of his gender that was uncovered. But maybe the challenge is to think about both of these things together — about rural or other spaces that might be actively chosen by queer and trans people even though they may not, in fact, be “safe”? The narrative of the chapter follows Halberstam’s own attempts to make sense of this; I think we’ll need the more in-depth (and personally rurally identified) Scott Herring to get all the way there, though!

  2. Rachael Warmington Post author

    “But maybe the challenge is to think about both of these things together — about rural or other spaces that might be actively chosen by queer and trans people even though they may not, in fact, be “safe”?”
    Thank you for answering my question. This is definitely something to think about.


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