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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Boys Like Her: Queering Gender, Queering the National Body


When a car full of queers attempts to cross a border that is regulated by the law when their bodies are not legible in a system which attempts to fix and sex subjects according to a rigid binary, they become immediately suspect. And in this case, their whiteness cannot outshine their queerness. As the law sees it, “Four queers crossing the border in a borrowed car, four smiling and self-satisfied queers, were most certainly up to something” (Taste This 18). But what is it that made this group of “four smiling and self-satisfied queers” suspect? Was it the fact that they were driving a borrowed car? Was it because they were read as queer? Or was it because in their queerness, they could not be read at all? While many factors could have played a part in this story, I suggest that there is something more than homophobia to account for here; it is not a fear of what is thought to be known about the queer person, but rather a response to the threat posed to the law and to the state because the queer body cannot be read accordingly. In other words, I am asking us to pay attention to the threat and the fear of the unknown, the illegible, and the invisible – that which is not given-to-be-seen on the queer body. It is this very uncertainty about the body and its continual crossing of borders real and metaphorical that threatens the law and the nation.

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