In a week time I’m in San Francisco. That’s gonna be my first time in America – the promised land that’s been haunting my childhood since growing up in the post-socialist Estonia. TV has always been the window to the wider world here – starting from the beginning of the media-time when the Finnish television used to be the open source for foreign cultural influence in Northern Estonia during Soviet time, later on during the 1990s when the children like me were carried away to their fantasy Matelle-Barbie-dolls-mini-cars-superhero-world. Oh, I remember how much I desired all these plastic-fantastic toys laying around the cute bedrooms, where frustrated American children in the movies escaped from their beautiful parents, who seemed perfect for me.
Along with age came maturity, another kind of films, different sources, new views on this amazing country that has often claimed to be the best society in the world. And then came real people, friends from America with whom we crossed paths in different parts of the world. I’ve shared my living with some of them, I even had an American boyfriend, and he was rad.
For the past few weeks I’ve been browsing Craigslist – the most popular web for selling and buying stuff and searching for houses – to find myself a living space near Berkeley. After few days I realized that half of the population in the Bay area defines themselves as queer. They often also claim to be progressive, radical, anti-racist, sometimes also easy-going and 420 friendly. Sounds good to me, I thought. The not so good part would be when they define themselves through TV series that I had never heard about.
But back to part of the radical – so everybody’s queer. I remember Susan Stryker, an awesome scholar on transgender studies, once posted on her FB page about a phone call that she overheard: “Everybody’s queered up! I can’t find no bitches anymore! That’s what it’s like in San Francisco now…” (by a man sitting in BART drinking something from a wrapped bottle)
Many questions circulating my mind when I come to think about these roommate adds. How come so many people are defining themselves through the gendered or non-gendered selves? How has it almost become the first and most used ‘tag’ to position yourself as a potential roommate? How is it going to be in real life – is their an actual divide between the queers and the non-queers? Can you tell the difference? Are all the queers cool and the non-queers assholes or just boring? What does the “queer” actually stand for – is it about sexual preferences, (non)gendered selves, critical attitude towards gender norms, or has it become a style or a trendy way to label yourself?
And how am I going to cope with all that – am I queer enough for these folks??!
As I still haven’t got any deal, then at least I got my little anthropological experience started. Can’t wait to take it further.
Another thing my American friends here keep on telling is that America is a dangerous country. Rock on!