Approaching relationships and connections with others queerly, and understanding them within the framework of queer theory or activism.

It isn’t really possible to give a few line introduction to queer theory because it is a large and diverse field. Nevertheless there are a couple of concepts that are really important, and that matter to engaging in relationship queering. These are:

1) We are raised with particular ideas of what constitutes maleness, femaleness and normality in our society which are enforced by the State through law and education
2) These ideas are reinforced by people performing race, gender and sexuality in their daily lives; none of which are intrinsic or innate.
3) What constitutes maleness, femaleness, whiteness, blackness and normality varies over time and between cultures. It is not static.
4) There is some Marxism in queer theory, which suggests that performing gender, race and sexualty in line with social norms supports and reproduces capitalism and other hierarchies.
5) Acting in ways that are not socially approved of in terms of performance of gender, race and sexuality is radical
6) Subverting, deconstructing and troubling norms is important and one way of expressing one’s queerness

So, while understanding reationshipqueering in the context of queer theory and activism sounds rather a lofty aim, actually it can be quite simple. Really it means that you understand that as for gender, race and sexuality we are educated and inculturated into understandings of what a successful relationship looks like. These ideas are reinforced by mass media and by the performances of friends and family. When we actively question, subvert, deconstruct and trouble these relationship norms in conscious ways, we are engaging in relationshipqueering. For some this may mean not subscribing to some conventional measures of success – home ownership, 2.5 kids, retirement accounts. For others it may mean subverting ideas of the primacy of sexual relationship and valuing platonic relationships more highly. There are many ‘norms’ in respect of relationships, and therefore plenty of things to subvert.


If you would like to help me to make the site better or give me feedback please answer some questions for me here.

Leave a Comment