Logos, or Silence=Death


We often demand that our arguments, and particularly the arguments of others, be logical, be rational. But whose logic is operating here? Whose rationality? Queers often find that the logics of the larger culture are aligned to discredit queers, disavow the legitimacy of their interests, and discombobulate their attempts to find social justice. For instance, Grindstaff argues that the notion of the “rhetorical secret” was dominant in much of the first part of the twentieth century’s construction of homosexuality: for gays and lesbians, the “love that dare not speak its name” demanded careful narrative handling, forcing many to construct their sexual identities on the notion of secrecy, misdirection, and obfuscation; at the same time, such secrecy worked spectacularly to uphold heteronormativity by creating silences, stigmas, and shame around the homosexual.
Indeed, one cannot be publicly queer without calling upon oneself outrage, indignation, and shame. The cultural logics are powerful. According to Jonathan Dollimore, the logics of heteronormativity are clear: I identify with those of the same sex, but I desire those of the opposite sex (267). Contemporary cultural anxieties about “bromances,” the “man crush,” and even the “broner” reveal the increasing pressure under which such a formula for narrating desire and intimacy is coming. The forty-four entries in Urban Dictionary for “bromance” speak volumes about this delicate dance—no, this driving need—to delineate identity and desire: hence, the term

“Silence = Death” (ACT UP). Online image.

“bromance” “[d]escribes the complicated love and affection shared by two straight males.” Why complicated? Why does it need explanation or description? What logics of homophobia and sexism insist on such clarification—no, no, we’re straight, just friends, not sexual. The cordoning off of the erotic, the disavowal of the sexual, is precisely what the queer works against, for it re-inscribes same-sex desire as somehow shameful, as something needing to be publicly denied, put back in the closet.