Sewell, John I. (2014). “Becoming rather than being”: Queer’s double-edged discourse as deconstructive practice. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 38(4), 291-307.
Sewell articulates how queer’s resistance to stability stays the terms rhetoricity.
Keywords: Queer Rhetorics, LGBTQ, Sexuality, Communication, Rhetoric
“Queer is imminently more malleable as a theoretical construct than in its vernacular use. This malleability is key to queer’s elasticity as an empty signiﬁer and to its political function” (294).
“To be queer is to be marginalized. To identify as queer is to align oneself with the marginalized. Queer functions as a site for contestation or refusal” (294).
“One key to queer’s rhetorical power is its resonance in the culture as an expletive…. [T]o be queer is to violate the gendered order on which governments, economic systems, ideologies, religions—everything—is based” (294).
“Crucially, queer identity discourse deﬁes such petriﬁcation because queer never denoted ﬁxity. A term that never had an exact a priori meaning can never lose its meaning” (295).
“As an identifying discourse—and as an empty signiﬁer—queer rhetorically sidesteps the aforementioned temporal location conundrum. Queer acknowledges that it is a thing that cannot be. Queer’s paradox, in this way, is its strength. Because queer is a thing that is and a thing that cannot be, one cannot aﬃx it to a temporal location as an empty signiﬁer” (303).