goto Appendx main menu Sexuality and Appendx :
Bryan Reynolds
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Harvard's decision to remove the doors to the toilet stalls is ironic, then, for their removal undermines the university's purpose and the conventionally understood function of the men's room in several ways.  Apart from almost eliminating the usage of the toilets, it is especially ironic that Harvard's endeavor to abolish the gay male sexual activity transpiring in the privacy of the locked toilet stalls actually magnifies the overall homoeroticism of this Science Center men's room.  Conversely, the doors have not been removed from the toilet stalls of the adjacent and equally conveniently located Science Center women's room.  Yet this does not indicate that Harvard does not believe or suspect that lesbian sexual activity occurs in its toilet stalls.  Characteristic of patriarchy is the invisibilizing and negation of lesbianism and the relegation and production of lesbian sexual practice as male heterosexual fantasy.  Accordingly, when compared to Harvard's treatment of the Science Center men's room, Harvard's decision not to remove the doors to the toilet stalls in the women's room can be interpreted as a demonstration of Harvard's complicity in the invisibilizing of lesbianism.  Insofar as Harvard openly acknowledges the danger that gay male sexuality poses for the patriarchal system by forcing gay male sexual practice from the men's room, Harvard responds defensively to the greater threat of lesbianism by not explicitly addressing it at all. 

Of course, the Appendx project is not more dynamically homoerotic because of the omission of sexuality from the list of realities privileged by its founding editors.  On the contrary, for the reader unaware of the theoretical contextualization of the reality of sexuality in the founding editors' comprehension of "Blackness such that the term refers not only to color and ethnicity, but also engages aspects of social technologies and practices affecting a broader range of 'others,"' the opposite may be effected.  Since this reader will fail to recognize the various ways in which sexuality informs and is included in the "range of'others" identified with the termAppendx 1 page break 199 | 200"Blackness," this reader might interpret the omission of the reality of sexuality as actually heterosexualizing the "critical space" Appendx intends to construct.  Indeed, this is exactly how I interpreted the "statement of intent" and "journal description" when I first read them.  For me, at the very least, the omission of the reality of sexuality always invokes the false and harmful assumption that heterosexuality is neutral and universal.  It was not until the theoretical framework to the declarations was explained, to me by the founding editors that I came to understand their meaning. 

Up till that time, I felt much the same way about the declarations as I did about the doorless toilet stalls when I entered the Science Center men's room.  For those men, like me, who realize the purpose for the removal of the stall doors, the suppression of gay male sexuality will always be associated, however subtly or blatantly, with the Science Center men's room.  Similarly, for the reader who is aware of the cultural politics of sexuality but not aware of the theoretical standpoint of the founding editors, the "statement of intent" and "journal description" will probably be associated with the marginalization of people who are systematically oppressed because of their cultural sexualization or sexual orientation.  Or, whereas it is unlikely for a man to fail to notice the absence of the stall doors, some men might not see the connection between the doorless toilet stalls and the queer aura of the Science Center men's room, just as the uninitiated reader of the declarations, who is oblivious to the cultural politics and immediate theoretical contextualization of sexuality, might not notice the omission of sexuality from the list of crucial realities.  In this case, the reality of sexuality is silently elided, and everyone subjugated and tormented as a result of sexuality is still discursively dominated, exploited, and assaulted, however silently. 

Now that the founding editors' intentions are no longer ambiguous, it is clear that the apparent omission of the reality of sexuality from the declarations was really inadvertent, as it was merely theoretically contextualized in a way inaccessible to readers like me.  My experience with the declarations has taught me that I must always keep in mind the danger of exclusion when ideas are presented ambiguously.  I cannot emphasize enough the absolute necessity of inclusion, specific articulation, and awareness.  To ostensibly disregard or treat obscurely an important reality when the intention is to be inclusive, to carelessly and speciously lump together important realities when the intention is to differentiate, to irresponsibly subsume or subordinate one reality under another when the intention is to liberate, is to further negate and oppress the people who live these realities.  As proposed by the founding editors, and demonstrated in the first issue of Appendx, we should challenge "pervasive ideAppendx 1 page break 200 | 201ologies" and deliver and empower the "veiled discourses" of the marginalizedi we should establish a "discursive domain" where the conventionally unthinkable, unspeakable, and unrealizable are "nurtured, measured, and explored"; we should "promote interdisciplinary kinship between architecture, feminism, literary theory, ethnic studies, social anthropology, and the arts" and the study of sexuality; and we should do these things inclusively, thoughtfully, and responsibly, or else shroud the very realities we seek to illuminate. 

the end Bryan Reynolds

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