José Esteban Muñoz's 1996 essay “Ephemera as Evidence: Introductory Notes to Queer Acts” famously closes with a polemic insisting that we think queerness through “acts, not identities.” Muñoz's queer acts work to “displace the tyranny of identity,” turning away from biological, ontologized, and essentialist conceptions of identity to focus on “what a queer act does, performatively and, in turn, socially” rather “than what it might mean.”1 

When I read Muñoz with my undergraduate students in a media theory and criticism course last semester, his conclusion came as a revelation to them. Intrigued but confused by Muñoz's queer act, this articulation of queerness enlivened for them a possibility for coalitional politics that the individuating identities so critical to their social signification seemed to have foreclosed. This brought into relief what a hold identity has, not just on them but at this moment in time.2 

I start here because...

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