Come Hear the Music Play: The Politics of Queer Failure and Practices of Survival

Parslow, Joe (2018) Come Hear the Music Play: The Politics of Queer Failure and Practices of Survival. In: Beyond Failure New Essays on the Cultural History of Failure in Theatre and Performance. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 80-94. ISBN 9780815370994


This chapter explores contemporary debates surrounding queer failure as a productive framework through which to examine drag performance work. Starting by questioning the politics and ethics of discussing queer failure, the chapter insists upon recognising the increasing homophobia and transphobia in the USA and the UK, despite statistics refuting this. The chapter destabilises Anglo-American and imperialist discourses of anti-LGBTQ+ violence, before arguing that the quotidian lived experience for queer citizens in these countries provide clear indicators of the increase in homophobic and transphobic violence.

Turning to the intellectual grounding for understand queer failure, the chapter argues for a focus on how local forms of resistant might emerge in the form of queer failure in relation to these national and global narratives of homophobia and transphobia. To highlight these local forms, we turn to drag performance, and in particular the work of a London-based drag performer called Fagulous. Examining Fagulous and their performance practice, this chapter argues that queer performance that embraces failure offers one site in a broad constellation of resistive practise in which queer citizens can engage in order to refuse an increasingly homophobic and transphobic present and instead find practices of survival.


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