Tradition and the Contemporary Queer
Sexuality, Nationality, and History in Drowning in Fire
Chapter 6 explores Creek scholar and novelist Craig Womack’s Drowning in Fire (2001). The novel presents a reconnection with traditional forms of family and community-making as predicated on a rejection of imposed norms of sexual moralism that are themselves embedded in efforts to justify continued U.S. control over native peoples. The novel suggests that the critique of heterosexism in the present leads toward an archaeology of the ways it came to be part of everyday Creek consciousness. More specifically, he juxtaposes different time periods to illustrate how the kinds of assaults and restrictions on native sovereignty addressed in Chapters 3 and 4 are not simply in the past but continue to constrain Creek self-understandings, including conceptions of proper homemaking and familyformation. The novel suggests that longstanding forms of collectivity organized around clan membership and town belonging remain submerged beneath the apparent ubiquity of ideologies of straightness which validate a limiting liberal conception of politics. Making visible queerness among contemporary Creeks becomes part of a project not only of revealing the presence of homoeroticism in earlier periods but of connecting resistance to the heteronorm to ongoing struggles against the U.S. management of native peoplehood.
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