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Educators Queering Academia

Critical Memoirs


Edited By sj Miller and Nelson M. Rodriguez

The memoirs in this collection represent a cross-section of critical reflections by a queerly diverse set of individuals on their experiences inhabiting a variety of spaces within the field of education. In their stories, the authors share how they queered and are continuing to queer the academy in relation to questions of teaching, research, policy, and/or administration. Their memoirs speak across generations of queer educators and scholars; collectively their work highlights an array of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. As snapshots in time, the memoirs can be taken up as archive and studied in order to gain perspective on the issues facing queers in the academy across various intersections of identities related to ethnicity, culture, language, (a)gender, (a)sexuality, (dis)ability, socio-economic status, religion, age, veteran status, health status, and more. By way of the memoirs in this volume, a richer body of queer knowledge is offered that can be pulled from and infused into the academic and personal contexts of the work of educators queering academia.
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Chapter Twenty-One: The Constant in My Life


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The Constant in My Life



In a 1934 essay, Eiland and Jennings (2014) remind, Walter Benjamin characterized Kafka’s gift for “study” as an “oblique attentiveness to aspects of a forgotten ‘pre-world,’ a sphere of inchoate myth whose laws determine the course of daily existence” (p. 601). Is sexuality such a “pre-world,” hardly “forgotten” but maybe mythic, unacknowledged—except as scandal—in academic life? I am not suggesting any homology between sexuality and scholarship, but a reverberation perhaps? My generational, class, gendered, and racial locations—and my efforts to contradict them—must have been in play in the apparent promiscuity1 of my intellectual and sexual life.

Coming of age in politically conservative Westerville, Ohio—in the 1950s a small town, now a sprawling suburb of Columbus—contributed to my sexual- subject formation. I dated Sue Smith in junior high school, Patsy Bean and Judi Wood during high school. These were appealing girls whom I wanted. Alas, they were respectable girls—I could bring home to my parents no other kind—and I graduated from high school a virgin. I dated Sue Wakefield and Betsy Bowers2 my college freshmen year, both of whom were also appealing and, yes, respectable.3 Not until a year later—in summer 1966 I transferred from the Conservatory of Music at Capital University in Columbus to study history at Ohio State—did I bed a girl.4 As I...

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