I’ve recently seen some posts in defense of queerplatonic and alterous again (sorry, didn’t save the urls), and it’s made me think some more about different strategies people use in queerplatonic apologetics — that is, in making the case for why words like queerplatonic are worthwhile to have. I think of them as operating under two main modes.
(note that I dislike the choice of components for the word “queerplatonic” for various reasons, but that’s not the point of this post)
One of these modes, as I was saying, describes queerplatonic partnerships in terms of a romance without certain attributes associated with romance. For example, lacking romantic feeling, or not based on romantic sentiment, or some other absence of something romantic. In this mode, a qpp is not a friendship. It may be a semi-romance, or not a romance, but the key element of this mode is that the emphasis on “NOT friendship.”
The other mode describes queerplatonic partnerships in terms of a friendship with certain attributes not associated with friendship. For example, going on sensual dinner dates, sharing a bed, kissing, planning a day of celebration for the relationship, getting legally married, raising a child together, or the relationship otherwise being accorded more value, commitment, or importance than friendships are typically “allowed.” A relationship doesn’t have to involve marriage or the like to be qp, but that’s a frequently cited example to demonstrate the depth of divergence from friendship norms. To me, the concept of “queerplatonic” isn’t (or doesn’t need to be) bound to a specific relationship narrative or set of practices so much as a personal choice on behalf of the partnering individuals to demarcate their relationship as somehow distinct from their other friendships + from what they’ve been told a friendship should be.
The first mode stakes the relevance of “qpp” on the relationships it describes being “NOT friendship,” i.e. not “reducible” to “friends” or “best friends,” for which there are obviously preexisting terms. In doing so, it typically involves a metric in which qpps, being mutually exclusive with friendship, are also ranked as “more” than friendship, necessitating that an upper limit boundary be placed on the intimacy/importance/commitment of friendship.
The second mode, on the other hand, would suggest that such an upper limit boundary is bullbutter. If a qpp can be described — incompletely, but accurately — as friendship, then defining that exceptional friendship as queerplatonic proclaims a resistance to that arbitrary cap on what “friendship” can mean. It says — that cap is fake, and here’s your living proof. It says friendship is many-splendored and diverse, even in the face of relationship norms that would contest otherwise.
The first mode counters qpp-mockery by defining “friendship” as too inaccurate to contain qpps, which it accomplishes in turn by defining friendship as shallow.
The first mode counters qpp-mockery by highlighting a political/ideological difference between the labeling of “qp partners” and “best friends.”
A post brought to you by my impatience with what queerplatonic apologetics has become.