Exile and Pride (Paperback)
Disability, Queerness, and Liberation
South End Press, 9780896086050, 160pp.
Publication Date: September 1, 1999
Clearcut: Explaining the Distance
Clearcut: Brutes and Bumper Stickers
Clearcut: End of the Line
Freaks and Queers
Reading Across the Grain
Stones in My Heart, Stones in My Pockets
An Excerpt from Exile and Pride By Eli Clare
Draft Version: Please do not quote
I: A Metaphor
The mountain as metaphor looms large in the lives of marginalized people, people whose bones get crushed in the grind of capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy. How many of us have struggled up the mountain, measured ourselves against the mountain, failed on the mountain, lived in the shadow of the mountain, hit our heads on glass ceilings, tried to climb the class ladder, lost the fight against assimilation, struggled our way toward that phantom called normality?
We hear from the summit that the world is the best from up there. Hear that we are lazy, stupid, weak, ugly, that we live at the bottom precisely because we are those things. We decide to climb that mountain, or make a pact that our children will climb it. The climbing turns out to be unimaginably difficult. We are afraid; every time we look ahead we can find nothing remotely familiar or comfortable. We lose the trail. Our wheelchairs get stuck. We speak the wrong languages with the wrong accents, wear the wrong clothes, carry our bodies the wrong ways, ask the wrong questions, love the wrong people. And it's goddamn lonely up there on the mountain. We decide to stop climbing and build a new house right where we are. Or we decide to climb back down to the people we love where the food, the clothes, the dirt, the sidewalk, the steaming asphalt under our feet, our crutches all feel right. Or we find the path again, decide to continue climbing only to have the very people who told us how wonderful life is at the summit booby trap the trail. They burn the bridge over the impassable canyon. They redraw our topo maps so that we end up walking in circles. They send their goons-those working-class and poor people they employ as their official brutes-to push us over the edge. Maybe we get to the summit but p