Horizons Talks: Queering the Future
The Horizons Talks speaker series brings experts from Canada and around the world to share their forward-looking research and ideas with public servants.
To “queer the future” is to scrutinize, adapt, and transform business as usual into a future that is radically open, human, and embraces chaos, with room and rights for everyone. In this Horizons Talk, Jason Tester will walk us through his provocative thesis and offer the queer perspective—the mindsets shared by many LGBTQ2 people. Ultimately, “queer the future” compels us to trust and empower the marginalized to innovate and lead to the impactful futures we want to see.
Jason Tester, Strategic foresight research affiliate with the Institute for the Future
IMRAN ARSHAD: Merci. Bonjour, tout le monde. Bienvenue à Policy Horizons.
Welcome on behalf of Policy Horizons Canada. For those that are new here and don’t know Policy Horizons, we are the Government of Canada’s Centre for Strategic Foresight.
Our main purpose is to help our federal government colleagues explore a plausible future that could arise and develop future oriented policies and programs that are robust in the face of disruptive change.
We are excited for the Horizons talks today on Queering the Future. I am pleased to introduce our featured guest, Jason Tester. Jason is an accomplished strategic foresight researcher, facilitator, and speculative designer with specialties in emerging technologies and their cultural impacts and social justice features. He is currently a research affiliate with the Institute for the Future. I understand that the Institute has its own version of talks called Foresight Talks, at which Jason has presented before.
He has been at the Institute for the Future for 10 years, most recently as a research director working with numerous companies and both government and non-governmental organizations on foresight research and custom foresight. Jason’s work at the Institute for the Future and in academia, as well as his general thoughts on the future have been featured in multiple publications such as “The Wall Street Journal”, “USA Today”, and “Wired”, among others.
Jason is currently launching a collaborative research project to understand the impacts of major future forces on LGBTQ people over the next 30 years. He will be speaking to some of that work today.
Jason, we are extremely happy to have you here with us, and welcome, and we look forward to your presentation, and engaging with you in a conversation on queering the future.
Over to you, Jason.
JASON TESTER: Thank you. Exactly. That’s exactly what I was looking for. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Imran. And I am — let’s — without further ado, let’s get this show on the road.
All right. So this is a talk on queering the future, which will hopefully make much more sense in just a few minutes. My handle is “futuretester” on pretty much every platform, if you’d like to get a hold of me. And I always put this at the beginning. If you’re unsure if this talk is for you, it’s for you. If you know this talk is for you, then it’s definitely for you. So there’s something here for everyone.
So this is me, Jason, today — today-ish, and I’m pretty gay. I am pretty gay. I am pretty queer. But I’m also a futurist, so I like to imagine the future and myself in the future. So this is me at roughly age 70. And I have long suspected that these two halves of my life weren’t a coincidence. I have been at these both for about 20 years, and I think I have now discovered why. I’m excited to share that with you today.
Now, I’m trusting that most of the audience will know the basic terms about sexual orientation and gender identity that I’ll be discussing today, and if not, please, I’m not sure — I can’t exactly see the chat room any more, but if other people — if you have questions, please pose them in chat. Other people will be able to answer.
But I do want to define the word “queer”, because we can’t waste our time talking about queer in the future until I do.
So as an adjective, “queer” describes sexual and gender identities other than straight, and cis-gender. So lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people may all identify with the word “queer”.
Queer is sometimes used to express that sexuality, and gender can be complicated. It can change over time. It might not fit neatly into either/or identities like male or female, gay or straight, and that either/or will come back later.
But “queer” as a verb, this is where things get really interesting, and this definition was proposed by Charlie Goodman (phonetic) who is an expert on queer sexuality, which surprised me at first, but also not so much, because we will be talking about sex and sexuality in just a few minutes.
So as a verb fundamentally queering is an act of ongoing transformation, both within ourselves and in relation to the world around us. To queer something is to take a look at its foundations and question them. We can explore its limits, it biases, its boundaries. We can look for places where there’s elasticity. We can discover ways we can transform it into something new. To queer is to examine our assumptions and decide which of them we want to keep, change, discard, or play with.
And I don’t know about you, but that just gets my mind absolutely firing right there.
So when I say “queer the future”, it means I use it in two forms, and the more — this is work in progress, and I’m learning how to bring these two halves together, and you will see a bit of both halves.
But the first is to identify future forces that will disproportionately disrupt the lives of LGBTQ people over the next 30 years. And what I want to do is, I want to centre our lives in foresight research and in futures narratives so we can design specific interventions that will counteract this disproportionate disruption.
But in the second definition, queering the future — and this is more queering the future as a verb — it means to examine complex problems through the lens, the skills, the attributes of the queer perspective to generate new approaches for managing, surviving, and thriving in the future. And I say that — my north star has now kind of become — if the human species is indeed slowly going extinct, then let’s go extinct together as equals. That’s what queering the future means to me.
So I want to bring up front — because I usually will put this slide at the very end and then run out of time and didn’t get to mention it. But my home — the home for a lot of this research is at queerthefuture.org. I’m working — right now, it’s more of a manifesto, but I’m planning to put research and progress up there, and presentations, videos and presentations like this, and descriptions of the steps of how to queer the future that I’m about to get into.
So when I mention identifying the foresight that will disproportionately disrupt the lives of LGBTQ people, these next two slides are examples of this.
So one question is, how will caregiving assistance and aging in place technologies deal with queer users and their relationships? It won’t come as a shock to learn that LGBT elders are much more likely to not have had children compared to their straight counterparts. But even today, 20 percent of LGBT older adults say they have no one to call in a time of crisis. And it’s 10 times the general elderly population, and a mere 8 percent of senior housing offers services that are exclusively designed for LGBT adults.
So we gather that we know that there’s a caregiving chasm. We know that we’re going to have to rely on assisted technologies to deal with the gap between human caregivers and seniors and elders that need care. Will our technologies be queer friendly?
Or what about — well, AI and other intelligence systems that are built, that are trained on gender training data, will they just reinforce the gender binary at every turn?
Imagine this mock up that someone designed was designed to show the scenario — where imagine a bathroom, particularly in a maybe a conservative area or region of the world, that’s equipped with vision recognition that scans for biological sex markers or traditional biological or stereotypical gender expressions before actually admitting someone into that restroom. So if you don’t pass muster as, according to the data, the photos, the biases, the assumptions that this AI was trained with, if your gender expression doesn’t pass muster with that, you’re not admitted.
Imagine being, as more and more young people go through the world as being gender fluid or being gender not binary or being between genders, what if we have a world where every embedded intelligent AI system just constantly reinforces the gender binary over and over and over again?
Or also, I’m really curious about how will technologies of automation, how will they particularly affect the LGBTQ workers who are — disproportionately make up the low-wage workforce? According to the National Centre for Transgender Equality, nearly three fourths of trans people have experienced some form of workplace discrimination with even higher rates for trans people of colour, forcing many to constantly change jobs and change employers.
But what if — this is the question — so rather than human hatred and human bias, what if — actually, what if automation becomes the ultimate anti-trans force in the workplace of the future, because so many trans people work in these low-wage jobs?
So when I mention identifying the foresight that will disproportionately disrupt the lives of LGBT people, these are examples I’m looking at.
But I’m also — I’m — so those are some very specific examples. I’m also looking at some of these really big picture, the big picture trends that will affect us all, but I’m doing it with sort of a twist.
A study came out last May on the future of the human climate niche in a business as usual kind of scenario. In the absence of migration, one third of the global population is expected to experience a mean annual temperature of greater than 29 degrees Celsius. And right — currently, that’s found in only point-eight percent of the earth’s land surface, and it’s mostly concentrated in the Sahara. So by 2050, by mid-century, 3.5 billion people will be exposed to the mean average temperature, which right now is only found in the Sahara.
But one thing I have been doing lately is, when I see a projection like this, usually a projection for mid-century or a couple of decades from now, I take 5 to 10 percent — and then we can talk offline or one of the questions you can talk about which percentage I choose. But I take 5 to 10 percent to represent the number of not exclusively heterosexual people in the world, the estimated to believe to be in the world, and particularly as that number grows among younger generations.
So that 3.5 billion people becomes specifically, 350 million queer people will be exposed to mean annual temperatures of greater than 29 degrees Celsius.
Now, that’s — sorry, I lost my place. Now, so those are — these aren’t going to be — a mean annual temperature of greater than 29 degrees Celsius is going to be — is going to lead to severe constraints of vital resources and overall miserable conditions, not just — imagining queer or transgender living in this newly-inhospitable climate that has located — is likely to be located in a region of the planet that’s already inhospitable to human existence, to human life.
I imagine there are going to be a lot of — a lot of queer people are going to be — and this is one of the worst ironies of the future, I think — is that a lot of queer people are going to be living their — be trying to live their best lives, trying to live basic lives of dignity and respect, in areas where — that are doubly inhospitable to their existence there.
Or here’s another one, that the climate crisis could displace 1.2 billion people by 2050. But taking 10 percent, those are — that’s 120 million queer and transgender people that could be displaced by 2050. Now, it’s hard enough for anybody to be forcibly displaced from most of the things and the people they know, but imagine doing so while being LGBTQ, especially in the more conservative regions of the planet that will be hit the hardest by climate change. You lose touch with the few friends you trust and the few opportunities and rituals you had to be your true self.
Now, my goal when I queer these numbers, it’s not to advocate for my people at the expense of other groups, but simply to call out that large areas of the planet are rapidly becoming, as I mentioned, doubly, doubly inhospitable, both to queer lives that should have rights to — that’s should enjoy equal rights to human expression, human dignity, but also becoming inhospitable to human life itself.
Which brings me to my first thesis of queering the future, that we are facing a half century of mass migration, resource scarcity, and ultimately, triage of our most essential life-providing resources, of water, of food, all across the planet. And I believe that we have one generation with roughly 20-ish years to achieve global LGBTQ respect and dignity before things get truly dire.
Now, this must be widespread culture equality and not just legal minimums. And one way that I like to put this is, it’s not just, would you let your — you know, is there a law that’s protecting you, but is this neighbour-to-neighbour respect for — between heterosexual and queer folk? It’s, would you let your bisexual neighbour borrow some of your water rations for her family? Would you offer your trans customer shelter from the heat, or your gay distant cousin a seat in your raft?
I believe we have about one generation left to achieve — and for the entire world to achieve parity between heterosexual and queer people before it’s really each person for themselves and we really need mutual aid to kick in, and mutual aid is really founded on mutual respect and mutual dignity.
These are a few photos of LGBT, of queer people surviving and thriving in different areas of the planet.
But while scary enough, there could be something even more dangerous on the horizon. Last year, the largest study of the biology of homosexuality was conducted using genetic data from 23andMe and the UK biobank. Their conclusion was that some genes can account for about one third of the influence of whether someone has ever had same-gender sex, a sexual experience. But studies like these are happening all the time. This was a — this one was a particularly ground-breaking study. It’s one of the largest to date. But every year there are new studies coming out that are equally ground-breaking with equally large volumes of data, seeking to understand the relationship between the biology of homosexuality.
We’re also facing an emerging understanding of the relationship between epigenetic actions and a person’s genes, so that while there may not be a direct genetic cause of homosexuality, there may be an epigenetic action, so something related to the chemical or hormonal imbalance or the chemical makeup of the womb that activates or that triggers or deactivates whatever the mechanism is, someone’s latent predisposition for homosexuality, which really gets me thinking, what if an epigenetic gay vaccine became possible, chiefly a population scale?
Now, I’m a futurist, so these are the kinds of situations that we play out.
And I can’t — this is why I get into trouble sometimes, because I can’t immediately dismiss this possibility of a gay vaccine, especially when I mention these doubly inhospitable places where people — they’re inhospitable to queerness ambition of life. There’s a potential to eliminate the suffering of hundreds of millions of LGBTQ people not yet born, especially in these regions that are inhospitable to us.
But wait. Is there something vital and unique to the queer perspective as it relates to the complexities of the future that we’re about to face? Is there something — could the queer — what if queer culture itself, with some surprising universal across the globe, is itself a cultural evolutionary mutation ready to confer advantages of survival and resilience?
For all of its messiness and marginalization, what if queerness is close to future ready today?
And this leads to my second thesis of what — of queering the future, that the queer perspective is made up of some surprisingly shared traits and tendencies that will be useful for whole societies and networks of individuals to thrive in the turbulence of the coming decades; or put another way, queerness can keep things cool in hotter futures.
So today, I’m identifying five traits that can answer both of these questions — what is queerness, and what mindsets and practices will confer success in the future we’re headed towards? And I think — and there’s more of an overlap there that I would have thought when I went into this.
And so these are the five traits and tendencies of queerness that I think are future ready, are future proved, are very likely to confer success for anyone in the future if they can adopt these mindsets, these practices. And I’m sure there are many more, and I would love, love, love to hear about any more that come to mind from anyone, particularly from anyone who identifies as queer and thinks about the future. I would love to here about more on these intersections.
For the rest of the talk, I’m going to be diving very briefly into these, given the time that we have. And I — to just show why I think queerness is — why I think queerness has a lot to teach us about the future and about how just to survive and also to thrive in the future.
So the first trait or tendency is question — is to question prevailing systems.
Now, I think queerness, it fundamentally exists in opposition into the most prevailing system in the human condition, which is exclusively heterosexual couple. The very DNA of queerness is suspicion or outright rejection of norms, of orthodoxy and continuation futures, because norms and continuation, for millennia, typically kept us miserable or dead.
And I think a default to question the unquestionable is a prime foundation to readily imagine alternative and original ways of doing and being. So this foundational tendency of queerness is actually a great strategy for innovation, for imagining transformative new futures.
I love this quote and I just wanted to — for me, this action just captures this entire trait in one quote.
“For me as a queer person, I reject the words ‘norm’, ‘normal’, ‘normative’, ‘normativity’. What do I want to do? I want to destabilize normativity. I want to dismantle and not maintain the status quo.” (As read)
For that is — that is one way to capture queerness.
Another great expression, I actually have this on — quote on my wall right behind me — is that:
“Queer gets its critical edge by defining itself against the normal rather than against the heterosexual.”
I just love that quote about queerness.
José Esteban Muñoz wrote “Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity”, which is arguably the bible, the canonical text of queerness as it relates to the future. And at one point, José says:
“Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now — is essentially about the rejection of a here and now — and the insistence of potentiality or concrete possibility for another world.”
And that is the essence of queerness. The essence of queerness is rejecting the here and now, which again, from millennia, has been so hostile to our community and insisting that there must be something better.
Another way that — now, a lot of us heard about — a lot of us really started to follow the police and prison abolition movements this past summer with Black Lives Matter and protests happening around the world. But actually, police and prison abolition and the potential of a world without police, without prison, or just existing in a different form has been a part of actually this — of queer liberation going back to Stonewall, the original riot in 1969.
And Dr. Angela Davis really captures that linkage between queerness and how queerness powers potential abolitionary futures. I want to read this quote.
“We support the trans community precisely because the community has taught us how to challenge that which is totally accepted as normal. If it is possible to challenge the gender binary, then we can certainly effectively resist prisons and police.”
Right, so that trans people, by defying, by rejecting binaries are rejecting the status quo. Once that status quo is rejected, so many more possibilities open up; the mind opens up to some of the other ways the world does not have to be like this.
And I just mention a bit about rainbow capitalism. You may have noticed overnight, between the night of May 31st and June 1st every year in progressive cities around the world, your favourite shops and cafes become awash in rainbows to honour June as LGBTQ Pride month. In many ways, this rainbow is — this is a rainbow wave of victory. It shows how quickly and widely LGBTQ rights have won, and many places have applied it in 60 years.
But just as millennials and Gen Zs are turning against capitalism in record numbers, so are many younger queer folk protesting June’s rainbow capitalism and the colourization of previously monotone logos of which you can see a collage right there.
And they’re doing this for good reason, because only 64 percent of companies that do — that run a Pride campaign, that try to capitalize on queer — the queer spending power for the month of June every year, only 64 percent of those companies donate — actually give any donation to an LGBT cause. So for a lot of — it is exploitation for a lot of companies. And so this linkage of June as Pride and the power of corporate — the power that corporations have had in giving us our rights is pretty much linked to younger generation particularly seeing an end of capitalism and seeing a future without — beyond a post-capitalism future. And so I think queerness is going to power whatever comes next after capitalism.
And I have a few of these examples. I’m going to start to move a little faster through this. But these are examples, I think, that have a way that you can try the queer eye. And so in this one, how can you, your team, your organization — oh, I apologize; let me go back — cultivate a culture of identifying, questioning, and re-imagining the prevailing systems and assumptions that guide your work? How will you seamlessly switch between working under and undermining these overarching systems? I think that’s one way to try the queer eye.
So our second trait or tendency of queerness is to reject binary thinking. Many future forecasts imagine greater fluidity in our identities, our preferences, our self-expression, and really, just our overall communications interactions. We move away from categories and discrete silos, discrete events into a fluidity, are continuing into continuums and spectra.
And but queer has found comfort early with nuance, simply because we have been forced to craft our own alternatives to most of the institutions in (inaudible) society, and when you’re forced to craft your own alternatives, why limit yourself to the same choices, the same binary choices that existed in mainstream society?
So I think queer adaptations to the binaries of — sorry, I keep doing that — queer adaptations to the binaries of married or single or family or friend, or even to our internal compasses of attraction and gender in each moment by moment, they often begin as a lot of novel futures or novel innovations do, as outliers, if not considered fully, completely deviant, before time passes and they are reconsidered for their benefits and their relative successes.
And I think one example of this is monogamish. So queer sex-advice columnist Dan Savage coined the term “monogamish” to describe the arrangement he has with his husband for occasional after-marital sex with other people, and the rules and requirements that go with that condition.
Savage was aiming to create a more realistic sexual ethic that would prize honesty, a little flexibility, and when necessary, forgiveness, something to live between the extreme binaries of promiscuity and monogamy.
And we know that monogamy works for many, many people, but it does not work for everyone, and you know, leave it — in a way, leave it to the queers, and having to craft our own forms of sex and sexuality in relationships to come up with something like monogamish, which you know, a decade later leads to something like “The Atlantic” saying, “What can straights learn from same-sex couples?”
But gender binary is also so entrenched in our lives that we will literally explode the world to reinforce it. These are scenes from gender binary reveal parties over the past year in which couples dramatically reveal the gender of their child through a pink or blue substance such as exploding smoke. The gender binary is so reinforced that couples have taken this to an extreme with their reveals, inadvertently lighting tens of thousands of acres of fire across multiple states over the past five — just five years alone. And the fact that biology does not equal identity just gets — totally gets lost in all of the spectacle.
Binary defenders have enlisted crashed planes, they have enlisted alligators, they have backfired trucks, they have gotten into fights at Applebee’s, and most unfortunately, this woman in the upper right, the pipe bomb that was meant to reveal the pink or blue smoke exploded, hit her in the head, and killed her instantly, which led “The Atlantic” to ask, “How many people have to die before we’re done with gender reveals?”
And I would say — I would add, how many people have to die before we’re done with gender binary itself?
Luckily, this is not — the gender reveal parties are not part of queerness and hopefully are not part of the future.
I have mentioned the younger generations, particularly when I mentioned why I choose 10 percent as a number of who may identify as not exclusively heterosexual in the future, and Gen Z, millennials and Gen Z are rejecting binary thinking in droves. And I want to read this quote verbatim:
“Only 48 percent of Gen Zs identify as exclusively heterosexual compared of 65 percent of millennials age 21 to 34.” (As read)
Those belonging to Generation Z also rejected the gender binary while shopping, where 44 percent said they always bought clothes designed for their own gender versus 54 percent of millennials, which are amazing numbers. And you can look at — you know, it’s by boomers, it’s less than five percent identify as LGBT. But you get down to Gen Z and then especially as you get to the labels and talk about queer and talk about fluidity, the numbers who are not exclusively heterosexual climb. And so I’m very excited for a fluid — a fluidly — a future fluid identity and fluid sexuality, moving forward.
To try the queer eye for this one, I would ask you to ask yourself, what are the binaries in your life that no longer serve you well, or may even be toxic to maintain, and how can you signal to others your willingness and request for more nuance?
Number three is peer practice intersectionality, so a more egalitarian and broadly prosperous future is really difficult to achieve if we can’t agree to live and interact in both deep diversity and deep harmony with each other. Working at widespread scale to acknowledge and understand that the lived experiences of people from different backgrounds will be different is a very hard notion for many people to grasp.
This concept, at a basic definition — the idea that people from different backgrounds will have different experiences of society — is known as intersectionality, and while relatively simple to convey, can be very difficult to put into practice, and even more controversial to discuss. But without this basic floor of mutual respect and acceptance, we may not survive into the future, given the pluralistic societies that we’re all moving into.
Intersectionality is, I would argue, is the most important skill for making it to the future because I think if so many of our community — and “our community” meaning our society — have to hold back their true selves, their full identities, their full creativity, and their full joy and passion on the unprecedented task we have of remaking the world to survive and to thrive in the turbulent future ahead, because the fullness of their identities feels unwelcome, then we all lose. Game over. Which is why understanding intersectionality, preaching it, embracing it, practicing it, I believe, is really vital.
And this is another definition I love, that intersectionality is about fighting discrimination in discrimination, tackling inequalities within inequalities, and protecting minorities within minorities.
And I will briefly cover the intersectionality wheel, which you can Google yourself. This comes from the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women. And it’s a tool to understand the unique circumstances of power, privilege, and identity that are at play for any given person. So the way to use the wheel is to put — think of a person, put them in the centre, maybe you, it may be a partner that you’re working with — and then as much as you’re comfortable, try to identify all of these traits, so everything from age, education, spirituality, sexuality, family status, refugee status, disability. You could at least ask from spirituality to religion.
And then as you zoom out, you begin to see the forces of oppression that are at play, the “isms”, the phobias that can — that are at play there, often that are compounded as this person moves through society — racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, sexism.
As you begin to move out even farther, you begin to see the historical forces, the deeply historical forces of globalization, capitalization, immigration, education.
And this really offers you a chance to do some time travelling, to understand from the deep past which forces of oppression are still at play — oh, I apologize, it jumped. Sorry for that. I don’t know how it jumped. Sorry about that.
So time travel to understand the forces from the deep past that are still oppressive today, and then to be able to time travel into the future to see and imagine solutions and worlds that are post-globalization, post-capitalism, post — our current egal system, and post-colonial. So I think understanding the intersectionality wheel is actually a great tool for becoming a better futurist, in a way, to understand, to connect the deep past to original and new deep futures.
To try the queer eye, I would essentially say this is to — for yourself or a trusted partner or maybe personas of stakeholders that you work with — to use the wheel to chart their circumstances and to understand better the dominant systems of oppression and — yeah, the systems of oppression that come often compounded, the injustice that informed their choices, their outlooks, and their interactions, and how can your organization or your team work to combat these internally in the world?
Number 4, and we’re cruising — and I will stop at number 5 — is to embrace pleasure and joy. So queerness has long prioritized pleasures or feelings of pleasure and joys, indicators of happiness and wellbeing, and as essential precursors to unspeakable heights of creativity and uninhibited ideation. Queerness is long — and was one of the first to recognize that these are prerequisites to imagining the future.
Now, this has almost been entirely taboo since queer pleasure was de-stigmatized when LGBTQ people fought for respectability, basic rights and marriage and against AIDS. And pleasure activism is one of the best manifestations of embracing pleasure and joy in a queer sense. It’s the organized struggle to re-prioritize bliss in sensuality, to build individual and collective resilience, and ultimately, as a necessary foundation to conjure better worlds.
I want to read this quote from Adrienne Maree Brown, who is the author of “Pleasure Activism”.
“You’re not going to forget the suffering in the world just because you had a great orgasm. You’re going to have more resilience for turning and facing that suffering which you’re also — if you’re also in touch with that part of your life that feels amazing and not just the total catastrophes that are happening.”
So I love this for connecting sensuality and that’s the only time I can say “orgasm” when I end a talk, and connecting that to resilience and our ability to begin to understand and imagine entirely new futures.
And one more quote from José Esteban Muñoz of “Cruising Utopia”:
“Some will say that all we have are the pleasures of this moment, but what we must never settle for — but we must never settle for that for that minimal transport; we must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new worlds.”
What I love about this quote is, we often imagine new scenarios; we often imagine new futures by changing a variable, by imagining a new technology. But how often have you imagined a — transformed a new future, a new scenario by imagining new forms of pleasure, by letting pleasure be the driver, pleasure and joy be the driver of what is new in that future?
That’s a challenge I’m taking on for myself and I would challenge you to do that as well.
So to try the queer eye, this is simple. How can we help people centre sustainable pleasure and joy in their lives, and how can your organization support that shift?
And I will just — I will cover this last one and then end, because we’re at 30 — about 30 minutes.
Queer is pioneering the rhythm of ad hoc latent opportunity, the hustle, that now defines our work/life blend of freelancing, car sharing, everything on demand, if you know where to look. Queer has pioneered that because to find companionship in work, for centuries, neither were available to us in mainstream society. Queer folks have been re-perceiving and repurposing spaces and platforms to suit their hidden layers, the latent gigs and opportunities, and the underground social networks, and any form of trade or hustling existed in the margins of respectable society, and it’s only recently has proficiency of the subtle, the art of the hustle, become an admired ability and an upstanding badge of honour.
So I think Grindr and other social apps, like, other social romantic sexual apps like this are actually a part of the hustle. And while Grindr didn’t invent mobile social networking, it certainly set an early model for how we have come to think of our Smartphones as secret decoders, right, hustling between worlds. They are yielding visible possibilities that surround us for everything from car rental to food delivery to romance. And they help — and it really becomes a translator, a window into between worlds, between the world that we can see and all that other latent opportunity that is near us.
And two last quotes I want to read. From futurist Madeline Ashby:
“For a long time, the future has belonged to people who have not had to struggle, and I think that will still be true. But as more and more systems collapse, currency, energy, the ability to get water, the ability to work, the future will increasingly belong to those who know how to hustle, and those people are not the people who are producing those purely optimistic futures. The future belongs to those who know how to hustle.”
And MJ Petroni is a — actually local to here in San Francisco, is a queer futurist and UX (inaudible) experience person. And I love this quote about how — what they look for in people, particularly when they look for queer hires.
“We often look for people who have existed in lots of different worlds and walking back and forth between these spaces and never being fully at home. They learn a lot about the unspoken rules and assumptions and the codes and the values that exist.” (As read)
And to me, that is the epitome of what queerness does innately, is when we’re forced to exist in different worlds, we’re forced to pick up, learn the norms, learn the mores of different worlds, of different layers of the world, and we merge those together and help — be translators and be interpreters and be blenders of all these different worlds, the mess or the hustle between them.
So to try the queer eye for this, I would say since every system has formal transactions and informal hustles, what value is exchanged in your organization’s hustle economy? And I’m willing to bet that you have one. And remember, hustles, unofficial networks in (inaudible) gays community, they can either drain from a system or they can lubricate it with texture and life and efficiency and sociality. So where do hustles fit into your team, your department, your organizations? Where does that layer of hustling, where does that fit in?
Thank you very much. This is — there is my email, there is my handle, queerthefuture.org, is our — is the website where a lot of this research lives. And I thank you so much for letting me run a little bit over time and would love to answer any questions as we move forward.