Thinking Class: Sketches from a Cultural Worker, I couldn’t help but noticed that the things she described rang true in many situations of my own life. Kadi defined himself as queer in this compilation of essays focused on his Arab culture, sexuality, and most importantly, how all this intersects with his working class identity growing up. Now, intersectionality has always been an important aspect of my own thinking, but as this book was published in the 1990’s, a grand deal of information has been studied about class differences, however many are no quite so willing to focus primarily on class alone. Kadi, on the other hand makes it a point, knowing that he grew up in a working class environment and worked his way through some hardship of privilege to make his way through both undergrad and graduate level education.
Earlier this week, I discussed how those in a university setting struggle if they come from a point of monetary privilege lower than your peers, and Kadi hits the nail on the head with his own experiences. However, those experiences truly hit home with me through his chapter titled “Homophobic workers or Elitist Queers?” The overall concept behind this chapter is that Kadi asserts that the roots of homophobia are not as important as why it is so pervasive between the working and middle classes. Acceptance seems to come from a case by case basis, and upper middle class parents’ acceptance is above and beyond. Those parents will join organizations and make it clear that they support their queer child’s identity. Working class parents, however, seem to be more apt to simply expect to have a queer child or just accept it altogether. This is due to the fact that working class family appear to have a tight knit relationship and want their family close always, no matter their sexual orientation.
So where does homophobia stem from in the working class? Kadi’s own family was extremely homophobic to him as he was growing up. He believes this is due to the fact that working class families are unhappy with their station in society and wish to be what society considers as normal. This reminds me of my own coming out story. Growing up, homophobia was a constant that I feared, living so deeply within the bible belt of the South. It was difficult to decide whether or not to even come out because my family was so deeply embedded in Southern Baptist values. However, after reading this article I started rethinking how I was raised, how my family viewed homosexuality. A working class family is very much stuck in their own values, and if you grow up in a family always wishing for more money, capitalism seems to be something that affects the family more than the church. Maybe it was my family’s desire to be a higher class that made them desire normality in the eyes of the rest of society.
Kadi’s book made me truly rethink the ideas of class and what causes acceptance in society. Luckily my family did not kick me out or choose to push me from the family altogether. They chose to make a change for themselves, and could not deny that everything they love about the family is more important than being normal and better than they already are.