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Identity serves as an important aspect of one’s life because it provides a way to define oneself and give one a sense of purpose. Many different facets make up a person’s identity, such as race, gender, or religion. In Eve Sedgwick’s “Queer and Now,” she expands the concept of queer, showing how the word is multifaceted and has many elements, such as “biological sex,” “gender assignment of preferred partner,” or “your preferred sexual acts.” Moreover, Sedgwick expresses that “silent presumptions” are often made about people in terms of their appearance about sexual identity, despite the plethora of elements for one’s sexual identity. This idea of “silent presumptions” and various elements to part of one’s identity can apply to different aspects of human identities, such as race or religion. These identities, just like sexuality, are incongruent, meaning there are many parts to them. Furthermore, the same word holds various connotations to different people.
The race serves as a definitive aspect of one’s identity, but often “presumptions” are made solely based on looks. For example, a crass assumption that can be could be saying that if someone is black then they have a lower economic status. Evidently, this is a bold assumption to make, as “blackness” has as many facets as sexual identities, such as adherence to one’s African culture. Moreover, often there is discrimination within a race, like viewing a light-skinned person as “less black.”. Racial prejudice can demonstrate why it is important to understand the multiple elements of one’s racial identity because the way that someone identifies may differ from their looks.
Moreover, assumptions often are made regarding one’s religion. For example, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 led to a negative feeling toward Muslims, almost equating all Muslims to terrorists. However, this presumptuous association of these two words goes against Sedgwick’s idea that identities are multifaceted because it restrains the “wiggle room” of one’s identity. For some, being Muslim can mean strict adherence to the Qur’an, but for others, it can mean having a sense of community with others following the same religion. Religious identities can unify people with different class, racial, or sexual identities.
Furthermore, the “open mesh of possibilities” that religious identity holds allows one to follow a religion while adhering to beliefs that may contrast with the holy doctrine of the religion. The contrast between Christian institutions such as the Westboro Baptist Church, which berates people for their identities, like race, sexuality, or gender, and other less polarizing groups, shows that the “umbrella term” of Christianity does not have a “monolithic” definition. This ambiguity relates to religion because one may not be an avid churchgoer, but still identify themselves as Christian. Identities serve as a definitive way for people to connect with one another.
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