This thesis seeks to define/theorize and map the queer ephemeral, a cycle of emergence and reemergence of the queer subject within queer time. Straight time consists of the linear timeline where when one matures, attends college, attains a stable job, falls in love, marries, bears children, and lives happily ever after. Whether through movies, television, books, or our own guardians, time is presented to us as something stable, consistent, and reproductive; diverging off the conventional timeline brings societal pressures that isolate subjects who fall out of its fabric. As straight time facilitates the construction of some sort of ideal adult, it also allows the emergence of queerness as queer time naturally stands in opposition to reproductive lineage.
As straight time grants one emergence of the adult, queer time enables multiple possibilities of self emergence. Throughout this thesis, I define that this cycle of self emergence, known as the queer ephemeral, is fleeting in nature, which subsequently causes the queer subject to constantly feel as if time is always slipping through their fingers. I seek to map critical examples of the queer ephemeral by categorizing and defining its fragmented and ever-changing structure through the affectual terms of emergence, ecstasy, grief, and utopia. Through “Emergence,” I pay close attention to Venezuelan performance artist Arca as a manifestation of the queer ephemeral. Through “Ecstasy,” I analyze Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando: A Biography in relation to the paradoxes that exist within queer engagements of queer nostalgia, a critical player in the pattern of ephemeral emergence. In “Grief,” I discuss grief in relation to Susan Stryker’s definition of transgender rage and the 2017 Chilean film, Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman). Grief emerges as a crucial generative aspect within the queer ephemeral. Finally, in “Utopia”, I pay close attention to the late electronic music artist SOPHIE and her album, Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, which emphasizes the immateriality of queerness and the utopias that are constantly constructed and deconstructed. As each of the subjects in this thesis engage with the queer ephemeral in different and unique settings, they all come to consistently manifest a state of becoming. While the term mapping implies that the exact coordinates of the queer ephemeral can be identified, this thesis manages to approximate the queer subject’s fleeting existence.