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What queers can learn from quantum science
Queer Gaze

What queers can learn from quantum science

  Queer trans non-binary  They/she Ri Baroche Writer, performer, musician and drag artist

I've always wished I could do everything all at once.

As a creative Jack-of-all-trades and recovering workaholic, there never seems to be enough time.

Then I discovered quantum thinking, and both the world and myself became full of endless possibilities – particularly when it comes to my queerness.

The word ‘quantum’ can feel deep within the zeitgeist, but is little understood. Quantum refers to the smallest measurable particles and, therefore, to the fundamental nature of the universe.

Though it still provokes debate, frustration and excitement, quantum science promises a greater understanding of life on Earth and beyond. Which brings me to its queerness.

Channelling my newfound quantum outlook, I’ve developed a new drag theatre show, Drag ’n’ Drop! It’s supported by STEM-focused LGBTQIA+ charity Pride In Stem.

The show uses quantum ideas and experiments to explore how gender defines our lives and what a more queer and quantum world might be.

The thrill and thwart of the quantum is this: it challenges our understanding of how everything works.

Perhaps the most famous example is the Schroedinger’s cat thought experiment. It considers the paradox that under certain understandings of quantum physics, a cat in a box with something that might kill it could be both dead and alive simultaneously.

Essentially the idea is that a particle can be in a state of superposition - in layman’s terms, being in multiple states at once.

So not ‘Up’ or ‘Down’, but Up and Down. The cat in the box, not ‘Dead’ or ‘Alive’ but Dead AND Alive.

This is all theoretical, of course, but it does tell us something interesting about queerness.

Consciously or not, the LGBTQIA+ community has long existed in what can be viewed as a separate quantum state within society.

Simply put, like quantum science, a queer view of sexuality, gender, and identity challenges the way the world is ‘supposed’ to work. Indeed, the word queer is a superposition - it is many things at once, and that can make it hard to understand.

To me, the words ‘quantum’ and ‘queer’ are very similar. Both are hard to define, embracing multiple possibilities, and they confuse the hell out of most people.

Binary thinking is everywhere, especially within science. Quantum thinking, like queer theory, directly challenges this and binary understandings of gender and identity.

But I posit that quantum thinking doesn’t just promise a deeper understanding of the universe. It offers a deeper understanding of our place within it.

One where binaries are challenged, and we recognise the world and society’s fluidities.

So perhaps at your next march, your chant should be: “We’re here. We’re queer. We’re quantum!”

 | First commissioned Aug 2023 as part of our mission to fund queer media careers Queer AF @ribaroche Contact Ri, and commision them too  Ri is a non-binary/trans writer, performer, musician, drag artist from Hampshire. Their work focuses on the parts of us that cause friction and sparks. Their current show is Drag ‘n’ Drop!, a drag music and comedy show about quantum physics.  @hariyahazaway       Queer trans non-binary  They/she Ri Baroche Writer, performer, musician and drag artist
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