Warning, I mixed this metaphor myself.
Cruising the OED, we find queer the strange and estranging, queer the perverse, queer the insult, and even queer the theoretical. But we also find a key to the sometimes begrudging currency of its meaning: Queer the counterfeit. Queer theory is also counterfeit theory. (It’s fucking FAKE, okay?) If only we can mimic all the security features, special inks, and supple papers of the real one––which is admittedly getting harder––it’ll circulate, enable exchanges.
Queer theory says, “There is value here.” But it holds none itself. Like any speculative currency, if it works to the fullest of its potential in the system it contaminates, it too becomes worthless.
In the mean time, it is shamefully worth less than the floating currency against which it is indexed: real theory. And so it makes a value out of shame. And we do have a laugh making it up. The offstrikes and the maladjusted colors. And how to imitate that new plastic Canadian currency with its transparent window?
Like any defiant, deviant concept, queer’s work is double: It is to be both the pathogen and the cure. As such, it always calls us to carefully examine the needle with which we, it’s acolytes and its proliferators, immunize ourselves against its putative successes.
There is, as yet, no cure.