This chapter’s pedagogy promotes perspective transformation through a notion of and a belief in self that is worth bringing to any and every encounter. Drawing on Audre Lorde’s essay “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” the author addresses the problem of a systematic and socially sanctioned separation from self. The author uses Queer Studies as a way to humanize what has been deemed nonnormative. The critical focus is a conceptual shift from ideas about “natural order” to a critique of the way ordering becomes normativized. Instead of learning an identity-based pedagogy, students learn how processes of categorization, identification, and naming are organizing mechanisms that have detached them and others from self-knowledge and understanding as well as a sense of groundedness and belonging within community. Reading and engaging thoughts through students’ own feelings, experiences, and bodies—through their subjectivity—is a way of fully participating in the building of their own erotic knowledge. For students encountering Queer Studies for the first time, the move from identity-based thinking to a posture of embodied critique transforms perspectives.

[The chapter is a revision and expansion of: Young, Thelathia “Nikki.” “‘Uses of the Erotic’ for Teaching Queer Studies,” Women’s Studies Quarterly 40, no. 3/4 (2012): 301–305.]