The computer is a device to get into someone’s mind. We put our own personality there.
— Artist collective JODI (Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans)
My shag grows out and I cut my hair into my white toilet. My girlfriend has never cut her hair. I learn this. She learns that I cut my hair off every time I want to keep it long enough to wear in two braids down my back with ribbons and tall boots. I wonder what we learn that we would not learn if we had instead walked to a salon where my curls would be activated by a woman with a degree and not by a half-empty sample of Devacurl cream. The sample packaging paint peels off onto my nail-bitten fingers and gets stuck in my hair. I have told no person the things about my hair I have told her on Facetime.
In her 1985 piece, “A Cyborg Manifesto,” Donna Haraway envisages a cyborg world. She maintains that through one lens, this future “is about the final imposition of a grid of control,” yet through another, it may “be about lived social and bodily realities in which people are not afraid of their joint kinship with animals and machines.” Much of Haraway’s beliefs are contradictory. She sees the cyborg world as one that does not necessarily entail a negative future; one that is neither utopian nor dystopian. It is rather innate — humans have no choice but to navigate this reality.
We compare our tongues over facetime. I send her a postcard with a blush lipstick kiss. She mails me a copy of Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems for my spring birthday. I walk around in new white ribbed underwear. She watches me take my antidepressants. I send her a letter with a Ruth Asawa stamp. This is our virtual space and these are our virtual presents.
Queer people have frequently dated digitally out of necessity. Technology has taken location out of the picture. Boundaries put up in a pre-technological world are now broken. When we are cyborg we are creatures in a post-gender world.
Haraway’s “cyborg myth is about transgressed boundaries, potent fusions, and dangerous possibilities which progressive people might explore as one part of needed political work.”
I come out to my mom in March 2020. I come out the day before I relocate back to California to live in my childhood apartment for an unidentified period of time. I come out because I have begun dating a woman nearly one week prior and am now in a committed relationship for the first time in my life. I come out because my relationship moves online. March 2020 marks the start of my digital quarantine and the start of my relations in an era of out.
The first time I see my landlord after returning to my childhood apartment he says that I must have left my hair in New York — this is an older man’s way of saying that you look gay. I want to tell him that I left its clippings in the toilet he has neglected to fix for the past two years.
When I see my girlfriend for the first time after months of isolation, she has long hair and I have short hair and we kiss for hours outside of my family’s apartment where my neighbors can see her hand on my ass moving under my skirt.
I stay in her childhood home for the next three months.
We fall in in-person love.
She moves back to New York.
I move back into my childhood apartment.
We fall in virtual love.
Facetime love is admittedly different. But this is the future. The assimilation of this knowledge is fast when there is no choice. The technological choice in the dating equation will never be forcibly removed from queer people because it never existed to begin with.
Cyborgs may be an escape from the origin story of Eden, and towards a new future for all — “the cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world.”
Are we ready to leave Eden?
A majority of LGB adults (55%) report that they have used an online dating site or app at some point, roughly twice the share of straight adults (28%) who say the same.
— Pew Research Center (Lesbian, gay and bisexual online daters report positive experiences — but also harassment)
Investing in the Cyborg Manifesto entails a transgression of the boundaries between humans and technology. It urges the active rejection of boundaries based on traditional values. We need to tell our partner about our hair and tell our mother about our girlfriend and tell our landlord to fuck off.
Through my iPhone 7 and her iPhone 11, I kiss my girlfriend goodnight. It is 2:30 AM and Donna Harraway would be proud.
Name: Alexandra Ebert Gold
Relationship Status: In a Relationship
Dating Apps Used: Tinder and Bumble