jaynells: oscar the grouch (Default)
I'd supported same-sex marriage since I was a teenager back in the '90s. Since before I identified as bi. The only arguments I'd heard against it were the usual bigoted froth.

Then I hit college and read The Trouble With Normal . It blew my mind wide open. It (along with That's Revolting!) exposed me to a critique of marriage equallity from the left. You probably know it already, but just to make sure we're all on the same page here, it goes something like this:

    Back in the '70s, gay activists were radical. They pushed back against heteronormativity, against the nuclear family structure. The basic idea: straight people act like we're abnormal and deviant. Instead of saying, "No we're not, we're just like you," what about saying, "Okay, what if we are different? If we are 'deviant', what are we deviating from?? Maybe the stuff we're deviating from is actually fucked up. Maybe it's constraining and harmful. Maybe there are other, equally valid, ways to live, to date, to have sex, to form families."

    Now our political fight has been co-opted. Now we're fighting hard to join existing institutions that are fucked up at their core. We're fighting to be part of the mainstream, to be seen as normal when it shouldn't matter whether we're normal or not. The quest to join in on marriage and the military -- two institutions that many leftists are deeply skeptical of -- is a betrayal of earlier, better, more radical aims.

    And this isn't an accident -- it's a direct function of our movement being run by the most privileged section of our community. Affluent white cis gay dudes nearly have it all and they want one last piece of the pie. In addition to betraying our radical queer foreparents and the hope of creating a viable counterculture, the quest for marriage (and the military) means we're shoving aside the priorities of queer folks who are much more vulnerable -- people of color, trans people, poor people -- and hogging valuable time, energy and money for a cause that doesn't affect them.

If you're someone who's critiqued the fight for marriage equality from the left, does that seem like a fair regurgitation of that argument? If not, hit me up in comments. I honestly don't want to act like an asshole. When I first read this critique, I found it provocative, fascinating, kind of... okay, "sexy" isn't the word, but I liked it.

I was sympathetic to it. I'm skeptical of marriage and the military, too, have been for a long time. I got a thrill from seeing a whole new way to look at things, from being forced to question a status quo that I didn't even realize could be questioned -- despite my skepticism, it was still this deeply ingrained norm, like wallpaper I'd passed all my life but never noticed until someone pointed it out.

But even though I was sympathetic, thrilled, etc., I also couldn't embrace it. Now that we're possibly, possibly on the cusp of having same-sex marriage being legalized by SCOTUS (DON'T LET ME DOWN, KENNEDY), here's why I argue that this entire thing hasn't been a waste of our time or a ~betrayal of our ~radical queerness. Or that maybe it has been a betrayal and that that's okay.

What I really can't argue with: we white affluent queer folks have long shoved aside the concerns of our more marginalized queer brothers and sisters. It's not okay. It's never been okay. It makes sense for people to be really, really mad about it. What I will argue: that the fight for same sex marriage, in and of itself, has aspects to it that go directly to the heart of our struggle as a community against homophobia, which means it's been a net good for our entire community, key word "entire."

How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Love Dirty, Dirty Assimilation:

1. The one you've all heard before, or: I can't wait til the Revolution for my hospital visitation rights. There are people right now that need the benefits and privileges that go along with marriage.

2. It's not only affluent, white, cis GLB folk that want to get married. Enough said.

3. Not everyone is radical. And that's okay. more )

May 2013



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