Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What If Gay Marriage Isn't For You?

Here I go again wading into dangerous waters.  Working out your jones is something every sexual being has got to do. Let's face it gay, straight, bi or anything in  between as long as you are a human sexual being,  at some point you will want to get laid.  This of course is not a bad thing, it's just a part of life.

The gay rights movement has focused on marriage for its big organizing push. For some it is about equality, and for some it is about a recognition of love.   I don't believe in marriage period, but if heterosexuals can practice this archaic ceremony the same right should be extended to everyone.

In this movement one of the things that is occurring is the legitimizing of homosexual relationships.   While homosexuality is still considered socially by many to be a "lifestyle", or a counter culture way of living, one cannot help but notice the way that certain elements are working hard to police the movement in such a way as to create an acceptable way in which to be gay exists.

Did you ever think that you would see the day of "the acceptable gay".  From Queer Eye for the straight guy, to  The L word, and Ellen, more and more we are seeing gays and lesbians in the mainstream.  What this means is that those who refuse to fit into the neat little box that bourgeoisie gay leaders have created are still considered "other,"  and in some cases they are "othered" by their own community.

Nothing can be allowed to threaten the push for gay marriage.  Many have fought to dispel the social myth that gays and lesbians are naturally more promiscuous and incapable of a deep and lasting love. While I would agree with that assessment, it does not mean that for some the idea of getting married, or even settling into a long term relationship is not what is desired most. 

What I dislike the most about this movement is that it is creating the idea that being gay largely means whiteness and middle class.  Just like you they tell us, but who is the you that bourgeoisie leaders are using as a referential.  What happens if you are poor, of colour or gay and polyamourous?  What happens if you don't want to be inside the neat little package that attempts to represent your life like The Waltons only gay.  What happens if you want to be a bohemian and fuck your way through life, forming no lasting attachments?  What happens if you refuse to become pg13 so that someone else can create an image of homosexuality?

The issue with gay marriage as an organizing push is that it creates a construction through which homosexuality will be understood.  Rather than broadening the conversation in terms of the various ways in which sexuality can be flexible, it narrows the lens and creates an ideal that is ultimately limiting. It will do nothing to disturb the homo/hetero binary. 

Gay marriage will create many new rights for a large section of the community, but I cannot help but wonder how many people will find themselves  even more marginalized in a movement that seems determined to create a normative gay existence.   The white picket fence is not for everyone and in the meantime issues like hate crime legislation, housing and employment discrimination are being ignored.  Not everyone wants to get married, but everyone needs to live a life free of violence, everyone needs a home, and everyone needs a job.  These are the universals that are being ignored in the hopes of securing gay marriage.

It makes me wonder if some of the push behind marriage is not more about reclaiming a power, or rather a sense of normalization that is lost by declaring oneself a homosexual.  When I look at the leaders of the gay rights movement what is I see is privilege i.e whiteness and wealth, just like any other social justice movement.  I can see why the "just like you" seems appealing.  It just makes me wonder about everyone else.  What if you never fit into the "normalized identity" to begin with?  Where does leave you and when do your concerns become a priority?

Marriage is important because it is a right that is being denied, but it should not make up the entirety of an organizational effort when it will not benefit everyone equally.  Sharing a sexuality in common with someone does not mean that every aspect of your existence will be even remotely similar and I cannot help but wonder how much more policed the movement will become as it tries to put a representational face behind its organizing efforts.  It already has a tendency to silence the poor and POC.  Will the aforementioned groups become even more invisible in the hopes of a trip down the aisle?

Social justice movements have a tendency to mirror the larger society from which they originate.  Though many will claim to be all about pushing for equal rights, in the end they simply recreate the same hierarchy of beings that they claim to be disturbing.  Can we really be surprised that the push for gay marriage has been represented by elite white men when that is who runs western society?  Can we really be surprised that their wishes and their agenda is what is being brought to the forefront? 

For whom is marriage most important?  Is it for the gay hooker who was thrown out of her or his home as a teenager?  Is it for the person who works a blue collar job that keeps finding themselves passed over for advancement?  Is it for those that face so many areas of stigmatization that being gay is just one part of their identity?  Or is it so that the white male bourgoiese leaders can reclaim privilege that they have come to view as their birthright as rulers of western society?

Social justice needs to encapsulate the needs of all marginalized bodies equally, otherwise it becomes a movement that only encodes certain bodies with power leaving others to continue to occupy the the bottom of the power hierarchy.  Walk down the aisle and smile but while you are doing so, think about the many men and women who would be better served by having their various stigmatizations addressed.  Love is beautiful, patient and kind but so is knowing that your life means something regardless of whether or not you fit the "representational image".

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