Who does gay marriage equality really serve? Are we abandoning our politics and turning our backs on each other in our quest for marriage equality and heteronormative family values? Natasha O’Ryan from Effort-Lez shares her thoughts.
Yesterday, while trying to blackout during a treadmill run, I decided to throw on a web series and get with the times. While trying to lose myself in a handful of 3-minute plots, I came across the term “Homo-normative” and subsequently hurled myself down a rabbit hole of queer theory. Hey, that’s how I roll.
The 411: Homo-normativity is a set of politics that assumes the expectations and beliefs of a hetero-normative culture. I’m talking monogamy, gender roles, marriage and the call for reproduction.
A little while later while sweating my proverbial “balls off” I couldn’t help but remind myself just how hetero-normative so many of us queers are. (Oh shit! Guess my secret is “out”. Sorry Grandpa!) We are so invested in the idea of being “good gays” and clearing our internalized shame, that we’ve gone and abandoned our politics and turned our backs on one another.
Follow me for a moment here. Against the backdrop of an era where the fight for equality in the developed world has been: The right to marriage. Is it any coincidence that queer representation in the media is tres white, cis and middle class? Think about it? Whose ideals are these? Whose agenda does this represent and just who does it serve? The “good gays” aka the ones who want to marry and uphold “respectable” hetero-normative family values. I’m sorry but these just aren’t the values and dreams shared by everyone in the queer community. There are too many outliers there, on the fringes, their needs being ignored. What about trans and inter-sexed individuals? Plain old hoes as I like to call them who aren’t interested in monogamy. And what about QPOC? Asexuals even? The list goes on and on as you can see.
A lot of spectrum isn’t covered in this homo-nationalist pursuit, and frighteningly we are helping to alienate our own by not including their voices and identities in our movements. Listen, I’m not undermining the importance of marriage equality as a piece of the movement. However doesn’t anyone else think it’s twisted affiliate marketing, that in our own movement, we exclude one another in fundamental ways? We go even so far as to exclude and erase the very identities of large groups of our community. It feels, to me, like we’re selling out politically and even socially because our heads have been squeezed into our own asses for way too long about ‘our needs’ and ‘our suffering’, we forgot this is a movement, a revolution of inclusion, not exclusion. We’ve fallen into the same prejudiced trap we wanted to break out of. Our recent political strategy has basically consisted of assuming a homo-nationalist agenda in exchange for a couple of rights. Bad deal!
While we align ourselves with hetero-normative culture as closely as possible, to demonstrate our value by the standards set by the mainstream, we have won them over, yes, but have we really changed their minds about us? In our bid and our thirst to be accepted for the sake of equality going “Hey we’re like you, good citizens. You know ‘normal’,” I think we’ve sacrificed our own diversity which made the gay and fringe communities so vibrant, unique and groundbreaking. Trying to be the “good gays”, we’ve been our own “bad guys”, managing only to further entrench this dominant social ideal of “normativity”.
If that didn’t piss anyone off enough, we’ve also de-politicized and buried ourselves in ideals of domesticity and consumption all at the same time. I don’t know about you, but I feel like a total douche bag with the word ‘hypocrite’ tattooed on my forehead.
So what now that we’ve gone and divided ourselves into two camps of the “good queers” and “bad gays” (who don’t deserve to be respected, national citizens)? Well, that’s, in a word, complicated. I wish I had all the answers but it’s on the track of creating an inclusive framework and doing away with this concept of normativity. If the gay community keeps mainstreaming our political pursuits to be included into oppressive frameworks, we will only continue to perpetuate oppression. I wish I was joking when I said the answer is “anarchy”. Ok, maybe not the Wikipedia definition of anarchy per say, but we do need to reject existing frameworks of normativity and quit “queer washing” everything. Ya, feel me?
Anyway, I should probably lace up and figure the rest of this mess out but I want to know what you think. Was marriage equality bad for the queer movement or a breakthrough in rights? #AmIRight? Hit me in the comments below.