Friday, July 04, 2008

Shutting gay marriage down?

Walking uphill the other day I ran into a friend a block from my house and we had an interesting conversation about the book launch for That's Revolting!, which I thought was totally incredible because people were so engaged, and my friend said he was disturbed. Why disturbed? He said he wasn't sure about the strategy of shutting gay marriage down. Shutting gay marriage down? What on earth do you mean?

I think this happens a lot, where there's this reversal about who is doing the shutting down. There's no question in my mind that gay marriage proponents have systematically shut anti-marriage and anti-assimilationist queers out of the conversation. It's much easier for them to argue with Christian fundamentalists who think all gay people are gonna burn in hell. And it's a symbiotic relationship -- they both fund each other's organizations. I mean the fear of the gays fills fundamentalist coffers and the fear of the Bible thumpers funnels money into marriage fundamentalist gay organizations.

What was so amazing about the launch is that no one was backing down, no one said why yes, gay marriage is a beginning -- I hate that shit, when every queer who opposes marriage feels obliged to say that it's okay for people to want marriage, it's just that we need a broader movement also. But the problem is that the marriage movement has replaced the broader movement! I guess I always think it's contradictory when people say yes, but marriage is a beginning -- sure, it's a beginning, but it's the wrong beginning! There's this hesitancy for people to voice scathing critiques, and I think a lot of that has to do with this fear that my friend was talking about. That, somehow, if we articulate our opposition to marriage with all our passion and eloquence and glamour, then somehow we’re shutting other people out of the conversation. When, in fact, other people are certainly free to respond with passion and eloquence and glamour. Gay marriage proponents are the ones dominating media representations of what it means to be queer I mean gay I mean straightgay. They are the ones ensuring that the conversation remains a ridiculous one between foaming-at-the-mouth homophobes and the gays who just want the homophobes to accept them on homophobe’s terms -- we're just like you we’re just like you we’re just like you.

Oh -- so do you also think that all queers are gonna burn in Hell?

I just love that strategy -- convincing Christian fundamentalists to accept us on THEIR terms and now the gay marriage proponents even wants to decide what people look like and how they dress and how they represent themselves AT THEIR OWN WEDDINGS. I mean really -- it's not enough to embrace the dominant institution of straight privilege like it's the holy grail, you gotta buy into the whole package! Soon they're gonna make the gay wives show up with their bruises covered by Dermablend, right?

Gay marriage is a dead end. Sure, if we want cultural erasure, then it's a beginning. I believe in an oppositional culture that celebrates resistance, encourages defiance, and engages in complicated, critical conversations about accountability all the time. If that furthers the divide, bring it on! Wishy-washy pragmatism only furthers the people with the most power -- in this case, um, that means the (Christian) fundamentalists.


grantatee said...

a dead end indeed, i was reading the BAR last night and they have a new section for 'marriage announcements' complete with pictures of cute couple getting married.... finally, it's legitimate!!

loving you, even though were not married---


Mark said...

I can't get with this idea that marriage opponents are shut out of the discussion around same-sex marriage. Your voice in particular seems to be ubiquitous in media as the 'dissenting opinion'. SFBG, The Stranger, Matier and Ross, random political journals that I pick up at bookstores in Berkeley, you seem to be everywhere. I think in fact what is happening is that your arguments aren't really that strong. You make some excellent points, such as appropriately framing access to health care as a gay issue, but that and other points don't really have much to do with marriage. You fail to ever engage the idea that same sex marriage rights are about equal treatment under the law, when that is what's obvious to most people.

It's not that you are being shut out. I think that people are hearing your ideas, but your partisan, outdated, 90s queer radical paradigmatic mess just don't resonate with enough to reach a critical mass. So, stop whining.

Mark said...

P.S. Your whole screed about the necessity of "scathing" criticism, and about how the gay and Christian right camps fund each other's organizations and keep each other alive just is more evidence for me that you and Jack Malebranche are the same person. He says the exact same shit.

You guys are raging narcissists and idealogues who oversimplify and refuse to engage complexity. Fuck you both.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Grant, so lovely to see you back in these parts!!! And you remind me that I need to read the BAR -- I always forget about their classic journalism, when I'm not in the delicious spaces where the BAR is available, dammit -- how can I remember to go to those spaces???

And there's still time for us to get married, I mean we don't have to rush, do we? Please say we don't have to rush!

Mark, dear, not surprising that you reappeared in the comments right around now (on this nation's birthday, even). And I'm glad you've taken note of the places where my voice is *finally* heard a tiny little bit because I'm pushing pushing pushing to have some sort of critical engagement, but still I think if you did a count of articles probably 99.5 percent of them contain no queer anti-marriage perspective at all, and even those that do probably contain a few words at most.

But Matier and Ross?! -- I haven't seen that one -- please do send the link...

And I love that now I can finally be outdated -- for so long people liked to dismiss me as too young -- yay for outdated! The early '90s are the new '60s!

And are you doing guerrilla advertising for Jack Malebranche? There will be no guerrilla advertising on this blog!

But wait, what is that bulging in your pocket -- no, not... DIAMONDS!!!!!!!!!!?!!!!?

For me...

Oh -- I'm blushing...

Love --

riftgirl said...

I've always thought that if a particular person can get married, then everybody should be able to get married. But I also believe that the legality of marriage should be resolutely abolished - and all current ones thrown out, straight or gay.

Sure, if you want to celebrate your love for someone, throw a do-it-yourself ceremony or dinner party (preferably the latter as I like to eat). But other than that... sorry Charlie, you two kids are on your own.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Abolished, indeed!

"and all current ones thrown out, straight or gay."

Well, that's a delicious addition.

Even more delicious than that dinner party you're planning -- well, except for the company...

Love --

riftgirl said...

You know there's always an open invitation for you at my table, right? ;-)

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Well now all I need is your address!