Thursday, June 28, 2012

Solidarity For...

...Those Who Aren’t Just Like White Heteromono Gender-Conforming Vanilla Models

Fannie writes on the “The Limits of ‘We're Just Like You’” about the limits of trying to gain the same-gender freedom to marry by claiming to be just like what is portrayed as the average majority conformist.
Over Pride Weekend, some friends posted a graphic on Facebook that was supposed to emphasize how similar gay people are to heterosexuals. Featuring two white, thin, gender-conforming, well-dressed men seated on a couch, in scary font, it read: "The Gay Agenda: They Pay Their Bills! They Make Dinner! They Go To Work!"

Yeah, I find it funny because it plays on that always-over-the-top meme about The Homosexual Agenda (dun dun DUN!). Contrary to some anti-LGBT activists' fantasy of "the homosexual lifestyle" being a never-ending, hedonistic party of poppers, promiscuity, go-go boys, and anal sex, many LGBT lives are actually quite mundane.

Yes, there are gay and lesbian couples who blend quite nicely into the middle-class suburban, churchgoing, PTA/soccer mom set. But there are those who don’t fit that mold, and they should not be excluded or ostracized.

At the same time, notice the image. Two white, thin, gender-conforming, well-dressed men being "boring" together. I realize that is the image that must sometimes be presented in the US in order for LGBT people to prove that we are "just like everyone else" and therefore deserving of respect and equality under our legal system.

However, it remains a message of exclusion.

Fannie is right.

Mainstream LGBT organizations, some LGBT people, and the gay bloggers who focus primarily on gay rights (ie- marriage equality) are often not progressives and not interested in social justice beyond achieving the (rather conservative) end goal of marriage equality.

To illustrate with a parting anecdote, I was recently talking to a white gay man about participating in the Pride Parade. He expressed reservations about an acquaintance of his, a heterosexual, white, progressive, feminist woman who had done a lot of community organizing work in communities of color. His concern was that she might feel "uncomfortable" at a gay pride parade.

To me, that really illustrated a disconnect.

Those who participate in social justice movements outside the insular world of Gay Inc know that it most likely wouldn't be her who would be an uncomfortable, ignorant, disapproving outsider at his political rally. The far more likely reality is that it would be him who would be an uncomfortable, ignorant, disapproving outsider at a social justice rally that did not center gay rights.
Fannie is right. This blog is about relationship rights for all, but the larger focus needs to be on civil rights, encompassing relationship rights (including marriage equality), protections against race/gender/sexual orientation discrimination, and all of that. When we allow the “everyone has to be just like us, only maybe with less money” bigots to dictate the terms of our existence, we can’t win because someone will be denied their rights. None of us should throw others under the bus in some discriminatory bargain. Don’t fall for the rotten carrot on the stick. “Disavow consanguinamory and polyamory swinging and swapping and open marriages, and you can have marriage for monogamous same-gender couples.” “Ditch the transgenders, and we’ll accept you.” “Deny the existence of bisexuals, and we’ll welcome you.” “We can accept lesbians, but not gay men. And we’ll only accept certain types of lesbians who dress the right way.” We should never fall for that! Equality just for some is not equality! Nobody should be a second-class citizen because of who they are or the adults they love. No relationship between consenting adults should be criminalized, discriminated against, or denied marital status (if that is what they want.)

Unfortunately, consistency isn't something enough people currently have. Look at people who say "consenting adults should be free to love each other and free to marry" but they still condemn the sexuality of other adults, or deny they should have the freedom to marry, because by "consenting adults" they only mean "me and my current partner(s), and people who are just like us.” An adult, regardless of religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation should be free to share friendship, love, sex, residence, and marriage with any consenting adults, free to take on the professional and personal roles that suit them, free to make decisions about their own bodies, and generally free to wear what they want to wear. Even if that looks different than the portrayed majority.
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