Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gay Marriage: A PSA and a counterargument

First something funny, then something serious. Teaspoon of sugar with your medicine.

What would gay marriage look like? Check out this very educational PSA from 23/6. ;) (H/T The Bilerco Project for linking the video.)

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(By the way, I realize this video is a spoof--duh!--but what's with the lesbians? The gay guys look like two totally average-looking (white) guys, whereas the lesbians are totally stereotypical: flannel and jean jacket clad, mullet-styled hair, super-butch. What the heck? I find it especially obnoxious when gays and straight allies (i.e. the makers of this video) employ lesbian stereotypes. How hard would it have been for one of those two women to be a little femme-y or, at least, not so over-the-top butch. Not that there's anything wrong with being butch, but not all lesbians are butch....Okay, I'm done.)

On a more serious note, earlier in the week, Renee over at Womanist Musings wrote an excellent and compelling post about how the push for gay marriage is potentially problematic, because it others those whose partnerships/relationships/sexual lifestyles do not fit into a heteronormative mold for what "marriage" should look like. I wrote something along these lines a few months ago, from a more personal perspective, but Renee articulates some of the issues of class and race inherent in the fight for gay marriage and worries, rightfully, that gay marriage will bestow privilege on those who are normative and will further disenfranchise those who are already lower on the totem pole:
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.
This is not to say (and Renee's not saying this either) that gay marriage isn't something for which we should fight. However, we shouldn't forget that the fight for the right to marriage is not, by a long shot, the only thing affecting the gay community. What about hate crime legislation? Equal housing? Job discrimination? Equal rights to adopt and foster? Not to mention advocating for those in the LGBTQ community who live below the poverty line and who probably won't have access (for financial or other reasons) to gay marriage even if it does become legal. Let's not lose sight of all the other battles the LGBTQ community and its allies need to fight. Marriage, as important as it is--especially symbolically--will not bring about full equality. We still have a long way to go.


Radical Reminders said...

i completely agree - there are crucial other things as well that we can't forget, equal adoption, in my mind is a BIGGY. Great post. said...

Thanks so much. marriage definitely isn't the only issue at hand!