Gay Marriage: Let’s Get This Over With

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I have always had pretty strong feels about the gay marriage issue, ever since I was in high school and they have changed pretty drastically over the years. Back in the days of my high school GSA, it seemed incredibly simple – totally black and white. I thought “of course gay marriage should be legal! That would end homophobia and gay and lesbian folks would be totally equal.” I was so passionate about the issue and I used to get angry at my passively homophobic dad for not understanding why it mattered so much to me. Fast forward to a couple of years later, before I came out as Queer, when I first heard the argument against gay marriage from a radical lesbian’s point of view. She argued against marriage in general as a patriarchal institution and against gay marriage as an assimilationist tactic that would do nothing more than work homosexuality into the status quo. This drove me to do some more research and get to know the issue from a perspective I hadn’t really considered before – the radical Queer perspective. Once I finally did come out, I had a more thorough understanding of the issue and a hundred reasons why it was not okay. As a genderqueer person, I felt (and still feel) that gay marriage is exclusionary – it is specifically for and about cis gay and lesbian folks and completely ignores the fact that the fight for gay marriage effects the trans* community. The gay marriage movement also fails to address any of the more vital issues within the Queer community, including but not limited to Queer teen homelessness, sexual assault, suicide and murder, employment and housing discrimination, AIDS, lack of access to proper medical care (especially for trans* folks), and much, much more. Compared to all of these issues, gay marriage is not at all worth fighting for. I mean, how do Queer folks have the time or energy to even think about such an unimportant thing in the face of all this? The answer? Privilege.

 

Gay marriage is about meeting the wants and needs of cis white gay men and cis white lesbians of the middle class who may not have had to deal with most of those greater problems, perhaps because they have the class privilege or the white privilege or the cis privilege which keeps them safe. After all, if you are Queer, it is safer to also be white and middle class. All of the issues listed above certainly effect white folks, but the suffering of Queer People of Color is hugely disproportionate, especially in the case of trans* folks and this is another thing that the gay marriage movement is happy to ignore. Gay marriage is just not even important; it is literally the very least that can be done and it can really only appease some of the Queer community while ignoring the rest. But all the same, it is getting done.

 

The other day, I was talking to my dad about a documentary I recently watched called Celluloid Closet. I brought it up to him because it talked about the coded gay characters in a bunch of his favorite movies and I wanted to know if he had ever caught that. Our conversation turned into a discussion of the changes in the general attitude toward homosexuality and my dad said something that made me think – when he was growing up, the general belief was that if you were gay, something was wrong with you because being gay was just simply not normal. He grew up with the idea that homosexuality was not just wrong or abnormal, but totally uncommon. Nowadays, he said, it seems clear that being gay is at least just as common as being straight. Being Queer is not so abnormal after all, and it is therefore ridiculous to consider it a problem. Of course, I know the trouble with this idea – it’s only okay if it’s “normal” kind of bullshit, but it was actually quite a leap for my dad to make. The point is, his attitude toward homosexuality changed drastically from when he was growing up just based on the fact that he was more aware of it being a thing. Not a “normal” thing, just a thing that is common, that people do as part of their identities and their lives and who they are. All this brought about because there is more representation of gay folks in the media and more push for gay marriage. I’m not saying he isn’t still homophobic and he certainly doesn’t know how to process gender identity, but his new awareness of gay identities has helped him accept Lucky’s and my respective Queer identities despite not really understanding much about that. I guess my point is that while the gay marriage fight leaves us behind, the fact is, at this point, it is inevitable and, despite the fact that it does very little (if anything) to change the existing conditions of folks who suffer every day from patriarchal oppression, it has at least had the effect of bringing awareness to the issues where there previously was none.

 

Don’t take this as me condoning gay marriage. If anything, I just want this stupid ass movement over with. It really is the very least that can be done and, quite honestly, it is one of the few things that can be achieved by going through the legal system (of course, I’ve never been one to care much for the legal system). The gay marriage fight is all but over now and I say let’s just please get it the fuck over with already so we can focus on bigger, better things, like getting ENDA through the House, creating shelters and protection for our homeless youth, spreading awareness about the disproportionate suffering of our QPOC brothers, sisters and others. Let’s lose this distraction and get to the real issues at hand.

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Shit you shouldn’t say when I tell you I’m trans*

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So, by now, we all know that I am Queer and, by now, so do all of my close friends and family.  I only recently came out and since I’ve come out, I have been as open as I can be to basically anybody who will listen.  This is because my identity is important to me and awareness of Queer issues and the general existence and welfare of trans* people is important to me.  This is also because I have known of too many people who have identified as Queer in some form or another who have felt isolated, frightened and confused and who have not had access to the same kinds of resources and information I have or who didn’t know anybody who could help to point them in the right direction.  When I came out first to my family and close friends as genderqueer, I got a lot of responses that, quite frankly, upset me in no particular order.

  • “Why would you go on male hormones, you’re so pretty” – This is not comforting or supportive.  I’m glad you think I’m pretty and thanks but no thanks.  That is not the response I needed or asked for.  Don’t tell me what you think is acceptable to do based upon your standards of beauty as if your opinion would somehow differ if I were not considered attractive.
  • “Do you want a beard and body hair?” – I’ve been asked this a number of times and I still don’t have an answer.  I already have body hair; it comes from not shaving.  But seriously, I don’t know if I want facial hair because, frankly, I don’t know how I would look with it (I’m blonde and I think blonde facial hair usually looks a little funky).  Anyway, my hair is so fine and light-colored, I don’t know if I could really achieve an effective beard if I did want one.  But as it is, this question only serves to put me on the spot and I really can’t formulate a solid answer to it.
  • “You’re not getting surgery, are you?” – Fuck off, it’s none of your business.  This is private information and it requires a lot of thinking-through.  Beyond that, SRS is wicked expensive and requires a whole shitload of hoop-jumping; it is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no” and, once again, it’s nobody’s business.
  • *upon being told that I’m taking testosterone* “…you’re beautiful” – …thanks?  This is just something I don’t know how to respond to, just like the first comment.  It’s like a poorly concealed attempt to say “oh, don’t do that, you’ll ruin your pretty little face.”  And, for that, you can fuck off.
  • “You seem pretty feminine to me”/”You’re not really that masculine” – What does that have to do with it?  You don’t have to be masculine to be a man, nor do you have to be feminine to be a woman and since I don’t identify as either, why should I have to be more like one than the other in order to express my identity?
  • “So, you want to be a man?” – No, goddammit.  No, I don’t want to be a man.  I just also don’t want to be a woman.  Gender is a spectrum, not a binary.
  • “Why can’t you just pick between man and woman?”/”why do you have to make it so complicated?” – Again, fuck off.  I’m not making it complicated, it just already is and it wouldn’t be if there weren’t patriarchal gender roles dictating a strict binary that many people, myself included, can’t navigate.

In short, when a trans* person comes out to you, don’t barrage them with stupid questions or ignorant assumptions.  If you don’t know much about it, there are more respectful ways to ask about what you want to know, or better yet, go on the internet and look it up!  There is so much information on Queer identities of all kinds and a huge online community dedicated to raising awareness on all fronts.  Not to say that I won’t answer any respectful questions, but, quite honestly, educating people about Queer issues is not my responsibility as a Queer person – I am not here to speak for the entire community and, beyond that, I don’t like wasting time trying to explain my identity to people whose interest is probably fleeting at best.  Anybody who is genuinely interested in learning about Queer issues should prove their interest by doing their own research and learning what is and is not appropriate to say/do/ask around Queer friends and family.

There are a bunch of other responses I’ve heard, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head so I’ll probably being going back to edit this post and add more.  Feel free to contribute your own inappropriate responses.