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Friday, December 26, 2008

Marriage? No, Thanks. The Right to Marry? You Better Believe I'll Fight for It!

I am not personally interested in assimilating into a heteronormative frame in which I become a "good gay," nicely bourgeois, logo-ized, lobotomized, married, buried, kids, all eagerness to kill my nation's "foes" of the moment on some foreign field as an openly gay patriot or what have you.

I am personally much more ferociously identified with promiscuous, punk, and pacifist variations of queerness, nicely crunchy, pinko, pervy, and effete-aesthete. I can't say as such that I am pleased particularly by the appalling but customary tradeoff that would now offer up legal standing and cultural legibility to queer people but at the price of the demand for our assimilation into the mainstreaming machineries of corporate-military monoculture.

I do agree, then, that a crucial dimension of queer critique and political struggle must be to resist this false tradeoff, to direct attention to the ways in which it marginalizes and denigrates intersex, bisex, trasnsex, asex, polyamorous, and otherwise deviant/defiant gender-atypical persons and lifeways.

But I have no trouble at all reconciling this queer agenda with my awareness that the refusal of equitable access to the institutions of marriage, adoption, public and military service for queers who aspire to them is conspicuously unjust and must be fought as such. Not only that, but it is plain to me that these exclusions function as a primary mechanism through which the ongoing stigmatization and abuse of less-assimilable queers takes place anyway:

If even boring white guys who want nothing more than to get married and shop for crap with their kids are rendered not-quite-human not-quite-citizens just because they couple homosexually, you can be sure that more radical modalities of queerness are earmarked for an even surer destruction in such a society.

And, anyway, if I want to celebrate the free expressivity of promiscuous punks and poets, this scarcely entitles me to denigrate all those whose queerness includes forms of long-term commitment, monogamy, child-rearing, public service, and so on that may be less pervy or poetical to my own parochial eyes. My imagination isn't so limited that I cannot conceive of worthy lives lived otherwise than mine nor are my values so insecure that I imagine them imperiled just because they jostle in the public square together with different ones.

So long as equity and diversity and consent are secure (or more to the point: only to the extent that they are so secured) I am usually happiest in the marginal minority, immersed in the bracing and provocative spectacle of difference. I think this is an attitude that is perfectly facilitative of the politics of queer lifeways, however assimilated or deviant they might be, as it happens.

None of this is to deny that assimilationist lgbtq politics cheerfully do produce exclusionary and abjective effects on lifeways I would celebrate as indispensable to lgbtq politics properly so-called, but, hey, nobody promised me civil rights struggle would be a rose garden -- one has, as it were, to walk and chew gum at the same time.

And certainly we should be wary of simplistic either-or divide-and-conquer formulations that would support institutional homophobia under the guise of a celebration of homosex in only some one particular parochially preferred mode (even if the preference happens to be our own). The support and celebration of a more capacious atypical queerness is hardly helped along by the stigmatization and precarity of queers rendered second-class citizens in their own societies by law.

1 comment:

jimf said...

> I am not personally interested in assimilating into a
> heteronormative frame in which I become a "good gay,"
> nicely bourgeois, logo-ized, lobotomized, married, buried,
> kids, all eagerness to kill my nation's "foes" of the
> moment on some foreign field as an openly gay patriot or
> what have you.

That's precisely and explicitly what some conservatives who have
changed their minds about gay marriage (and the de-stigmatization
of gays in general) have offered as a rationale for their
change of heart, as I'm sure you're well aware.

This character, for example:
Why the Right Should Stop Attacking Homosexuality - Part 4/4
G. Stolyarov II [*]
(Uploaded on Sep 4, 2008
Mr. Stolyarov presents his fourth argument for the
societal legitimization of homosexuality - that the societal
legitimization of homosexuality will lead to stabler
homosexual partnerships.)

He's an Ayn Randian and a Transhumanist who wasn't too
keen on queers a while back (probably still isn't, for
that matter). I mentioned him in a comment in:
[T]he overall tone, the "syntality", of the transhumanist community
is **far** from congenial to homosexuals.

Maybe it's the left-over Objectivism, or the anti-Left
(or pro-Right) leanings, but there's a whiff of hostility (or
perhaps just icy indifference) to the whole topic. Just as there's
an icy indifference to the difficulties of other minorities
among the >Hists (why bother about those, after all, when
the big S is looming on the horizon?)

As an example with respect to gays, I was rather depressed
to come across the following record of an ImmInst chat with
special guest G. Stolyarov II from a few years ago. The
subject was ostensibly "Objectivism & Immortality",
but a good portion of the chat seemed to be hijacked
by the topic of homosexuality, and **nobody** from
ImmInst stepped forward to challenge Stolyarov's
unfortunate views on the subject:
17:50:55 ex_banana-eater Do you subscribe to toleration as a virtue
17:50:58 G[. Stolyarov II] SOLO, alas, has taken a turn for the worse in recent months.
17:51:11 G Yes, I do believe toleration is a virtue, but SOLO's editor-in-chief,
Mr. Perigo, does not.
. . .
17:51:32 G He has undertaken to ban or moderate anyone whose views diverge from his own
interpretation of Objectivism.
17:51:56 G Some of my differences with him include views on the issue of homosexuality.
17:52:17 G He wishes to have Objectivists believe that homosexuality is something innate.
17:52:24 G I think that it is a volitional choice.
17:52:35 G I moreover do not glorify it like he does.
. . .
17:53:48 ex_banana-eater From what I've seen, homosexuality is something that occurs
more often in groups that were abused, like occupied Germany
17:54:14 G In which case it is a choice in response to the abuse, no?
17:54:53 ex_banana-eater Yes, most psychologists think different sexual habits and
addiction problems are responses to abuses
17:54:53 G I think it is a choice that people should be free to make, but I do not
consider it good manners to publicly flaunt it.
17:55:30 G This may be true, yet it is also true that it is within man's power
not to make that choice.

Well, good manners or not, it's getting "flaunted" in the faces of the
Supreme Court today. What was it Ann Coulter is alleged to have said
recently? -- something like "If I had my way, we'd reinstate Don't Ask
Don't Tell for the entire U.S. public sphere." Dream on!