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Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Parade Passes By

As readers of Amor Mundi know, my partner and I have been together for over thirteen years now. But we aren't gay married because we disapprove of marriage as a vestige of human trafficking and as an irrational acquiescence to damaging Hallmark card fantasies of romantic completion. And yet we both fought for marriage equality and are cheered by its successes because our exclusion from the institution damages the lives of queer folks who feel differently than we do (even if for bullshitty reasons), and because that exclusion remains an injustice supporting other worse injustices, and also simply because it seems more forceful politically to oppose norms from which you are not already excluded and the refusal of which costs you something.

Appalled by the deathly demoralizing anti-democratizing energies of corporate-militarism as I am, I grasped nonetheless the indispensability of ending the Clintonian gargoyle "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and the ban of queer folks from serving openly in the military for reasons similar to those that make marriage equality victories good -- but, again, I cannot say the jingoist cadences inevitably framing the victory felt particularly enlivening to me personally. Ending employment discrimination against queer folks seems to me a more substantial goal that will help many truly precarious people in this country while imposing a constraint on many truly pernicious people in this country -- and hence I cannot say that I am surprised to find it the assimilationist goal that still most stubbornly resists accomplishment. I don't like kids enough to wallow in gay adoption victories, and while I am all for Families We Choose, I wonder why the Chosen Families we celebrate must always be so drearily conventional.

But even if, as I say, I fully recognize the indispensability of demanding the availability of legibility on conventional institutional terms, lest illegibility marginalize so many of us in ways that literally ruin and end lives, I personally believe that a life more fully lived demands selves made of both prose and poetry, freedom requires both answerability before the eyes of power as well as the questionableness out of which different worlds are made.

Yes, I am one of those grumps you hear about who think that having too much Pride in assimilation to the institutional norms of reprosexual corporate-militarism is more than a little fucked up. While Pride originated in the righteous impulse to defy the hurtful shame imposed on wanted queer lifeways by mean, fearful, ignorant majorities, I think there is plenty to be ashamed of in the complacency, conformism, and consumerism Pride celebrates.

Especially now that I'm pushing fifty I more or less want Pride to get off my lawn. It is like a crowd of vacant consumers and squalling kids hard to distinguish from a food court in a Tornado Alley suburban mall even with the interchangeable shirtless guys and sequins shorn of their magic by too much sunlight. I do know that there are plenty of older folks who draw a real measure of strength and support from Pride, and yet I do think Pride is something youthful at heart, and in a way that registers both the fabulousness and foibles that can characterize youth in dumb overgeneralized stereotypical ways I won't make many friends getting into in any depth. But the hazy ambivalent fondness I still feel for Pride, while feeling at once quite contented that Pride is no longer the thing for me, is something like the hazy ambivalent fondness I feel for my own time of youthful adventuring.

I marched with my friends in Queer Nation in the Pride Parade in Atlanta half a dozen times at least, in the early nineties, and that really felt like something. Perhaps it was because we didn't seem quite as respectable as the Pride tag insisted we should be aspiring to be, for one thing. I marched in San Francisco's Parade just once, the summer after I moved here, in 1996, and it already felt terribly belated and pro forma. I wasn't really part of any movement anymore, and that left me feeling like I was at a County Fair cruising a loud crowd for dick and funnel cakes. That's been nearly twenty years ago now. I must say I felt quite a lot of sympathy for the Occupride moment in 2012 -- but I heard about it on the news after the fact. There was some political alchemical spark there, some joyful noisy resistance, some futural opening onto elsewhere that felt truly queer. To connect with that kind of queer futurity, I might even drag my tired old unrepentant queer ass onto the street again one day.


jollyspaniard said...

Brighton has a massive pride parade. The parade is cool but it ends in a massive party in the park which has become increasingly commercial and eventually a ticketed event and I stopped going.

Kyle Thomas said...

Ah, shucks, get married already. A Marriage is a legal conspiracy of the highest order, a collusion between two persons which enjoys privileges other incorporations can only dream of--among them the right not to testify against each other in court! You can have any sort of marriage you want: open, closed, morganatic, putative, shotgun, common law, Boston, Hollywood, forced, sexless, sham, arranged, eloped, etc. etc. Do what you want with it! If you don't like it you can always get divorced...

Kyle Thomas said...

Don't take my word for it, listen what to Steven Sondheim (A nice, respectable Homosexual) has to say.

Dale Carrico said...

That Sondheim -- most of whose work I know by heartless like most not very nice not at all respectable homosexuals -- he had a million of 'em:

Every day a little death
In the parlor, in the bed
In the curtains, in the silver
In the buttons, in the bread
Every day a little sting
In the heart and in the head
Every move and every breath
And you hardly feel a thing
Brings a perfect little death

He smiles sweetly
Strokes my hair
Says he misses me
I would murder him right there
But first I die
He talks softly of his wars
And his horses
And his whores
I think love's a dirty business

So do I
So do I

I'm before him on my knees
And he kisses me
He assumes I'll loose my reason
And I do
Men are stupid
Men are vain
Love's disgusting
Love's insane
A humiliating business

Oh how true

Ah well
Everyday a little death

Every day a little death

In the parlor, in the bed

In the looks and in the eyes

In the curtains, in the silver
In the buttons, in the bread

In the murmurs, in the gestures
In the pauses, in the sighs

Every day a little sting

Every day a little dies

In the heart and in the head

In the looks and in the lies

Every move and every breath
And you hardly feel a thing
Brings a perfect little...

Dale Carrico said...

Leave you? Leave you?
How could I leave you?
How could I go it alone?
Could I wave the years away
With a quick goodbye?
How do you wipe tears away
When your eyes are dry?
Sweetheart, lover,
Could I recover,
Give up the joys I have known?
Not to fetch your pills again
Every day at five,
Not to give those dinners for ten
Elderly men
From the U.N.--
How could I survive?
Could I leave you
And your shelves of the World's Best Books
And the evenings of martyred looks,
Cryptic sighs,
Sullen glares from those injured eyes?
Leave the quips with a sting, jokes with a sneer,
Passionless lovemaking once a year?
Leave the lies ill-concealed
And the wounds never healed
And the games not worth winning
And-wait, I'm just beginning!
What, leave you, leave you,
How could I leave you?
What would I do on my own?
Putting thoughts of you aside
In the south of France,
Would I think of suicide?
Darling, shall we dance?
Could I live through the pain
On a terrace in Spain?
Would it pass? It would pass.
Could I bury my rage
With a boy half your age
In the grass? Bet your ass.
But I've done that already--or didn't you know, love?
Tell me, how could I leave when I left long ago, love?
Could I leave you?
No, the point is, could you leave me?
Well, I guess you could leave me the house,
Leave me the flat,
Leave me the Braques and Chagalls and all that.
You could leave me the stocks for sentiment's sake
And ninety percent of the money you make.
And the rugs
And the cooks--
Darling, you keep the drugs.
Angel, you keep the books,
Honey, I'll take the grand,
Sugar you keep the spinet
And all of our friends and--
Just wait a goddam minute!
Oh, leave you? Leave you?
How could I leave you?
Sweetheart, I have to confess:
Could I leave you?
Will I leave you?
Will I leave you?