Old Stuff: “On LGBT Rights”

I figured I might as well move some highlights from my old blog over here. This is a short post I did last March as the Supreme Court began hearing arguments in the DOMA case. 

Gay marriage is going to happen. If not with these cases then relatively soon. Everyone knows this. As George Will said, the base of the opposition is literally dying.

Public acceptance of gay marriage does not however imply an acceptance of homosexuality itself. We’re still far from a time/place in the American consciousness where homosexuals and those of other identities are considered truly normal by most people. This is evidenced by the fact that much of the rhetoric in defense of gay marriage aims to placate middle America by projecting notions of what “real”, “stable” heterosexual relationships look like onto homosexual unions. “Look,” we say. “They can raise kids too!”  And, to be sure, the lives that many, many gay couples aspire to are ones not dissimilar from the model set by the archetypal nuclear family. PTA meetings, a two-car garage, a white picket fence and a dog in the yard – there are gay people who want, and increasingly have, all of this.

But we should not pretend that the ideas about gay relationships middle Americans have grown to find more and more acceptable because they resemble the kinds of lifestyles that they themselves are comfortable with accurately reflect the lifestyles and desires of the entire LGBT community at large. Because they don’t. Obviously. Some want to be promiscuous. Some don’t. Some are fine with the gender binary. Many are not. At no point in the history of this debate has the diversity of the LGBT community been truly reflected by the arguments (and cliches) advanced in the popular media and conventional political discourse. I have honestly never been a fan of identity politics on principle and I admit I can’t really grasp the reasoning behind many of the gender categories/orientations that get talked (and fought) about on social media sites. But it is plain that there are legions of marginalized people out there with a lot to say and few places to say them but the internet. When the debate about gay marriage ends, will our “leaders” make an effort to show middle America that these people deserve as much respect as “normal” monogamous and conventionally gendered gay couples do?

The fact of the matter is that we’ve gotten this far by taking the sex out of sexual orientation. Instead of getting to a place where it can consider what goes on in LGBT bedrooms – and LGBT people themselves – as normal, middle America simply wants to move on. They “don’t want to know”. It’s “none of their business”. Both are essentially nice ways of saying “What they are doing is strange, unnatural, and maybe deviant, but they have the right to be the way they are and I won’t bother them.” Being queer is still queer and will be for quite some time. Until middle America can say “Homosexuality is normal,” instead of “Homosexuals have the right to be homosexuals,” we cannot say that we’ve truly been successful.

But, things are changing pretty fast. I think we’ll get there eventually. No idea when.


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