Queers and Marriage
December 25, 2005
To the Editor:
Emmaia Gelman’s “Rebuilding Queer Community, Beyond Marriage” (Dec. 1-7) raised cogent arguments against the misguided crusade for marriage on the part of mostly white, middle-class, gay/lez groups. Her objections merited better than Jesus Lebron’s unpleasant attack on her in the December 8-14 issue (“The Grassroots Demand Marriage), which bordered on ad hominem venom.
Gelman’s piece was welcome in part because the steamroller marriage crusade has proceeded without any democratic debate in the gay/lez press, in which few critiques have appeared (my comprehensive one in the November issue of The Guide, out of Boston, is one of the few; see guidemag.com).
This crusade results from a top-down, undemocratic, elitist process, whereby a few national groups—the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, and others—foisted the issue on the country. It is designed to portray same-sexers as conventional, conservative, non-threatening “family” types just like heteros, in part as a way of distancing themselves from aspects of gay liberation considered more troublesome, including S/M, pederasty, youth liberation, and sexual freedom. But that hasn’t stopped quasi-fascist Christian fanatics from using the crusade for one of their own, which has handed these groups serious setbacks in numerous state referendums.
The worst aspect of the campaign by who Gelman calls “Marriage Gays” is the elevation of coupledom to special status. Not only do the hetero wannabes seek state approval for their cohabitations and conjugal arrangements, but they also are seeking special privileges for couples at the expense of singles, who are now regarded as virtual failed couples. Instead of, say, fighting for a single-payer national health system that would extend health care to all citizens as a right, they seek to extend to their “spouses” the same privileges hetero marrieds have, including health benefits that would be paid for by singles who are denied those same benefits.
Since when did gay liberation decide to fight for special rights for some same-sexers at the expense of others, whether gay or straight? This is a wrongheaded departure from the egalitarian, post-Stonewall vision of the gay movement. Where is the equality in this for the 80-plus million single Americans?
Marriage is based on monogamy, but the human animal is not monogamous. The higher up the phylogenetic scale one goes, the less one finds monogamy. Marriage is a failing institution because it is based on an artificial premise that does not reflect reality. Humans are not birds—and not even all birds are monogamous.
The gay/lez movement long ago abandoned any vision of sexual liberation, so it’s hardly surprising that it is now advancing an agenda that seeks “rights” for some at the expense of others. Instead of fighting to get the state out of the bedroom, it is inviting the state in. All citizens should be treated equally before the state, regardless of whom they live with or whom they fuck.
December 23, 2005
To the Editor:
In the continuing diatribe of Gay City News against “Brokeback Mountain,” the fashion police have weighed in. I had thought that Timberlands were shoes; it turns out, in the expert opinions of Clarence Patton and Christopher Murray (“Brokeback on the Down Low,” Dec. 22-28), that they are part of a protective “macho persona” and at that, less effective for gay men of color than for the “traditionally white power structure of the gay community,” presumably represented by Messrs. Patton’s and Murray’s organizations, the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project and the LGBT Community Center.
It is odd that the authors chose the fictional Jack Twist as an example of the dangers of the so-called down low. Jack came to grief precisely because he began to take steps toward living a more openly bisexual life. It is odder still to imagine what the authors think their organizations could have done to save the real Matthew Shepard, an out gay man, who lived and was murdered in Brokeback country.
December 27, 2005
To the Editor:
There is just one problem with the article “Brokeback on the Down Low.” Rashawn Brazell did not hide who he was. His father and I didn’t allow him to. We always told him to be himself. He didn’t owe me or his father as well as anyone else anything in order for him to be happy. He had to be who he was and he did just that.
I’m not saying he went around broadcasting, but he didn’t hide it either and we were proud of him for that. In the beginning, he did try to be what others felt he should be, but with a little reassuring and our letting him know that he was and still is loved unconditionally, he finally realized that life was too short. In order to really be happy with who you are, you have to be yourself and that made his father and me proud of him because Rashawn was and will always be to us a remarkable young man.
The writer is the mother of the late Rashawn Brazell.
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