This is our truth, tell us yours
I am writing this on a page with a rainbow header, the White House is apparently multicoloured and businesses from Barclays to Ben and Jerry’s have tweeted out their support for equality. So that’s all sorted then we can pack up the glitter, go home and use our pride friendly Barclaycard to buy some pride friendly ice cream.
Except, maybe it’s not quite time to decide we live in the perfect world Obama quoted. Maybe marriage equality is simply another sign of how conformity and respectability politics are winning, in every sphere, leaving so many behind. Recently I had an idea for a project which would help young queer people. However one of the problems with being pseudonymous is that the contacts and networking I do is very hard to translate into meat space connections. Carter offered to put me in touch with some people he knew. unfortunately there is no way of explaining how he knows me, or what my credentials are.
I am not claiming this is a huge oppression. As a queer sex worker I chose to be anonymous to protect the people I care about. I am working on other ways to get my idea of the ground. However we live in a world where conforming to the patriarchal norms is seen to be essential, indeed the campaign for marriage equality has at its heart the idea that those norms are ones to espouse and aspire too. Erich Fromme writes in To Have and To Be of how communism and socialism replaced the idea of building a new world with making everyone bourgeoise. Its the hard working families mantra beloved of our politicians. Christianity has similarly moved from wanting to create a new Jerusalem to handing out food parcels and tying itself in knots whenever someone dares speak against the status quo. I fear that what used to be a liberation movement, a belief that being different was a reason to march in pride, will too become a movement of who can be the most bourgoise, the most respectable.
We are increasingly becoming an illiberal society, hiding behind a cloak of tolerance. Whilst those who conform to millenia old norms have been given the right to marry for the rest of us the right to be who, and what we are is growing smaller each day. Corporations are not festooning themselves in rainbows because they have become more tolerant, but because LGBT has become less threatening, more respectable. No longer crying “we are queer, we are here” instead aping cis het norms like good little drones. This may sound more critical of those who wish to marry than I mean it too. Of course anyone should be able to marry if they want. People who don’t want to marry should have the same rights though, even if they refuse to buy into a patriarchal system of oppression. Is it wrong that two lesbians could not adopt as a couple, as in the case of two of the plaintiffs in the SCOTUS decisions? Of course it is, but it is equally wrong that the solution to this, for all, is seen to be marriage.
I may, literally be raining on your parade but either pride is part of a a liberation movement or a good party. If it’s just a good party, cool, but don’t pretend that anyones lives are changed by it. Those who are most privileged have another privilege, the right to marry, those who are oppressed on more than one axis can’t even afford the price of an entry ticket.