Monday, July 11, 2011

NPR: Lesbian Couples Wed More than Gay Men

Never mind that NPR has now mainstreamed the best known lesbian joke ever.  What I really like from this news story are these sound bites:

"When you're an outsider, in order to make it okay you haveto embrace that otherness of yourself, that you live on the outside. And many of us unconsciously don't want to totally give that up. I like it.  We're used to being different and being on the outside.  Now, with marriage, you're just like everyone else. So there is a resistance to it." -- Leslie Cohen

"So, lesbian and gay people have formed very complex families, and need more flexible norms." -- Katherine Franke

While same sex marriage can do great things for some couples, it also stands to obliterate the different forms of familial and other relational bonds that queers have learned to form.  What is the cost of forgoing our queerness in the quest for equality?


Z said...

This is a great phrasing of an important question, Michael. I worry that the way gay marriage is talked about we as a community are not being critical enough about what it would (or could) mean and look like to actually be married. I can appreciate a conversation about benefits and rights, but what of how we create chosen families and bonds with one another without the need for hegemonic relationship norms?

Michael said...

Z, thanks. I see marriage equality as being predominantly a conversation about rights for those with socio-economic privilege and the vast majority of that group being white. The conversation seems to have never conceptualized relationships that don't ape traditional heterosexual marriage and has ramped up to where it reifies traditional heterosexual norms about marriage.

A queer friend of mine questioned the rhetoric coming from NC Equality (the NC chapter of the HRC) that shows contempt for polygamy and alternative, consentual adult sexual relationships and arrangements. (The "imperialism" of gay marriage rhetoric he called it, which I just love.) Sadly, the gay rights movment has largely gone beyond seeking similar rights to completely abdicating queer liberational ideals. And I say gay rights because it is about a mainstream definition of "gay." Those who fall outside the very narrow parameters of this definition are not included in the conversation and are usually sacrificed on its altar.