Through the 1960s as homophile organisations started to form in defence of queerfolk, the community which was only just forming began to fracture. Societies like the Mattachine wanted to present an assimilationist approach to queer emancipation, representing the white, middle class, straight-passing men who politicians and lawmakers would relate to and find most sympathetic. It wasn’t these men, however, that were being targeted by the police and rounded up by the dozen, but the butch women, effeminate queens, cross-dressers, and trans*folk who were the most visible and obvious targets for prosecution, and the easiest to turn into folk devils and scapegoats. It’s no surprise it was those members who first fought back and put queer emancipation on the political agenda. Continue reading →
My patience is wearing thin. I am done with the “reasonable” debate about the rights I “deserve,” if falling in love somehow makes me “less” than other people, if I’m safe to be around children. I’m done debating if my landlord has the right to evict me, if my boss has the right to fire me, if I have the right to be upset about people debating my rights.
I don’t care what your religion says, how grossed-out you are, how upset if someone calls you a homophobe. Fuck “reasonable,” “measured” debates. My life is not a problem other people have to solve.
Fuck the “same as you” arguments which pander to the fear of, and simultaneous fascination with, queer sex, fuck the way people try to “normalise” queerfolk. We were never abnormal to begin with.
Fuck wondering what jobs I’m capable of, what I’m safe to be allowed to do. I don’t need community rehabilitation, because I am part of the community already. We are legion. So fuck trying to keep us in the closet by threatening our livelihoods if we dare come out.
Fuck whitewashing us from history, from society, from the school and the street and the workplace. You have always lived alongside queerfolk, you have shared classrooms and changing rooms and office space and gym memberships with us your whole life. We are not shadowy strangers “out there,” we are here, beside you. Doing no harm.
Fuck the people who want us criminalised, who want us rounded up and gassed, who want us stripped of our rights to live and love, to lobby and assemble, to say fuck you to begin with. Fuck the president who let a plague go unchecked, and the people who hide behind false idols and fraudulent studies to strip us of our humanity.
Fuck those who say we can change, who prey on the fears of parents to torture and emotionally abuse their queer kids. Fuck every parent who has ever disowned a child. Fuck the families who come out of the woodwork after a death in order to loot the estate. Fuck the law which makes that possible.
Fuck the courts who hear the animus, fuck the “gay means stay” approach, fuck every pompous old man who feels uncomfortable acknowledging our existence. We will not go away, for we have nowhere else to go.
Fuck the mother scared of raising a “sissy,” who won’t let her son near anything pink or her daughter near blue, the father who tells his boy to “man up” and teaches his girl to be scared of men, the teacher who steers girls towards textiles and boys towards woodwork, the coach who calls a kid a “pussy” if he shows he’s hurt. Fuck gender normativity.
Fuck pink and blue, boys and girls, gay and straight. Fuck meaningless binaries and two-faced allies, every person who’s watched gay porn and turned against us in the privacy of the voting booth. Fuck delaying and denying our rights, fetishising our bodies, othering our lives, loves, desires. Fuck treating gay bars like zoo exhibits, gay men like predators, fuck the semantics of fear and loathing.
Fuck the closet, the word “partner,” fuck turning our marriages into business arrangements, forcing us to bind ourselves with powers of attorney and living wills and thousand-dollar pieces of paper to protect ourselves from our own flesh and blood when our hearts are no longer beating. Fuck smothering us, hiding us, pushing us away. We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.
So this all began a week or two ago, when Facebook deleted a ton of accounts en masse, all belonging to drag performers, all for contravening a ‘real name’ clause in their terms. Basically, they can all use their full legal names (and Facebook is requiring legal ID to evidence them), switch their existing profiles to ‘fan pages’, or get off Facebook completely.
So marriage equality is sweeping the west. Slowly but surely, state by state and country by country, we are winning, and we are doing so on a platform which says, in effect, “We’re just like you.” Gay couples want to settle down, raise children, say ‘I do’ before their friends and family. They want the white picket fence and 2.4 kids, to work 9-5 at a respectable, responsible job, pay the mortgage, walk the dogs in the park at the weekend, and enjoy lazy Sundays spending quality family time together. It’s a dream many of us, even in my generation, grew up never believing we’d see come true.
I’m certainly not going to deny anyone their right to that dream. It’s a perfectly valid one — a great one. There is infinite joy to be found in getting married, settling down and rearing children.
However… it’s not for everyone.
The problem with hanging any equality campaign on a “we’re just like you” argument is that, of course, we’re not. For every gay man or woman who wants marriage and kids, there’s another who doesn’t, and those people are rendered invisible by the “just like you” mantra.
But do you know who else is being rendered invisible at exactly the same time? All those straight people who don’t want marriage and kids either.
Couples who choose not to marry, who choose not to live together, who choose not to have children. Swingers and menages, and people who don’t want relationships at all. There’s a whole world of different lifestyles out there, and married couples with kids are but a small part of it.
Marriage equality matters, I’m not detracting from that for a second. (Heh, now the cat’s out of the bag about the fact I’m in a transatlantic same-sex relationship, I bet you can guess why.) But let’s not get swept up in the rhetoric and the romance of ceremony and forget all the people we are marginalising when we hold matrimony up as The (capital T) way of living your life. We want, need, and deserve the right to marry, and to have our marriages recognised. But that doesn’t make marriage mandatory, and it doesn’t mean choosing not to marry is a mistake.
The LGBT community has garnered unprecedented visibility in recent years as we have fought for equality. Let’s not whitewash ourselves to appear more palatable to people who are, when you scratch the surface, more like us than either side realises.
REMINDER: To celebrate the upcoming release of The Coward’s Way, The Dead Past is available for the bargain price of $0.99 for a limited time only. Available from Amazon, iTunes, ARe, B&N, and Smashwords.
At the beginning of June, opponents of Houston’s recently passed Equal Rights Ordinance submitted a petition containing 50,000 signatures demanding a repeal of the bill. The ordinance bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as sex, race, color, ethnicity, nationality, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, marital or military status. It applies to businesses that serve the public, private employers, housing, city employment and city contracting, but religious institutions are exempt. Apparently, there are 50,000 people in the Houston area (assuming all the signatures are valid) who think that not being allowed to discriminate is a bad thing.
What the hell is wrong with them?
I’ve seen a lot of negativity from the LGBT community this week, following Jared Leto’s acceptance speech at the Oscars. Sadly, it’s nothing I haven’t seen before, and I’m not going to address the specifics of that instance here. Suffice it to say, sometimes we in the queer community have a problem accepting that there are cis straight people in the world who give a shit. And, no, they don’t always get everything quite right, but let’s cut them a little bit of slack. They’re trying, they’re learning, and sometimes they’re gonna make mistakes because our experience is not theirs.
…the backlash is coming.
I’m talking about the battle for LGBT equality, which has picked up dramatically in recent years. Throughout the UK, Europe, and America, it seems there’s legislation and lawsuits being debated all over, and we’ve made incredible leaps and bounds. But sometimes it’s ‘two steps forward, one step back’. There are only the barest handful of US states who haven’t already legislated LGBT equality (same-sex marriage; anti-discrimination laws) or who haven’t got such legislation being tabled right now. There are many reasons for us to celebrate, but it isn’t all plain sailing.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware of the increasingly hostile situation faced by gay men and women in Russia at the moment. It’s never been a good time to be an LGBT Russian, but since the recent passing of an anti-gay propaganda law things have only got worse. Stories of foreign nationals being arrested have already surfaced; and entrapment, torture and even murder are becoming commonplace. Those who do attempt to fight back are attacked in the street and the Russian police does nothing to intercede – often arresting the protesters, rather than their attackers.
Yet Russia is due to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, and corporate sponsors are meeting public outrage with a wall of stony silence. Reading such stories, I think we all feel helpless. We can’t even donate money to Russian LGBT organisations, because they’ll get fined for receiving it. So what can we do?
The show portrays members of the ex-“gay” community as ticking time bombs who are potential serial killers…It is obvious that the ex-gay movement has become such a threat to the homosexual agenda that their allies in the media and entertainment industry now feel they have to work so diligently to discredit us…
Oh, boo hoo. Everything’s a conspiracy, isn’t it?
I was out in Manchester on Saturday, for the first time since Pride. God, I love the Village. It reminds me of my godforsaken youth, of three magic years when I lived there and going out was essentially my life. I’m a scene queen, I admit it. And despite so, so much of it that has changed – since I lived there, since I was last there – so much of it is the same. I met old friends and new, I went to some of my favourite haunts from the bad ole days and I went to bars and clubs that have been rebranded, reopened a dozen times or more since I called that place home.
But some things never change. The attitude of some of the men there to women, for a start.