“how can you be against gay marriage?” the young gay centrist asked me. “don’t you believe in equal love?” i’ve been teaching all day and i’m tired, near the end of the lecture i let my critiques of the gay marriage/hrc establishment slip out. big mistake.
you see, when you’re precariously employed it doesn’t matter how much they love you today, that could change in a nano-second if they think you’re too radical, too leftist, pro-palestinian or lacking in patriotism. you see dear reader the problem is i am many of these things.
i sigh. and try to find the words to express the frustrations i have with discourses of equality. or as i increasingly call it ‘the tyranny of equality’.
“it’s not that i’m against marriage,” i explain. “people can get married if they want to, i just don’t think that having the right to participate in a heteronormative institution is liberatory.”
i can see his eyes glaze over. it’s not the conservativism i mind, or the centrist attitudes of most of my students. it’s the lowered expectations of political discourse, the lack of willingness to dream of something different. the apathy is what kills me. i was this person once. voting for moderate, fiscally conservative but socially progressive candidates, a believer in the two state solution, thinking that a well regulated market was the key for a prosperous and secure future.
then i woke up. woke up to the realities of capitalism and injustice. woke up to queer theory, judith butler and kate bornstein, woke up to foucault, staceyann chin, malcom x… suddenly my world became a darker and crueler place but also became a place of new kinds of joy: of the dance floor, poppers, angry debates over too much wine and not enough vocabulary. to writing, books, politics. to refusing to be happy because it’s what is expected of me. to being queer as in fuck you.
i resign myself to explaining to the centrist student that the transphobia of the hrc is what frustrates me, which is true, but is only the tip of the iceberg why i don’t like marriage and why i shouldn’t have to be like straight folk or love like straight folk to be given rights. he leaves and i try to remind myself that once not so long ago i had similar conversations with professors who gave me just a glimmer of information that started a political awakening for me.
maybe i’ll start one too.