This is a cliché, and like all clichés it has the ring of truth: We're standing at a historical cross-road. Queers have not been this visible for a long time. Arguments for and against marriage can be heard everywhere. Words like 'equality' and 'human rights' are tossed around and many of us are basing our claims to citizenship on our right to marry.
Suddenly, I'm a radical because I might want to marry, have children, grow up, settle down, buy a house, leave my life's savings to my beloved partner and so on. Everywhere I go, kindly and well-meaning married straight people tell me how delighted they are that I might someday join them in happy coupledom. If it's late at night and my energy is waning, I usually smile sweetly back at them, and they assume I am grateful to be acknowledged as normal.
But if it's early enough, my answer is some variation of the following: 'Are you nuts?'
Let me explain. As a child, I dreamt of a world where my worth or sense of well-being did not depend on what my 'relationships' might be. Like every kid who grows up queer, I knew I did not fit in. Not fitting in meant realizing that I would often be alone, but it also meant that I was left alone to do what I pleased with myself and to think out loud on my own. Over the years, I learned to enjoy my own company ( in so many ways... ) . But I also learned the power of organizing in numbers and learned that changing the things that were wrong in the world would often mean joining in coalition with others. Fighting for affordable housing, arguing against war, showing the injustice in the world, and talking about why queers needed to think about these matters in addition to their sexuality—all of that requires numbers and I was happy to stand with others. The arrangement seemed to work fine, until marriage took over as the main topic.
So where are we now? We're sternly reminded by our gay 'leaders' to focus on marriage as the only way to gain 'equality.' Growing up, it became clear to me that marriage is fundamentally bad for women and children because it changes them into pieces of property. And its emphasis on monogamy and commitment is just boring. Gay marriage is the same game, but with different players. With all the energy devoted to gay marriage by our chosen leaders, we're falling into default positions: marriage is best, and it will make us equal. But what about the inequality that will remain long after we've traipsed down the aisle in tuxedos and white gowns?
According to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, AIDS is the leading cause of death for African-American females between the ages of 25-34. 70% of newly diagnosed AIDS cases are African American and Latino. Worldwide, AIDS affects approximately 44 million people. Correct me if I'm wrong, but these are much bigger problems than the right to marry. And we queers are not talking about these and related issues: the rise in poverty, the loss of decent schooling, the rise in homelessness ... I could go on. But you see the point: marriage does not solve any of these problems; it only helps us dull our sensation to pain.
What next? Watch this space for more.