Friday, June 26, 2015

Tossing No Bea*quet: An Ex-Gay's Take on Gay Marriage

with infinite thanks to Darien Wendell, 
who continually challenges me

Two short and very long years ago, I would have been thrilled by the news that the Supreme Court of the United States of America had declared same-sex marriage a nationally applicable constitutional right (see: my Facebook status after they struck down DOMA: “YOU’RE ALL INVITED TO THE WEDDING”).

Now, as an ex-gay, or, more precisely, as a queer and trans person, I’m not so crazy about the move.  I am obviously thrilled for the same-sex couples who want to be able to choose marriage and who could not previously do so, as well as for the same-gender-loving individuals who wish for marriage in their own respective futures, but I also wonder at some of the implications of this decision:

First, SCOTUS did not expand the potential of what love can look like, merely the participants therein.  But what about all the people who prefer to be single?  What about all the people who prefer to live polyamorously?  What about all the people who prefer to live with a single partner outside legal bounds?  Why does our country still reap countless (well, 1,138, according to the HRC) benefits, rights, and protections on married couples, whereas those who practice other kinds of love—regardless of the participants—must fall so far behind in the eyes of the law?

Additionally, as a legal female who is attracted mostly to men and who wants genuinely to get married herself one day, the decision does not affect my ability to do so very much.  However, although I am legally female I do not identify with a sex at all; I find the distinction unhelpful outside a medical context, since gender describes an actual innate sense of being.  All this to say: why do we need to stipulate legal sexes in the first place?  Non-binary folk like me undergo enough personal upheaval in order to affirm identities that do not exist in the law that it would be nice to be able to pursue marriage (or literally anything) as we actually identify.  So why not let marriage exist as a viable option—AMONG OTHERS—for anyone, regardless of this unhelpful category of sex?

I would like to reaffirm that I am sincerely very very happy for those people whose lives this decision has unequivocally improved.  At one point I would have been one of those people.  I would also just like us—the LGBTQ community in all of our many shapes and colors—to stay grounded in the work that lies ahead, celebrating those who have enjoyed another victory, but remembering those who still have a hell of a lot more work ahead, and those for whom marriage is not even a consideration when they still do not have a roof over their head or food on their table or safety on their street or sufficient medication in their bloodstream or love from their family or affirmation from their church or the potential to even exist from their government.

Here I remember queer and trans people of color, so many of whom have passed away far too soon even this calendar year alone.

I remember Lamar “Goddess” Edwards, Lamia Beard, Ty Underwood, Yazmin Vash Payne, Taja DeJesus, Penny Proud, Bri Golec, Kristina Gomez Reinwald, Sumaya Ysl, Keyshia Blige, Vanessa Santillan, Mya Hall, London Chanel, Mercedes Williamson.  

I remember Blake Brockington, Melonie Rose, Ash Haffner, Zander Mahaffey, Adam Kizer.  

I remember Sylvia Rivera, a trans woman of color who fought at Stonewall and was subsequently prevented from speaking at the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade, who helped get the gay rights movement going, and was falsely promised that they would later come back to get her and the rest of the trans community, and like too many other trans women of color died too young. 

I remember the false unity of the acronym LGBTQ and hope that now that the number one political aim of the [white] gay rights movement is won, they will come back for the trans community like they continually promised.

So as Pride Parades sweep across the nation this June and we whip out the glitter and the temporarily emboldened allowance to be, can we carry that energy through the rest of the year and commit to the continued struggle, even and especially for those behind and beneath us?  Can each one of us agree to do that?

Go on: say it with me.

I do.