Straight Up | Issue 12
So Obama has outed himself as a supporter of marriage equality. I am not really queuing up to shake his hand for this. Really, that should have been a given, if there was to be any consistency with the rest of his message.
I have written previously that gay marriage is not my priority – it is the most obvious (and in my opinion one of the least important) frontiers for change. I put my energy into trying to make sure I don’t attend another funeral for a dead queer person by improving access to, and outcomes in education, healthcare and social welfare.
I see marriage as bound up with gaystream corporate and assimilationist agendas that make me sad. I see marriage as a site laden with the violence and oppression of children and women. And, while I’d love some of the benefits that marriage brings, I don’t understand why we in queer/trans movements would stop from demanding full citizenship for all (why should only married people be able to visit sick partners, adopt, split their incomes for tax purposes?). Is this really a priority? Who is left out? How much difference will a pretty tiered wedding cake make to homeless trans kids? I am happy to have the marriage “debate” – I just wish that there was some balance to it. Not all queer folks long for marriage – so balance doesn’t simply mean lining up a socially conservative right-winger, and a pro-marriage homo to have a predictable no/yes argument.
One thing that sticks with me out of all this is the dominance of the US in the queer/trans cultural-political landscape. Often in Aotearoa we view the US as the centre – meanwhile remaining disconnected from important events in the majority world, or at home. I despair that in current gay marriage activism in New Zealand, organisations like “Legalise Love” make more reference to rights struggles in the United States than the examples the Māori civil, political and cultural rights struggles afford us. Rather than our own heroes it is characters like Harvey Milk, and scenes like Stonewall that hog the limelight. I find this a) boring, b) offensive and c) an opportunity missed. I find it sadder still that I myself can’t identify a whole swag of local queer/trans/takataapui heroes (even though I know they are out there).
At the same time as Obama was making his (rather weak) comments, awesome news came from Argentina. Access to transition related healthcare became a human right. This is news I am excited by, and the kind of change I want to see more of.
– La Di Da <3