I, like many others it seems, previously thought that the right for queer marriage was the main issue in the fight for queer equality. I think this was because passing marriage equality laws was do-able and a tangible win for the LGBTQ++ community. But as we learned in class, equality is a much bigger issue and often laws don’t necessarily mean people following them or getting treated fairly. As discussed in class, marriage is not the only issue. Not everyone wants to get married and even with the supposed advantages of marriage, queer marriages are not always treated equal as a heterosexual marriage. In class, we talked about so many other more pressing issues than marriage. I still think that marriage equality is a goal, but there are definitely other issues to fight. Not having the same rights to marry is definitely a barrier in equality; marriage comes as a public recognition and acceptance. I personally think the idea of marriage is pretty controlling and scary, but everyone should have the same right to make mistakes.
Before discussing the pros and cons of gay marriage, I thought society was making huge strides towards equality. However, after analyzing why gay marriage is a merely a stepping stone in the grand scheme of things, I see why many LGBTQ are more reluctant to be satisfied with the new laws. I think it’s really easy to fall in love with the idea of something, like gay marriage. For instance, from the outset, more benefits seems like the ideal goal. But, when not all members of the LGBTQ community are equally represented, and therefore not equally benefiting from the new laws, then the goals of the community should perhaps be reevaluated. The platform should be more inclusive because justice for some isn’t justice for all. Moreover, I now see why some couples simply don’t want to be apart of a system that is inherently racist and homophobic. People tend to think that by passing a law, or making an opportunity available, that all their problems will be solved. In order for the system to be truly beneficial, individuals need to change their views and become accepting, rather than just passing a law while simultaneously being homophobic. Why should a couple invest hundreds and thousands of dollars into a system that does not fully support them.
I also really enjoyed the many different perspectives against equality offered. It covered a wide range of topics, often overlooked. In addition, it debunked claims many gay people believed, which was interesting. Typically, people counter arguments that go against their groups beliefs. However, some gay supporters argued why gay marriage was detrimental. It also shed light on the versatile views within the community. Originally, I thought a majority of gay people were for gay marriage. But it was refreshing to see why so many were against it.
To normalize LGBT people means to say that they are just like everyone else. This influences the idea that LGBT people are not different and want to be included into the heteronormative society that marginalizes them. Inclusion should not be desired by the LGBT community. In class we talked a lot about why inclusion isn’t ideal. Inclusion gives the idea that someone has the option to include or not include someone. Do you, because your cisgendered or heterosexual, have the right to choose? Why should they have a right to choose? Another point made in class is the idea of being tolerated. The word tolerance has a bad connotation that Walters writes about in Escape from the Tolerance Trap. For example, she writes, “The late Middle English origins of the word indicate the ability to bear pain and hardship.” By saying you tolerate something expresses that there is something wrong with it. Why would the queer community want to be tolerated? When an institution, such as schools, promotes tolerance on posters or another medium it suggests distaste towards the queer community. This is why many LGBT people want to challenge the idea of institutionalization. Being incorporated into an already existing institution seems logical, right? Well when that institution is built on ideas of hetero cissexual people, you are simply being included into a system that does not support and even marginalizes you. Rather the goal should be to break down the morals and values of the current institution and make a brand new one of your own. I definitely think this is possible with education of gender, sex, and identity beginning at a young age. With such education, the new generation of innovative thinkers can create a system built on the values of equality. With this new institution, no one will have to be included, accepted, or tolerated because everyone will have been from the very beginning.
Before taking this class, I definitely thought gay marriage was a great movement for the LGBT community. I thought that everybody would be in full fledge support for it. After this week’s readings and discussion, my views have completely changed. I still am pro-gay marriage because I feel like if anyone in the LGBT community wants to get married and reap the benefits of that union, they should be able to. If These Walls Could Talk 2 really solidified this idea. It was devastating that the woman could not keep her house where she had lived with her significant other. That being said, I wouldn’t say that I don’t agree with the push for gay marriage, but rather the lack of focus on other aspects of the LGBT community that I believe are more important.
My opinion on the song “Same Love” by Macklemore has definitely changed also. Before I read the article by Karen Tongson, I thought this song was progressive and impressive. I was blind to the problems within the song that Karen talks about. One of the major problems with this song is the fact that a very privileged white straight male is singing about something he sounds like he doesn’t actually truly understand. As Tongson writes, “Though I don’t question the earnestness of Macklemore’s and Lewis’ intentions to help out queers like you, me, Frank Ocean, and Macklemore’s uncle, the rhetoric of “sameness” and the white male hetero privilege that affords such statements of equivalency feel totally patronizing.” Now that I think more about it, I definitely would understand why the LGBT community would feel patronized by such a wealthy white straight male singing “for” them. He isn’t a part of the community; therefore his sing is presumably invalid. Macklemore is also making millions off of writing a song about supporting gay marriage making his song even less genuine.
Overall, the LGBT community and media should focus on more core issues such as education, medical discrimination, or prison systems. It would also be nice to see more famous people from the LGBT community speak up.
First off, I love Raven for her show during my childhood and for this interview. Her tweet saying, “I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you” was so over analyzed it amasses me. First off, why is someone’s orientation (someone who hasn’t even been on TV recently for that matter) such big ‘news’? She came out with multiple statements saying her orientation is her own and yet people still probed into her personal life trying to label her sexuality as ‘lesbian’. A CNN article published august 5th 2013 responded within three days of her tweeting about marriage laws being passed in Minnesota and Rhode Island. And even in that article she is labeled a lesbian and gay even though her tweet says nothing about herself, she had asked multiple times for people to stay out of her business, and she has come out saying she does not want to be labeled. This interview with Operah came out October 5 2014, about a year after the so famous tweet. Operah asks about her orientation and when Raven replies with her ‘I don’t want to be labeled’. It just amazes me that she got so much coverage simply for being proud of same sex marriage laws being passed. I’m not trying to say that celebrities coming out to the public isn’t amazing. It’s great that more widely know people are able to come out and represent the LGBTQ++ community. I just really like that Raven’s choosing to ‘be out’ and not label herself. I feel like she (maybe accidentally) is representing a different part of the LGBTQ++ community, those you don’t want labels and those who prefer to stay ambiguous.
(The CNN article is http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/02/showbiz/raven-symone-comes-out/ in case you we’re interested interested)
I’ve always been an avid supporter of same-sex marriage for one selfish reason: I want to go to my sister’s wedding someday. Besides the fact that I desperately want to be her maid of honor and wear a fancy dress, I felt marriage was something everybody deserved to experience. It came as a disappointment to me when, after gay marriage legislation passed in New Jersey, my sister told me she never wanted to get married. At first, I was confused. Why would she shirk this new privilege? I hadn’t stopped to consider that marriage is something everyone deserves to experience… but only if they want to.
The recent readings taught me that marriage is much more than buying a badass dress and throwing a bouquet. It had legal, financial, and medical implications, which–at the risk of sounding crass–is sort of a steaming pile of shit. I was so busy watching Say Yes to the Dress and YouTube proposal videos, I hadn’t thought about what marriage actually is, especially for LGBT individuals. As stated in Against Equality, “marriage is a coercive state structure that perpetuates racism and sexism through forced gender and family norms”. This chapter also explains that expanding marriage to LGBT people only strengthens an inherently effed up system and gives the state even more power in deciding which relationships are valid or recognized. My sister, who is much more informed and active in political and liberal-ish matters, knew this all along. Her rejection of marriage wasn’t because she didn’t want a wife, but because she didn’t want to perpetuate a practice made entirely of bullshit, that is utilized to systematically oppress specific people and families without retribution.
The “Same Love” article also mentioned how Macklemore’s representation of marriage was the heteronormative “American dream”, through the “depiction of the “life cycle” from birth, to love, to homeownership, to marriage, to death”. In examining this representation of marriage, I recognized that was all stuff my sister hated to begin with. She never wanted a big house with a picket fence and 2.5 kids. She didn’t need the right to marry to achieve her own American dream. After deliberating on what marriage actually entails, I can’t believe I ever thought I’d walk in my sister’s wedding. In fact, the institution of marriage represents and supports pretty much all the crap she hates. She’s willing to sacrifice the financial, legal, and medical perks of signing a marriage certificate to preserve her own moral values. But she shouldn’t have to, and neither should straight people, for that matter.
Marriage is something we are bred to want and lured into entering. But under the facade of sparkly rings, elaborate bouquets, and fancy gowns, marriage is an ugly institution that promotes even uglier ideas. And you don’t need a marriage to dress up and have fun, and you certainly don’t need it to be happy and successful.
So marriage is really only good for dressing up, getting drunk, and eating cake. And my sister and I already do that just fine.
Prompt from the week of 9/19: Describe an encounter with homophobia, whether from your own life or from the life of somebody you know. Change names for anonymity if you like. What happened? Was it easy or difficult to identify this as homophobia? What other contexts were in play at the same time? How did the location in space or time (recently? A long time ago? In the US or abroad? Urban or rural?) affect what happened?
My sophomore year of high school everyone was starting to come into their own. For the most part my school was fairly supportive in students choice of sexuality. Until one day we started an after school club called the fashion club. The fashion was open to men and women. It’s objective was to model the latest fashion on runways that were created at school as well as fashion competitions. As the fashion club grew it started to grow with men, men that were open with their sexuality and identified as gay. My friend was one of the members and had just came out. During one show he dressed in a skirt and pumps. My male friends were very homophobic and begun to treat him different. They refused to hang with him and said he couldn’t even touch them acting with ignorance. I know it really affected my friend. He hated the fact that he was treated different because of his sexuality. I remember how bad his spirit was broken but, he soon realized he needed no ones approval to be happy with himself and eventually are friends grew to understand him and be comfortable. They had to take the time to understand him rather than frowning upon him. He couldn’t help the way he felt and it was unfair that they wanted to ridicule without taking the proper time to understand.
Before this class, I did care a lot about same sex marriage. Politically, it seemed like a big change that would be a big step in the right direction. The readings in this class did discuss many other LGBT issues- arguably more important issues. I do understand the critique with the focus on same sex marriage and the belief that too much importance might be placed on it. However, my feelings on same sex marriage and the need for it have not changed. I was aware of the other issues before this class as well, and I cared about them too. I didn’t ignore the stories of gay teens committing suicide or the discrimination a trans person experienced in the workplace. One of the feelings people in the LGBT community have expressed is that straight/cisgendered people focus on same sex marriage and in a way forget to pay attention to other problems. They think that being pro gay marriage means they care and that’s the end of it. Only being able to use myself as an example, this is not the case.
Another discussion we had was about people who don’t want to get married or don’t want to be invited into a system that isn’t set up for them. I feel that it is worse to deny everyone the option than to give the option to people who don’t want it. For those in the community who don’t want to get married or disagree with it for whatever reason, there will be nobody forcing them to participate. But for those couples that have been waiting and wishing to get married or those who are dating and might see it in their future, the option would be welcomed (presumably). The way I see the legalization of same sex marriage is an attempt to start mending the wounds and accept the community. It says, “sorry we haven’t included you in the past, but we’re trying now.” That is why I find it hard to completely understand people’s anger or dissatisfaction with legal marriage.
I strongly believe that prison and law enforcement is an important issue concerning the LGBT community. People shouldn’t be treated unfairly based off of their sexuality. One of the topics we’ve been talking about in class that concerns law enforcement is the series Orange is the New Black. The depictions of the officers on the series is very interesting. In reality, some of the officers feel that it is okay to look at the women prisoners in sexual manners without disregard to how the might feel. Making them uncomfortable blurting out somewhat sexual slurs in some cases. But, on the show this isn’t clearly shown. Society doesn’t really acknowledge as law enforcement issue in the queer community a big deal. For example, one officer in particular would make sexual advances to the prisoners. While, in real life the officers might somewhat enforce a little law enforcement. In some films today you will see an ocassional scene in which a woman is being abused by law enforcement or it is witness and not discussed. People barely try to intervene to prevent future cases from happening. At the moment I can’t remember the name of the film but, one particular film I watched was based around the life of women in prison. This one woman called “baby” was repeatedly beaten and raped by law enforcement. This was so continuous to the point that he impregnated her and eventually had her murdered in the prison while covering up her murder. Cases like this happen frequently and are still covered to this day. Women shouldn’t have to be concerned about their safety around law enforcement, regardless of their sexuality. Therefore the queer community could definitely use the change. I do have hope for the near future that this conflict can be put to rest. Bisexual, gay, heterosexual, etc no one should be treated as such.
One of my favorite discussions from this class was about the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. The show has been acclaimed for being a primary vehicle in the mainstreaming of queer culture. We also discussed the show in the context of queer individuals in the prison system. My favorite character on the show is a transgender woman named Sophia. Played by Laverne Cox, she was also the author of some of our readings on transgender advocacy. Although she was not featured as much as I would have liked, the episodes that follow her story bring up some pressing transgender issues. One specific episode deals with the prison changing and eventually excluding her hormone prescription, due to budget cuts. Hormone levels are extremely sensitive, especially in transitioning individuals, and drastic changes can lead to physical and emotional pain. The Affordable Care Act has recently been amended to include treatment of transgender people, and the scenario in this episode would be deemed unconstitutional.
During our discussion, we briefly talked about hate crimes outside of the prison system, but did not really discuss violence within the system. LGBT individuals, specifically transgender, are the major targets of violence and rape in prisons. Below is a link to an article about one trans woman’s time in prison:
The woman describes being locked in a cell with her rapist. She reports the man repeatedly forced himself upon her, while prison authorities refused to grant her requests for protective custody. This brings up the greater issue of gender identity. Unless one’s gender has been legally changed, many prisons will include trans individuals with members of the opposite sex from which they identify. Green, the woman from the article, described it as, “being thrown to the wolves.” The question that arises is, where should trans individuals without legal recognition be placed, and how can violence be prevented?