Amendment One, President Obama comes out (to Robin Roberts, who I have a major morning anchor crush on) in support of same sex marriage; Queen Latifah came out. Or not. John Travolta was accused of sexually harassing three male masseuses. And, three white women were featured breastfeeding their a little past toddler age children in and on Time magazine.
So there, I'm in it.
here's what I think: I applaud Obama for coming out in support of same
sex marriage the day after many voters in North Carolina decided that
marriage was the only way that heterosexual couples--because queers
don't count--should relate to one another. I think that was a smart,
ally-like stance. However, as others have pointed out, his stance won't change my life any. And, here's the thing, I. don't. care.
And, I'm married.
know, for all intents and purposes. And Joan and I plan on being
parents together. I understand the heteronormativity that those last
statements exude. And I feel it creeping into the queer community that I
adore: most of our friends have had a wedding ceremony and some are
legally married and almost all of them have children. I get it and I
struggle with it. Lesbians have long committed to their partners,
adopted and/or had children, and built amazing community families
outside of the political context we are currently steeped in.
I long for those times. This may not sound like where this post should
be headed, but I refuse to fight for same sex marriage. This is not what
we should be fighting for and this is not what I want--federal
recognition that I have entered into a legal union that was based on
exchanging women as property and that allowed husbands to rape their
wives until, you know, the 1980s in this country.
Here's what I, as a queer Black feminist do want: I want to be safe, physically. Will marriage ensure that I and my transgender,
queer, lesbian and gay family won't be physically attacked or killed
for walking down the street? Because that's what I need. When the
majority of my workplace is queer and out and students still willingly
tell some of us that they think that "gay things" are disgusting and
they don't want to hear it anymore or write "fag" on professor
evaluations and we have to take the time to address it as a department. Will same sex marriage make that disappear?
a couple of weeks ago, Joan and I took a quick trip to the Midwest
(Michigan) for her godson/nephew's first communion. We spent four days
together with Joan's family in the Northern part of the state. A lot of
it was fine, I really like Joan's family and they totally dig me, so
it's a win win. And, yes, even the Catholic church with the
Crocs-wearing Bishop felt fairly accepting of us, you know, when we made
eye contact with folks and recognized where we were. But, outside of
that, we felt regularly threatened. And I don't mean threatened because
each of us have a solid dose of internalized homophobia and heterosexism that
lingers and we were with her overwhelmingly straight and lovely family,
but I mean really threatened. Like: keep walking and get the f*ck out of
here kind of threatened. See, my boo is what one might typically call
"butch" (<3). Maybe tomboy butch, but not a traditionally
feminine woman, in any case (kind of like Cleo in Set it Off--I'm
getting to it) And, apparently, that doesn't sit well with Michigan
men--or many men inside and outside of our rainbow bubble known as the
Bay Area. And her presentation, coupled with the fact that we are two
women of different races hanging out together, sets people off. I
implied Set It Off twice in this post <3.
we were celebrating our one year wedding anniversary, we spent a night
away from her family in a B&B on the Lake. And this is where it
became clear that we weren't in Maxwell Park anymore. There were three
straight couples staying there and, not one, but all three men stared her
down as she went to get her breakfast. And they weren't just noting her
Michigan State (vs. Michigan) sweatshirt. It was more of an "the f*ck?
keep walking." The women didn't look at her that way, I watched. I
didn't get those kinds of stares and I don't. But I'm on the ready when I
see it. I'm not going to instigate a fight, but I'm not a "turn the other
cheek" kind of person. You mess with me or my people and it's on. I'll
kick my heels off--er, Campers--and fight back. Like Cece.
Will same sex marriage protect us against those stares, those feelings,
that stance? Unless it will, I don't care. I'm not gonna fight for it.
It also feels especially hard to fight for, when it feels incredibly white,
particularly when it is compared to interracial marriage and civil
rights--actually calling it the new civil rights movement. It's not the
same thing. And, just a reminder, you deny my existence every. single.
time. you make that claim (there are two smart and more nuanced statements over at CFC).
it also feels incredibly normalizing when we are obsessed with
visibility equaling verbal utterance of the words, "I am gay" (at the
same time that we collectively imply that John Travolta is a molester and a
closeted gay man). What happened to fantasy? And queer readings of
folks? I mean, really, does it matter if Queen Latifah is gay when she
can do this:
See? Doesn't that make you happy? Because every time I see it...
when the popular discourse on motherhood is still based in and on
young, white, and feminine bodies (For a minute, swap out the covergirl
for a poor or young Black, Latina, or Native woman; the conversation,
the headline, the debate would be different), how do our proclamations
of our love and families being just the same change the structural inequalities that young, of color, and/or queer mothers face?
we can answer and address those questions fully, with real answers in a
conversation that addresses the complexities of straight and queer
lives, I'm not interested in the question.