Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why some people don't like "Gay" marriage. Or, an Affliction of Perception. Sedgwick dies and this is what I think about.

Here's the thing - they aren't going to ever go for this. Like, ever. You know who I'm talking about.

You know why? Gay people aren't *people* to them. I can only listen so long to so much love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin claptrap before the creepy realization that for a large portion of this great nation, Gay people have as much humanity as, say, a small dog. It's a realization that washes over me like a wave of artificially-sweetened frosting. Gross. That's not to say Americans don't love their dogs. But they aren't allowed to vote, and certainly aren't allowed to marry. And their owners are in charge of their mating adventures, if they can help it. And if your dog gets uppity and wants too much or acts up, you swat it down with a paper until it behaves. The gay-marriage "debate" would be a great example of totally out-there, completely unapologetic and systemic discrimination. A group of people has determined amongst themselves that another group of people are inferior, and therefore do not deserve the same rights as everyone else. Mostly because they have the temerity to attempt to be happy in a society that spends a lot of energy trying to erase them from sight, or at least break them down. This is why I find the arguments that posit Gay people being more visible on television means that things are better not to hold much water for very long. Although it is no longer permissible everywhere to make snarky comments about Gay people, it still rampant and largely tolerated. I still think violence against gay people is wildly under-reported.

As much as this sort of placing Gay people in a category of "less-than" is odious, there is another kind of humanity-reduction out there that is far more insidious, since usually the perpetrator is totally unaware of taking part in it at all.

I've been harping about this for a long time - Betty Ann and I have had a long-running joke about how well-meaning folks try to set up gay people on dates in a manner not too dissimilar from puppy mill dog-breeding, i.e. "I know you say you don't want to be set up with this random stranger you have absolutely nothing in common with other than your sexuality, but let's put you two together on the pee-pee pad and see what happens!" The Road to Hell is most certainly paved with good intentions. Invariably there is an uncomfortable coffee date that both parties try to make the best of and then eject out of ASAP. This will then lead to the uncomfortable email back-and-forth with aforementioned matchmaker the following Monday morning, if not later the very night of the Uncomfortable Coffee Situation (UCS) if blackberries can be involved, in which all kinds of annoying questions are posed. There are only so many times one can say "He wore a polo shirt two sizes too small with the collar-popped, talked for twenty minutes about how he doesn't eat dairy or wheat anymore, is as dumb as a Box of Rocks, AND DO YOU REALLY HOLD ME IN SUCH LOW REGARD???" before you just say "It just wasn't a good fit, but he's super nice." Over and over. And over. And over. So this would be an example of people erring to far on the other side of the Gay Marriage debate, but still coming from the "Gay People are Small Pets" place.

I know most of the people I know don't suffer from this affliction of perception, but some do. The Gay "community" is a unique one in that it is trans-ethnic, that is to say a bunch of people who identify (and are identified culturally) as being part of disparate ethnic groups all have one thing in common - their sexual proclivities. Or, supposedly have this is common because this is what is said to them. Over and over again. In one fell swoop, when one decides to come out of the closet, an interesting process takes place: all other sociological identifiers and categories are superseded by the category of "Gay". Suddenly you are not just a Black woman from Detroit, you are a Lesbian, who is Black and from Detroit. You are no longer a ranch hand, you are a "Gay Cowboy". In other words, everyone is trapped into being One or the Other. When a person moves publicly to have a partner, romantic or sexual or both, of the same biological gender, a statement is made into the larger world that changes perception of that person. As same-sex desires are still considered other/different by the dominant culture, there is no way that any coupling in that category can be anything but a sore-thumb. You stick out. I think well-meaning Not-Gay people can do a disservice to their Gay friends by constantly making a big deal about how OK they are with Gayness. What they need to be OK with is telling another straight person off when they say something stupid.

On a side note, and I'm going to stop now since I'm tired, I'd like to know when the Latino and African American communities are going to realize they are being totally used and manipulated for their voting power, and that people who are against Gay marriage still think of them as second class (if that) citizens. If it does happen, it's going to be an interesting moment.