It’s a Sunday, and on Sundays I like to do an array of exciting things such as reading, the washing and scrap booking. When I opened my laptop this morning to catch up with the world outside I was met with yet another member of the queer community expressing their views against same-sex marriage. Now, I have had this argument a thousand times. I remember the first time was with an older gay man at a fancy dinner who’s argument against same-sex marriage went like this:
Him: It’s fine when we had our civil partnership, we just called it a marriage! So did all our friends and family!
Me: But it wasn’t a marriage was it?
Now this is probably the worst argument against same-sex marriage that I’ve heard. That aside, I think that most of us have had these conversations. The Independent today published one of the most well-rehearsed arguments I have heard in an article called ‘Count Me Out’ it can be viewed here: http://ind.pn/133seZI. This article espouses the kind of argument which agrees in principle that equal marriage is all well and good, acceptable, not something that we want to fight against, etc. but when boiled down questions the relevance of same-sex marriage to the queer community. Now I think that the fight for same-sex marriage is really quite relevant, but I’ve talked about that a lot, so I’m going to focus on the three things that bothered me about this article. Namely it’s tone.
Thing Number One:
It portrays those who want a faith based same-sex marriage ceremony as seeking acceptance from those around them, drawing comparison between all faiths and the Catholic church. This is wholly unfair both the religious organisations and to those queer individuals of faith. There have been a number of religions who have expressed both their acceptance of queer communities within their faith group and their support for equal marriage. It is only counterproductive to homogenise faith groups and to patronise their members in this way, which is what you do when you publish comments like:
It’s like being a vegetarian butcher. You just can’t.
When discussing having a religious same-sex marriage.
Thing Number Two:
This articles talks at length about the ability of the queer community to be different, to define itself by itself outside of the norms of the heteronormative and patriarchal society. But I think we have the ability to do exactly that, I think we are at an exciting cross roads, where marriage is being re-defined, as it has been many times in the past.
Those of you that know me well will know that I love a wedding. But I don’t love a wedding because I have a particular affinity for certain religious buildings, or for ceremonies of a certain faith or belief group. I love a wedding because I love celebrating that people are happy, in love, and so happy in that love that they are prepared to commit to spend the rest of their lives together (that’s a really, really long time). As much as the word marriage is steeped in heteronormativity and patriarchy, we have the ability to change it’s contemporary, and will fundamentally do so through same-sex marriage. It’s our chance to re-define it and we will do so! I want to have a marriage so that I can celebrate my love for my partner and commit to loving them forever in a union that we define for ourselves, not by anyone else’s standards and definitely not by history.
Thing Number Three:
This article has a weird undertone. Possibly because the research was done for it on the Scene. On a Friday night.
There is countless mentions of the “non-offensive gay” (examples such as Alan Carr and Graham Norton), the kind of gay who wants to marry, have jobs and kids and isn’t going to “bum you into next week”. And these non-controversial gays seem to be looked down upon by Corner’s interviewees. The idea that the queer community could and should be part of the mainstream rejected by the article’s participants with one saying:
I worry that we are becoming normalised.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love queer activism, the Scene and our ability to come together as a community and I would hate to see that disappear or be diminished. I also think that whether you prefer to emulate Boy George or Graham Norton is your choice, and probably doesn’t need a value judgement from me, these interviewees or anyone else. But, I do not see the fight for equal legal rights, or the increased acceptance of queers in wider society as detrimental to either how we choose to live our lives, or to our queer identities. By fighting lesbophobia, biphobia, homophobia, transphobia and queerphobia in society we make our day-to-day lives easier and safer whether we have the “sexualised and alternative version of gay life” or prefer to be at home with our wives and children.