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What's the Use of Being Queer
if You Can't be Different?

By Jim Eigo

mardigraspar4.jpg - 22.15 K For all my life, straight society has tried to convince me that the way I have sex is sick or illegal or, at the very least, not as worthy as theirs.

Gay liberation began when sizable numbers of gay men and women refused relegation to the status of psychopath or criminal or second-class citizen.

Over the course of the last thirty years, we've come out as gay or lesbian or bisexual or queer because we knew that our sexualities could never be contained by the narrow model that mainstream culture presented us with. Through their own efforts, gay people have inched toward equal legal standing with everyone else.

So why are current mainstream gay organizations working to strike a bargain with straight society that will make some queers less equal than others?

Under its terms, gays who are willing to mimic heterosexual relations and enter into a legally-enforced lifetime sexual bond with one other person will be granted special benefits and status to be withheld from those who refuse such domestication.

What happened to the twin promise of the original movement, liberation and equality? As a final insult, these organizations have co-opted a debased form of gay lib's rhetoric of equality to support their efforts.

They tell us this strategy, gay marriage, is a step toward securing our full equality. But in fact marriage has never cared about equality. Its history has been to reduce people to property and institutionalize inequality between the sexes.

Even in an age of the nominal equal legal status of women, marriage grants social standing and economic rights to the married class and denies them to all who fail to live by the majority's idea of "normalcy."

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Marriage has no more place in efforts to achieve equality than slavery or the divine right of kings. It seems not to matter to these gay champions of the heterosexual status quo that legally-enforced marriage, in its form and its traditions, has not arisen from the needs of gay people today.

Today fifty percent of American marriages become so painful that one or both parties decide to bail out. Considering the cost and inconvenience of divorce, and the complications that children and joint property introduce, it's safe to speculate that many marriages that persist are just as painful, but that the parties see no tenable way to terminate.

At this juncture in history, wouldn't it make more sense for us to try to figure out how to relieve heterosexuals of the outdated shackles of matrimony? Why is the gay "leadership" so bent on including us in the pain? (Maybe the promise of gay divorce accounts for the fact that gay lawyers constitute the frontline of the campaign to install gay marriage.)

Instead of enhancing gay life, extending legal ly-binding marriage to gays will bridle the untamed sexual energy that's always been the major source of a healthy queer subversion of society's timid norm.

heromag.jpg - 11.10 K Some are pushing the gay community more toward a status-quo approach to sexual ethics., such as the publishers of Hero magazine Do we really want to elevate the legally-bound couple to the position of standard for gay relationships? New technologies and the different ways that contemporary people live have rendered the sexual serfdom of marriage increasingly anachronistic.

Its dismantling is long overdue. Gay people today need new and varied means to express our range of affectional and sexual relationships, not discredited old ones.

Gays should support all sorts of private commitments, including monogamous couplehood for those who freely choose it. We should foster ceremonies by private, social or religious groups to make public expression of those commitments, enhancing the meaning and pleasure of our lives: a panoply of dyke and fag pageants.

But we must at the same time support relationships that move beyond the closed circuit of the eternal couple.

The straight world has itself outgrown marriage. Promoting a gay menu of choices will help everyone find more viable, pleasurable alternatives. But not if we try to travesty straights and let state-sponsored gay marriage contaminate all our sexacts, just as straight marriage today haunts and shapes all heterosexual relationships.

By sizable numbers, across the country, voters have opposed gay marriage. This of itself would be insufficient reason to abandon a struggle were it worthwhile. But it tells us that the campaign for gay marriage will siphon off a huge amount of community resources over the next decades, while "winning" the right to hitch up will only deliver us over to the mainstream.

Why have our gay organizations all but abandoned other causes as they fight for marriage? How long till we see results? and for whom? With limited funds and staff, why not engage in efforts that will gain the most for all of us?

Securing an end to all government interference in sexual and affectional relationships would do more to foster equality. Over a long decade of shrinking sexual liberties, the worst among us have collaborated in government sexual crackdowns, while even some of the best have dismissed the right to sexual expression as a narrow male urban concern.

It's time to declare an end to the age of reprisals against those of us who live beyond America's narrow sexual parameters. What, after all, is the use of being queer if you can't be different?

The individual's right to sexual expression is the core gay and lesbian right, since, at its most basic, homosexuality is a sexual affinity. Until we secure recognition of that right, the obsession of our mainstream organizations with securing for only some of us a position of privilege is diversionary.

In this society, access to healthcare still depends largely on whom you work for or who your spouse is. Do we really want to reinforce this inequality by introducing state-enforced gay marriage?

In the age of AIDS, dare we further institutionalize healthcare's dependence on marriage, abandoning many gay people, including those with HIV, without healthcare and without spouse, to hopelessness?

They brand us fags unnatural; they think we pose a threat. But here in the third millennium, just how natural is that feudal relic matrimony?

We who accept the name queer owe it to our constricted society to grow as corrosive as its worst fears. Let's do all that we can to dissolve that mother of all repression, state-enforced marriage, in the process securing equal recognition for all consensual sexual relations.

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