Chapter 1: Starman »« Foreword: A memoir in a month, and a coming out story you’ve never heard before

Yasmin Nair: challenging gay marriage’s false history “is not simply the celebration of outsider status”

The history of gay marriage supposedly goes something like this: In the beginning, gay people were horribly oppressed. Then came the 1970s, where gays – all of whom looked like the men of The Village People – were able to live openly and have a lot of sex. Then, in the 1980s, many gay people died of AIDS – because they had too much sex in the 1970s. This taught them that gay sex is bad. The gays who were left realized the importance of stable, monogamous relationships and began to agitate for marriage and the 1,000+ benefits it would bring. Soon, in the very near future, with the help of supportive, married straight people – and President Obama – gays will gain marriage rights in all fifty states, and they will then be as good and productive as everyone else.

This is, obviously, a reductive and, yes, tongue-in-cheek history. But it is also, sadly, exactly the reductive history that circulates in both the straight and gay media.

So writes Yasmin Nair of the Against Equality collective, introducing the ‘Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage’ section of its anthology Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion. The book is available from AK Press for $15, and if you’re at all interested in better commentary on LGBT issues, you should order it straight away.

The introduction is viewable online. Nair, whose influence in my writing shows at times, remains one of gay liberalism’s lucidest critics; other highlights here include:

Much of gay liberation was founded on leftist and feminist principles, which included a strong materialist critique of marriage. [And] AIDS activism in the 1980s called for universal health care, the demand for which has been abandoned by the gay mainstream in favor of the idea that gays should simply be given health care via marriage.

Liberals and lefties alike, straight and gay, look at gay marriage in countries like Spain and Argentina as the ultimate mark of civilization. They note approvingly that South Africa guarantees a constitutional right to gay marriage, but they have nothing to say about the fact that the same country has over five-million people living with HIV and no similar guarantee for health care.

If you are married, you get to be the good immigrant and bring over your immediate and extended family to set up a family business and send your children to the best schools after years of perseverance and hard work (at least theoretically). If you are not, you can be deported and imprisoned at the slightest infraction and not one of the kinship networks that you are a part of will count in the eyes of the state. In other words, a queer radical critique of the family is not simply the celebration of an outsider status, although it is often that, but an economic critique.

Read the whole thing - it’s worth it – and if you can, buy the book.

Gitsupportthisblog

GiTwhyinowhaveadonatebutton

GiTfollowthisblogonfacebook

Comments

  1. pacal says

    Thank you for the quotes. I now have no reason to ever read the book. The strawmen and polemical absurdities are legion in the quotes supplied. I also note that the author admits that there will be “reductive’ “tongue and cheek” i.e.,distortions and falsifications in the critique and in that and subsequent quotes provides them. I also note it is not 1972 anymore. As for who is speaking for the “Gay mainstream”? Well in the 1970′s the great majority of Gay people were closeted so these so-called radicals weren’t speaking for them by a long shot.

    I am old enough to remember the time when the “radical” critique of marriage and “Middle Class” values and yes Marriage tended at times to dovetail very well into the commercial interests of the advertisers in the Gay Media. So much for being “radical”.

Leave a Reply