Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"In this country, I can marry ANYONE I WANT! Because there's CHANGE in this country now!"
November 7, 2012 6:16 PM   Subscribe

However long it takes for a real victory to be certified—no matter what happens on Election Day, it will be too early to unfurl a "Mission Accomplished" banner—the once ragtag march of lovers has acquired an air of inevitability. Edith Eyde's prophecy is almost fulfilled: gays are more or less regular folk. All the same, many who came out during the Stonewall era are wondering what will be lost as the community sheds its pariah status. They are baffled by the latter-day cult of marriage and the military—emblems of Eisenhower's America that the Stonewall generation joyfully rejected. The gay world is confronting a question with which Jews, African-Americans, and other marginalized groups have long been familiar: the price of assimilation.
Love on the March by Alex Ross.

In a brief post-election follow-up, Ross reflects:
Writers live in dread that their stories will be overtaken by breaking news. I'm elated, though, that one line in "Love on the March"—my long essay on gay rights and gay culture in America, which appears in this week's issue—is about to be rendered obsolete. Same-sex marriage will shortly be legal not in six states, but in eight or nine: in yesterday's election, voters in Maryland and Maine approved ballot measures to that effect, and voters in Washington appear likely to have done the same. Furthermore, Minnesotans turned down an attempt to codify a "one man, one woman" definition of marriage; Iowans declined to unseat David Wiggins, a judge who ruled for gay marriage in 2009; and, most breathtakingly, Wisconsinites elected Tammy Baldwin as the first openly gay senator in American history. Lesbians and gays who are accustomed to electoral setbacks even in years when the liberal cause advances—California Proposition 8, in 2008, was one stinging example—now savor something rich and strange: the feeling that the great silent majority is moving to their side.
posted by Kattullus (60 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Something that's really interesting to me about this is that the focus on Stonewall often eclipses prior LGBT advocacy, to the extent that the memory that, say, the first gay rights march in America was in support of joining the military is just lost.
posted by klangklangston at 6:20 PM on November 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


the first gay rights march in America was in support of joining the military is just lost.

It's not really lost. The excellent book and accompanying documentary Coming Out Under Fire [trailer] is there for anyone interested. (Possibly available on Netflix.)
posted by hippybear at 6:46 PM on November 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Something that's really interesting to me about this is that the focus on Stonewall often eclipses prior LGBT advocacy ...

I suspect that's true of a lot of movements. The attention-grabbing events have the advantage of, well, grabbing attention, but do so at the cost of overshadowing their more mundane predecessors.

I suspect (and I'll have to test this) that I have a better understanding of the Mattachine Society than my gay compatriots.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:53 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


In related news, Spain's supreme court upheld Spain's gay marriage law, effectively ending the Spanish conservatives' battle against gay marriage.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:53 PM on November 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wait are you guys talking about the first Reminder Day in Philadelphia in 1965 or something earlier? Because I never thought of the earliest public marches as specifically about military service, but rather about job and other discrimination in general. I mean, the history's clear that there was lots of pre-Stonewall activity but if you're saying that the earliest public pro-homo demonstrations were primarily about military service I'd be surprised. Not saying I couldn't have missed/forgotten that, but I'd love to see a cite or two.
posted by mediareport at 6:54 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think he's referring to the second item on this list, which wasn't really a march. More of a picketing event.
posted by hippybear at 6:59 PM on November 7, 2012


Well, a picket is a march in place.

The third item there is... unexpected.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:07 PM on November 7, 2012


If speaking at rallies counts, Emma Goldman beats them all, speaking out for gay and lesbian rights in 1810.

I doubt she would have much time for any arguments supporting involvement in the military, though.
posted by chapps at 7:43 PM on November 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also, one of my ave histories of anything is Lillian Faderman's Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, and this seems like another good chance to recommend it!
posted by chapps at 7:44 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think he's referring to the second item on this list

Wow, I somehow didn't know that. Here's more info about the 1964 picket at the Whitehall Street Induction Center. Thanks for the lesson.

Still, I think it's possible to make too much of the fact that the first, very small gay rights protest in the U.S. focused on military service. It certainly doesn't make military service central to gay rights, especially given the way gay rights exploded over other issues - constant police harassment, mainly - a few years later. So I'm not sure what klang's larger point might be, other than the ease with which queer folks can grow up not knowing parts of our history.
posted by mediareport at 8:00 PM on November 7, 2012


In order to gain something, you sometimes have to lose something. However, there will always be a bit of an outsider identity for same-sex couples, in that we're not even close to the majority of paired couples, and that's okay by me.
posted by xingcat at 8:01 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm not surprised that Born this Way didn't become a club hit, but I love that it's out there. It's been one of my daughter's favorite songs since she was three or four. I love that I don't have to work hard to have positive songs for her to grow up with.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:08 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm not surprised that Born this Way didn't become a club hit

I'm not sure how you define "club hit", but it was #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Song chart and was #23 on the same chart for 2011.

I have to confess I'm more partial to this particular Born This Way 1977 dance club hit, but I'm kind of old school in a lot of ways. (Here's the original version by Valentino from 1975.)
posted by hippybear at 8:25 PM on November 7, 2012


I guess I'm not surprised that Born this Way didn't become a club hit

I'm jealous that you've never been within earshot of West Hollywood on a Saturday night. :-(
posted by mykescipark at 8:29 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


@chapps: I'm sure you mean 1910, but yes, mad love for Emma.

I score it as a loss that the struggle for queer rights and identity has been instrumentalized to the bourgeois institution of marriage and the ability to kill people on foreign soil. I think it's great that those who want those things have them, but they come at a cost of transforming a society that is emphatically heteronormative. It doesn't change, for example, that the wide sidewalks on high street shops are monuments to reproduction, built for ever-widening strollers and so on. The gay "citizen of rights" is increasingly and evidently a white, middle-class and urban figuration which leaves all other marginal forms of queerness behind, in all senses of the words.
posted by Catchfire at 9:11 PM on November 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


"Lady Gaga tried to write a new gay anthem with “Born This Way,” yet the song failed to ignite the clubs and bars as “Poker Face” had before it. Subtext is sexier."

—Love on the March by Alex Ross.

I didn't verify his statement, merely commented on it.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:13 PM on November 7, 2012


the ease with which queer folks can grow up not knowing parts of our history.

It's not jus the ease, but sometimes the willful ignorance. I've talked to gay men and women under the age of 25 who simply are not interested in learning about gay history and the struggles which came before. It's like, for them, anything which happened before Ellen came out doesn't matter and has no worth.

I'm not trying to make a blanket statement here about everyone of that age. But out of the dozen or so young people I've ended up talking to about gay history in the past few years, only a couple have shown any interest at all in engaging on the topic.

It's a marked difference from when I was that age. All the people I knew who were around the same age who were also gay were eager and hungry to learn about what had gone before. They were seeking out their elders in the community, reading books, watching documentaries, and engaging actively on the past and how it led to the present and what could come next.

But most of the youth I've talked to, they're only living now, with no interest in the past and they have no eyes directed toward the future.

Perhaps that's part of the cost of assimilation. I can't help but see it as a tragic loss of culture and history, living and not.
posted by hippybear at 9:27 PM on November 7, 2012


Thanks catchfire, you are right-- 1910 for Emma's pro-gay rights agitating... Although if anyone could lead a revolution before she was even born, it's Emma! :)

As to disappointment in a struggle including joining the military and freedom to marry... it reminds me of the same debates within the US women's movement about the ERA and the draft... with lots of black feminists opposing the ERA if it meant being drafted into the military and fighting overseas.

The wikipedia article notes that Goldman's position wasn't popular even among the anarchists. le sigh.
posted by chapps at 9:56 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I think he's referring to the second item on this list, which wasn't really a march. More of a picketing event."

Nah, actually referring to the LA parade in '66. But "march" was unclear; "parade" would have been better.

And the point was more that Stonewall was a manifestation of the gay liberation or gay power movement that was intentionally more radical, and that because (unfortunately) people don't know a tremendous amount about LGBT history, it can make it seem like the gay rights movement has always been a radical movement.

I will also cop to having a California-centric view of LGBT history, which I think may give a different view on Harry Hay and the Mattachines, especially vis a vis radicalism and establishment attitudes. (I'd also argue that the idea that the early gay rights/liberation movement was less susceptible to in-fighting due to its exclusion from other movements certainly didn't hold in L.A.)

"It's not jus the ease, but sometimes the willful ignorance. I've talked to gay men and women under the age of 25 who simply are not interested in learning about gay history and the struggles which came before. It's like, for them, anything which happened before Ellen came out doesn't matter and has no worth. "

Our web designer was talking to me about the general lack of interest in LGBT history among LGBT people, and he really thinks it's mostly part of the ongoing legacy of AIDS — not only does it sometimes seem apocalyptically grim in a way that can be unrelatable, but the loss of so many custodians of history means that a lot of the continuity was lost.

I'm a great big history nerd, so it kind of surprised me when I started working where I do that not everybody even knew who Harvey Milk was. (Part of that I try to check when I remember that LGBT history isn't necessarily all that fraught for me, and that plenty of people where I work have priorities more like surviving and dealing with shitty families and stuff, and less "I can't wait to go to the gay section of the library!")
posted by klangklangston at 10:07 PM on November 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


It doesn't change, for example, that the wide sidewalks on high street shops are monuments to reproduction, built for ever-widening strollers and so on.

Ya know, those wide sidewalks are pretty good for folks in wheelchairs. And (where legal) you can have nice outdoor cafe seating.

Anyway. The change in our lifetimes is pretty profound and far more rapid than I could ever have expected. It's not a new thought, but it just keeps coming, and so the thought will need to be continually re-expressed.
posted by feckless at 10:32 PM on November 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Something that's really interesting to me about this is that the focus on Stonewall often eclipses prior LGBT advocacy, to the extent that the memory that, say, the first gay rights march in America was in support of joining the military is just lost.

Everything that has already been said about this, plus the "boomers invented the world" myth continues - not anyone's fault, obviously, just a fact in the narrative of modern history.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:56 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, the thought occurs -- maybe one part of the struggle for equal rights is nearly over; maybe we're out of subgroups of people to declare as being 'lesser'? It seems like, within the next eight or ten years, just about everyone will finally have more or less the same rights as everyone else. At least, officially, on paper.

Now, having them on paper is not the same as actually HAVING them, and there remains enormous work to be done, especially in the justice system and the War on Blacks. But we're getting pretty close to at least having the whole country officially recognize that things OUGHT to be that way, even if we're not actually there yet.
posted by Malor at 11:23 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It doesn't change, for example, that the wide sidewalks on high street shops are monuments to reproduction, built for ever-widening strollers and so on.

Are "monuments to reproduction" really the same thing as heteronormativity? There have been societies where having gay sex was considered unexceptional and typical, yet I am not sure they were free of "monuments to reproduction" or did not glorify fertility.
posted by shoyu at 11:55 PM on November 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Heteronormativity is real, but the sidewalk example doesn't work. Can't say I've ever said to myself, "I wish this sidewalk was more narrow," especially since sidewalks are all too often far too narrow, or even nonexistent even in areas where cars are rampant. Sufficiently large sidewalks are needed for bidirectional traffic, as well as to accommodate wheelchairs, dollies, Queens carts, etc. People shouldn't have to march single file.

Also, strollers are in no sense "ever-widening". In the wild, I've never seen them wider than two across. Strollers have remained the same width for a very long time.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:46 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


wide sidewalks on high street shops are monuments to reproduction, built for ever-widening strollers and so on

Gay couples can have kids, too, yaknow. Their "ever-widening" strollers (wat?) will need the same amount of room as a hetero couple.

Maybe you should leave your anti-reproductive perspective out of a discussion of gay marriage? The two issues are absolutely distinct.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:53 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's not jus the ease, but sometimes the willful ignorance. I've talked to gay men and women under the age of 25 who simply are not interested in learning about gay history and the struggles which came before. It's like, for them, anything which happened before Ellen came out doesn't matter and has no worth.

That comforting hand you feel on your shoulder is from the feminist movement, which is wryly saying "at least you don't have that many people saying 'I'm not gay, but....'"

And I believe the Mattachine Society beats the 1960's demonstrations (although, I confess that I don't know too much about their activism and suspect that it may have been more subtle).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:01 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Young gays are not special in their general disinterest in history, or at least history that goes back more than a couple of decades. And it's not like they/we generally grow up in families where it's talked about or emphasized or celebrated the way the history of your family's ethnic or cultural history might be.

I've always thought that Stonewall loomed so large because, well, it's sexy, you know? The image of the Daughters of Bilitis and Mattachine marching around in suits and ties in front of the White House demanding an end to discrimination against gay federal employees in 1965ish is less compelling than young people being beaten by cops.

If any of y'all come to San Francisco, stop in at the GLBT Historical Society, which has a fantastic collection of photos, fillms, clothing, books, etc.
posted by rtha at 6:33 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can't say I've ever said to myself, "I wish this sidewalk was more narrow," especially since sidewalks are all too often far too narrow, or even nonexistent even in areas where cars are rampant.

The point is not whether sidewalks should be wide or narrow--the point is that wide sidewalks are indicators of a world built for straight people. Do you really think wide sidewalks are built for wheelchairs? From its social institutions, to its governance to its very architecture, this world is literally built by and for straight people. Gay marriage, though I support policies like this and the movements that brought them to fruition, does very little to change the fact that queers have no place in a straight world.

It instrumentalizes queer politics in such a way that queer people need to disavow the more radical aspects of their struggle in order to franchise themselves and integrate themselves into middle-class society, usually in exchange for higher wage-earning capacity and more consumer power.

There's already talk in this thread about the dominance and disproportionate influence of Stonewall in queer history. Isn't it worse that the rights of LGBT people become condensed into this narrow piece of legislation?
posted by Catchfire at 8:30 AM on November 8, 2012


Living in MD, where gay marriage just got voted in, I was thinking of these issues yesterday. When I came out, it was obvious that the bourgeois values I was raised with were just not possible. That was fine with me, I didn't want them anyway.

Now, marriage is possible for me, and I'm feeling...pressured? I am forever grateful for the acceptance and support of my many straight friends, don't get me wrong. I've never gotten along with other lesbians, and have felt more accepted and part of the gay male culture than the lesbian culture, but, damn, this bourgie normality feels like such a cop out somehow.
posted by QIbHom at 8:41 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


"And I believe the Mattachine Society beats the 1960's demonstrations (although, I confess that I don't know too much about their activism and suspect that it may have been more subtle)."

They were initially organized on the principle of a Communist cell by Harry Hay, who was a Communist, but as they expanded he was forced out and the organization pledged "non-confrontation" in its activism. Their anniversary is coming up.
posted by klangklangston at 9:14 AM on November 8, 2012


The point is not whether sidewalks should be wide or narrow--the point is that wide sidewalks are indicators of a world built for straight people. Do you really think wide sidewalks are built for wheelchairs?

Actually, I always thought they were built to allow for making two lanes of people (sexual orientation irrelevant) to pass each other, AND still allow for groups of people to congregate outside shop windows or cafes to put out sidewalk tables.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:35 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The point is not whether sidewalks should be wide or narrow--the point is that wide sidewalks are indicators of a world built for straight people.

If it doesn't matter whether sidewalks "should be wide or narrow", then narrow sidewalks would "prove" your point equally well. There's no there there. The sidewalk example is a non sequitur.

Do you really think wide sidewalks are built for wheelchairs?

Wheelchairs and many other things besides. Lots of people use sidewalks in many different ways, and professionals plan for that. If you are in the privileged position of not having to regularly use a wheelchair, dolly, Queens cart, etc., or not having to plan for others to do the same, then it's very easy to miss the necessity of sufficiently wide sidewalks.

Humorously enough, my first internship in USian law school was in corporate compliance, and in that capacity I went through enough ADA issues to choke a horse (on paperwork). I had to constantly make sure that aisles and doorways are wide enough.

Even just using basic Google Fu, I quickly found this informative layman's guide on sidewalk design with regard to proper accessibility and ADA regulations.

And that's just dealing with wheelchair access, let alone proper traffic flow for people to safely and efficiently move in both directions, to allow for loading and unloading, to allow for outdoor seating, and so on.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:41 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe I'm too entrenched in straight privilege, but complaints about sidewalks being too wide strike me as about as valid as the complaints of one of our state legislative candidates that his opponent was being subtly homophobic by featuring pictures of himself with his family in most publicity shots, which our candidate thought unfairly highlighted his own bachelorhood.
posted by klangklangston at 10:01 AM on November 8, 2012


I'd actually say that the state legislator has a point.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:08 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, he really doesn't. The guy he was running against (also a Democrat) has consistently voted in favor of LGBT rights; publicity shots generally involve humanizing a candidate; plenty of LGBT candidates also pose with their families. It was a specious charge when he made it, and that surrogates are repeating it now is gauche.
posted by klangklangston at 10:24 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I really didn't expect when I made this post that the discussion about Alex Ross's essay would center on the width of sidewalks. This is even weirder than that time I made a post about a witchcraft trial in mid-20th Century Britain and the thread was all limericks about vagina bunnies.
posted by Kattullus at 12:43 PM on November 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


Bizarre sidewalk arguments aside (that one reminds me of Camille Paglia's argument that the problem with contemporary feminism was too many small-nosed feminists and not enough big-nosed ones), there is an actual thing here.

Traditionally, one of the differences conceptually between queer culture / queer people and straight culture / straight people was the lack of children and families. (Non-conceptual actual queer people had been having children and families the whole time, of course.)

Now, not necessarily. Queer couples are having kids, publicly. Our conception is changing. And the concept of the traditional family (2 parents, kids, strollers, etc.) is slowly widening to take on that new concept. But is the model itself heteronormative? Is the 2-parent plus kids and all the rest model only being adopted because it matches the pre-existing straight model, or is it just the way of doing things that works best for couples, gay or straight? (Again, actual people, gay and straight, are having kids and families in all sorts of other ways all the time. I'm talking about the primary cultural model.)

The answer, of course, is that we have no idea. We're just getting started. Could be either, or both. Too soon to say!
posted by feckless at 12:49 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, France may soon become the 12th country to allow same-sex marriage.
posted by mbrubeck at 12:51 PM on November 8, 2012


Reading this thread has got me imagining a world where Emma Goldman has a time machine and that gay bars exist where I didn't hear Born This Way over and over. Ah, alternate realities.

But seriously, I'm just fine in this one when things like this happen:

Joe McDermott, chair of the King County Council's budget committee, was coming down to the wire this week to finish the budget when voters approved gay marriage on Tuesday, a vote that prompted county budget analysts to predict a spike in marriage license applications that will create about $50,000 in new revenue.

A conservative estimate, McDermott says, shows about 770 marriage license applications for same-sex couples in the the next year. Each application costs $64.

So what was McDermott going to do with that money?

He drafted an 11th-hour amendment that directs that $50,000 into programs that help at-risk queer youth. "I wanted there to be a nexus between that money and where it went," says McDermott, who is the county council's first openly gay member and who intends to marry his partner. "We know that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in at-risk, homeless, runaway, and sexually trafficked youth populations."

All nine members of the council's budget committee passed the amendment this morning—that's all the Democrats and all the Republican on the council—assuring its adoption into the full budget. It directs $35,000 for at-risk youth programs run by the nonprofit Youth Care and $15,000 for Lambert House.



I LOVE this -- and I love the idea of gay marriages helping queer kids.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:35 PM on November 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


After the latest count, Politico is now calling a win for same-sex marriage in WA.
posted by mbrubeck at 1:48 PM on November 8, 2012


the focus on Stonewall often eclipses prior LGBT advocacy

That's quite true. Of course, Stonewall marks a highly visible, modern start to protest; many from that era are still alive. In the century or two before Stonewall there were several notable (and many less notable) figures and organizations that spoke out in public, in the US as well as Europe and elsewhere.

There's a bit of the more obscure stuff on Wikipedia. The film Before Stonewall (YT) offers a few examples. For a long, scholarly but readable book, offering a from-the-beginning worldwide POV, try Nebraska college teacher, gay studies pioneer Louis Crompton's 2006 Homosexuality and Civilization. (He also wrote Byron and Greek love: homophobia in 19th-century England.)
posted by Twang at 1:51 PM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll mention also the excellent history website GLBTQ.com. For many years it has offered hundreds of well-written bios of notable individuals.

Aside from that, earlier today I saw a news report about the first Asiatic woman elected to the US Senate, Mazie Hirono. She remarked
"I bring quadruple diversity to the Senate. I'm a woman. I'll be the first Asian woman ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate. I am an immigrant. I am a Buddhist. When I said this at one of my gatherings, they said, 'Yes, but are you gay?' and I said, 'Nobody's perfect.'"
posted by Twang at 2:08 PM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


"That's quite true. Of course, Stonewall marks a highly visible, modern start to protest; many from that era are still alive."

Yeah, I've been calling around for a story on Mattachine, and been told that ONE archives could only find one guy who was a member, and that he's in no condition to be interviewed.
posted by klangklangston at 3:13 PM on November 8, 2012


klang, call the LGBT history museum up here - ask if Gerard (its founder) is around. If there's someone around who can be interviewed, I bet Gerard will know him.
posted by rtha at 3:32 PM on November 8, 2012


I spent an evening at a party with Harry Hay in the early 1990s. He was quite a man. I feel incredibly indebted to him not only for his work with Mattachine, but also for having summoned the Radical Faeries into existence. Getting to brush up against him even for an evening, to hear stories from him about the things he had witnessed across a half-century of gay rights activism... it was galvanizing for me.
posted by hippybear at 5:26 PM on November 8, 2012


I also find the focus on sidewalks to be rather odd, notwithstanding my original comment. I suppose it should come as no surprise that in a longish post which posits that instrumentalizing queer politics into narrow policy decisions assimilates the radical and transformative potential of being queer into heteronormative, bourgeois consumer culture and erases all the great things we've historically asked for.

I find the sidewalks interesting, but I mentioned them not because they are comprehensive in themselves, but because even something as small as sidewalks show who the world is built for. But we needn't look at sidewalks at all--single family homes, suburbia, tax law, wealth distribution, restaurant layout, immigration policies--all of these bear the distinctive mark of a heterosexual, reproductive world to which queerness is only an afterthought. To deny this reality by playing some micrological game on why sidewalks are really for everybody (they're not) is absurd. But, fill your rationalizing boots, I guess.
posted by Catchfire at 5:27 PM on November 8, 2012


I think people were focusing on sidewalks because it was the only concrete example of what you were talking about in a comment full of hidden assumptions.

If you expand your original comment I'm sure many people would be eager to discuss many more points of it.

(For better or worse: I, a straight white man, am feeling offended by it on behalf of minorities. Who I think shouldn't have to be radical for the sake of radicals or angry old people which is what I feel is being argued here. So... for better or worse indeed.)
posted by tychotesla at 5:42 PM on November 8, 2012


"klang, call the LGBT history museum up here - ask if Gerard (its founder) is around. If there's someone around who can be interviewed, I bet Gerard will know him."

Heh. My boss is up in SF, and he called them up and was told that the best chance was that someone at USC would know (USC is where the ONE archives are).

"I spent an evening at a party with Harry Hay in the early 1990s. He was quite a man. I feel incredibly indebted to him not only for his work with Mattachine, but also for having summoned the Radical Faeries into existence. Getting to brush up against him even for an evening, to hear stories from him about the things he had witnessed across a half-century of gay rights activism... it was galvanizing for me."

Man, that woulda been so cool. He had a really wild life and the more history I read — whether labor, or LGBT or even sci-fi — he keeps popping up in it. Dude knew Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard!

(I just got back from the ONE archives where I was taking pictures of some early Mattachine documents because they're not online. Nothing comprehensive, but fun to be able to look at, especially in how banal a lot of them were. There's a two-page missive on the proper use of Robert's Rules of Order.)
posted by klangklangston at 5:45 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think if our society were actually pro-family we would not only have wide sidewalks, we'd remove lots of the roads in our downtowns and fill them with playgrounds, and toy libraries, and we'd have universal childcare and family friendly workplaces, and gay folks would have no problems adding their partners and kids to company health insurance (married or not), and families could take lots of wonderful shapes because it made them happy.

I'm the proud godmother of a child raised by two lesbians and a gay man. One mom is in a scooter these days, so stroller might be gone, but the wide sidewalks are awesome!

I don't think a pro-gay radical world is at all anti-family.

On the question of time travelling radicals, I think Emma Goldman would dance her ass off at a gay friends' wedding, even if she never would get married herself.

To me the question should be about letting people make their own beautiful lives i nthe way that makes them happy. If that means no marriage, awesome! If it means gigantic frou frou wedding with a cake and gramma dancing the bird, and two kids and a bike trailer, awesome!

I get what you mean. I'm personally a pacifist, and not keen on anyone joining the military... but I do think its a step forward to eliminate discriminatory barriers, even to institutions I dislike.
posted by chapps at 5:58 PM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


But we needn't look at sidewalks at all--single family homes, suburbia, tax law, wealth distribution, restaurant layout, immigration policies--all of these bear the distinctive mark of a heterosexual, reproductive world to which queerness is only an afterthought. To deny this reality by playing some micrological game on why sidewalks are really for everybody (they're not) is absurd.

This is one of the strangest things I've ever read. It literally makes no sense to me at all.

We live in a world where homosexuality has begun to be an accepted part of society for only about 20 years. Before that it was a largely ignored, somewhat tolerated, mainly combative issue for just about everyone. Okay, so i'll accept that immigration policies and tax law have not (and still largely do not, although this has changed under Obama, at least the immigration law part) had any thought of queerness.

But restaurant layout? There are somehow floor plans and table designs in eateries which regularly prevent members of the GLBTQ community from eating together?

Wealth distribution? What does this have to do with anything? There have been rich queers and poor queers and middle income queers always. That there might be more poor queers than rich queers reflects the base class structure of our society and the tendency for marginalized groups to generally be less successful than non-marginalized groups... but is there really something inherent in wealth distribution which could be changed which would somehow take being queer into account? Because if it can be changed for the queers, why can't it be changed for everyone else? What is there specifically anti-queer about this issue?

Also... housing/suburbia? How is any of this anti-queer, or displays only an afterthought about queerness? Even the fictional plural family in Big Love was able to find suburbia worked for them, and while heterosexual, they were decidedly queer, by the expansive definition of the word...

I seriously don't know what you're on about here. I'm as friendly to radical queer theory as the next radical queer, but most of this is completely opaque.
posted by hippybear at 6:10 PM on November 8, 2012


But restaurant layout? There are somehow floor plans and table designs in eateries which regularly prevent members of the GLBTQ community from eating together?

I don't believe I said this. I gave a list of things that are built for straight people. This doesn't mean that LGBT folk can't or don't use them--on the contrary, marriage is precisely something that was built for straight people that LGBT folk have said they want. But it's an institution not designed by them or for them.

I don't want to get on another digression here, so I'll just point out that the American family diner with spacious, high-backed booths is indeed built by and for straight people. No one, least of all me, suggested that gay people can't eat out (wtf?). I'd appreciate a bit more generosity in your reading--I don't think I've been offensive, and this is something that is genuinely close to my heart.

Since you're friendly to radical queer theory, along these lines I'd suggest the short and brilliant polemic by Lee Edleman, No Future. I prefer Jose Esteban Muñoz's Cruising Utopia, but it's not as short and to the point as Edelman's work.
posted by Catchfire at 7:22 PM on November 8, 2012


I'll just point out that the American family diner with spacious, high-backed booths is indeed built by and for straight people.

I'm not buying this, and I don't think you've been offensive. Unless what you're saying is that LITERALLY EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD WAS BUILT BY AND FOR STRAIGHT PEOPLE (which given their overwhelming majority status isn't a shocking concept) and that gay people can only appropriate such spaces for their own use on the sly (with a glowing example being the now gone unused dockyards in NYC being used as cruising grounds), I honestly don't know what you mean by saying that diners are built by and for straight people.

But you've asked for generosity on my behalf, so I won't mention it anymore.
posted by hippybear at 7:45 PM on November 8, 2012


I don't want to get on another digression here, so I'll just point out that the American family diner with spacious, high-backed booths is indeed built by and for straight people.

....No, it was built for PEOPLE. I fail to see how the design of the booths took anything into account save the width of the average human butt.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:08 PM on November 8, 2012


I don't want to get on another digression here

Too late!

(You know that there are lots and lots of places, all over the world, inhabited mostly by straight people, that don't have wide sidewalks, right? Some neighborhoods right here in San Francisco have quite narrow sidewalks. Some places don't have any sidewalks, like many suburbs. I mean, what.)
posted by rtha at 8:14 PM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Catchfire, I suspect there are two problems you're hitting here. One is that the specific examples you are using need, at the very least, to be spelled out a little more to make sense. I'm somewhat familiar with radical queer critiques of various kinds, but the sidewalks and booth examples are a little baffling to me. Connecting the dots a little might help.

The issue I don't have trouble following, but do wish to contest, is the insistant pairing of heteronormativity and reproduction. It's not a new pairing. It wouldn't have been contested by almost anyone 20 years ago (reaching back to the point of the linked article). It's one you still find in most anti-gay rhetoric, and some radical queer rhetoric.

I reject it utterly.

There are (many) ways our culture privileges heterosexuality. There are (many, though not quite as many) ways our culture privileges reproduction. (Culturally, at least -- speaking as a parent the actual delivery can be a bit lacking.) Insisting on a linkage between those two things is not radical. It is reactionary. It insists that queer, non-reproductive people are over here and straight culture is over there. So, no luck if you're queer and want kids. Or straight and don't. Or if you're straight and have queer kids. Or if you have a heterosexual but non-traditional family. Or any other variation. The hell with that.
posted by feckless at 8:23 PM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Vatican vows to fight gay marriage after gains in U.S., Europe
posted by homunculus at 11:41 AM on November 11, 2012


On the other hand, both Obama and gay marriage (at least in Maine) won the Catholic vote, so maybe the Pope should STFU a little.
posted by klangklangston at 11:42 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


NOM To Blackmail Equality-Supporting Companies By Stoking Middle East Anti-Gay Persecution
posted by homunculus at 12:01 PM on November 11, 2012


so maybe the Pope should STFU a little.

That would be a nice change, but I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime, we need more like this:

Maryland Priest Counters Archbishop’s Letter With Support For Marriage Equality
posted by homunculus at 12:14 PM on November 11, 2012


Check out this tear-jerker of a public service announcement about marriage inequality called "Invisible Parents."
posted by jph at 9:03 AM on November 12, 2012


« Older On Election Night 2008 in Seattle, Renee received ...  |  RIP Bob Quinn. If you've spent... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments