Friday, February 27, 2009

What Are We Trying To Be Equal To?

So as some people may know, Equality Day is approaching. Equality day is an event that takes place to give voice to queer supporters of civil rights and mainly advocates for gay marriage in Washington State. Although I find it important to be given the same rights as my fellow heterosexuals, I always feel like I lack the enthusiasm I see around me when rallying for this particular issue.

I was speaking with a very good friend of mine who explained to me that gay marriage is not necessarily a right, but more of a privilege that is placed in this very complex system of institutions. When I think of the Spirit of Stonewall my mind automatically jumps to the Gene Compton Cafeteria Riots in 1967 or the Stonewall Riots of 1969. I think of the Gay Liberation Front and the other radical groups that started the queer movement off with a bang, making connections with other radicals like the Black Panther Party. I now see that our voice looks a lot different than it did forty years ago, which I believe is both good and bad. But now I see us comparing Queer lifestyles to fit into a heteronormative society, which in the end doesn't do much to end oppression. I often times feel frustrated that the only things that get a large amount of visibility are queer families that have two parents or couples that have been together for a significant amount of time. I feel like we shouldn't have to have those things to be treated as a human being to begin with.

There is a story that I would like to share to help communicate my point. There were once six blindfolded people who were asked to approach an elephant and touch what they were told to touch. The first blindfolded man was guided to the elephants leg and said that he was touching a pillar; the second touched the tail said it was a rope; the third felt the trunk and said it was a tree branch; the fourth felt the ear and said it was a hand fan; the fifth felt the belly and said it was like a wall; and the last person put his hand on the tusk and said it was a solid pipe. So if we only see marriage equality and we don't include other things, then we aren't seeing the whole elephant.

In the end I am in full support of Queer people having the choice to marry because it is only right. But I would also like to keep in mind hundreds of other problems that are linked to the liberation of people. Once marriage equality is achieved, is that the end of our movement? On the day LGBTIQQ people can get married are we going to be able to say without blinking that we are not oppressed? Does harassment stop in schools and on the streets? Will the police look at queer relationships the same as heterosexual ones when dealing with things like domestic violence? Will courts view sexual violence in the queer community the same? Will the rise of Queer rights be taught in our history books? Once we are given gay marriage, do we side with the white male dominated, heterosexual christian nation that thrives on keeping people of color in jail, low income people without health care or resources, and undocumented workers in fear? Do we continue to be "ONE NATION UNDER GOD?"

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