They’re here and they’re queer. But don’t assume they’re all jumping on the gay marriage bandwagon, Katie Couric. The Against Equality collective — a group of gay activists who oppose gay marriage — has been “quietly assembling a digital archive to document the critical resistance to the politics of inclusion.” The result? A compelling pocketbook, Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage.
Edited by gay activist Ryan Conrad, and introduced by Yasmin Nair, a Chicago-based academic, the easy-to-read resistance publication sets out to empower information-seeking people, from poor rural folks to technologically disadvantaged gays living outside of North America’s gay establishment.
Many middle-class leftists will find the new book very jarring.
Take section two, an open letter to LGBT leaders who are pushing gay marriage. “Hello. I’m Kate Bornstein, and I’ve got a great deal to say to you, so you deserve to know more about me: I write books about postmodern gender theory and alternatives to suicide for teens, freaks and other outlaws. I’m a feminist, a Taoist, a sadomasochist, a femme, a nerd, a transperson, a Jew, and a tattooed lady.”
So why is Bornstein criticizing gay marriage? “When lesbian and gay community leaders whip up the community to fight for the right to marry, it’s a further expression of America’s institutionalized greed in that it benefits only its demographic constituency,” argues the passionate activist. “There’s no reaching out beyond sexuality and gender expression to benefit people who aren’t just like us, and honestly… that is so 20th Century identity politics.”
But is Katie Couric ready to hear politically-direct voices opposed to same-sex marriage? Is Oprah willing to open her heart and therefore her ears to marginalized trans-people and their journeys? Or does “tolerance” mean ignoring critical-thinking minority voices?
Competitive identity politics
As a defender of politically-incorrect speech, I see Against Equality as more than a book: it’s an important step away from the groupthink strangling America’s white-majority gay establishment.
In a traditional middle-class, left-wing setting, it is thought that standing with “minorities” (or the media’s favorite minorities) makes one “tolerant” and/or “compassionate” — sometimes even “deep” and “sophisticated.” Moreover, in media-land, gay marriage activists allegedly speak for sexual minorities. After all, they’re a minority speaking for a minority, right? And yet, when minorities within minority groups question their supposed leaders, media elites turn anti-minority. Or play deaf.
Thankfully, though, marginalized voices dominate Against Equality. In section five, Kenyon Farrow asks: “Is Gay Marriage Anti-Black???” He criticizes conservative religious leaders, but that’s not to suggest he loves the mainstream media or the white-majority gay establishment.
“I, as a black gay man, do not support this push for same-sex marriage,” he asserts. “Although I don’t claim to represent all black gay people, I do believe that the manner in which this campaign has been handled has put black people in the middle of essentially two white groups of people, who are trying to manipulate us one way or the other.”
Beyond bourgeois manners
Although a serious subject, Against Equality is not without humor-friendly contributors. Or, as the campy Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore opines: “I don’t know about you, but have you noticed that freshly mined, blood-drenched South African diamonds are the new accessory for the gay elite, or they might as well be with how much the gaysbian ‘LGBT’ agenda has become nothing but marriage marriage marriage — oh, and maybe a little bit of marriage with that marriage, thank you!”
Adds Yasmin Nair: “Yeah, I don’t get why a community of people who have historically been f….d over by their families and the state now consists of people who want those exact same institutions to validate their existence.”
Baby-seeking elites also come under scrutiny: “If you’re white, beautiful little blonde children are the best, because then you’ll look like a normal and natural family. But adopting one can be next to impossible! Little brown babies make the best gay accessories.”
In short, “middle-class mirroring” seems to motivate gay elites, and Hollywood is happy to play along, prompting San Francisco-based filmmaker Hilary Goldberg to also ask: “Why don’t Madonna and Angelina, in their gay wisdom, adopt some adult queer artists and activists instead?”
Against Equality is an important reminder that many people can reach the same conclusions, albeit in very different ways — and that scares our elites. Like the very best books and activists, Against Equality challenges groupthink, passionately.
Ben-Peter Terpstra is a freelance writer based in regional Victoria, Australia. He has lived and worked in the Northern Territory, Melbourne, Kyoto and London (England).