Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Remember When?

Remember when it was great to be gay because you could avoid the draft, you couldn't get married, and you didn't have kids? And we didn't think a second thought about it. Oh, how much forty years makes a difference. We're too quick to walk away from those early days. We dreamed a gay revolution, but woke up in the straight suburbs. We left many of our gay principles behind, and we should re-examine them, because adopting straight institutions and values can lead us astray, and it never makes us straight.

Although "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is an offensive and unfair policy, repealing it doesn't speak to the issues of the role of the military in our society, and the role that gay people should play within that military and the larger society. Our society lacks a highly visible critique of the military role in today's world. We are asked to support the military complex in its fight against terrorism and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gay people should demand an end to Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but we should also be critiquing the military complex. It takes a big chunk of change out of our pockets as taxes, and it sends men and women into peril every day for what? I read a lot about what the United States does, but not a lot of why. There is a lot of blood on the ground.

When I came out, getting married was not a high priority. In the 80s, the gay community had a huge debate about whether marriage should be an issue for us. I understand why people want to get married. But if it's only about the benefits, tax advantage, and inheritance, we're not being principled in this endeavor. Marriage certainly doesn't fit my family, and it doesn't fit the families of many other gay people I know. If the rush to gay marriage is about honoring gay relationships, then the goal has to be something more than about two people. Because my marriage to Ron would say nothing about my love for Tim, Perry, and Brian. And faithfulness and fidelity would have to be re-imagined. But I'm not hearing that from the gay marriage activists.

I heard a tale from Harry Hay that he told me in my living room in 1994. A lesbian couple who were friends of his had a baby, and wanted to share their happy experience with him. He would have none of it. He felt that gay people were meant for a different kind of existence than child-rearing, and he told his friends that. They were not pleased. Harry Hay had a special wisdom. Gay people have a different life than their straight neighbors. We should not give up our own ways too easily.

Drugs, sex, and rock and roll, anyone?


Geek Tenor said...

I agree with your gist, Happy.

I have never felt easy with the idea that we should have "full marriage". What is that? Is it the "heteroimitationist" (to use Harry's term) desire to couple just like our parents did? I would actually prefer to have civil unions that conferred all the legal rights that married couples have, and have them called "civil unions" or even "domestic partnerships". I also think this would be an easier political agenda to push. When I explain my position to friends, they seem to nod, but the political organizations seem to disagree. "Full marriage equality" or nothing, they say. I think that any couple that wants to set up a household together, should be able to do so with legal rights appropriate to that arrangement. That could be two men in love, two women in love, two sisters who choose to spend their lives together, or two guys who don't think it's any of the state's damned business what their "relationship" is.

I really don't care what it's called, especially since I don't want people assuming that my "marriage" is an emulation of what the media says marriage should be. I'm used to setting boundaries and defining terms out of a careful examination of my heart, and what I devise as a "lifestyle" just might not fit into a norm. If "marriage" were handed to me with a rule book, I certainly would not use the term.