good lord, what DONT i feel strongly about? on a 10 point scale, my reactions/thoughts/feelings about things tend to fall at "0" i-couldnt-care-less-if-i-tried OR "10" this-is-critical-and-potentially-life-altering. there aint no in between. remember the posts about my ex-boyfriend's twins, public displays of pooping, patriarchal standards for toilet sizes and corn-dogging? yeah. i lean towards the dramatic.
i thought about using challenge day #2 as an opportunity to rant about my favorite rantable topics. you know, like:
1. sexual violence
2. our society's refusal to acknowledge sexual violence
4. our society's refusal to acknowledge racism
6. our society's refusal to acknowledge the racist roots of thanksgiving
7. the prison industrial complex
8. our society's refusal to acknowledge the racism/classism in the prison industrial complex
somehow though, that feels too predictable.
SO i thought i would use this challenge as an opportunity to share something that i feel VERY strongly about... but im not exactly sure HOW i feel about how i feel about it. *scratching my head*
no, im not talking about jean-on-jean combos. we all know that's just sick and wrong.
im talking about....
since i know this to be a touchy subject... i will intersperse lighthearted comics amongst my ranting to help ease the tension.
i feel strongly that heterosexual people should not knowingly accept benefits that aren't afforded to everyone, equally.
now, ill admit right up front that i too have privileges that others dont have. for example, i don't have to worry about where the curb cuts are located, im never followed in stores, i dont get pulled over by police on a regular basis, i own a home, i have internet at my house, both of my parents graduated from high school and college, i have health insurance, etc etc etc.
i also fully admit that i too live with hypocrisy and my actions do not always line up with my values. for example, im a starbucks drinking fiend and i wear nike sneakers. sometimes i even drink starbucks WHILE wearing nike sneakers. eeek!
the point is, i aint perfect.
having said that... i STILL cant help but feel like the marriage issue is different. all of the privileges above are somewhat out of my control. its not like i can force police to pull me over or demand that store clerks follow me around a store. i cant give back my parent's college degrees or any of the privileges that those degrees have in turn given me. but marriage on the other hand... its a privilege that carries with it over 1400 benefits and only SOME people are allowed to sign up for those benefits.
now let me make it perfectly clear that i aint talkin about a wedding. i fully support public displays of commitment. if heteros want to hold a ceremony/party to tell the world that they are officially off the market, more power to em. my discomfort arises when that same hetero couple heads down to the courthouse to sign up for benefits that some people are barred from.
i often make the analogy of first class plane tickets. imagine NM and i heading to the airport to fly someplace and as we get on the plane, the attendant says, "oh, sorry... first class is LEGALLY only for white people." and then... imagine me saying to NM... "well, i really NEED the benefits of first class so ill just see you when the plane lands".
often hetero allies will argue that they "are only getting married because we NEED the tax benefits and/or NEED the health insurance". i even had one ally-friend who said that he NEEDED to get married because his female partner NEEDED the stability and security that comes with marriage rights.
well its a good thing that we dont NEED the tax breaks or health insurance or stability... because we dont have access to it.
meanwhile, we gays are expected to play along in the celebratory madness surrounding hetero marriages. even when those heteros are on their 2nd or 3rd or 4th marriage! we are expected to attend the wedding (typically in a church that on any other day would teach homophobic bible-lies), buy presents and dance the night away. to borrow from the first-class plane tickets analogy... its like me expecting NM to throw me a party, buy me a present and offer a congratulatory champagne toast in honor of my choice to accept the first class seat.
it sometimes seems like heteros dont even think about how it might feel for us to celebrate other people's privilege. or maybe they do think about it but dont know how to talk openly about it. *shrug* all i know is, in all the weddings i have attended... nobody has ever even mentioned it. im not so sure that i would go as far as boycotting hetero weddings or asking heteros to take a no-marriage-challenge ... but i cant ignore the fact that even the idea of talking openly about this makes me feel nervous... like im suggesting that we take away someones birthday or something.
now im not meaning to say, "if WE cant be happy, then NOBODY can!!" because the truth is, i wouldn't trade my illegal second class marriage for ANY of the straight folks i know...even with their fancy benefits. for me the issue isnt
i cant help but believe that if a hetero couple NEEDS the benefits of marriage, but commits to remaining unmarried until all discriminatory legal barriers are removed... they would be more active in the marriage rights movement, know more about the current state of marriage benefits, and be more vocal and outspoken about ending legally sanctioned homophobia.
i said at the beginning of this post that i wasn't exactly sure HOW i felt about this issue that i feel so strongly about. there is a part of me that feels hesitant about posting this as my answer to challenge #2. maybe i should have stuck with something safe like jean-on-jean. who can disagree with that?
but that would defeat the point of blogging. for me, blogging is about growth, expression and self-understanding.
im thinking now that maybe i feel hesitant to share this because i fear that it might hurt my married straight allies. maybe its my internalized homophobia that makes me feel like i should be nice and curb my resentment and frustration. maybe i worry about losing people as i demand the same rights as they have. *shrug*
sometimes i feel like the issue of marriage gets too tied into the hype of weddings so it becomes impossible to critique one without sounding like a hater. so when hetero people around me say "im getting married!!" they tend to have the wedding in mind... the cake, dancing, dresses, music, flowers, etc... but im thinking about health benefits, state-sanctioned validation and the ability to adopt a child together. but the romantic cloud of excitement swallows everything up and makes it nearly impossible to enter into a discussion about their choice to walk to the first class cabin while we are stuck in coach.
i struggle to think of any other privileges that have such clearly bigoted restrictions WRITTEN INTO THE LAW. unlike trying to refuse racial privilege or ability privilege... heterosexuals who choose to get married are knowingly signing a legal contract that only THEY are entitled to. and at the end of the day, i just dont know very many straight allies who are up to date on the issue of marriage equality.
i wish i had a dime for every time a straight person asked me, "how many states recognize gay marriage?". i want to yell... "how about YOU tell ME! it totally FIGURES that you dont know the answer to that question because it has no significance for your daily life. somehow, i bet you would know the answer if your OWN marriage was depending on it."
so, as messed up as it sounds...
i feel strongly that hetero allies would be more invested in the marriage equality movement if they refused to get legally married until everyone has the same rights.