another type of love being formally recognized doesn’t mean that love won

I’ve been thinking about how there has been a fair amount of talk about how marriage isn’t the be-all end-all for queer people, and that now we can start talking about other queer issues, which is good, but I think it’s missing something. It’s focusing about the gay part, and not the marriage part. We should still be asking questions about whether marriage equality, as it exists in our collective imagination, is the correct way to distribute rights, and if it serves all sorts of families.

There’s this pretty rainbow graphic that’s been going around showing all the rights that people get when they’re married, and I love the fact that I could marry my partner and we would get all that, but it isn’t fair that this is based on nuclear family structures. If we got married my partner could visit me in the hospital, and we could share insurance, and our household would get a tax break. But my best friend is my family too, and I should be able to easily say “this person is my family, this is one of the people I’m building my life with,” but that isn’t a simple thing to do.

Every time I see that graphic I get more annoyed, because the right to organize our families, things like medical decisions, and immigration connections, and housing access — these things should not be based on nuclear family structures. Gay marriage is giving right to more kinds of nuclear families, but it is still leaving out a lot of people, hetero and queer. People who aren’t nuclear families are generally folks who have less money, and would benefit more from the sort of benefits that marriage gives people.

Gay marriage is supposed to be a victory, but it doesn’t feel like it, it feels like it could wind up very limiting. I worry that a lot of people are just going along with the idea of nuclear families instead of trying to build something else.

(I’m using the phrase gay marriage instead of marriage equality because to me gay marriage goes hand along with respectability politics and assimilation. “Gay marriage” was the talking point, let’s not call it something different now that the battle has been “won.”)

I really like the idea of marriage, and I would love to marry my partner some day, but I hate the fact that our culture has such a narrow view of what family means. My partner is super important to me, but family doesn’t need to be built around a single monogamous couple. Family needs to be built around people who love and take care of each other.

This connects to the idea that our culture values romantic relationships over platonic ones, which is just bullshit. Sex or romance doesn’t make something more meaningful, just different.

Marriage is a way of making families fit in a certain shape. I want those rights, so I’m probably going to get married someday. But I hate the idea that the government is saying that the way they do things is better than what we can make for ourselves.

I really love the idea of weddings, of public declarations of love and commitment that are celebrated and shared with the community. But we don’t need the government to have a super awesome wedding. The government is involved because marriage is a path to legal rights. Giving people rights because they’re married is just silly — it’s unnecessary and limiting.

Families should be seen as something that we craft, that we build. They come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. In the 21st century the nuclear family is becoming less and less prevalent, but the capitalism still has a vested interest in keeping people structured in these units because it makes us easy targets for marketing and good consumers.

Gay marriage feels like a trap because it’s reinforcing a dominant script, and does nothing for people who can’t or don’t want to follow along. There are always going to be people, straight and gay and otherwise, who don’t fit in that mold, either they can’t or don’t want to. Gay marriage makes it easier for the people in charge to say that people who aren’t the marrying sort don’t matter (that we don’t matter). Everyone can have a happy monogamous partnership, so everyone can stop questioning whether or not this is how we should organize our lives. It allows complacency. It means people don’t have to think about it so much — they can get married and be normal, and that’s nice. It really is nice. There are people who want this, and that’s great, and I wish them well, but now that everyone can marry there’s going to be less discussion about how these rights are distributed.

There’s a joke, I can’t remember who made it, about how gay people should have just as much opportunity to get married and make themselves miserable as straights have. Really, that’s it, right?

Gay marriage means we have the same opportunities to be sold things, to be parceled off.  nuclear families are structures that promote self-interest over community need. Same sex marriage means that queer people can stop thinking about this if they want to. we can go off and marry our partners and raise children and be happy. Self interest is so easy. I’m so lazy, and so tired, and don’t actually know how to make the change I want to see happen. But I’m not willing to give up on an expansive view of family.

There have been times where queers have considered themselves all family — I know this isn’t true, I know I don’t have the same values as other people just because we’re both not straight. But there could be some truth there if we try.

We can make our own families.

For a long time queer people made their own families because it was the only thing we could do. We had to be creative and resourceful. Family was community, and people looked after each other.

Being allowed the picket-fence capitalist dream it doesn’t mean much. Not when there are other things keeping us out. Being allowed something doesn’t make it comfortable.

I don’t want to marry my partner, and buy a house, and raise children, and be a registered democrat, and act respectable.

I want to live with my partner, and my best friend, and whoever else falls into our family. I think I want kids at some point, but I’m not sure, that’s still a long ways off. I want to be a part of something bigger than just me and my partner and the idea that we’re reproducing for the future. I want to be surrounded by people I love — I want to feed the people I love. I want to be able to visit them in the hospital. If I’m sick I want my best friend, my soul-sister, my platonic lifemate to be able to visit me, and have a say in my medical decisions (she’s better at this kind of stuff than I am). She is just as important to me as the partner I’m going to marry.

We need to get past the idea of partnership as the ideal unit for building a family. We need to recognize that lots of families already aren’t organized around that sort of unit, and that granting rights to people because that’s the way they’ve found love isn’t a solid way of dispensing rights.

Love needs to win. All sorts of love. Not just romantic partner love, but family love, which is why there need to be other scripts besides marriage.

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Cyborg Citizen: Politics in the Posthuman Age by Chris Hables Gray

This was the most interesting book I’ve read in ages. I don’t agree with all of his ideas, but they were all interesting. This is something I need to read again, and make my partner read so we can talk about it, and probably write paper about. It brings up so many things that I want to think about more.

My review here isn’t going into depth at all, isn’t capturing the scope or theories of the book, but I really enjoyed reading it. For academic writing it’s very accessible and readable. Gray is an anarchist leaning feminist, which means we’re on the same page about a lot of shit, but there are things I didn’t agree with him on. Donna Haraway’s influence is obvious, not just in the central concept of cyborgs, but in his understanding that he can’t understand everything, but only a piece of it. I’m not sure if he ever settled on a conclusion, more interested in bringing up different aspects of the cyborg world we’re living in.

This was published in 2001, and a lot of the futurism still feels fresh, but there are some parts where the last fourteen years haven’t been kind. Gray ideas about our present couldn’t have accounted for 9/11. More curiously he doesn’t anticipate the smartphone, which would be at the top of my list of ways that most 2015 humans are cyborgs.

This was a supremely interesting book, one that I definitely plan to return to.

Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers

The simple pitch for this book is something like the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood have adventures with vampires! so of course I loved it. I love Christina Rossetti as a poet, and she’s a pretty great fictional character too. The characters are a mix of real figures and made up people. There’s a very good balance between playing with history and adding excitement. The story covers decades, but it works. Considering how complicated the plot gets what’s happening is always remarkably clear. Power’s has an interesting take on vampire mythology that feels fresh, while still natural with the superstitions of the times. I enjoyed the references to the literary worlds the characters frequented, but I think the plot holds, and that it’s still a fun time for someone who wasn’t an English major. This was a great book.

Machine Man by Max Berry

This is a story about a scientist who loses a leg in an accident, and then gets caught up. The story was a fairly fun romp, but the moral felt obvious and overdone. The first chapter leading up to the initial accident is fantastic. The scientist can’t find his cellphone, and his continued distraction is captured perfectly. I suspect that I would have enjoyed this chapter standing alone as a short story. The rest of the book doesn’t have the same momentum. It gets caught up in big ideas that feel clumsy. The question of cyborg bodies is fascinating, and an increasingly inescapable part of our daily lives. We are attached to our phones in weird, possibly harmful ways. But it isn’t all bad. I don’t think Berry is saying that, but his take on the topic seem too simplistic. The novel is mostly enjoyable because it’s well plotted and uses humor well, but it never really sparks, and ultimately it felt unsatisfying.

Drive

What a stylish movie. I enjoyed the beginning a lot more than the end, but really, who cares about the story when a movie looks and feels and sounds so cool.

Ryan Gosling is beautiful. He’s so quiet in this role, in his beautiful gold scorpion jacket and driving gloves. When things get violent and he actually starts doing things it’s almost a shock. It feels odd that he’s capable of engaging like this, not just a passive figure, more than just the driver. The viewer feels his discomfort with having to engage with any of this. The Kid is so closed off, somewhere between shy and shallow.

I think I would like this movie better if it had been less substantial. If it had all been moody brooding, and less spiraling violence. It’s probably a better movie like this, one that actually has a plot. But my enjoyment was all about the style, not the substance.

Access All Areas by Ninjalicious

Reading this was part of my continued quest to change how I think about space. I love reading about urban exploring because of how it gives people a different sort of relationship with the city, and works to blur the lines between wild space and known space. I love writing theory stuff about urban exploring. I know there’s a lot of urban exploring in the Twin Cities, I know folks who are involved. I have basically no interest in doing this myself, but I’m pretty sure that’s because I’m lazy, not because I’m chickenshit? But I’m not sure, and that bothers me.

This book is the practical guide to urban exploring. There’s some time spent wondering about the ideas behind urban exploring, and a few anecdotes of adventures the author has been on, but most of the book is about how to do it yourself. I think that’s really great, and I’m glad this book exists, that it’s out there, spreading these ideas and making this more accessible for people who want to give it a try. This seems like a really good guide, a fine place to start, but I don’t actually have any practical experience to say that for sure.

Debbie Harry Sings in French by Meagan Brothers

This is just a sweet little coming of age story. I kind of don’t want to tell you what it’s about, because watching the main character figure out what he’s about is the whole point of the book, the actual plot beyond just a kid growing up.

What it captures perfectly is the teenage way that a band can be so fucking important to you, where it’s your whole life, everything you’re hanging onto. In this book it’s about Blondie, but I remember being in highschool and caring sooooooo much about Atlas Sound, or the Manic Street Preachers, where I’d be lost without something good to listen to. Super enjoyable, a quick read, a perfect summer book.