An Inconvenient Truth

July 29, 2012 in General

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, you’ll know that Labour MP Louisa Wall’s Bill for re-defining marriage (let’s face it, that’s what it is) has been drawn from the ballot, and has a reasonable chance of succeeding. Both she and Green MP Kevin Hague had similar Bills sitting there, and it’s great that one of these is going to see the light of day. None of the gay National MPs seemed to bother trying.
Let me be clear about my own position.
It’s not an issue that deeply excites me, but as a matter of principle, based in my committment to the concept of human rights, I think that there is no logical, moral or social reason to stop adults from legally committing themselves to each other. I believe as a principle that any adult should be able to have her or his relationship recognised. Personally I think it should go further – if you want to have your committed loving three-way relationship recognised then you should be able to as well. I don’t see why under this logic we don’t support polygamy as a legal relationship status, just to be consistent in applying human rights. Of course such talk upsets those aiming to be “normal” and  ”just like the straights.”But that’s another story.
But oh dear – all the fighting in the playpen already.
You see, even though it has become the issue for many homos, there are a number who really don’t care, and a smaller group who are in fact actively opposed due to strongly held political and philosophical convictions. I read one gay man saying something like “This is the last hurdle for gay rights !” No, it isn’t.


It will, doubtless, be a big political struggle, requiring long hours of unpaid labour and personal dedication. There will be letter-writing campaigns, people monitoring talkback and ready to ring in and disagree with the redneck fuckwits who hate us. Worthy, happily-coupled, non-threatening same-sex couples will be trotted out to talk movingly about their desire to have their love recognised. Fine.
But we are being instructed by some that we must all be seen to be supporting this move.  Dissenting voices are being derided and told to shut up and go away, told they don’t represent “us”.
The thing is in New Zealand, nobody, absolutely no-one, can claim with the slightest shred of authority that they represent the voice of gay New Zealand. But no-one, not the out gay MPs (and certainly not the closeted ones), not the earnest Rainbow policy-mafia in Wellington or their corporate counterparts in Auckland actually speak for us. Neither do venue owners, media owners, or bloggers like me.
We have our opinions, we get a sense of what people are thinking, especially if we are more connected to the local homo-world – but we don’t have the right to tell others to “shut up because they’re ruining it for the rest of us” if they don’t agree with us.
We do have the right to argue, to persuade, to cajole, or to throw a tanty and stop talking to them, tell everyone else how terrible they are and you wish they would just shut the fuck up,that’s  fine.
But freedom of speech, and freedom to disagree is the fundamental human right. Without it the others fall over. So don’t expect anyone who doesn’t feel as passionately about this topic as you do, or maybe even has a critical perspective on it, to shut up. You have no right to demand that.


And this takes us back to that basic problem – there is no one united gay community. Being attracted to and loving people of the same biological gender is simply too thin a basis to build a real, deep, lasting community on. We are a multitude of different people with differing views, philosophies and backgrounds. But to the straight world we are all the same, (they’re lazy, and just not that interested) and we do share a common oppression based in how they see us.
That oppression, fed by what is known as “heteronormativity” (google it) is what leads to the sad and terrible over-representation we have in things like drug addiction, depression, self-harm and suicide. Gay marriage is not going to fix that. Political change, challenges to the existing order instead of trying to fit into it will, I believe, do much more to stop the terrible damage that the straight world inflicts on so many queer people than this.
But there is such a lack of any political engagement or analysis in contemporary gay culture that people don’t see how all this works. Understanding that the things that make individual queer lives shitty are not simply a matter of personal choice but are rooted in a society that systematically fucks us over is not as widespread as it once was, but this ties back to the general de-politicisation of our world.
Yes it’s a good step, there is no reason why our love, our relationships, shouldn’t have the same legal recognition as straight ones. It will make some people deliriously happy. They will feel as good as straights, because that’s what they measure themselves against. Others will just treasure being able to celebrate their love with all the people who matter to them under the same name as their hetero brothers and sisters. Great.
But don’t assume it’s what every single queer is desperate for, because it’s not.


An Inconvenient Truth


    1. Craig says:

      And as I am in a monogamous relationship and a coparent, I tend to prioritise this issue more so than non-monogamous or polyamorous LGBT community members might. In terms of the ‘Fainbow policy mafia’, the fact is that we live in a centralised society and our social and political movements reflect that.

    2. Craig says:

      And, while I would support any eventual polyamorist spousal rights movement and have zero tolerance for polybashing from the Christian Right, first they’ll have to start their own movement, convince amenable family and marriage researchers to draft an evidence based case for reform, and so on.

      That hasn’t happened yet. One cannot drive a car without wheels.

    3. Andy says:

      For once a good blog from Michael.

    4. tm z says:

      ” there is no one united gay community”. Exactly. We don’t want to unite with you lot, bitchy bitter queens using tax payers’ health dollars to support your lifestyle.

      • Josh says:

        Tax-payers health dollars to support a lifestyle? From under which rock did you just crawl?

        • ttp says:

          Michael has HIV. Public paying for his meds, so he can keep living and f**king

          • bruce says:

            once upon a time, back when we were “united”, the poster above would have found no town in the country small enough to hide in with comments like that. His life as a gay man would basically have been over. Sometimes I would like to return to those days, and now is one of them. What a pathetic excuse for a human being

    5. Craig says:

      In any case though, shouldn’t the next LGBT rights objective after this be transgender inclusion within the Human Rights Act 1993? What do others think? I think they’ve waited far too long as it is.

    6. Adroit says:

      Hey, you’re not interested in a patriarchal, hetronormative institution – I get that, and it would be remiss to think that these legals changes would solve all problems facing the LGBT community.

      However, don’t be a bitter queen and rain on the parades of those of us who’re celebrating. It’s progress in terms of official recognition and I think we can agree such things are helpful.

      Also, large scale policy responses to individual problems aren’t feasible – although I do think some serious fucking sex education would be a good start (pun intended); don’t get me going on folks who pull their children out of those classes.

    7. Mark says:

      This isn’t about redefining marriage– that’s a different battle for a different time. And it certainly isn’t the last hurdle of rights. But it is about continuing the campaign for equal rights. The state licenses neither same nor opposite sex polyandry/polygamy, so I can’t get behind that red herring. Fight that battle if you like, but that’s not this battle.

An Inconvenient Truth

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