Sunday, June 28, 2015

Two Mornings After Marriage Equality We Are The Ones Who Have To Insist On Equality Among Ourselves And For Everyone

There should be something unsettling to lesbian and gay people that we have gone from what seemed entirely unlikely twelve years ago, full marriage equality to last week's Supreme Court ruling, even as black people and people of color are murdered with impunity virtually every day, often by policemen, as women continue to be routinely murdered in a lynch campaign based on misogyny and the propaganda of self-hatred contained in pornography teaches, especially gay men, to hate, disdain, use and destroy each other in the name of sexual pleasure.

The issues in why things happened so much faster this time are unknowable in a comprehensive way but there are certainly clues in a number of those.  Gay people are presented in the mainstream media as being mostly white, mostly middle if not upper class, educated and attractive.  That was bound to happen with the demographics of who makes decisions in media.  And it would not have happened if a decisive number of people who work in the media had not been gay or, even more so, had a family or other personal relationship with someone who was gay.* That the media in the same period has largely presented a far less attractive and endearing view of members of racial and ethnic minorities and women has a large role in the stalling if not reverses in rights for members of those groups.  I would not say that it was the gay people who were directly responsible for those choices, and I would suspect that most of those with the ability to make such decisions, straight men, in the media who determined if that were going to be, how members of those other categories were presented, but they were placed in a way so as to effectively change the way gay men and lesbians were presented in the media.

That would be the mainstream media, the media that straight people in a general audience watch and consume as well as LGBT folk.  But, by far, the foremost presentation of gay men in the media is in pornography which is viewed mostly by gay men.  I have to admit that I have not studied the presentation of lesbians to the same extent and don't know how to describe how they are viewed in the media.  But I can say that the way in which pornography teaches gay men to regard themselves and each other is almost uniformly destructive, in most cases based on inequality within the gay population, through differences in age, primarily, but also in size strength, mental state or other vectors of inequality.  The theme of a large part of gay pornography is of a dominant man using a submissive man, frequently with expressions of dominance, disdain, even hatred, possession, force, control and oppression.  Every theme of misogyny in straight porn is reproduced and translated into gay porn, presented as sexually arousing for both the user and the used.

Porn is almost certainly the first presentation most young gay boys and young men see of gay sex.  I would doubt that a positive, mutually loving and respectful and committed, mature, adult gay couple has ever been the introduction of gay boy of what they should hope for or work for in a relationship.    Never mind anything so outlandish as a committed, faithful couple who pledged what real marriage has always meant, that they wouldn't have sex with anyone else.  That is except for the very, very few young gay boys who have, so far, been exposed to such a gay couple in real life.  Certainly, even among those who disdain monogamy  as "unnatural" they would prefer it if their husband or wife were not having sex with other people, exposing themselves and their spouse to the possible infections that increase with the number of sexual partners.  That is a desireable goal in a marriage, to not give someone a fatal sexuallly transmitted disease.  Talk about your right to minimal expectations of an institution.  Not to mention the possibilities of being rejected in preference to another person and abandoned.

In demanding legal marriage, marriage equality,  lesbians and gay men were asking for what straight couples had as a possibility.  A lot of the argument was for access by gay couples to the same range of legal rights and protections that straight couples enjoyed.  But a lot of straight marriages were less than they were supposed to be.  Bad marriages, even those which didn't end in a divorce were certainly never as desirable as good marriages.  There were gay activists who argued against marriage on any number of bases, most of those people pointed to the many bad marriages, marriages based on oppression, inequality, deceit, exploitation and hypocrisy in breaking the promises made in getting married. But what sincere straight couple would have ever wanted a bad marriage?   Well, many men would have in the past based on expectations of being the superior in an unequal relationship but that was certainly never seen by most people, certainly not of the women who married and many of the men, as being a good marriage, a sound basis for enduring happiness in the marriage.   Certainly a good marriage should have been expected to at least offer people a reasonable expectation that their spouse wouldn't expose them to fatal sexually transmitted diseases picked up after marriage.   That is an especially relevant issue for gay men and one which any real equality in marriage has to address.

Such marriage equality advocates who scoff at the possibilities of gay men and lesbians being able to be faithful within marriage are advocating something less than what marriage has the potential of being.  If gay men, especially, but also all LGBT people wanted the best for themselves and their communities, faithful marriage based on equality, justice, mutual affection and respect is what they must demand and work to achieve.   And that's a lot more than just sex, it covers all of their lives together.  A lot of that depends on the character and maturity of the couple, something which is certainly damaged by the expectations of deceit and betrayal contained in the cynical view of marriage held by most if not all of the media sex advisers.   If the view that, for example, Dan Savage has of gay relationships was to be held as the basis of gay marriage, it would start out by accepting an inferior brand of marriage for gay men and lesbians as the goal. That's not good enough, we must demand the best but, now, with last week's Supreme Court ruling, we have to demand marriage equality of ourselves.   Just like straight folk do.  With an end of legal inequality the harder part of achieving genuine equality remains unachieved.  And that's an issue of morality, not law.

*  Perhaps that is even more so among those in law and in politics who have loved ones who are gay, especially those loved ones who have advocated for equality to their loved ones and friends in the law and politics.

Update:  Note to xxx.  I believe those two guys are straight.  They don't know what they're talking about.

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