Alex Blaze

Overrated/underrated

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 11, 2009 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay rights movement, internet, LGBT, overrated, queer, underrated

I'm game for this meme Courtney posted over at Feministing, where she listed the four most overrated and the four most underrated things related to feminism. What about when it comes to the queer community and politics?

Here are my lists; feel free to share yours in the comments.

Overrated

  1. Marriage
  2. Politicians' promises
  3. The gay-straight binary
  4. Dieting/starving/fat-shaming/being thin

Underrated

  1. Local organizing
  2. People who work to prevent and ameliorate queer homelessness
  3. Feminism
  4. The opinions of people without a lot of money

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Anthony in Nashville | May 11, 2009 12:22 PM

Just a question. Why is the gay/straight binary overrated? Does that mean that people put too much energy into maintaining it, or that the line isn't as great as some think it is?

This is what I get for posting without an explanation, isn't it? :)

I meant that the idea that gay people and straight people are two different camps with no overlap and no space for anyone else.

So I mean that the line isn't as powerful and rigid as some people think it is. Bisexuality and straight dudes who give hand jobs and people whose sexuality changes over their lives and lesbians who date men occasionally and all that exists.

Alex, I love your writing, and agree with a lot of what you have to say. For example, I completely agree with your list of underrated.

But I think you're off base with marriage. I've read what you've written on it before, but I think you are pretty selfish when it comes to the marriage issue. It's not about you. It's about how federal law impacts us as gay people and, especially for people like me, in a committed relationship to a non-citizen, the lack of movement forward on either repealing DOMA, getting UAFA to be law or federal marriage equality, is key.

When you denigrate the importance of marriage, it feels like a slap in the face. Stop, please.

As someone else in a committed relationship with a non-American, I'd say that I do have some investment in legal recognition of same-sex couples. I'd also say that UAFA doesn't really have anything to do with marriage, it's about immigration.

But, you're right, I do regularly denigrate the importance of marriage because I think that that's an institution that has far too much power and that that power comes at the expense of women and people who don't live in traditional relationships. Part of the Religious Right's argument against same-sex marriage is that marriage is very, very important. So important, that the fact that people are divorcing more and marrying later than they were in the 1950's (i.e., "marriage is under attack") is supposedly responsible for increased crime, the black/white income gap, unhappiness, poverty, even the financial crisis.

I think that the gays follow by saying that marriage will be a solution to all our problems, everything from bullying in schools to HIV/AIDS to poor self-esteem among LGBT people. And it's taken a disproportionately large amount of the resources from the movement as well.

So, when I'm saying that it's "overrated," I'm not saying that it's unimportant. I'm just saying that people stress it a lot more than they should.

DOMA's a good example. The rhetoric coming the Religious Right in support of that law was the whole "marriage is the foundation of society," "if marriage is destroyed, Western civilization ends," etc. Even if we were to agree that same-sex marriage is an attack on marriage, I'd still tell them to chill out, that marriage isn't the center of the universe.

So, yeah, I'm standing by saying that it's "over-rated."

I have to respect your argument.

That said, UAFA is closely related to marriage. It's a step to recognition, as far as I'm concerned. And it gets us the rights we need before marriage could be federally recognized.

I hear you on those who think marriage is the be-all panacea. I'm not one of them. It's important, however, and I don't think that importance is over-rated.

Again, thanks for the thoughtful and thought-provoking response.

And thanks for posing the question.

What about your list? I was hoping other people would create their own... :)

since you asked...

four most over-rated:
state marriage issues (federal is key, dammit)
(corporate sponsored) pride parades
HRC
Carrie Prejean

four most under-rated:
self-hatred
suicide
mormonism
lack of anything from the Obama administration

Overrated:
1. Marriage
2. "Educating" straight people
3. Voting for Democrats who continue to break their promises
4. Gay organizations which mainly fundraise to fund their next fundraiser

Underrated:
1. Knowing gay history
2. The political power of a truly gay neighborhood
3. Coming out
4. The responsibilities of gay businesses to the community

I agree with your list of underrated. And I agree that the overrated should definitely be topped by the marriage issue.

Employment discrimination prevents soooooo many queer people from being able to come out. This in turn re-inforces the broader social closet and holds back the movement on issues such as marriage.

I wonder how the social composition of registered married couples in states where it's legal looks. I suspect it is a number of people in non-profits, universities, small business owners and other non-corporate positions. Basically those who can afford to be so open with a same-sex partnership as public as marriage are the ones most likely to have them.

I think it is selfish of those FEW queers who want to be married to expect us all to affirm their choice by making it our priority issue.

Of course we should be looking to have equality under ALL laws. However, same-sex marriage is aggreably highly overrated.

I agree about marraige also. But for the #1 overrated, I'd put mainstream gay culture itself. It's always been to bigotted and heartless and self destructive for my taste. Looks top character. Youth tops knowledge. Objectifism tops basic kindness. Etc...

Overrated
1. Masculinity
2. LGBT "community"
3. Discounting rural and Southern queers' existence and experiences
4. Wanting a "place at the table"

Underrated
1. Intergenerational organizing
2. Collective radical imagination
3. Infighting
4. Opening the borders, shuttering the prisons

Overrated
1. Marriage
2. UAFA
3. Hate Crimes Legislation
4. DADT

Underrated
1. Ending the prison industrial complex
2. Reforming Sex Offender laws
3. Ending economic inequality (and that doesn't mean replacing it with charity)
4. People choosing to inhabit interesting formations that have nothing to do with "love" or "desire" but which complicate notions of the same.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 12, 2009 8:00 AM

Yasmin,

No feud please. I have no idea of what you mean by points 3 and 4 of underrated. I could say I would like to end world hunger, but lacking a plan it is pie in the sky. Point 4 is incomprehensible to me as it is written. "Interesting formations?"

My turn:

over rated.

1.State sanctioned marriage (civil unions be good with federal recognition)
2.The entire Fashion/consumption industry
3.Gas hog automobiles and the Indianapolis 500 and all of Nascar
4.The presumption that science and technology is always "good."

Under Rated.

1.Holding hands with friends and lovers
2.Looking to find the value in the reasoning of an opposing opinion.
3.Ensuring education and structure to children
4.Coming to terms, finally, with your own imperfections.


Anthony in Nashville | May 11, 2009 5:24 PM

Thanks for the clarification.

I guess I was confused because I believe there is a difference between LGB "behavior" and "identification."

I feel there are many more people who engage in same-sex activity than will classify themselves as a sexual minority. I will admit to resenting them for "piggy backing" and benefitting from those who are willing to live open lives.

So as far as the gay/straight binary, I think culturally it is very rigid, but if you look at people's behavior maybe not so much.

So as far as the gay/straight binary, I think culturally it is very rigid, but if you look at people's behavior maybe not so much.

Yeah, that's pretty much what I meant. :)

Overated
1. Perez Hilton/Carrie Prejean
2. Celebrities who come out after they are famous
3. Those who value money over principles
4. Gay organizations leaders pay

Underated
1. Gay Teen Suicides
2. Marriage
3. Being involved in local community politics
4. Domestic Partner benefits for Federal Employees

Overrated:
1 - Celebrities of all stripes
2 - Controversial beauty queens
3 - Controversial questioners of beauty queens
4 - The whole marriage controversy

Underrated:
1 - Knowing/learning gay history
2 - Kissing
3 - The closet/personal privacy
4 - Families

this is a marvelous topic and the divergence of opinions can only help to encourage us all to think of our priorities and how they stand up.

Howabout adding to the Underrated list:
being counted as g/l/b/t in the U.S. Census?

I don't think we completely count until we're counted.

I'm having fun reading your all's lists, especially the underrated ones.

So no one wants me to post about Miss California today?

Overrated:
1 - Celebrities of all stripes
2 - Controversial beauty queens
3 - Controversial questioners of beauty queens
4 - The whole marriage controversy

Underrated:
1 - Knowing/learning gay history
2 - Kissing
3 - The closet/personal privacy
4 - Families

this is a marvelous topic and the divergence of opinions can only help to encourage us all to think of our priorities and how they stand up.

i thought i covered miss cali up above, alex.

Anthony in Nashville | May 12, 2009 1:18 PM

Overrated:

1. the "gay lifestyle" of travel, fashion, and expensive housewares
2. fag hags
3. online "dating" sites
4. adoration of straight "allies" and "straight acting" people

Underrated:

1. instilling a meaningful sense of "gay pride"
2. healing the class and race divisions among LGBT people
3. volunteering for local LGBT organizations
4. diverse representation in LGBT media and leadership

I have been spending too much time over at Queerty... Thoughtful conversation: so much better than bitchy queens flaming each other.

Overrated
1. Repeal of DADT as the major indicator of Obama's commitment to LGBT equality
2. Meghan McCain
3. LGBT rights
4. Protests


Underrated
1. Getting angry that Obama hasn't signed an executive order banning LGBT employment discrimination in the federal workforce
2. Allies who fight for our whole community, not just the affluent, white, non-trans part
3. Human rights
4. Conversations

Overrated:

1: Queer
2: Queer/gender theory
3: Feminism - Esp the Michigan Music kind
4: Exclusive space

Underrated:

1: boring lesbian or transgender/sexual or gay lives
2: single payer health care & community health workers
3: local culture
4: falling in love

I'll give the exclusive space one. I used to be really into the idea, but the more time I spend here on TBP, the less I like the idea of a)excluding others and b)assuming that we can't do a good job tearing our own selves down.

It took me about a week to come up with my list. I wanted to express it from a place of equanimity. I want to foreground inclusivity. The things I list as overrated slice and dice people who are on the outside of any number of social equations. If Autumn Sundeen had blogged exclusively for Trans community I never would have heard (read her reality). I would have had the room to say, "oh that's not me". She put me in the trans community, and she put me in the "cow town" Colorado community.

I'm just say'in...