I organized a sassy roundtable for the queer issue of Maximum Rocknroll, which was the October issue -- the issue is now off the stands, but here is the roundtable for your viewing pleasure -- it's a bit long, but I figured you might love it -- or love to hate it... It starts here:
These days, lesbian soccer moms and gay military intelligence experts are all over the media, whether sermonizing in op-eds, befriending the liberal intelligentsia, or speaking softly to closeted cable news anchors: We. Are. Just. Like. You.
Supposedly gay people have made lots of progress, and that's why the only issues we hear about involve marriage, gays in the military, gay cops, adoption, ordination into the priesthood, hate crimes legislation, and unquestioning gentrification and consumerism--please, stop me before I choke on my own vomit! In honor of the Maximum Rocknroll queer issue, it's time to pull together a gang of queer troublemakers to tear this assimilationist agenda to shreds, okay?
Here's the cast of characters:
Hilary Goldberg is a San Francisco-based filmmaker currently in the finishing stages of recLAmation, the definitive movie about reclaiming Los Angeles from Los Angeles, and oh are we waiting! Yasmin Nair is a Chicago activist who delivers delicious rants about the war against single people, the tyranny of religion, fake immigration reform, and bachelorette parties with equal fervor and finesse [as you already know]. Gina Carducci throws Switch, New York City's only monthly "genderqueer/women/trans BDSM party" --she also fetishizes film, and is currently working on All That Sheltering Emptiness, a devastating short experimental film created in collaboration with your host for this splashy article.
Okay, let's get going...
MBS: I don't know about you, but have you noticed that freshly mined, blood-drenched South African diamonds are the new accessory for the gay elite, or they might as well be with how much the gaysbian "LGBT" agenda has become nothing but marriage marriage marriage--oh, and maybe a little bit of marriage with that marriage, thank you! Many of us grew up experiencing the lovely embrace of marriage or its aftermath, so we, and most queers, certainly know a lot about how marriage is, and has always been a central place for beating up, raping and abusing women, children, queers, and transpeople. And, even better--getting away with it! What are the other problems with marriage, and the gay marriage agenda in particular?
HG: I was at a protest against HIV budget cuts in California, but only four other people were there. because the rest of the gaysbians had done their recommended yearly protest allowance for gay marriage a few months prior. And what is the point of marriage if everyone is sick or dead, how do you register for that--at cemeteries and Pottery Barn? Wow, that makes me think of health care--remember health care? Something universal-based, not privilege-shaped?
YN: Yeah, I don't get why a community of people who have historically been fucked over by their families and the state now consists of people who want those exact same institutions to validate their existence. I think marriage is the gay Prozac, the drug of choice for gaysbians today: It makes them forget that marriage isn't going to give everyone health care, it won't give us a subsistence wage, it won't end all these fucked up wars that are killing people everywhere else. I wish I could say that gay marriage is like Viagra, but alas it's actually making us forget about sex so that metaphor won't work.
MBS: Speaking of sex and metaphors, let's move on to gays in the military. It's time to forget about opposing all these bloody US colonial wars, we just want to throw on those humpy battle fatigues so we can go abroad to kill people and get away with it, right? U-S-A! Can we say that again? U-S-A! Okay, so obviously the real answer is the end of the US military, not rainbow Humvees. Anything to add?
HG: Let us not forget the Gay Bomb -- much like the acid tests the CIA performed in the '50s and '60s, if that technology fell into savvy hands we could open some serious doors of perception to end the military industrial complex with some good old fashioned loving.
GC: Oh, but military service is the best way to break down gay stereotypes and homophobia! The more we kill kill kill, the more respect we get from our country-- we serve our country too! We are a valuable contribution! Show them you know how to be a man!
YN: It's time for us to call out the "gay patriots" as the enablers of U.S imperialism. Has anyone else noticed that the public faces of Don't Ask Don't Tell tend to be relatively privileged and from the officer class? And that the stories go like this: "Oh, no, he was an educated Harvard graduate who spoke four languages in which to colonize other countries, and we let him go!" One of the funniest photographs I ever saw was of a rally in downtown Chicago. A gay Army vet stood pontificating about needing to be recognized by the US military. Right behind him, his friends held up an anti-war slogan banner with the words, "US Out of Iraq." I wondered: Now, does that mean just the non-gay soldiers? Do the gay soldiers get to stay behind and kick the ass and blow the limbs off darkies?
MBS: Speaking of darkies, let's move on to adoption--if Madonna, Brad Pitt and Angelina, and any other jetsetter can run around the world in search of the cutest kids in the countries most devastated by transnational corporate violence, and then snatch those kids up and hold them in their arms, how will gay people compete? We all need kids, right? Kids are the next big thing! How do you feel about the issue of gay adoption, and child-rearing in general, as a central preoccupation of the so-called "movement?"
HG: Why don't Madonna and Angelina, in their gay wisdom, adopt some adult queer artists and activists instead? For a fraction of what they spend on a handful of appropriated transnational youths, they could adopt queer artists en masse, and foster a global queer trust fund for the movement. No need for nannies and we'd love them even more than their children, and could be just as dependent, if not more so. Average gay couples could do the same thing, direct their money towards something more expansive and useful than a handbag--I mean a gaybie. I'm thinking of a website that pairs queer artists with gay couples who have big hearts to share their love and help.
GC: Yeah, no need for pacifiers, no need to push us around in strollers, and you don't have to wait nine months for us. We're right here! Mommy!!!!
YN: If you're white, beautiful little blonde children are the best, because then you'll look like a normal and natural family. But adopting one can be next to impossible! Little brown babies make the best gay accessories. Although, like every gay fashion accessory, babies have shifted in trends. I think Mongolian babies are now much more hip. Central and South American countries were once popular, maybe NAFTA opened up free trade in cute Latin babies! Until they discovered that some of those babies were most likely kidnapped. Awkward. They may not have those pesky rules in Mongolia. Of course, if you can adopt an HIV+ African baby whose mother is still around to waste away in the last throes of the disease, so that you can show the world what you rescued the baby from, all the better. Why is it that lesbians generally give birth but gay men usually adopt?
MBS: It's because gay men are busy studying for the priesthood. I know you've been studying hard too! Of course, one of the central demands of early gay liberation was the end to organized religion and all of its layers of violence, but that's old news. What do you all think about the issue of "LGBT" people becoming powerbrokers within organized religion?
HG: It makes me cry blood. The only atonement gays should be thinking about is a nice bondage scene. And the last time I interacted with organized religion, a drag queen nun, in full make-up, yelled at me to get into a degrading gender-enforced line at a corporatized "pride" event colonized by so called do-gooders. Fuck her and the rest of organized religion.
MBS: Oh -- and let's not forget the holy grail of the gay movement, hate crimes legislation! Because if you shoot those goddamn homophobes twice, that'll really teach them a lesson--the electric chair will end homophobia! Seriously, hate crimes legislation does nothing but put more money, energy, and resources into the hands of the notoriously racist, classist, misogynist, homophobic and transphobic criminal so-called "justice" system. But then they trick us into thinking that hate crimes legislation will keep us safe. What is hate crimes legislation keeping us safe from?
HG: It keeps us safe from long-term solution-based healing. It's a real time saver, so we can focus on earning money instead of focusing on root causes of hatred. We can continue to own property and assimilate into larger society by avoiding any real discourse around the source of the hate, and perpetuate it instead, while upholding that pillar of community, the greatest benefactor of the hates crimes bills--oh-so-thriving, even in economic turmoil...Private Prison Business.
YN: Hate crimes legislation keeps us safe from the silly delusion that the justice system should actually work fairly for everybody, not just gays and defined "minorities." After all, a justice system that actually provides justice seems, well, just ever so 1970s and sweetly retrograde, darling. All bell bottoms and compassion. Hate crimes legislation keeps us from a world where people might actually have a chance to show that they have moved on from their mistakes, by locking them up for perpetuity. And it keeps us believing that letting people spend their lives in violent prisons where they're likely to be raped and beaten every day is somehow a way to ... end anti-gay violence. Huh?
MBS: Speaking of anti-gay violence, let's move on to talking about the national institutions that drive this wonderful inclusive agenda. We'll start with everyone's favorite diamond merchant: HRC, the Human Rights Campaign. Also known as Helping Right-Wingers Cope, or Homogenous Ruling Class -- what else are they good for?
GC: Harvesting Righteous Caucasians. Hiring Riot Cops.
YN: Press Releases. HRC can turn out a press release on a dime. Oh, and they're great at taking credit for every "gay agenda" item, through said press releases, whether or not they had anything to do with the action. So, yeah, cocktail parties and lobby days. HRC is really good at going to cocktail parties and hobnobbing with the rich and important.
MBS: Of course, HRC also likes to keep trans people out of so-called employment nondiscrimination legislation, and to make any hideous corporation look good, as long as they like HRC's press releases. Then there's NGLTF, the National Gay Lesbian Task Force. They're especially talented at recruiting well-meaning college students, and turning them into nonprofit office drones -- Creating Change, their annual conference, is a great launching pad into the nonprofit industry, and a job at NGLTF is sure to get you more lucrative foundation work in the future -- what else is NGLTF good for?
YN: For creating the illusion that the battle royale between Democrats and Republicans actually means anything. And for perpetuating the idea that there are no alternatives to either. For pretending that a few days of a conference filled with words like "organizing" and "social" and "progressive" actually changes much. For pretending that using the word "progressive" over and over again will a) actually make that stupid word mean anything b) make us believe that their support of marriage, hate crimes legislation, and repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell does not make them conservative.
GC: NGLTF is good for creating robots who are stuck repeating, "Do you have a moment for trans rights? Do you have a moment for trans rights?" And asking why why why why can you not come to our office for hours of volunteer calling calling calling and repeating what we tell you to think and say. "Why can't you make the time for trans rights? Why? Two of these robots were harassing myself and a group of friends once and I was just waiting for my trans friend to say, "If you really want to know, I need a little time to recover from trying to overdose and kill myself last week." And for the robots to ask, "Why? It's trans rights."
MBS: Oh, and I love the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD -- I think they should be called SAAD, the Straight Alliance Against Defamation, since most of what they do involves giving awards to straight people for not saying "faggot" too much. What else are they good for?
YN: Being very confused, mostly. And whining. A lot. I think Bruno confused the hell out of them: "We object to this movie. We think. It's a set of offensive stereotypes. Although the lead character is so over the top, he couldn't even possibly be a stereotype. But wait, we live to be offended. Cohen's not gay. And he makes fun of gays. Even though he also makes fun of homophobes. Wait, are we offended? Or not? It's so hard to tell, because we have no sense of humor or logic. Even the gays are sick of us. Can we call that homophobia?"
MBS: Then there's the juicy Lambda Legal Defense Fund -- fighting for our rights, one marriage at a time...
YN: Lambda might be scariest of the lot, because they're mostly lawyers who know how to twist any inane, conservative, retrograde idea like gay marriage into some kind of sterling social justice cause -- and they do that by drowning us in legalese. I once watched Camilla Taylor, a Lambda power attorney in Chicago, spend an hour talking about the legal ins and outs of Prop 8. By the end of the hour, I was so stupefied by boredom that I was almost ready to sign on to gay marriage -- just to get out of the room. There was, of course, not one word about whether marriage ought to be the way to gain any rights in the first place.
MBS: That's right -- remember that the fight against anti-gay Proposition 8 in California that those marriage morons lost actually cost more than any other ballot measure in California history! Those maniacal marriage organizations spent $40 million on that shit -- can you imagine what we would have if they took that $40 million and fought for single payer universal health care, or built an enormous queer youth shelter in San Francisco or Sacramento, Fresno or San Diego? With the leftovers, we could create a collectively run, all-ages, 24-hour sex club with free vegan food, knock-you-down music of all types, free massage, acupuncture, and healthcare for all needs, as well as a special area for training people in squatting and neighborhood redecoration projects -- bricks, stencils, spray paint, you get the idea. Anything else you want to say about marriage marriage marriage, and what we need instead?
GC: Donate Donate Donate! Do you have a moment for Prop 8? Do you have a moment for Prop 8? But really -- we need to be able to choose our own families and who visits us in the hospital and who shares our assets and who makes decisions for us, whether we are officially single or partnered. And gender is defined by us too, not by presentation but how we define our own identities. Sexual liberation and freedom and places to fuck without being policed. Housing. Healthcare. Social services. Protection for the environment.
HG: The last time I checked -- the nuclear family model -- was a disaster! Enough already. The gay rights movement needs to divorce marriage and pull it together. The system is broken, these institutions are failing, why are people so set on shoring them up? Let's focus on ending capitalism, abolishing prison, ending militarism, ensuring immigrant rights, clean air, great food, love, equality, interdependence, independence, autonomy, non-hierarchical structures, and most importantly the universal reclamation of all land and water as public property.
YN: And, of course, the abolition of the prison industrial complex, the end of the illusion that more punishment and enhanced penalties in the form of hate crimes legislation will benefit anyone, safety for young queers who are beaten and/or raped by families and have nowhere to go, intergenerational sex that's not immediately stigmatized as pedophilia, an end to sex offender laws that do nothing to end the abuse of children but only add to the coffers of the prison industrial complex, an end to the death penalty, an end to the idea that life without parole is an acceptable alternative, queer sex in public without paying a fee in a bathhouse and without being harassed, jailed, or beaten for it, an immigration rights movement that acknowledges that it's a crisis of labor, not about "families" or spousal partners, an end to the disappearance and/or deportation of undocumented people, and oh, I could go on.
There's this popular line going around about how gay marriage is the rising tide that will lift all boats. But if we are to use a seafaring metaphor, it might be more apt to call it a Titanic, doomed to crash into an iceberg and take the rest of us down.
Mattilda also blogs at nobodypasses.blogspot.com. If you liked this article, then you'll probably love the anthology Mattilda edited called That's Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation. Because you are.