Friday, April 17, 2009

Vermont, Gay Marriage, Gender Roles. Oh my!

I try to skirt heteronormativity here on Shut Up and Love, and for the most part, it's easy, because love is a matter of the heart, not the genitalia. The posts about marriage, though, tend to skew to my hetero readers, because in 46 states and many countries, my gay readers are not allowed to marry.

I'd welcome topics that are exclusive to homosexual relationships (how about some courtship etiquette rules, anybody?), because even when I write about gay marriage and homophobia, the post is really about tolerance, which applies to everyone, gay, straight, or bi.

I'm more than a week overdue for a shoutout to Vermont, but the crux of the issue will be a topic for a while. (Yesterday, New York Governor David Paterson introduced a bill to the state Assembly to allow gay marriage. Fingers crossed for love!)

First, why, in a free federalist country, will my fellow countrymen go to the trouble of contributing $30 million dollars to a campaign against gay marriage in another state (California) when their own communities probably itch for funds toward ongoing problems like poverty, job losses, and stretched school districts? (This is not about right or left politics, either: 65% of California Democrats who voted for Obama voted for Proposition 8, and against gay marriage, on the same ballot.)

And secondly, per Audre Lorde, racism, sexism, and homophobia all stem from the same human blindness, the notion that difference is threatening rather than enriching. Therefore, we cannot win against one prejudice unless we fight against them all at once. Yesterday, an NYTimes parenting blog addressed the issue of young boys killing themselves after bullies called them names like "fag." This comment on the post in particular stunned me, as I recognized truth in it:
I went to a conference on bisexuality about 15 years ago. A woman there said to me, “I wish you gay men would stop putting your energy into fighting homophobia and instead put your energy into eradicating misogyny. Because the problem society has with gay men isn’t that they’re with other men - it’s that they’re men who are “acting like women.” If it were ok to be a woman in this culture, homophobia would just disappear.” I think she’s right.— Jess Thompson-Adams, commenting on a NYTimes blog post.

Just yesterday, I spoke at my alma mater about women and minorities in public relations. I warned the college juniors and seniors to look more closely at the women in leadership positions at prospective employers. Are they women? Or are they men with breasts, women who were only allowed to advance because they imitated men? Seriously, gender roles need to be updated to reflect reality: that men want to be good parents, too, that historically 10% of folks are born gay and still manage to make meaningful contributions to society -gasp!- that modern women are having a collective meltdown juggling antiquated gender roles and current economic realities.

Or maybe they don't need to be updated. After all...

(Photos courtesy of Sarah B. who took them at a Proposition 8 rally in Los Angeles.)

1 comment:

  1. Great post. People are so terrified of what is "different." Although, did you know that heterosexuality wasn't even in the dictionary until the mid 1900s? It's when you define something as "normal" it becomes a problem. I think the majority of this gay marriage opposition stems from religious beliefs, but again- ridiculous.



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