It would be very ignorant to say that this Summer’s marriage equality ruling means that the LGBTQ community has arrived. The court ruling was a battle won but not one savored. There is something absolutely bittersweet to our new reality that we all will write about for years and years and years.
Because marriage is an idea, not a need and not a necessity. It’s an American Dream. It’s something we here in this country like to tout around as something actually important even though it is loaded with a patriarchal history of gods, straight sex, and being put in a place. Adding gay people into this activity does not make marriage gay: it makes us a bit straight.
This has been my Summer and young adulthoods plague. Important, sure, but not fulfilling. Marriage equality is myopic and selfish at best: it is a by American, for American war to win that is by and for only two parts of the fifth (plus) queer community. Actually, no one would ever call what marriage is now “queer” marriage. Those who are too far left in universities or on Tumblr are excluded.
Professor Jordan Alexander Stein opened up all that baggage for me with an older essay for Slate that has been making the rounds on my queer Facebook. The piece is Stein’s reaction to the ruling in late June and feels a lot like watching a leaf fall from a tree. The situation is pretty but you cannot deny that it is the end of something. Does it mean new life? Does it mean death? “It means something and I don’t know if I like it,” is what some would say.
In a wonderfully simplistic, quick way, Stein maps the queer fight into our current reality. It comes to a crest here:
In all those dreams, marriage never factored. We wanted to celebrate the queer people we were and loved. But we were queer, not gay. We didn’t fit into the world as we found it. We gravitated to the hope of something better. We dreamed that, come the revolution, there will be no identity. Come the revolution, there will be no marriage. Come the revolution, we will love without rules. We will love without fear. Many kinds of relationships will count as love. We will celebrate them all.
To have been a young adult in the nineties! Perhaps I’m realizing that I’m a lost Gen Xer cast as a Millennial, nostalgic for something that was before my time, in a world that has already changed and moved beyond The Fight. Maybe there is a big bin of queer bubbles within me that is starting to grow in agitation. My feelings now could be another dissatisfaction that I’m misdirecting in anger. It could all be anxiety related to indigestion.
All is not lost, though: the pieces in the game just got mixed up and rearranged. For better or worse! Things are different, whether we (I) like it or not. We (I) will make do. There’s no other option, unless moving to that queer commune in the European countryside is actually a feasible option.