Just the tips with Kat : Less safe, more sex for the LGBT+ movement
America’s lesbian and gay rights movement famously began with 1969’s Stonewall Riots, during which police raided a gay bar in New York City and its occupants revolted. Most of the rioters were actually transgender women, drag queens and male prostitutes — the most marginalized people within the gay community.
It’s important to remember that the police didn’t attack the bar-goers because they were afraid of two men being in love, getting married, settling down and adopting children. They attacked them because they were disgusted at the thought of men fucking. The problem that straight people had, and have, with queer people is as simple as the sex that we have.
Almost every one of the cisgender, heterosexual male friends I talk to about queer couples says, “I don’t care as long as they don’t push it in my face.” What does that mean? As long as we don’t show any affection in front of you? As long as we don’t talk about our identities? As long as we “act straight”?
But we’re not straight. We’re queer, and we have just as much agency over our bodies as anyone else, including how we express our sexuality. It’s hypocritical and absurd to expect members of a sex-saturated society to act chaste just because their sexual preferences might make someone else uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, our own movement has bought into this mentality. Instead of working for acceptance of queer people as people, leading organizations of the movement — like the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal — are focused on marriage equality. They’re trying to tell the heterosexual majority, “See? We’re not sexual deviants. We love each other and we want to be just like you! White picket fence and all.”
Accordingly, almost all money donated to LGBT+ movement organizations goes toward this agenda. A 2011 Horizons Foundation report states that for all other LGBT+ issues from 2006-2009, grantmaking dropped 21.7 percent for everything from LGBT+ social services, arts, youth programs and advocacy against workplace discrimination.
It’s easier to support the image of a white-washed, happy couple like Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka. Other queer and transgender people are left, sometimes even shoved, out because it’s impossible to justify their existence to straight people with the explanation of “a love just like yours.”
Recently, every TV show seems to have a token gay, cisgender, white couple or character celebrating this love. “Modern Family” features two lovable, apolitical men whose only concern is their child. One of them even says, “We go out of town during Pride because we don’t like the traffic.” Straight people prefer queer people like this: not angry about being treated as second-class citizens, no desire to fight for equality, OK with being one-dimensional. God forbid we have opinions or multiple, intersectional identities that conflict with the queer status quo of monogamous love between gay and lesbian couples.
For instance, there’s mainstream discomfort with transgender and intersex people, because they don’t fit into one of the two molds society holds as sacred and couple-able: men and women. Asexual people, who may experience no or very limited sexual attraction, receive the same treatment, because most people can’t imagine a life without sex and children. These groups are just as important as gays and lesbians, but they are ostracized from the majority of the mainstream movement.
Queer people and our organizations need to assert our agency over our bodies and acknowledge that we are as varied in sexuality as heterosexual people. Yes, some of us want to be “normal.” But I, and so many others, don’t want to find the right person and have 2.5 kids and a dog: I want to have sex, and adventures and change the God-damn world. I want to deal with queer issues of employment discrimination, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, HIV/AIDS, transphobia and homophobia.
And straight people need to think about the fact that this world does not belong to them. Their sexuality is no better, no more legitimate than ours. We have every right to be as public and “in your face” about it as they do. Or not — whatever we want.
We have to remember that the Stonewall Rioters didn’t start our fight so we could be the same as everyone else. They did it so we could have the freedom to be ourselves, sex, sexuality and all.
— Kat Hermanson is a gender and women’s studies freshman. Follow her @queerwildkat