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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 5, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 40
Regarding Queer Activism After Marriage Equality
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Regarding Queer Activism After Marriage Equality

Dear Editor:

I twice read Scott Rice's 'Book Review: Queer Activism After Marriage Equality' in the SGN's Sept. 21st issue and feel the need to respond. I note it ran in the first section instead of the Arts & Entertainment section, so it likely is a piece SGN editors feel readers should reflect on.

This book, edited by DeFilippis et al., is similar to Martin Duberman's Has the Gay Movement Failed? Both seem edited/written by principled radicals who are disappointed that the majority of the queer community isn't marching behind their drummers. The issue to consider is whether a cadre of theorists should be shaping the agenda for us or if they admit progress is also made by broadly based, single-interest groups, each chipping away at the patriarchal, racist, money-powered society we live in.

With due respect to the life work of DeFilippis and Duberman, I would argue they feel frustrated that their theory-led work hasn't won more recognition because it wasn't based on observing, and conversing with, those whom they desire to lead. It's also important for the reader to ask why the theory-based Queer Liberation Movement didn't last more than a few years after Stonewall.

Let's take the issue of marriage equality. It is always a good analytical principle to 'follow the money,' but let's also consider the principle of 'talk with those affected.' These authors should have interviewed 100 gay marrieds who have children and ask them, 'What difference has marriage equality made for your lives?' And then interview 100 kids in their teen years, or shortly afterwards, [and ask] the same. Without taking on the issue of whether society will be better off tomorrow when the church is no longer involved in marriage, let's just look at the issue of these 100 queer couples and 100 children of such marriages. Do they feel they are better off?

My daughter shared her story at our marriage reception in 2013 [of] how her friends asked her, 'Isn't it exciting to have two dads?' 'Definitely not,' she responded. 'It's boring. Now I've got three parents asking me where I'm going and what I'm doing all the time.' Every village could benefit from three parents raising a child.

Now to consider the issue of sexual minorities in the US military. Without taking on the issue of how soon we can abolish standing armies and win world peace, let's look at the transformative impact 'gays in the military' has wrought. The leadership in Congress and in the highest echelons of the military who initially opposed inclusion have lost and are now gone or on their way out. Women in the military and sexual minorities both symbiotically caused significant changes. The public debate won over a majority of the American voters. Now the military and government leaders (minus one president) are preparing, however slowly, how to integrate transgender and HIV-infected enlisted personnel.

The basic premise of these authors, and unfortunately Scott Rice, is that the tens of thousands of folks in the Gay Rights Movement think the work is done. A very unsubstantiated premise. Even as queer supporters of marriage equality and gays in the military worked on those issues, they also were and still are involved in the #MeToo movement, #BlackLivesMatter, prison and bail reform efforts, stopping climate change, etc. And they lead their daily lives, going to work, raising families, and voting on November 6th. Hopefully those in the radical wing of the queer movement will contribute their insights and energies without dismissing the value of what is happening around us. This all is hard work. We need everyone doing their part as they see fit.

Chuck Richards
Ballard

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