Gay Marriage, for Instance

Enough about my love life. Let’s move on to more universal things, har har.

I was just reading this at Fetch Me My Axe and I thought about a) something my ex said a few months ago and b) something my girlfriend said last week.

My ex was saying that she and I should sit down and start talking about queerness in a way that makes sense to our context. And that she and I should do it together because we bridge certain gaps when we’re together. We’d be a force to reckon with.

And my girlfriend said, last week, that Pakistan is no place to live. She said that you have no liberties, no life, no way to be yourself. There’s so much assessing and judging, so much scrutiny that you just can’t live here. She asked me how many lesbian couples I knew and I had to confess that I don’t know any.

So I read the above-linked blog post today and I thought, speaking (in my head) to the strange woman quoted by belledame, that sure, lady, marriage is the place where values come from and gay marriage means a change in values, and that scares the kack out of you and that’s fine. But talk to someone for whom the whole gay marriage conversation is a luxury or, more accurately, irrelevant. And your smooth-as-silk cool may be disturbed a bit when you find out that in both India and Pakistan, sodomy is punishable by life imprisonment under India and Pakistan Penal Codes Section 377 (thank you, Britannia, for that shit) and that in fact any “unnatural act” that involves penetration is so treated. So it’s not even a moral or ethical choice at this point. Being queer is illegal, flat-out.

So what use for marriage?

I guess all I’m saying is that the global discourse in gay rights is defined by, primarily, the US. And while, sitting here in what, for the purposes of gay rights work, really is a backwater, I get great support from the US gay rights movement, but its issues aren’t my issues.  Which means I can’t ride on its coat tails anymore. I’ve never been to a pride parade and there was a time that I said I wasn’t interested in marching. Now I wouldn’t mind. But it’s also just a side thing, a distraction. Or a PR exercise, I don’t know. “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it?” That’s not quite what our motto is. “We’re here, we’re queer, and we won’t get punished for it.” That’s more what we’re looking at. We’re here, we’re queer, do you know what that means? We’re here, we’re  queer, just leave us the fuck alone. That sort of thing.

This isn’t a critique of anything I read. Just thinking aloud. I thought it would make more sense, be a more organized thought. But it isn’t. Sorry.

2 thoughts on “Gay Marriage, for Instance

  1. It’s kind of depressingly twisted that (at least according to some historians), the “west” or colonialism was in great part responsible for purging non-hetrosexual traditions, literature, etc., from the subcontinent. Or, to be fair, many people reacted to the colonial presence by wanting to “clean up” or reshape their culture in a way that would be considered acceptable to the colonial powers. And now that colonialism is over, nobody holds on to these puritan-inspired obsession with hetrosexuality and demonization of anything that deviates from it more than many South Asians. Now you have this bizarre situation where a lot of Indians and Pakistanis will insist that queerness is a western import or corruption, when some could argue that in fact the opposite is true.
    I’ve just been reading about how this genre of lesbian erotic poetry (Rekhti) was purged from the Urdu literary canon in the mid-19th century by people who were embarrassed that such expressions of sexuality would be looked down upon by the colonial powers.
    But you bring up some good issues and questions regarding international GLTBQ movements, something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. Even within the US, the mainstream GLTBQ movement is often criticized for being too focused on the issues of white, middle class communities, and ignoring the issues relevant to queer communities of color. There’s a similar argument in the US against the main objective of the current GLTBQ movement being focused on marriage rights.
    Anyway, enjoyed reading your thoughtful post. I’m also the person who left a random, anonymous comment asking for your email address. I wanted to send you a longer email (telling you who I am) and to see if you’re interested in meeting up sometime because I’m in Lahore this week. Or, if you want, you can call me.
    Cheers, A.

  2. Oh, I’m so all about this post. I used to get very frustrated with the GLBT campus groups and the larger “activist” communities that would give me shit for not “caring” about the marriage issue. And quite frankly, the socio-normativity of the gay rights movement in the US has never translated beyond the borders of the country, other than by reversal of effect, with countries legalising gay marriage because if the Americans are against it, it can’t be all that bad ;-)

    But yes, I do know what you mean, very much so. And I agree with you. I don’t really care about a recognition of my right to indulge in an artificial man-made social structure and buying any further into the whole organised-religion debacle–I want to know that it’s legal for me to be the way I was born and that if someone does shit to me for it, I can have their asses handed to them on a platter served by civil litigation and justice.

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