Sunday, November 15, 2009

Newsweek Writer uses Rachel Maddow as example of how gays need to assimilate for Marriage/DADT rights

Newsweek's Entertainment writer, Ramin Setoodeh, writes that Rachel Maddow is a good example of how gay people need to "dress the part" to join "someone else's party" to get marriage rights, and the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

And because she was named in the article, I will point out that Rachel Maddow  values her outsider culture as a gay person. A person who identifies as a "big lesbian who looks like a man" probably isn't the right person to hold up as an example of a well-behaved gay who is, "dressing the part" to be "invited to someone else's party." While I'm not a fan of her tv "look", she wears a lot less makeup than most women on television and less than some men, I'd dare say.

The assimilationist argument is an old one. Bigots say they'd like black people better if they'd act less "black". Bigots even rail against "stereotypes" maintaining that minorities can and should act the way the white, Christian majority do... in order to make people like them better. All while sounding very PC of course.

Now the argument is being made to the gays. Come on, gays. Act less gay. Stop having those bothersome pride parades. Stop insisting on being so damned different. Leave that otherness behind.

The problem with that argument?

It doesn't work.

First of all, it's not acceptance of our differences if we first have to become the same as you.

And second, even if we're all dressing and talking and living like straight people, we're still fucking like queers. And that's what people fear... not our short hair, flaming demeanour or doc boots.

Third? We are different. The very fact that gay people grow up in a straight world makes us different. Our teen years and twenties (and later for still many people) are dominated by questions straight people need never address. Will our families abandon us for being who we are? Is it better to keep it a secret and remain alone? Is it possible to have a relationship but keep it quiet? When should I tell my boss? When do I tell my friends? Did I get made redundant because I'm gay? Did he mean that joke to offend me?  Will people be offended by being invited to my wedding?

I remember arriving at the local gay bar shortly after I came out. Immediately upon entering I spotted a guy I knew from the university's Christian community. He stared, somewhat panicked. I smiled and so did he. We were secret allies then, two "others" among the rest.

My otherness is a part of my identity and is part of our community. I refuse to get rid of it. It's part of what made my younger years so tough and part of what made me, me. I don't want to be the same, I want to be a part of the same things, as me... otherness and all.

Assimilation should not (and I'm confident, will not) be a prerequisite for acceptance.


Anonymous said...

Not sure if this is the article you were looking for or not. Maddow uses the term "subculture" in reference to how she and her partner feel about marriage.

AnyDreamWillDo said...

Thanks, that's a great article! A twitter friend of mine sniffed out the Newsweek (I know right?) article I was thinking of earlier. It's linked in that part of the rant. :-)