This morning I had a Facebook conversation with a “friend” from high school — I’m putting “friend” in quotation marks because high school was a couple of decades ago and we haven’t talked much since. I approved his Facebook Friends request because, well, why not? I assumed he knew at least a couple of basic things about me… which was probably my mistake: he blew up at me when he realized I was in support of Equal Marriage, and got up in my grill about “those people” and how “those people” shouldn’t have their own Pride Parade and after a flurry of arguments this morning I un-Friended him and vented a bit on my Facebook wall, which set off a secondary flurry of people who disagree with Pride because apparently celebrating LGBT culture is somehow being an oppressor of straight people and we should all just get along. (I’m assuming that the people who made those comments didn’t mean to come across as patronizing and heteronormative as they did, because I know them well and they’re good people, but its always a bit jarring when otherwise good people start standing on their privilege.)
This is not the first time that’s happened, and sadly it won’t be the last. This seems to happen about once every dozen of my “friends” requests on Facebook. In the beginning of 2012 I had a similar incident and wrote a LiveJournal post about it, which I still think it’s some of the best writing I’ve ever done on the subject. I’ve reposted it to my Facebook notes, and now I’m reposting it below to make clear my position on equal marriage and my sexuality:
Apparently, a lot of my friends don’t seem to get where I’m coming from on this. This is probably my fault, as I don’t make a big deal about my sexuality. I don’t hide it, but I also don’t want to be the in-your-face queer activist I was while I was in University, either. Combine that with the fact that I’m big, bearded, into some fairly aggressive full-contact nerdery and marrying a beautiful woman, and I understand why people assume I’m straight.
I’m not straight.
For the record (again) I am bisexual. I am sexually attracted to both males and females. I have had relationships with both male partners and female ones in the past. The fact that I am in a long-term monogamous relationship with The Fiancee has not changed that fact and will never change that fact. One of the earliest serious discussions in our relationship was about my sexuality; she is accepting and supportive of that aspect of me (of course, if she hadn’t been our relationship would have been a lot shorter.)
This is an extremely important thing to understand about me: I am not marrying a wonderful woman; I am marrying a wonderful person who happens to be female. I want to spend the rest of my life with that person; I want to make a home, raise a family and grow old with this one person who completes and complements me so perfectly. We are partners, in every sense of the word, and the particular configuration of my partner’s chromosomes are completely irrelevant to my hopes and dreams for us.
Which brings us back to the equal marriage issue. Until 2006 the government of Canada applied an antiquated, arbitrary and parochial limit on whether roughly half of my potential long-term relationships were “valid” under the law. I do not understand it and I cannot understand how anyone can condone it. One of the greatest victories for civil rights in this country (and not “gay rights” either, but the civil rights of us all) was the legalization of equal marriage for all Canadians. When the Civil Marriage Act passed it was the proudest I have ever felt of my country; it did not harm the institution of marriage in this country but rather strengthened it. The ideologically-based attempts by the current government at undermining that accomplishment are appalling.
The notion that anyone – stranger, friend, government or pope — has the right to deny me a fundamental human right on a completely arbitrary basis is profoundly offensive to me. In fact, for a sense of how offensive I find the criticisms of “same-sex marriage” (and I hate that term – it’s marriage plain and simple or it’s nothing) take any newspaper article about “same-sex marriage” and replace the words “same-sex marriage” with “interracial marriage” (which, by the way, was illegal in most US states until 1967.) To deny people rights based on something as arbitrary and uncontrollable as race is barbaric; to deny people the same rights based on their sexual orientation (also arbitrary and uncontrollable!) is equally barbaric.
As for the religious argument – I have no sympathy for it. Marriage is a civil and legal issue; if you choose to place a religious theme on your paperwork-signing ceremony, that’s your business. But the instant you try to deny me my civil and legal right to sign that paperwork based on your religious beliefs… no. I can’t respect that.
And you can claim that we live in a Christian country all you like but we don’t: both the United States and Canada are secular democracies which happen to have a large number of Christians living in them. Claiming that equal marriage is “sinful” or “against God’s teachings” or – as the pope recently claimed – ”a threat to the future of humanity” isn’t religious freedom: It’s bigotry, pure and simple.
I have neither respect nor patience for those who put their ignorance and hatred and small-mindedness on an altar and then then tell me to call it God. If so-called Christian conservatives want to practice that kind of idolatry that’s their business, but don’t expect me to enable them. And don’t you dare tell me that religious conservatives have the right to enshrine bigotry in the secular law of a western democracy because they don’t — that’s the difference between democracy and the Taliban.
Of course, those people probably feel as strongly about me and my perverted, sinful, threat-to-humanity sexuality. And yes, they have the right to their opinion. It’s an asshole opinion, in my view, and I’m never going to agree with it, but they have the right to it. The difference between me and them is that I’m not trying to take away their legal right to be an asshole (or, in the case of many US states, deny that right in the first place.)
My relationship with my partner is the biggest and most amazing thing which has ever happened to me. I deserve and demand the right to have my marriage respected and protected by the state. And “only half the time” doesn’t cut it.
I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a friend shortly after the whole SCA Inspirational Equality disappointment back in December: she was concerned that I was being “too confrontational” about the whole issue, and that we needed “to convince these people” and “win them over to our side.” Being angry and in-your-face about it, she was saying, is only going to alienate our opponents and make it harder to convince them. And I see what she was saying, and I don’t disagree with it in any particular.
I’ve just stopped caring about convincing people. I think my breaking point was when the fucking Pope declared me unable to be a fully-developed human. Around the same time people whose opinions I’m supposed to respect told me being honest about my sexuality (not aggressive, not hostile, not forward, just honest) is going to be a barrier to achieving my goals in the SCA. And I’ve lost track of the number of times random anonymous strangers have harassed and abused me for the mere suggestion that perhaps they could lay off the homophobic language a little.
I’m not going to “convince” homophobes that being an LGBT person is okay, and I’m sick of trying. They like their hate. They’re comfortable in it. It makes them feel good, and superior, and “right.” I can’t offer them anything to compete with their illusions except the argument that their self-deception is wrong… and why would they want to abandon their comforting fantasy of being on top for the rigours of intellectual honesty? In my experience homophobes are stupid people. They are small people. They are ignorant people. And in my experience they seem to like it that way. So fuck them: I don’t have the energy to argue with fools.
I can’t convince them that they’re wrong and I have every right to be who I am… I’m just going to put my energy into changing the rules and laws so that their hate can’t prevent me from living my life. That’s all I can do. That’s all any of us can do.