“This focus on marriage was a priority for white cis gay men. It’s a win for white supremacy and cis-heteronormativity. “

audio version of this blog post

A fellow activist FB friend of mine shared their thoughts and feelings about marriage equality yesterday afternoon.

Anyone else NOT crying with joy right now? I mean, it’s cool some people are really happy and I have compersion. But I’m not feeling it. Woke up to the news and shrugged. Trans youth are still desperate and dying, trans women of color are still getting murdered. Still getting fired and kicked out of homes and under employed. This focus on marriage was a priority for white cis gay men. It’s a win for white supremacy and cis-heteronormativity. It erodes the efforts that queer people have spent decades creating alternatives to nuclear families, safety nets that are based on community and non-white approaches to family. Poly families have no security. I have so much to say but I’m on vacation, maybe later.-

My response: “This focus on marriage was a priority for white cis gay men. It’s a win for white supremacy and cis-heteronormativity.”

Naw. It’s a win for all the people it’s a win for. It’s a win for the children of this nation. There are things that they’ll never experience because of the decision made yesterday. It has changed our future. This is a healing loving thing for a lot people. This is one of the changes that in my heart, Sam Cooke sang about in “A Change Gonna Come.” This is a healing loving feeling of completion thing for me. A chapter closed. A finished book. I’ve been fighting for marriage equality since 1995, since before I was personally married. And I’ve been fighting for many other social issues along the way. This one is done. No more energy towards it. That’s a win!

In my late teens to mid 20s (1996-2005), before transition, I was a black woman married to another black woman. People would say to us being gay was “a white thing”, “a white man’s disease” and I would say, what white man taught me how to love my black woman? I was hers and she was mine and that is the language we used. “Baby, I’m yours” and our love was a revolution because it was. Because it existed at all. Because who cares about Black women? Who cares about how Black women love or about who Black women love? We cared. As Black women who were in love with each other and the best of friends, we cared. No white-cis heterosexual man had anything to do with why we loved each other like we did.

And we were married, at age 18, in a small ceremony, with vows and rings exchanged, and we promised to love ourselves individually and love the union of us. 1+1 made 3. Me, She, Us. And our marriage was about our commitment to one another, our desires to lift one another in love while we went about our individual dreams and the dreams we wanted to accomplish together. We were a team. It was “me for you boo” and “don’t let the world steal your joy”. But because our marriage was just a “marriage” or nothing at all to her family and nothing at all to most of my family, my mother could threaten to come get me and lock me up, my father could refer to my relationship as “gay shit” and my wife’s father could come down to her job and tell her she was coming home with him.

We spent the first year of our marriage In Love and In Fear. If our union had been legal there are things we wouldn’t have had to worry about. We wouldn’t have had to worry if something happened to one of us, some medical emergency or death, how we (our love) would be erased and disregarded by our parents, by the police, by doctors, nurses, hospitals.
Our finances were another thing that would come up. We made more together the first year we were together than my parents had made the year before and my parents were supporting a four person household! Every time I started a job, or had to fill out paperwork, or do my taxes and had to mark “single” I was pissed off. Everytime. When I got my job at Fed Ex she couldn’t be on my insurance. She didn’t have insurance. If our marriage was legal she would have had full medical and dental and spousal benefits if something happened to me.

And yes, we did form our own community of like minded lgb folk and I am grateful for the community we had and I have. Outside our created community though, our marriage was a “marriage” or nothing at all and we could be reduced to “friend” or “roommate”.  Our families of origin were lost to us for a time. And those wounds scarred us individually and as a couple. These scars are still present in my psyche.

Our marriage ended in 2005 when I was 26 and guess what?, our divorce didn’t have anything to do with a cisgender, white, heterosexual man.

“It’s a win for white supremacy and cis-heteronormativity. It erodes the efforts that queer people have spent decades creating alternatives to nuclear families, safety nets that are based on community and non-white approaches to family.”

There are a few things I want to say about this.

1. The win for marriage equality gives more than it takes away or erodes anything in my opinion.

2. Ironically, possibly, these creative alternatives to nuclear families and communities formed, may not have come into being/been necessary if not for white supremacy and cis-heteronormativity. That’s trippy and possibly uncomfortable to think about but it’s true. I am grateful for my alternative style of living and all the ways I have formed relationships with different types of people. I am a better me for it.

When you say “non-white approaches to family”, I say, studying the history of the black family (Americans of African descent) since we’ve been in this country will blow your mind. The damage done is a deep psychic wound that I feel in my blood and bones today. With all that’s been in the news this year especially. I am beyond weary. Somewhere in my mind I am weeping, shrieking, rocking myself back and forth. All the youth suicides, transwomen murdered, black men and women murdered by police/prison guards..This is a living nightmare. I’ve been having nightmares for weeks. I don’t know when’s the last time I’ve slept peacefully through the night.

4. In the unlikelihood that I ever get married again it will certainly not be traditional. After my divorce, I came out to myself as polyamorous, I came out to myself as Trans. I have my own views on marriage that are not popular or common with the majority. I think you and I may actually have similar views about the institution of marriage. Moving beyond that I am witness to many marriages. All kinds of marriages. And marriage is important for many people. I have friends with kids who will benefit from yesterday’s decision. Friends with a kid on the way who won’t have to worry about the birth certificate thing or being able to pick their child up from school or all the medical things that come up with/go along with caring for a child. I know a white lesbian couple and a gay men of color couple where one of the couple is a US Citizen and one is not a US Citizen and what happened yesterday has profoundly changed their lives.

Out of everything though, the coolest thing to me is that every kid born in the US now will be born in a country where they can marry the person they want to marry.

I do recognize that you said you do feel compersion for those of us who are happy about it. I teared up all day on and off because it’s something that I fought for that was handled. It was a win. It is important that you speak from your truth and the fact that you were “NOT crying with Joy”…I believe you were part of the majority with that. And that you “woke up to the news and shrugged”, is what it is. It’s your truth. Some people wake up to the news that one of our Transkids or Transwomen has been brutally murdered or taken their own lives and those some people shrug too. And they are the majority.

My point (of view) is that every civil rights win is a win. We all just got a little more free. And every marginalized group that I can think of in our history (US) has had help from people in the majority, who are not directly dealing with the minorities problems. Cis people are hand in hand, heart to heart, working towards social justice with Trans people. We have so many things we need to do to make this world a more humane place and that’s what we’re doing. What we’ll keep on doing. With love. Because love is all.