Queer Radicalism: Smashing Heteronormativity & Marriage

02/02/2012 10:32 | Updated 01 April 2012
  • James Hetterley BA Philosophy student at King's College London. Trans Officer of King's LGBT Society.

Many of you may have watched The Big Questions on television this weekend, the Beeb's Sunday morning ethical discussion programme in which semi-intellectual individuals come on and debate their point of view, at the same time annoying great swathes of tweeters. Two arguments came up most recently: the first being the matter of Scottish independence, the second being equal marriage. We will discuss the latter.

For many people, equal marriage seems to be the overriding issue that will throw homophobia out of our system; by legalizing the marriage of two people of the same gender, we suddenly have equality. Within this debate, there are generally two arguments that arise from the issue: the first being the position of homophobic mainstream churches and clergy of professing it fundamentally breaking the definition of marriage; the second being from the queer community that equal marriage is the only way to liberation. Both of these positions are wrong.

Firstly, those who assert that the marriage of LGBT people fundamentally breaks the definition of marriage have no idea what marriage itself is. Even if you simplify the idea of marriage, it is essentially indefinable (except for the joining of multiple people in certain sexual relations) when you consider the history that marriage has seen, whether it is group marriages, straight marriages, polygamous marriages, or common-law, there is no single, objective marital union. Monogamous, heterosexual marriages are just the normative marital structure in our current epoch. As is pointed out in the program, the Bible itself points out five possible marital structures. Just as marriage has evolved in the past, marriage will evolve in the future. Queer marriages just happen to be the next step.

Secondly, it is wrong to assert that equal marriage is the way to liberation. Indeed, it is this argument which is completely flawed. In this sense, liberation is not the freedom of queers, but the assimilation of heteronormativity within a queer construct. In this sense, liberation is in fact surrender. The surrender of our sexuality, the surrender of our struggle, the surrender of our raison d'être. Is the way to ending sexism for all women to embrace masculinity? If not, then why is the way to ending homophobia for all queers to essentially become straight? To accept "equal" marriage is not to raise the rainbow flag but raise the white flag. To accept "equal" marriage is to become second-best.

This is why queer radicalism is an essential part of liberation. This is why queer radicalism is the only way to equality, to our free determination. For what is liberalism but assimilation? To be "queer" is not only to desire same-gender relationships, but to not be cisgender, to be non-heterosexual, to be sexually liberated, to question the relationship norms of our age. Are all these constituent parts really fulfilled by the fatigable social construct of marriage? Are our entire beings expressed through this lifeless economic contract? What right do religions and the State have with who I fuck? The mere act of sodomy is protest enough against our society. Why should we be forced to accept a compromise for our equality just because the Westminster élite find it agreeable? Equality is not doing what straight people do; equality is doing what I want to do without straight people stopping me.

LGBT marriages will automatically be different from straight marriages. We have different histories. When straight people have walked hand-in-hand for a month with someone of the same gender they'll understand. When straight people have to live with an undercurrent of hatred throughout their lives, they'll understand. When straight people grow up different from other children, when straight people have to lie to themselves that society will accept them eventually, they'll understand. When straight people live in a society that is vehemently against us, they'll sympathize, and only then will they understand. When straight people become queer, they can start telling us what to do. Then maybe they'll start assimilating us. There is no point to LGBT marriages. We are not all monogamous. We are not all religious or capitalist. And unlike heterosexual polyamorous atheist communists, we're not afraid to collectively say it. As long as marriage is assimilation, it is not equality. As long as marriage is monogomous, State-run or church run, and based around economics, it is not queer. And as long as marriage is supported by a bourgeois political élite, it is nothing short of oppression