Wednesday, March 27, 2013

On the Profile Pics: A Defense

  So, today, to display anti-DOMA and anti-Prop 8 sentiment, many people adopted a special symbol today as their facebook profile pics.  It was the HRC issued pink equal sign with a red background.  Pretty soon my chat profile pics were almost all that same symbol.  "Ew," I joked, "Everyone wore the same thing to facebook."
    The colors:  the pink is a "gay" color and the red was added, apparently, "because this is about love."  Although I asked a bunch of people before someone looked it up for me and no one really knew what the colors stood for.
  And I wasn't surprised when the backlash showed up in my feed.  This kinda happens whenever a significant amount of facebook takes a day to talk about an issue.
  Counter-argument #1: These profile pics change nothing
  Counter-argument #2:  This is only the mainstream, white, middle-class, monogamist side of a problem and limits visibility of all the other issues that people of LGBTQQIAA...D? people of different classes and colors and relationship structures face.
  Counter-argument #3: You are so lazy, all you did was change your symbol like everyone else did and you should go spend time reading queer theory but I know you aren't.
  Counter-argument #4:  We should abolish marriage entirely.

  This...statement of my opinion should be more polite, but I am really, really tired and I'm a little more than irritated at the sass I saw in my feed.

  In a country where people are still afraid to come out, where the Supreme Court gets the pleasure of listening to such disgusting arguments about how marriage must be about pro-creation such as the ones we heard in 8: the play (which would also disagree with my father's approaching marriage to his female secretary, which would make them, due to age, a childless couple), or the anti-DOMA protestors must stand among protestors holding up signs that quote the Bible and insist children need a mommy and a daddy, where children and adults are harassed even on the suspicion of being queer, God forbid so many friends and strangers use a social networking site to express solidarity with the cause for equality (does that equal sign have rings around it?  No.  Do most people understand what the red means?  Doesn't seem like it.) and show visibility of "Hey!  You!  I'm like you or I am your ally!"  Never mind how valuable and comforting it is to know someone hates oppression, too.  Never mind how many of my friends, queer, straight, or I-Have-No-Idea (not questioning--I mean I don't know their orientation) said "Wow!  It's so good to see so many equal signs!" because it made us feel strong.  Yeah, sorry, I guess that doesn't change the court's ruling.  I guess sentiment, camaraderie, and strength didn't allow so many organizations fighting homophobia and oppression to develop.  It was definitely a Supreme Court ruling.  A sea of profile pics isn't powerful at all.
  See, visibility is the ABSOLUTE reason why I say "Bless the profile pics."  
  Also, perhaps the way people can have freedom under a centralized government is to have choice.  They can CHOOSE to be married, to be monogamous, to gain all of the rights of a marriage (regardless of sex, race, etc., but I'll address polyamory).  And if they choose to be married, they can decide if they want kids, how often to have sex (ahem, any married asexual or demisexual couples?), whatever--it's their private life.  Or couples can choose a civil union.  Or they can choose neither.  Or an individual does not have to be part of a "couple."  Some people want those things.  No choice is the wrong answer, but yes, there IS societal pressure to marry.  What, is changing sentiment about marriage impossible?  And when it comes to marriage, does love ALWAYS factor in as the mainstream marriage equality seems to advertise?  God no.  For years I did not believe romantic love existed, that it was a made-up social construction to help us face mortality (at the moment I'm not sure how I feel, by the way), and I was still pro-marriage equality because it is not my place to judge the reason why people make a decision about their lives that harms no one, be they deluded, greedy, or sincere.  It feels good to know that if anybody chooses those things, they have the right.  Except for, alas, polyamory, which I hadn't even considered until Black Girl Dangerous (who I'm sure hates the profile pics, but still brought up this issue months ago) brought it up, saying they cannot access the (over 40?) rights married people have.  As for polyamory, this monogamous same-sex movement did NOT truly and forever close the door on moving to polygamous marriage next.  There IS hope.  But yeah, it totally, totally sucks, and the people in privilege have to twiddle their thumbs while they decide the minority's fate.  Still, did legalizing heterosexual interracial marriage close the door on same-sex marriage?  In fact, when interracial marriage became legal, was that another victory in the constant war against racism?  Did it not help (not completely and forever, but significantly help) strike down disgusting arguments against black people as a whole, arguments like how their genes were inferior?  Obviously the war didn't end there, did it?  Christ, there are still so many problems.  But that was an achievement.  It was a difference in rights, it reflected oppression, and we do look back and say "Jesus, can you believe you and I couldn't get married back then, if we wanted to?"  If there is a sea of other problems to deal with, does that mean we shouldn't pay any attention to people trying to defeat DOMA?
  I feel one of the issues that sort of motivated the backlash was painting people with a broad brush.  Who says that equality sign was everyone stating they only cared about marriage equality?  Maybe it was urging on a tiny achievement in a sea of problems, of inequality, of inaccess to rights (did I use "inaccess" right?).  I'm not the only one who read it that way, right?  And since when did the fact that I'm on facebook mean I'm not reading queer theory, and if I am not, does that mean I can't have the sentiment of "You know what?  Controlling people's choices based on them being different is kinda bull and I want to stop it." and maybe I actually do participate in activism?  Well, actually, I was reading a queer historical account (aka our homework) when I came across that obnoxious status, but I don't think that makes a difference at all.  Someone's profile pic doesn't actually signal what they are doing at that moment.  Maybe some people ARE fulfilling that stereotype that anti-equal-sign profile pics people are painting (and some people MUST be--I'm not saying they're unicorns).  Some people had this obnoxiously self-martyrizing (that's a word now) profile pic that said "I might lose some friends for this, but I support equal rights", and I have gotta say, regardless of the intentions, boy was that obnoxious, and I'm sure some of the people with that version WERE super annoying, self-righteous jerks. But isn't it awfully presumptive to assume most people with the equal sign are what the anti-profile pic people say they are?  Did we canvass all of facebook and put everyone on trial?
  But I'm not shoving this "I'm just like you" problem under the rug.  So much of the modern mainstream movement unfortunately seems to profess "We're just like you and we behave nicely and don't do icky things in bed and are usually middle class and white and sis-gender" and that is unacceptable.  It alienates so many who deserve respect, visibility, equality.  And this isn't a surprise, I think, to a lot of people wearing those equal signs.  It's wrong to assume it isn't. 
  What does an equal sign mean?  To a lot of people it means equal access, respect, visibility.  The rainbow is a giant series of multicolored equal signs.  It's the struggle of so many different kinds of people who face different problems the world over.  (Hence why my profile pic today was a rainbow American flag because this is about a valuable step in American queer rights, but I'm not here to get on my high horse.  I think this apologist, defensive post makes me vulnerable enough without some silly notion that I've found The Right Way or some bull.)
  We haven't even gotten the rulings yet.  But we had the protests and the counter-protests outside the courthouse.  We had the profile pics.  We have so many in this group suffering injustice from so many directions right at this moment and we will tomorrow.  Not done yet.  Let's go kick some butt.

Edit: THIS! ->


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