this sparked some thoughts for me. Did you write relatively recently on the way marriage equality took over the movement for so long, and basically middle-class white guys took center stage from the BIPOC trans women who started Stonewall? This feels like a vestige of that fight; "our" love is the same as "your" love and deserve the same legal protections. In that fight, it was a smart marketing move, in that for decades, the undertone of assumptions about queerness were hypersexualized, to the exclusion of considering capacity for the full breadth of human emotions. It seems like it's hard for society to hold "all of the above" in their collective brains; queer people CAN love in the same way hetero's love. I suppose that's heteronormative patriarchy for you?

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Aug 7, 2021Liked by Tom and Lorenzo

Ah, TLO. Once again helping me flex my mind to see things from more than one perspective. Really excellent, thought provoking piece.

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I guess I assumed that invoking love in a plea for recognition and justice was merely a simplistic approach to disarming the opposition. (Who could argue against love? Who would want to be *seen* as against it? It's PR ready and has a bland mass appeal.) Whereas in many cultures, sex and sexual attraction reside in a morally charged and messier arena of human behavior. "Love is love" is a noncontroversial motto precisely because it is anodyne and vague; it avoids the mire of what actual bodies get up to as well as the masses’ potential response to being reminded of it. It’s a facile, inoffensive and infantilizing ethos for a hypocritical society. In the public sphere, it blunts the complex lives of people who should be seen and respected fully. I haven't read a piece on this subject anywhere else, and this was powerful and circumspect. (I also really appreciate Sarah's thoughtful comment about how this language was a smart marketing move, and the implications of that. "Capacity for the full breadth of human emotions" says it all.) Thank you.

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This was beautifully written and has given me some real food for thought - I am ever-single and have not spent much time thinking deeply about ANY kind of partnered love, never mind comparing straight to queer. I'm appreciating the conversation here as well.

Side note: I really don't think (90% sure) that I got an email when this posted. I'll pay closer attention the next time you have a newsletter go up and will let you know if I really don't get the email that should go with it.

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Very good piece, thank you TLo. I'm really enjoying the pushback I'm seeing from you and others against the "noncontroversial, anodyne and vague", as Gatto Nero put it. This ties in with your previous Twirl about refusing to remove/flaunting the sex in Pride marches and festivities in general, celebrating what it is that queer people actually do with each other.

These two articles of yours got me rifling through the books in the early 1990s section of my bookshelves, where I found Frank Browning's The Culture of Desire, whose ideas blew this cis woman's mind back in 1993, in the midst of another pandemic. Before gay Disney day and gay marriage and "Love is love", at a time when gay men were dying, this writer celebrated "the ecstasy of the penetrated body" from a personal and historical perspective, describing how gay men and gay women and others had fought specifically for the freedom to separate f**king from "love". A different time, and we're all different now and have a whole other raft of issues to deal with, but that is a message worth bringing back.

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I simultaneously agree and disagree about the anodyne tautology of it all. But then I think of Emily Dickinson's line "The heart wants what the heart wants," which is essentially the same as "love is love" but says very much more than those words.

But you do you ;-)

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A tautology is appropriate when it tells us just to accept things as they are, not to question things too deeply.

That’s true of Dickinson’s line (she was consoling a friend whose husband was away on business).

I don’t think it’s sufficient when comparing straight and queer experiences of love. Analogies are imperfect, but I’d liken this to a color-blind approach to talking about racism.

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Your podcast discussion and this article were very thought-provoking! It's absolutely true that queer people have historically been bullied or persecuted not only because of "who they love" but how they act and whether they pass, or fail to pass as straight. I believe it was Linn Manuel-Miranda who popularized the "Love is love" phrase with his poem commemorating the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, but I may be wrong about that and it had an earlier origin; either way, I can't read or think about his poem without also shedding some tears (though it's painful to now see it appear on anodyne yard signs along phrases like "In this house we believe...science is REAL.") I find it incredibly powerful and moving - though I'm not a queer or gay person. For my Evangelical Southern Baptist grandmother and mother, it was hearing Jimmy Carter say "we should not hate people over who they *love*" that ultimately was their wake-up call about accepting gay people. But accepting people who love someone of the same sex still doesn't go as far as accepting people who are just breaking social norms around gender and presentation, which those members of my family still struggle to do. If that's the point you're making, it's absolutely correct that the "love is love" framing doesn't go far enough at all.

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And for those who aren't familiar with the Linn Manuel-Miranda poem, this is the text, which does incidentally center heterosexual love:

"My wife's the reason anything gets done.

She nudges me towards promise by degrees.

She is a perfect symphony of one.

Our son is her most beautiful reprise.

We chase the melodies that seem to find us

Until they're finished songs and start to play.

When senseless acts of tragedy remind us

That nothing here is promised, not one day

This show is proof that history remembers.

We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger.

We rise and fall, and light from dying embers

Remembrances that hope and love last longer.

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love;

Cannot be killed or swept aside.

I sing Vanessa's symphony; Eliza tells her story.

Now fill the world with music, love, and pride."

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Aug 6, 2021Liked by Tom and Lorenzo

Thanks for posting the full text. I have a lot of affection and respect for Lin-Manuel Miranda, both as an artist and as a humanitarian.

But as a queer person, that poem rankled me when I heard it live, and it rankles me now. The tribute to his wife is touching. His impulse to speak out in the wake of the Pulse shootings was a good one. But the poem missed the mark.

For all its good intentions, it’s deeply heteronormative. “My wife and I are the pinnacle of love,” it seems to say. “And queer people are welcome to join us up here!”

What if we queer people have a different idea of what perfect love looks like? What if we don’t want to join straight couples like Miranda and his wife on their mountaintop? What if we think straight couples could stand to model their relationships after *ours*, instead of vice versa?

In the phrase “love is love”, there’s an implication that straight love is normal. It flattens the difference between straight and queer experiences of love and desire. In fact, these differences—the unique ways queer people bond and uplift each other in an oppressive society—should not be ignored.

If straight people want to talk about the beauty of queer love, they need to talk about the beauty of chosen family, gender euphoria, mutual aid, nonmonogamy, sexual consent, keeping exes in one’s life, sex for sheer pleasure, fetish culture, queer child-rearing, child-free couplehood… Queer culture has so many beautiful lessons that mainstream straight culture doesn’t teach.

Love is *not* love. Queer love is different from straight love. And for many of us queer people, that’s exactly how we like it.

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All of this is exactly why we didn't refer to LMM or his poem in this piece. Thanks for saying it.

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You helped me see this in a new light. Thanks so much.

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It was a stunningly beautiful poem, perfectly delivered at a moment in which it screamed so loudly about the fundamental humanity of all and the ways in which it is stripped from the vulnerable. Yes, car is car. And love is love. It being that redundant IS THE POINT. It projected all people's shared humanity by being tautologically simplistic and obvious. Whether it's been overused is a separate argument, but if people weren't shocked by hearing someone tell them that all love is fundamentally the same, then it wouldn't have needed to be said at all.

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The fact that the phrase is about "people's shared humanity" rather than being specifically about the experiences of queer people is OUR point.

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YES! Attraction, autonomy....often LOVE, too, but that shouldn't be the central idea. "Love is love" to my ears rings as an expression of solidarity at best/most.

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