When the rainbow isn't enough.
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?
Ah, TLO. Once again helping me flex my mind to see things from more than one perspective. Really excellent, thought provoking piece.
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.
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.
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.
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 ;-)
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.
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.