Dear Stanley Kurtz,
I'm one of the people who signed that radical manifesto, months ago. Sadly, our call-to-arms suffered lack of an audience. I didn’t see any response to our rant that wasn't wonky and short-lived. You've breathed new life into our hopes!
At your opinion's conclusion, you quote gay centrist Jonathan Rauch, who says that the overwhelming majority of the gay community is neither radical nor queer.
Your alarmed response: “What if he's wrong?" made me laugh. Sleep on, Stanley! Sleep on, without interruption! Your fears— my dream and your nightmare— are unrealized.
Here's what's really behind our Statement, or at least my part in it: Every once in a while, intellectuals and theoretical progenitors of social change can’t stand the bastardization of their original ideas any longer. A cry like this comes out, and for a moment we recognize each other.
I was amazed that anyone put this kind of statement together, because we've all been so depressed. It’s similiar to rockers who spy a Chrysler ad playing their favorite revolutionary anthem. The stomach turns. You can't expect theory-heads and artists who've given their flesh to the cause to lie back in their lounge chairs and throw beads at gay brides.
Gay "marriage," like gay soldiers, was never a sexual liberationist’s issue, and the turn that moved these concerns to the center of our movement was the proverbial awful shock. The right wing had taken over our "agenda." But I never aspired to the role of chimp king in The Jungle Book, singing, "I Wanna Be Like You." No Thanks.
I aspire to something more visionary, although I’d hardly call it Big Love! —After all, the "radicals" you talk about, we're feminists, too.
Still, there is something about standard legal reconition that matters to queer families in spite of ourselves. If you dig deeper into the gay marriage motives, I'd urge you to look at that one little line, "until death do us part." So much of the marriage's "benefits" that concern couples have to do with the circumstances of dying, health directives at the end of life, inheritance, and legacy.
I recently lost both my parents, and mourn my fair share of dear friends from the past. You must be the age where you are aware of this, as well. The raw suffering is unbearable when members of the family are excluded, or disrespected, because of shame and laws that don't recognize their rightful place. I doubt many life passages are more emotionally painful. To your point, I think of myself as more of a death-rights activist than a marriage-monger.
Moral conservatives shy away from death at every turn, as they do with sexuality. They must face grueling decisions at those times in their own lives. Ignorance is never less blissful.
Instead, marriage-puritans are obsessed with the sickly-green notion that some carefree playbunny is out there is having a giant party, getting away with state-sanctioned hedonism— while Ordinary Joe slogs away in dreary sacrifice. "Ha-ha, we're having an orgy and now we get a license, too!" Gosh, if only there was scintilla of truth to it. I wish Americans cared a thimbleful as much about pleasure, comfort, or sensuality as they seem to fear these very human needs.
I think you were attracted to the "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage Statement," because you too are an intellectual and theory-minded person. It's like catnip, isn't it? A radical's analysis is more provocative than the typical parade slogan.
I imagine conservative intellectuals must also grimace with frustration that "thinking" about issues is not popular in current American politics. You and Michael Bronski would have a far more brainy discussion than you'd have with most of the morals-first voters you align with. (Now don't go pestering my friend Micheal... he'd never forgive me!)
I don't know if your fears of "Polys Gone Wild" are prurient or not. Are you grandstanding? Turn off the HBO soap operas and give this some sober thought.
If you are indeed earnest, let me soothe you. Americans are Just Not That Into It. The banal, short-sighted, unhappy Ozzies and Harriets of every political cause have the most remarkable record of prevailing.
I can't tell you how sad this state of affairs makes me— I can barely say it to myself. What touched me the most about our "statement" wasn't its wording or proposal, but rather the sentiment behind it: that somewhere, there is place for people "who love one another." That, right there, is the little thing that matters to me.