Law in Contemporary Society

Gay Marriage: Self-herding Towards Heteronormative Sociability

-- By AjGarcia - 15 Feb 2012


Gay marriage has become the defining issue for the queer community in the last ten years. Yet, I believe marriage equality comes at too high of a cost to be the champion cause we choose to pursue. As Katherine Franke writes, “As lesbigay people are herded into a particular form of sociability—a narrow conception of family—we have lost an interest in, if not now disavow, other forms of sociality that a generation ago we celebrated.” I argue that the gay community needs to resist the temptation to buy into the heteronormativity that marriage stands for, or risk losing the opportunity to preserve our queer definitions of sexuality, relationships, and identity for the sake of suffocating conformity.


As the older generations dies, so dies with it the more typical conception of homophobia—which I define to be the fear of gay people as a class and the rejection of them as individuals. Yet, instead of taking the opportunity to celebrate its death, a new kind of queerphobia has been created that distinguishes between “normal gays” and “pervert ones”—one that despises anything different than the heternormativity of marriage and its pastoral conceptions of sexuality that accompanies it.

Accelerating It

Accelerating this transformation of this pervert-fearing monster are gay marriage advocates. LGBT activists have decided that the way to achieve equality is by having the same legal entitlements that would accompany a heterosexual couple. But to become apart of the tradition of heterosexual marriage, requires the acceptance of heternormative definitions of sexuality and normalcy. It requires the gay community to reject the sexual deviancy that once defined it. Instead, we must publish pictures of lesbians in wedding gowns with their dresses held by their three kids and parents. We must ask two handsome, young gay men in tuxedos to kiss in front of city hall. We find gay marriage advocates shouting at the top of their lungs, “Look how normal gay people are!” But we need to stop and ask, "Why do we want that? And at what cost does it come?"

The Costs of Accelerating It

To be corralled and socialized into the heterosexual tradition of marriage requires that we reject the aspects of our community that once made it unique. We sacrifice our cultural identity and ask that we paint it in the bland colors of heterosexuality. Drag queens, club kids, queers cruising in alleys, and sexual perversion must be put to the side. We must hide our leather and S&M toys and slip on our best straight-looking outfits. To the front goes the happy couple with three biological children, to the back goes the polyamorous triangle and individuals who abhor monogamy, non-traditional families, and the queers that don’t like their sex in missionary. The worst part is that we're willing to eviscerate the lifestyles and sexualities that blossomed in the absence of the heterosex watchdog--which dictates what relationships and sex should look like--for a tradition that is stifling and contrary what our biologies have shown we actually want.

Can We Have Our Wedding Cake and Eat it Too? No.

Critics of this position might counterargue and say that gay people should have the liberty to marry the person they love, and those other elements of the queer community can be preserved. In other words, they might claim we can have our cake and eat it too (for those that want it). But at the tip of the tongue when we talk about gay marriage is the desire to be just like heterosexual couples. Queers will be subjected to the heterosexual societal pressure to make families, babies, and live in monogamous relationships. The possibility of marriage is a disease that infects the sex we want through expectation and societal pressure. As the elderly die, the possibility of nation-wide gay marriage comes closer every day, and with it the convenience of conformity that eliminates creativity and individuality.

Conforming to Heterosexuality Destroys the Authenticity that Blossomed in the Absence of Imposed Structure

I believe what we sacrifice the opportunity for a revolution in the way we conceptualize sexuality, gender identity, and relationships. In desperately trying to be “normal,” we implicitly say that heternormative morality is correct and should be desired. We lose the identities, conduct, and sexual behavior that we truly want--to become apart of a tradition that society says we should want. We had tremendous freedom in figuring out ways of living and loving when our sexuality and relationships weren't subject to societal expectations of child rearing and monogamy. Instead of championing queer alternatives in defining meaningful relationships and ways we'd like to fuck, gay marriage sets queerness on fire and confines it in an urn of conformity that is suffocating, paralyzing, and a mask for our real sexuality. Striving to conform destroys the opportunity to re-define sexuality, sexual appetites, and relationships.


The oppression of homophobia and the fear of being persecuted for our sexual and gender identity over the last hundred years engendered innovative and creative ways in defining our relationships, sexuality, and self-expression. By buying into heternormative marriage, we sacrifice our “queerness” and marginalize it as something weird that should be rejected. The queer traditions of our past--free of the societal handcuffs that bind heteros with rigid notions of the family and sex--have shown us alternative avenues for expressing our sexuality and maintaining relationships with the people we love. As gay people flock to the altar to become "normal," in flames goes the authenticity of sexuality and relationships that were expressed in the alleys and away from the public eye. It’s a tragedy we’re willing to throw our queerness under the bus—and agree with its public shaming—for a desperate, harmful, and useless need to “ be normal.”

(969 words)

Professor Moglen,

I'm still working on developing these ideas. Please continue providing feedback on improving this gay marriage piece, and I will keep applying it.


Webs Webs

r20 - 22 Jan 2013 - 20:10:08 - IanSullivan
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