Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Gay marriage revisited, again

Q: What do you get when you put two gay men in a room together? (And get your mind out of the gutter – here, I’m referring to a media-panel type of set up).

A: Three or more opinions, of which the basic template is as follows. A calls B a bitch (not in so few or as plain words, but you get the idea). B calls A a bitch. And each separately accuses the other of one or more of these: (i) being allowed to go first and so being unduly preferred, (ii) getting the last word in and so being unduly preferred, (iii) talking over the top of him, and (iv) talking over the top of him while he was trying to make point (iii). (Infringing point (iv), of course, is much more heinous than point (iii)).

I’m inspired to make such dubious characterisations of my gay kin after watching last night’s SBS “Insight” current-affairs panel program, which focused on the gay marriage issue.

If poofs (and I’m taking educated, middle-class, sober ones) can’t participate constructively in such panels – and on last night’s evidence, they/we plainly can’t – then our asking to have full-hetero rights, per the most common pro-gay-marriage argument, seems a pretty hollow case. Never mind the procreative-sex and/or children-first aspects of marriage (the two main “anti” arguments), marriage is surely, particularly on its basic workaday level, a system of etiquette for those under its roof. And poofs – I just don’t think that such a roof is “us”, if you get what I mean.

Many of those who watched (or were actually in the panel last Friday) are no doubt already impatient to interject (ha!) at me, with observations to the effect that the panel had only one serious etiquette-breacher, John Heard. True enough, based on what I saw (= went to air), anyway. But that’s not a goal-scoring kick.

All the world loves, or at least used to love, until my generation came along, a golden boy – a brainy, good-looking young man looking to make his mark on the world from an impressively young age. Such a man would be gently indulged in many ways, such as being cut a fair deal of slack if he was on a media panel. Possibly, the gay world (/mafia/community/whatever) never abandoned GenX golden boys as completely as the straight world did (for the boomer men in the latter, women were the new, improved (lower-paid!) golden boys), but overall it is fair to say that young men like John Heard (who’s 24 or 25) are in exactly the right place at the right time, to take advantage of golden boys suddenly being back in fashion, and out of the wilderness. Upwards from an age just older than him, are almost two decade’s worth of gay men who either have nothing to say that hasn’t been said (including by themselves), a million times*, or are just too old/poor/Xer to matter.

In others words, the John Heard monster didn’t make himself. (Cue horror/suspense sound-effect). You - the boomer-centric gay world – made him! Which means that you can’t now disown him, or even suggest that his golden boyhood might now be slightly tarnished after his “Insight” performance.

For me, the most ridiculous aspect of what golden boy John said was his recital of the findings of a recent study:

JOHN HEARD: The Private Lives Survey, which was released about two months ago by La Trobe University - which was the largest survey of its kind of same-sex attracted people in Australia - demonstrated that the majority of gay men aren't in any kind of relationship at all, not only that, that the majority of gay men did not want to formalise their relationships and indeed the majority of lesbians were in the same situation.

I would be incredulous if any gay man found these results actually surprising. So how did they get to be a weapon in John’s armoury, then? The answer’s plain enough – that GenX gay men were missing from the panel, or at least were only represented by the minority, viz a few love-struck couples (eww!). This lacuna conveniently allowed John (who is perennially ambiguous re whether he belongs with the gay ordinaire majority (viz the single/sluts/celibate/chaste), or the cutely-coupled minority), to spew forth unchallenged on his key point: that gay marriage is an ideologically-driven hoax, sought to be inflicted by a gay minority onto the gay majority. What bullshit. I, for one, have long been a gay marriage agnostic, at best, and I’m far from alone here. A notable, “gay” gay marriage dissenter is/was 2004 federal election Liberal candidate for Brisbane, Ingrid Tall, an out lesbian who was viciously pilloried by the Family First and National Parties because of her sexuality alone.

Yet as far as “Insight’s” producers seem concerned, John Heard is a gay maverick on the gay marriage issue. Morons. And I’m not just bitching here about my (or any Xer contrarian) not being on the panel – the only Xers that were on the panel (those sickeningly lovey-dovey couples) were talking over the top of me, as I was yelling at my TV last night. And that’s in the “bad”, point (iv) above, sense.

* Take a bow (and get a life), Rodney Croome

Selected References:

Paul Watson on gay marriage:
[Comment reproduced below, slightly edited]:

I want "the practical benefits of being in a committed relationship" too. But gay marriage is a separate issue from achieving financial equality.

So I agree with John on this issue (who would have thought?), but not for his reasons.

The religious objection to gay marriage is not plausible, or even relevant. The spiritual side of marriage is simply pagan fertility rituals dressed up. Gays who think that they can appropriate a fertility ritual, to address a quite different ritual need, are deluded.

Also, there is the apples/oranges comparison factor at work, with different law in Oz and the US. In the US, unlike Australia, de facto couples - gay or straight - have no property rights against the other in the event of break-up. In Australia, gay de facto couples mostly have only common law property rights, which are a lot more expensive and complicated to enforce than the statutory rights which straight couples unequivocally enjoy. Thus, in the US, the gay marriage push is at least in part for something - however imperfect currently - that many countries, including Australia, have already had, and got with little controversy.

Finally - and this is a very impressionistic/non-scientific observation - from TV footage of demos, the US gay marriage push seems to be dominated by rich, middle-aged, both-white couples. The sort who seem to have only belatedly come to realise that gay marriage is *the* thing that’s missing in their life. What’s the matter, fellas - the his’n’his Harley-Davidsons not doing it for you anymore? And where were you and your politics in the 80s and 90s? (too busy making money by day, and being sluts by night, is my guess).

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