Queer people’s battle to not be murdered will not be won with platitudes
Yes, love is love, but it’s also borderline immaterial
#LoveIsLove. It’s trending on Twitter, and it’s all over Facebook. Politicians have co-opted it, maybe you’ve seen it in the subject line of an email from a relative that begins with “FW: FW: FW: FW: FW: FW: FW: FW:”. It’s nice, and it’s heartening, and it should always be in our minds and will always be safe to say. But today, after 50 queer people were murdered in Orlando and 53 more injured, it’s also a clear misdirection.
This statement, and its sentiment, rose and peaked with the fight for same-sex marriage in the United States. Look at how Google searches for the phrase peak in June 2015, when the ruling came down:
You can also see the steady rise in its general popularity as public support for marriage has increased alongside it.
But ultimately, it’s only disguising the real, root cause: sex.
There’s a reason that people on social media who are endorsing the massacre are calling its victims “perverts”, “paedophiles” and “deviants”. It isn’t about the sex we love, but the sex we do — or don’t — have. Opposition to same-sex marriage is founded on a fundamental fear of non-heterosexual sex; opponents’ focus on the union itself is superficial because what they really want to prevent is our ability to fuck each other being enshrined in law and endorsed by government.
The reason many US politicians want to keep trans people out of public bathrooms is not because they’re trans, but because their trans experience implies a sex life that exists outside their conception of normality. The reason some Australian politicians are desperate to keep open and honest sex education out of schools is because they know that dominion over people’s sex practices has successfully formed the basis of fundamental religious ideology for centuries. It’s a means of control that allows them to keep society structured in a way which benefits them and only them.
This is the trick that a cosmetically inclusive society plays on queer people: fooling us into thinking spaces that ‘belong’ to us are safe, from our bedrooms to our pride parades to our nightclubs. And the problem doesn’t stop at our door; there’s an unending number of queer people, and gay men especially, who will endlessly slut-shame others for their perceived promiscuity, or the fact they they — consensual adults as they are — have chosen to be in an open or polyamorous relationship.
See, love is love provided it’s exclusively between two people. That is ostensibly what marriage as an institution affords, even though it so often fails to remain so. And that’s why #LoveIsLove as a social movement fails the queer community. It’s born of a society that shames open sexuality, but openness about our sexuality is one of the only ways we can survive our own pain. Thus, an expression is love is inextricably an expression of sexuality in a way that it isn’t for heterosexual couples. We’ve already learnt that the perpetrator of the Pulse nightclub micro-genocide was enraged by the sight of two men kissing in public. As infuriating as the Kim Davises and Lyle Sheltons of the world are, their insipid, shameless bigotry is only a santised sublimation of Omar Mir Seddique Mateen’s murderous desires. Davis and Shelton are not the monsters that Mateen was, but their prejudice comes from the same place.
So realistically, the shift that needs to happen to reduce and prevent murders of LGBTQI+ people won’t come through promoting #EqualLove. It will come through normalising non-traditional sex— sex outside bedrooms, sex between the same sex, sex between trans people, sex between multiple members of both sexes, sex that involves fetish practices, sex between people of the same and differing HIV status, and so on — and better understanding people who don’t want to have sex, people who choose not to have sex, people who cannot have sex, and so on. We can’t do this without talking about sex, and the fundamental aim of the conservative right is to prevent any conversation about sex that doesn’t involve suppressing and restricting it. We also can’t do this without doing it, so get out there and have atypical, unusual, great sex with someone — whether you love them or not and whether you’re queer or not.
Because you can’t defeat illogic with emotion, and you can’t defeat puritans with platitudes.