This comic has been turning up on my Facebook page lately, generally by well meaning straight people. I’ve seen it about a half dozen times already. Each time I get a little more angry. Why does this comic piss me off? It’s a celebration of marriage equality, right?
Well, there are a couple of problems with it and I think those problems are pretty important. First of all, it is a straight couple declaring that this “parade” of newly-wed couples are the best. Straight people do not get to declare what is or is not great for queer people. It is not up to them. It is great to be in favor of equality. I certainly am happy to see straight people celebrating with us as new areas become more just and offer equal rights to same-sex couples. But, and this is important, straight people don’t get to decide what is best for us. That’s our choice.
The second problem, and as far as I am concerned the bigger one, is the idea that a parade of traditional looking marriages is somehow better than the diversity shown at pride parades. The assumption that the assimilation of queer culture into that of the heteronormative majority is a good thing is deeply offensive. No, this is not the best pride parade ever. The best pride parades certainly include those couples who choose to enter into a legal commitment to each other, but they also include a much more diverse spectrum of humanity. The best pride parades are loud, exuberant, and diverse. They do no go quietly off to houses with white picket fenses in pairs. They loudly declare us to be DIFFERENT and they celebrate that difference.
The best pride parades include polyamorous families. They are filled with drag queens in every imaginable color and more glitter than I knew existed. They prominently feature people of all genders in black leather pounding pavement with shiny boots. They play music in many languages and remind us that the queer community includes immigrants too. My favorite moments in pride parades show all of the ways that queer people make their differences public and visible, such as when I saw a woman in a wheelchair being pulled along by her human pony decked out in beautiful leather gear.
We should absolutely be proud of the progress being made on marriage equality. However, let’s not let the straight couple in that comic forget for one second that we’re bigger than that. Marriage is only one part of queer life and we are proud of ALL of them.