Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

15 May 2007

Gay Insights from Michael Warner or This Post Has Nothing to Do with Jerry Falwell

I am reading Warner's book The Trouble with Normal (2000), which is—more than anything else—an extremely well-structured argument against gay marriage. This guy is so right about so much. It's awesome! Anyway, here is a particularly astute insight from chapter three:
Gay marriage ceremonies, like the one stage by the Reverend Troy Perry in 1970, or the more recent wedding of two undergraduates in the Princeton University chapel, are performances in relatively unknown territory. They call attention to the nonuniversality of the institution. They force reactions in settings where the scripts are not yet written. They turn banal privacy into public-sphere scenes. At the same time, taking part in them is safer than coming out. Coming out publicly exposes you as being defined by desire. Marrying makes your desire private, names its object, locates it in an already formed partnership. Where coming out always implies some impropriety because it breaks the rules of what goes without saying and what should be tacit, marrying embraces propriety, promising not to say too much.
Warner's real point is that as a culture we stigmatize sex. Marriage is a way for ostensibly monogomous homosexual couples to get around the stigma of sex when talking about their relationships. They come out as having established a lasting partnership with someone else, instead of coming out as a person who practices societally deviant sex. But we all need to start talking about sex. The problem here is the completely unnecessary stigma that sex has in our culture and nothing else. Gay marriage solves none of the problems that the stigma against queer sexual practices creates. It serves only to further entrench the stigma of sexual practices, heterosexual and queer, in conservative USAmerica.