Marriage Equality & White Gay Hegemony

It may come as a surprise to many of you, but I do not support marriage equality. I do not believe that entering into a heteronormative economic institution should afford some people more benefits and rights that others. I should not have to be married to receive cheaper healthcare, to get tax breaks or to adopt children.

I also have a HUGE problem with the Human Rights Campaign. They have an incredibly shitty track record. The HRC has a long history of ignoring trans* issues, outlined in Monica Robert's article "Why The Transgender Community Hates HRC".

On top of this the HRC began to compare marriage equality to that of civil rights, which became very popular during the 2008 presidential election, even garnering this cover article in the Advocate. Not only is this highly problematic, it denigrates the experience of Black Americans & other communities of color. LAGAI writes in their article "Marriage and Racism and Queers", They equated the history of slavery and the fight for civil rights for African Americans, the internment of Japanese residents and citizens, and the struggle for justice for Latino workers with the struggle for legal recognition of gay marriage. White Europeans exterminated millions of Native Americans, and killed at least two million Africans who were abducted and thrown in the holds of ships to be sold as slaves. Slavery was legally maintained for over 200 years. White supremacy was maintained through terrorism (including lynching), as well as law. Legally enforced segregation persisted until the 1960's. Although nominally able to vote after the Civil War, African Americans were effectively disenfranchised everywhere in the u.s., and legally disenfrancised in much of the south. The Civil Rights movement was about overturning this systematic legal oppression of African Americans, and thousands of people were injured and hundreds of people lost their lives in that struggle. It is absurd to casually equate this experience with the experience of not getting state recognition for a marriage. (2008, LAGAI.)

To this end, the HRC really sticks their fist in their mouth by ignoring the plight of queer people of color, trans* folk, poor & rural queer folk and homeless queer youth. Despite the beginnings of the gay rights movement steeped in justice for the homeless, the transgender community and spearheaded by queer people of color, the new gay rights movement is upwardly middle class, heteronormative & White. This needs to change. We cannot truly liberate ourselves this way.

The HRC is also responsible for many campaigns that try to paint marriage as being about love (NOH8 etc), when really what we need to realize is that marriage has existed for thousands of years as an economic institution that reduces women's value basically to chattel. Marriage was economic before it was ever religious or about love. Marriage is about money. Activist Neila McLeod sums the institution of marriage up best: The institution of marriage represents a legacy of brutal sexism, based on control of women's bodies and lives by men. For most of the history of the concept, wives were essentially (if not literally) slaves to their husbands. Marriage is an agent of the dominant cultural narrative that says women are social extensions of men whose sole purpose in life is to serve men and produce (male) children. This is slowly changing but this change necessarily represents movement away from the narrative created and propagated by marriage. Marriage is necessarily anti-woman. I believe the cause of liberation for all people (not just "equality" for some) depends on dismantling all systems of institutional power that serve to divide and oppress us. Queerness is (or should be) a direct challenge to these systems. I refuse to be for the privileges afforded the ruling class. A movement for inclusion in a definitionally oppressive system is not a movement for justice, it is a movement for assimilation. (McLeod, 2013).

The HRC does not have my support. Nor do I support marriage equality. I support equality for all human beings, and that is how we will truly be liberated.


Workplace Microaggressions & PTSD

I was excited to start a new job in a well-paid position. It was in the field I enjoy most working in (mental health) and worked not only with private insurance but also our state's low income program OHP. I was really enjoying the atmosphere of the office but then I started noticing things that made me feel really uncomfortable.

During my training, one of the staff members told us a story about how she was alone on a street and there was a Black man walking towards her and how "Sorry to say, but I was scared". The trainer kind of made fun of her for it which was a nice way to defuse the situation. The folks at the training were all pretty cool despite that and never made weird comments about race or sexuality. They also warned me about my future office manager.

Once working my office manager asked me some inappropriate questions about my sexuality based on stereotyping my clothing choices. She also asked me about my religious beliefs which is also inappropriate (and illegal) when she invaded my desk space and noticed a keychain with a khamsa on it. On top of that, this same person made rude comments about "Mexicans" and how she was frustrated by their accents. This came up a few times. My coworker knew about my biracial background and corrected her but to no avail. You really can't win when people think they've got a right to say something. What was ultimately distressing was many people in the office's unwillingness to help people with thick accents. I know that phones can make hearing people more difficult, but it is no excuse to not help a person get the care they need because you have a more difficult time understanding them. Chances are they are having issues understanding you too. This is especially problematic for people seeking mental health care.

Not only did these situations arise, but the manager created an unsafe atmosphere for us to work with her negativity and her emotional dumping. I ultimately ended up quitting after two weeks. I told the supervisor during the exit interview about all of this and how I felt I could not work under those conditions. She surprised me by informing me that complaints had been made against that manager before. What doesn't surprise me is that she is still with the company.

New studies have shown that micro-aggressions (homophobia, misogyny, racism etc) can lead to PTSD in the long term. This is something I want to investigate in my research on therapy and PTSD. I have encountered ignorance before in the social work/mental health fields but nothing this blatantly illegal or negative. Have you had similar experiences?

Here I lie,
At the feet of the Empire
Naked, starving and furious.

I scream prayers
Upon the ancestors
And set fire to the night.

Here me O my people,
It cannot know our hearts
Nor our true names.