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 Editorial from The Guide Editorials Archive  
May 1998 Email this to a friend
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Beyond Equality

What is the gay and lesbian political agenda? If you read the mission statements of our national groups, you'll find lots of talk about ending discrimination and of securing equal rights. And if many of our spokespeople are to be believed, equality with straight America is best won by demonstrating that we can be monogamous spouses, tidy neighbors, and loyal soldiers.

After centuries of homophobia, it is seductive to think that social and legal parity with heterosexuals is our goal. And, indeed, ending discrimination and presenting society with new, non-psychopathic images of homosexuality are effective tactics in challenging anti-gay attitudes. But it is vital that we commit ourselves to a more important overall goal. Instead of seeking approval from straight society in an attempt to gain equality, we must remember that we seek to challenge existing values. True gay liberation is not about gay people conforming, but rather about the whole world transforming.

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The world remains beset by destructive sexual values. Kids are taught that their genitals are shameful, that masturbation is naughty, and that sex outside narrow boundaries is fraught with danger. Adults continue to confuse sexual possessiveness with love, thereby missing out on both a more joyful sex life and a richer understanding of love. Our laws and attitudes continue to wreck lives in fearful attempts to regulate sex. And the new plague underscores the global price we pay for enforced sexual ignorance and oppression.

We must stop being defensive about wanting to overthrow this rotten system. We should claim the real moral high ground by demanding more humane sexual values. Laws that punish expression solely because of its sexual content are unjust. That means we must oppose laws against not only sodomy, but also fornication, adultery, prostitution, pornography, and "under-age" sexual expression. True morality depends on honesty, respect, and love. It does not, whatever Bible- or Koran- or Torah-thumping preachers or their political counterparts claim, have anything to do with arbitrary rules about whose genitals are allowed near what orifices.

Furthermore, we need to be clear that gay liberation is about freeing everyone from uptight sexual values, not simply creating a homosexual parallel to a corrupt straight universe.

Perhaps this more radical vision of gay liberation has been clouded in part by our success. Now that homosexuality is seen as less abnormal, it is tempting to think that normality itself is the goal. But queer assimilation is only a sign of a more enlightened society if society has become more inclusive, not if queers have simply become more conforming.

At one time, proclaiming ones homosexuality signaled willingness to confront society's destructive sexual values. Today's approval-seeking gay "leaders" make clear that this is no longer the case. We must, therefore, rededicate ourselves to the real gay struggle. That means embracing sexual diversity, protecting sexual dissent, and always remembering that we seek something more meaningful than mere "equality" with the straight world. We bring everyone the message that instead of exploiting sex to incite division and fear, we can use it to bring reconciliation and joy.

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