Friday was pretty monumental. If you hadn’t heard, the Supreme Court ruled gay marriage legal nationwide. The LGBTQ+ movement has basically won the right they’ve been championing for ages, and it’s definitely a big deal. I know people whose parents can finally get married, etc… and it’s certainly a happy occasion for many people. But while black, latina, and indigenous trans women are dying, being abused, and getting thrown out of a movement they literally created with blood, sweat, and tears, I can’t celebrate as much as everyone else is.
Friday was, simultaneously, the day that trans activists took to the streets for the Day of Action March in NYC with the Audre Lorde Project. Activists in the Bay Area are aiming to abolish the prison industrial complex with TGI Justice Project, protesting the murder and criminalization of trans people. This is not the end of the “gay movement,” let’s make that very clear. It’s a step in the right direction, but I’m not so sure that it’s the victory we all paint it to be.
On a Facebook post, the trans South Asian artist collaboration DARKMATTER outlines for us just why we shouldn’t stop to celebrate just yet:
“Let’s get a few things straight:
1. Violence against queer and trans communities of color is steadily increasing. The majority of this violence is comes from the very state that allegedly supports our “equality” at the hands of the police, prisons, mental health institutions, and ICE. “Victories” like this Supreme Court ruling are often used to pinkwash the US government and make it seem “LGBT friendly” even though it’s one of the biggest arbiters of anti-queer and anti-trans violence at home and abroad.
2. Every time there is a symbolic ruling like this there is a significant backlash. This backlash looks like acts of physical and sexual violence against largely low-income gender non-conforming people of color who cannot afford privacy and safety. Policy change does not translate into changing hearts and minds. Community organizing does. Stop discussing progress without understanding punishment.
3. What you call a “rainbow,” we call the racial wealth divide. It’s much easier to affirm “gay love,” then it is to call for reparations for colonialism, slavery, and exploitation of labor. As gay marriage gets legalized the majority of LGBT donors are pulling back their funds to support queer and trans work. This leaves those of us doing racial and economic justice work even more broke and less able to get people out of prisons and into stable housing and jobs. But who needs money for bread when you can eat wedding cake?
4.Marriage equality” is an oxymoron. The institution of marriage is an inherently unequal institution. Marriage is a racist and patriarchal system established to allocate basic rights to couples over other forms of relationships. The institution of marriage has and continues to exacerbate the (racial) wealth divide in this country.
5. We aren’t fighting for more rights, we are fighting for abolition. This is a very different political strategy. We don’t want more freedoms, we want to be free from violence. We aren’t fighting for equality and love, we were fighting for economic justice and liberation. We aren’t fighting for representation, we are fighting for revolution.”
Now that gay marriage is legal, will we start paying attention to an entire community that the neo-liberal movement has swept under the rug? Today is a win for us, undoubtedly, but don’t stop to celebrate when there’s so much more to do. Don’t stop when there’s activists on the ground right now, donating their time towards a cause that’s more than think pieces about the end of the LGBTQ movement. I think that’s the biggest concern for a lot of us. We see it happen in a lot of other rights movements, and that’s the obtainment of one major right and then loss of interest in our cause.
The want for marriage is a want for state regulation over our bodies, and we should be fighting that. The same regulations and the same forces that dictate who we can marry dictate which ones of us get to die, and which ones of us get to suffer. Simply put, only certain people can afford the assimilation that marriage gives us. Validation from an institution that has literally denied and killed off such a large amount of our communities should not be something we seek. Support from companies that are milking this important moment for their own monetary gains are not welcome, as they continue to abuse those of us not assisted by gay marriage and continue to profit off our pain.
I won’t rest until the majority face of the queer movement stops snubbing those of us with less power, and stops erasing the decades of work put into a higher goal. This is a step towards a positive future, but for this movement a step is 5 inches forward 6 inches back.