Legal equality is a worthy goal, all the more so for those at the lower end of the economic ladder who can’t afford to tell the boss to fuck off when he demands they dress like ladies or gents. But it’s also a goal that will remain elusive as long as we opt out of the sex wars. We must convince America to celebrate rather than hide from the fact that we all have sex, of all different sorts—to champion the idea that hetero or homo, missionary or doggy-style, it’s all good. For until the country stops dividing sex by what’s natural or perverted, we’ll never get our rights—civil or otherwise.
Moreover, the effort to market our normality not only fails to address the real issues driving American homophobia, it is also self-defeating, because it forces just the sort of political divisiveness our civil rights leaders have rightly identified as holding the movement back. For, if gay relationships are normal, what’s a normal gay relationship? Is a leather daddy or dominatrix normal? What’s a normal “commitment”?
“Normal” hurts us all, starves us of the ability to become something more than what Mom and Dad and the preacher say we’re supposed to be. In the end, the process of normalizing queerness is a conspiracy of silence, entered into by LGBT and hetero institutions alike. It tucks sex back in the closet, something that polite men and women acknowledge only obliquely.
The conspiracy keeps the status quo safe because while it repeats the idea that gay people are normal, just like everybody else, it safely ignores the flip side of that: everybody else is just like the gays. All the hallmarks of queer freakishness — the leather daddies, the public sex, the fetishes, the BDSM — that groups like the HRC and hacks like Andrew Sullivan would like to banish from public sight have their counterparts in the heterosexual communities. We’ve known how polymorphously perverse hets are since Alfred Kinsey first published his report on the American male in 1948. We’ve known that “normal” is a lie, and that these nice straight people are cross-dressing, sticking things up their asses and twats, flogging each other, swapping partners, hiring whores of both genders, masturbating manually and with toys, and generally fucking, sucking, and coming in any way they could possibly imagine. But to be polite, we pretend that it’s not happening, and that everything is securely in the box.
I learned everything I know about sex from queer communities. I learned to think of sex as something fun, instead of a way of proving something; I learned safer sex techniques and risk assessment; I learned the mutability of gender and other categories. I wouldn’t have learned those things from the community that LGBT leaders are trying to create now, the normal, non-perverted one. Eventually, I can see the HRC or some future organization helping to create a gay version of the government’s abstinence-only webpage.