Gay Marriage: I Now Pronounce You Colonizer and Colonized

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Dear White Gay Americans:

When I was young and scared and growing up into my queerness in a violently heteronormative world, I let you dictate what I could be, which box I could fit neatly into, which desires of mine could be liberated by your benevolent “LGBT rights” and which desires I had to erase because they were too unrepresented (or disliked) in your gay culture. I learned quickly—because you taught it so well—that the G from your four letter movement was the only identity worth adopting: the L was still harassed, sexualized, and visible only when masculinized; the B was considered too ambivalent, too scarily queer for your politics of “different but the same;” and the T was too murdered, too bloody, too erased, too used and raped and battered and thrown away. So you know, I became “gay” and very proudly held the banner of “LGBT rights” in front of my people you told me again and again were too homophobic.

I learned what you told me since you were the only visible representative of non-normative sexuality: that since I was different and could not fit into urban Pakistan’s desexualized heterosexual culture, I had to adopt your kind of desires, your kind of skin, your kind of language. I had to escape South Asian heteronormativity to enter your American homonormativity. I had to do gay and be gay like you. I had to love (white) and be loved (by white) like you.

I learned well: I knew I had to work hard in school so I could go to college in America by being a scholarship girl; probably a very liberal college where you expressed a very touching kind of interest in my coming-of-age story when I talked about how I could not come out to my family, but looked away to another brown “more oppressed” person when my story didn’t fit your mold, when it didn’t give you enough reason to pat yourself on the back for giving me your gracious scholarship. But I told myself you were well-intentioned, and that you were the only one like me, so I kept learning. I even learned to thank you profusely. To shake your hand on fancy dinner parties and wear my newly discovered preppy gay fashions and smile so very graciously. I did wonder then why marriage equality was on your top priority when kids like us were being thrown out on the streets, when adults like us were being fired for their lifestyles; but you told me quickly and politely that I was not meant to question your movement. That I had no right to critique and challenge you, when I myself was a mere refugee into your movement. That the only feeling I was allowed to feel was gratitude. I was used to being policed by heteronormative patriarchy all my life, so some extra policing by you didn’t seem too strange. So I went ahead and obediently smiled for the “international human rights” pamphlet you had me pose for.

But I never did become part of you, no matter how hard I tried. And it wasn’t simply because your modernity failed to be in sync with mine. It wasn’t even because I failed to properly distinguish my sexuality from my other more salient identities (like Urdu, like brown family, like brown history, like spirituality) the way you asked me to. It was because you never listened to my story. You listened to the parts that suited the narrative you had already constructed of me and discarded the rest, calling me harmful and ungrateful and uncivilized. You told me I was being unfair to my own people whenever I voiced any anti-capitalist and anti-colonial critique of your movement, whenever I even implied that your movement was only harming queer folks like myself.

So you shut your doors, and refused to include a brown woman who was even slightly disobedient to the prescriptive freedoms of America. How dare I not accept the liberty of the lovely field of banks and tanks that was America? How dare I, as an obviously oppressed girl from Pakistan, refuse the benevolence of facebook’s rainbow filter, and the vanilla cakes of gay marriage? How dare I not celebrate July 4th when America just announced itself as the liberator of all gay people? And most of all, how dare I raise my voice to speak up against the drone-induced trauma on Pakistani children when my voice could be well used for GayPride songs about the triumph of love? How dare I point out that life (even the “worthless” life of a brown child in northwest Pakistan) may be more important than your consumerist version of love?

I couldn’t become a part of you was because you refused to include me in your movement the day I didn’t have enough money, the day my third-world feminism and anti-imperialism made me critical of your gay (but very straightish) marriage, the day I washed off the bleach from my skin and stood naked in front of you as the brown queer woman I am. Put your white clothes back on, you shouted at me, reminding me of the religo-fundamentalist men back home. Shut up, learn to feel grateful and stop ruining our fun, you and your allies screamed. Long ago, you allowed capitalists and racists to steal your movement, and then you became the capitalist and the racist. And soon you became the liberal rainbow-loving glittery colonizer who kissed his cis white husband in pride parades and simultaneously bombed all indigenous and third world queer movements that didn’t look like your parade, that weren’t gay enough, that weren’t Americo-capitalist enough. This year on June 26th (and a week later on July 4th), you held a red, blue, and white banner of LGBT rights and Marriage Equality as you policed the world (literally, the world) on how to behave sexually, on how to live “freely.” And you taught your privileged allies to act just like you: to silence any critique of gay marriage, and to contort queer bodies into your homonationalist stairway to global capital and violent military interventions. So my dear white gay fellows, this is how you became my trigger for the terrorism you always pretended to save me from.

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32 thoughts on “Gay Marriage: I Now Pronounce You Colonizer and Colonized

    Perry Stewart said:
    July 6, 2015 at 7:19 am

    First off, In America we were born Capitalist, we didn’t decide to join any party.

    “you were the only visible representative of non-normative sexuality”
    You’re welcome. You know what the people you’re criticizing had when they were growing up? Not a god damn thing! It was a pretty universal experience to believe you were the only gay person in the entire history of the world and utterly alone. Of course, they didn’t even know to call it gay, they just knew they were different.

    So we’ve had equality for like 5 whole seconds here, and it is now precisely the time that we can go out and help the rest of the world, and that’s the exact moment you tell us to all go fuck ourselves for no other reason that I can see than we weren’t willing to drop our fight to go fight yours instead.

    “why marriage equality was on your top priority”
    Because, here, marriage equality is societal equality, it’s the whole ball of wax, Equality!

    I feel for you, I’m sure your life has been beset with difficulties that I can’t even imagine, I truly hope it gets better for you, that said, I understand why someone might have called you “ungrateful.”

    Like I said, now is the time for us to take our battle from here to the world, you may want to rethink rejecting us at precisely the worst time to do so in the entire history of the world, but that’s on you.

    Liked by 1 person

      Madam Adam said:
      July 6, 2015 at 7:41 am

      ….To that other comment… Did you even read this? Really went over your head

      Like

      Anonymous said:
      July 6, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      you dont understand what colonization is, do you? its repressive, ideologically driven in things that arent grounded in the realities of the oppressed, and has a wicked lack of accountability. its not your fault, but complicity with the gay marriage ruling and lack of aims at stopping hate groups is not enough.

      Like

      Anonymous said:
      July 6, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      and theyre not rejecting you. theyre inviting you to a different paradigm. its a dialogue, not a rejection letter.

      Like

        Perry Stewart said:
        July 6, 2015 at 6:45 pm

        Before I address feed back, a note on editing. I have regretted having this sentence at the top of my post since the moment I hit send, “First off, In America we were born Capitalist, we didn’t decide to join any party.” I would have preferred, “we were born into a capitalist system”, buried further down in the piece.

        Colonization?, of course I know what that is….wait a minute, probably not the way it’s being used, I’m not going to go check wikipedia and come back and mansplain it to everyone, but I will know more much more about it by the next time I encounter it, promise.

        “and theyre not rejecting you. theyre inviting you to a different paradigm. its a dialogue, not a rejection letter.”
        Thank you, I don’t think I would have gotten that in a million years, it’s still hard to see now, but I’d rather have a dialog than a rejection, so I’ll take it.

        It is my expectation that struggle will continue, and that helping other people through the door is now the main order of business, I would be very disappointed if we now see a huge swell of log cabin republicans, and people who see the fight as over.

        Zenana, forgive your friends in this at least, when they didn’t want to explore the Drone issue, it’s not that they didn’t care, it’s that they’re the wrong group, and even the right group would have had almost no ability to do anything to help you.

        Zenana, I know you don’t need my permission, and I’m not making a request at this time, but you have my blessing to leave or remove any of my posts as you see fit. Sorry to come down so hard, Sorry for the misunderstanding.

        Like

      m said:
      July 8, 2015 at 12:00 am

      How could someone be so lacking in self-awareness?

      Like

    bp said:
    July 6, 2015 at 8:16 am

    dear you,
    let the whites fight amongst themselves
    no LBT in their G Marriage movement, no problem
    the secret to surviving white supremacism is that the
    red whites can’t tell the difference between
    blue whites and brown you. they will smolder
    all the same. so step back. watch them burn.
    ask yourself, “do I really need a white man’s movement?”
    Live your life, queer your zenana,
    make zenana for your queers.
    white people will only ruin it if they hear
    about all our hot cool things because all
    brown people are harems to them anyways.
    much respect,
    bp

    Like

    mehlabjameel said:
    July 6, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Can I just say that this was an absolutely brilliant read and I loved every bit of this article!

    Liked by 1 person

    Perry Stewart said:
    July 6, 2015 at 9:10 am

    It looks like I can’t edit or delete my comment so maybe someone will explain to me all that I missed. I believe the battle for marriage equality here, was fought pretty much exactly the way it needed to be fought, and we won, I’m sorry that doing exactly what we needed to do, didn’t work out perfectly for her.

    ” I had to adopt your kind of desires, your kind of skin, your kind of language. I had to escape South Asian heteronormativity to enter your American homonormativity. I had to do gay and be gay like you. I had to love (white) and be loved (by white) like you.”

    No, she didn’t HAVE to do any of those things.

    “I learned quickly—because you taught it so well—that the G from your four letter movement was the only identity worth adopting: the L was still harassed, sexualized, and visible only when masculinized; the B was considered too ambivalent, too scarily queer for your politics of “different but the same;” and the T was too murdered, too bloody.”

    I don’t even fully understand this, the “L”‘s have had it better than anybody. Now, we get to help the “B”‘s if they want it, and the movement to help the “T”‘s is already gearing up into full swing. There’s a reason the “G”‘s had to get through the door first, it’s not some evil plot, it’s not my fault that she doesn’t understand social realities here that have been in motion long before any of us were born.

    ” I did wonder then why marriage equality was on your top priority when kids like us were being thrown out on the streets, when adults like us were being fired for their lifestyles; but you told me quickly and politely that I was not meant to question your movement. That I had no right to critique and challenge you, when I myself was a mere refugee into your movement. ”
    Ok, I agree that we should be doing more for the kids, but it’s not like it’s a completely ignored issue either. As far as people getting fired, achieving marriage equality may have been the absolute best thing that could have been done about that anyway. I don’t know who told her not to critique and challenge, I didn’t, but I would have said critique and challenge all she wanted, but your wrong in your critiques because we’re doing things in the right way to win, whether you understand the culture that you’re critiquing or not.

    “You told me I was being unfair to my own people whenever I voiced any anti-capitalist and anti-colonial critique of your movement, whenever I even implied that your movement was only harming queer folks like myself.”
    She sounds like the life of the party, look, I’m no defender of capitalism or colonialism, but excuse me if I don’t want to take on those two impossible battles before I try to achieve basic equality.
    “harming queer folks like myself”
    If anyone wants to point out all the things I don’t understand, feel free to explain that.

    Liked by 1 person

      Anonymous said:
      July 6, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      theyre just asking for empathy, compassion and thorough support for queer and brown safety and peace. theyre asking not to be told how to feel or fight or when to stop fighting by white people(especially white cis gays).

      and they are a they not a she. by saying “she” zenana is referring to the assimilation that queers like us have to undergo to get scholarships, be a part of the political process and the misgendering of our peers and families.

      theyre just asking for tolerance and to keep the spirit of delivering jusitice to where it is long overdue. yah feel me?

      its an institutional attack, not a personal one. if you know that some things arent your fault, fine. just be compassionate (which you have).

      Liked by 1 person

        Perry Stewart said:
        July 7, 2015 at 5:34 pm

        “theyre just asking for empathy, compassion and thorough support for queer and brown safety and peace. theyre asking not to be told how to feel or fight or when to stop fighting by white people(especially white cis gays).”

        I don’t have a lot of pull in the movement or anything, but they already had that from me, and they still do.
        Thanks for helping me understand what was really being said.

        Like

      biandtrans said:
      July 7, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      the g succeeded by separating itself from the b (which is incorrectly assumed to mean a life of casual sex as opposed to the new face of gay which is a happily married monogamous pair of cis men) and the t (“we’re like you and not like those [insert dehumanizing statement about trans people]”). yes im happy things are getting better for my gay friends, but it can’t be ignored that the bi and trans communities were thrown under the bus so that our heteronormative culture could count them as “more normal than queer” and accept them.

      Like

    Perry Stewart said:
    July 6, 2015 at 9:34 am

    “How dare I point out that life (even the “worthless” life of a brown child in northwest Pakistan) may be more important than your consumerist version of love?”
    I don’t know a single gay person who supports the drone war. I also have no idea of what can be done to stop it. I don’t know a single gay person who would need to have the importance of the life of a child explained to them. It occurs to me that maybe she doesn’t really hate America and our Gay liberation movement, it may just be that she fell in with the wrong group of people.

    Like

    Anonymous said:
    July 6, 2015 at 9:58 am

    When I read the title of your text I was hoping you would elucidate how marriage colonises queerness, squeezes it into the confines of monogamy as the accepted social practice par excellence, but instead I got a rant.

    Liked by 1 person

      Kosmiche said:
      July 6, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      The points you outline are all important and well made in other places. But you can’t expect all queer literature to cover every aspect of liberation. This isn’t that article; It’s a different one. And it’s a well written, well thought out and compelling polemic. Rants are important. Anger is important. Appreciating that there are different approaches to tackling the many forms of oppression is important.

      Like

        Anonymous said:
        July 7, 2015 at 1:47 am

        I found this post incredibly compelling, but I confess I’m a bit new to thinking about this kind of thing. I’m looking to educate myself a bit, and wondered if you or someone else could direct me to “that article,” one that does a bit more elucidating, grounding these issues and the nature of this kind of structural critique. Thanks in advance.

        Like

    Saethor said:
    July 6, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Where do white, cis gendered gay men who appose racism, colonization, imperialism, transphobia, misogyny, capitalism, and judeo-chistian marriage monogamy boxes fit? We’re too radical for most white gay groups, and too white, too cissy, too masculine to be accepted in any racial queer group of color, other than a silent listener in the corner. Speaking up, or even showing up, only paints a target on our hearts because of how similar our outward appearance is to the most oft encountered oppressors. Staying silent, feels too apathetic and worthless but speaking up is labeled whitesplaining, cissplaining, mansplaining. Our struggles are marginalized, our empathy is seemingly discarded, and our activism is questioned.

    Like

      Anonymous said:
      July 6, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      if youre an ally and you listen, and you respect yourself to speak up when justice needs to be delievered, youre a good person. i cant believe i even have to say this to ppl. its an institutional critique, not a personal one. just use your empathy and not a defense mechanism to hear our third world and poc voices of dissent. its not a race or class war, its a dialogue.

      Like

        Anonymous said:
        July 6, 2015 at 2:01 pm

        I don’t think it’s too far out there to realize these kinds of reactions are in themselves triggered reactions. I have a lot of privilege from being white and cis presenting, but I’ve also spent my entire life fighting against what others are projecting onto me and my “lifestyle.” I also was abused by my family for being eeffeminate. I’ve lived my life on the defensive. It is my natural state. I have been learning a lot about stepping out of my journey and not reading these as personal, but is hard because after a life of being criticized and abused for existing by people who were supposed to love me I have a ton of gut reactions to fight through. But I do and encourage others to do the same. Stop saying “but I’m not like that” and instead start LOOKING for who does. You’ll see it when you open your eyes.

        Liked by 1 person

    Anonymous said:
    July 6, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Thank you for your words, Saethor. I feel I have no place amongst the hoards of homonormative, homonationalistic gays who fears my rejection of their colonial assimilation. Yet as an ally I am told I should be ashamed of my whiteness and my cissness and masculinity.

    Like

    addhum said:
    July 6, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Reblogged this on ADDHUM.

    Liked by 1 person

    Kristen said:
    July 7, 2015 at 12:04 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone complain so much. I’m sorry life hasn’t been a box of chocolates for you, but guess what it isn’t for a lot of people. Why do people always have to look for the bad when something good happens? We can’t just be happy gay marriage is finally legalized, instead we have to pick at it and say ‘oh we should have been more focused on this’ or ‘why didn’t they do it this way instead?’. It’s completely absurd. Obviously there is still more work to be done but why bring down people who have finally won something they have been fighting for for years? I’m sure everyone will tell me I just don’t get it though, right?

    Like

    nayyeema responded:
    July 7, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    Thanks for the comments. For folks wanting to learn more about homonationalism and the imperialism of western LGBT politics:
    http://nomorepotlucks.org/site/trending-homonationalism/
    https://solidarity-us.org/rainbowsandweddings
    For resources on queer critiques to gay marriage, please visit this archive:
    http://www.againstequality.org/about/marriage/
    This article by Dean Space and Craig Wilse is most comprehensive and commonly cited: http://www.organizingupgrade.com/index.php/modules-menu/beyond-capitalism/item/1002-marriage-will-never-set-us-free

    Liked by 1 person

      Saethor said:
      July 7, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      Damn, thank you for that roundup Nayyeema, especially the rainbows and weddings one.

      I am wondering, do you know where one might discuss and discover more about these intersections? Forums or other internet accessible platforms?

      Like

    CIS White Imperialist said:
    July 7, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Dear Pakistani Homophobes,

    When I was young and scared and growing up into my queerness in a violently heteronormative world here in Colonialist London, I looked up to Pakistan, as an ancient and sophisticated culture, thinking it must be more advanced than my callow western one. I thought I’d apply for entry into one of Pakistan’s world renowned centres of education. Imagine my surprise when I found none. Not one of Pakistan’s institutes of education is mentioned in the book of the world’s top 10,000 universities.
    And what was an even greater surprise to me was this: there are not even any funded scholarships or exchange programmes to allow Gay Racist Cis White Men like me to enjoy Pakistan’s rich and vibrant culture. If I were to travel to Pakistan I would have to pay for the trip myself! No grants, no scholarships, no living off the Pakistani taxpayers, no matter how hard I studied. I assumed from this that Pakistan’s gay culture must be so rich and utterly fantastic and valuable that if it were revealed to us, then we greedy westerners would drone it back into the darkness of the medieval era (assuming we found oil, that is). My racist brother blithely commented that shoving Pakistan into the medieval era would be a tremendous improvement, but I always ignore him, he is so reactionary.

    Taking my arrogant cultural assumptions with me I decided when I touched down in Karachi to head off and say Hi to the local gay and lesbian groups. After I’d recovered from the three day diarrhea I got from my first meal at the hotel, I set out to the lobby to examine the phone books. But strangely there was none mentioned in the Yellow Pages. Hmmm odd that. I also took my arrogant cultural assumptions with me and assumed my lesbian sisters would be street visible in Karachi just as they are in Colonialist London. But again, imagine my surprise when I could see none, and after a long hunt could not find any at all! All I could find on the streets were women wearing head to toe coverings who not allowed to meet men like me, even if I were gay.

    I soon learned that the only (invisible) representatives of non-normative sexuality was on the Pakistani grindr! Whoaa. But I had to be careful lest I was found out and lynched by an angry mob of bearded religious homophobes.

    When I was at these private men only gay parties (at last something non-racist and anti imperialist!) I tackled my gay Pakistani brothers as to why there were no women there! I was told to stop being so culturally imperialist as to bring my arrogant western notions of female equality with me.

    Well, I asked, what about gay issues? Say of equality under the law, or of gay marriage, or even the simple demand of not being lynched by a mob of bearded religious fucktard homophobes? They laughed and said, Please stop bringing your arrogant Cis White Racist Imperialist notions of gay liberation to such a rich and ancient culture such as Pakistan. We do things our way, they said. We don’t need to be told what to do by you westerners.

    Like

      arora said:
      July 7, 2015 at 7:30 pm

      your response is classic way to misuse anti-colonial politics! i’m not sure if you simply misunderstand this writer’s message or if you are willingly trying to twist her message. anyway, she is not saying that pakistan is not homophobic. she is saying that america’s so-called gay freedom is false, and that gay imperialism is as bad as the homophobic fundamentalism she sees in pakistan. she is saying that the terrorism in pakistan is also fueled by the gay imperialism of america. that is what homonationalism does. homonationalism means that the american state uses gay rights to justify drone wars, which in turn breed religious fundamentalism and terrorism. so many of us south asian queers have to constantly fight with homophobia in our own communities as well as with the way gay imperialism controls us and makes our lives worse. i don’t know of a single queer progressive activist in pakistan who criticizes imperialism who is ignorant of the way religious fundamentalism is harming us. all they are saying is that we need to pay attention of ideological colonialism of the west AS WELL.

      Liked by 2 people

      Brown Queer Faggot said:
      August 9, 2015 at 10:52 pm

      Sounds like the CIS White Imperialist didn’t get laid by his most favourite Oriental fantasy: the sassy, COCKY anti-imperialist “uncivilized backward” brown faggot who dares to speak back and put you in your right place: the ignorant white dudes development section! Oupps, sooo sorry, dude. How about you go and get yourself an education on imperialism, history and politics. Thanks for centuries of raping our anus, our women, our culture, our resources, our economies – in turn you can stick your taxmoney and scholarships up your own clean white ass! I am certain you’ll delightfully enjoy the rich cultural vibrations of your own backward ignorant white imperialist culture! #savethisbrownplanetfromaggressivewhitecocks

      Like

    arora said:
    July 7, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    we need to change this global capitalist system, not adopt a system that excludes and harms others

    Like

    arora said:
    July 7, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    and people who disagree so strongly, please go educate yourself before getting all defensive and throwing around your first world privilege

    Like

    […] “Gay Marriage: I Now Pronounce You Colonizer and Colonized”, Queer Zenana queerzenana.wordpress.com/2015/07/05/gay-marriage-i-now-pronounce-you-colonizer-and-colonized/ […]

    Like

    MarchToEquality said:
    October 8, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    need to change this global capitalist system, support LGBT Peoples

    Like

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