File:Илья Репин - Портрет графини Наталия П. Головиной.jpgGay marriage is a regressive policy, which will increase the power of conservatism, and so should be opposed. This is not my view, but an argument I want to play with. Bear with me.

I found the word “homonormativity” here, and understood immediately: the coiner might quibble about my interpretation, but these are the basics. Heteronormativity is the pretence that heterosexuality is normal, and therefore other ways of being are less. Homonormativity occurs when gay people ape heterosexual behaviour, forming long term cohabiting relationships: so James Cantor‘s coinage “euphilia”, meaning love which unites a couple, as distinguished from paraphilia, sexual activity not directed at another human being. He shifts gays out of the class of weirdos into the class of Normals.

Gay marriage is profoundly conservative: for those who take it up, their relationships may be more stable, and they may be more confident and better able to contribute to society. They marry, they are accepted among the Normal people, leaving the oppressed behind. The oppressed- gay teens cast out by homophobic parents, those with internalised homophobia, suffering with drug addiction depression and self-harm- if there were a gay community it would be working for them, not for gay marriage, as their need is so much more immediate.

In economics, I no longer believe in “trickle down”, as I have observed “gush upwards” for too long; Rawls’ Relative Least Advantaged Person is not benefiting. Yet I still put a Rawlsian argument for gay marriage: those of us who will not marry will still benefit from it. Our sexuality will be seen as weird or wrong in itself by fewer people. One hopes this generation of gay married couples will remember homophobia, and retain fellow feeling for gay people; but even if they did not there would be fewer excluded and oppressed people in society. That is a good thing.

18 thoughts on “Homonormativity

  1. Gay marriage conservative? Pfft. Apart from anything else same sex marriage allows gay and lesbian couples to enjoy all the benefits and protection offered under heterosexual marriage, which conservatives – with both small and large Cs – have been opposing for too long. If a couple of the same sex are in a monogomous relationship, then I see no reason they should not enjoy the same tax breaks eligible to heterosexual married couples. If one spouse dies in a same sex relationship, I see no reason why the surviving partner should have to battle tooth and nail for the estate, which under a heterosexual relationship would automatically revert to the spouse.

    I’m actually not a big fan of marriage at all. To me it is an anachronism in the 21st century. However, it may well be a “cultural norm” but as long as it is, the LGBT community has to play cis/hetero society at it’s own game. Plus of course, I realise that there are those, of all genders and sexualities, who believe that marriage is making a commitment to their partner. And the romantic in me DOES like that – very much so.

    In the final instance, you are correct Clare. Same sex marriage can only lead to wider acceptance of LGBT people by society. And given that neither the Same Sex Marriage Act in England, nor the Marriages and Civil Partnerships Act in Scotland make full provision, for transgender people (although the Scots one is superior in that aspect), if anything they do not go far enough.


    • The English Act applies the term “Marriage” to gay marriage, but keeps the institution different by the definition of adultery and voidability. The provisions on trans are about protecting the poor cis people. But- things are conservative until they are not, like the Corn Laws and overt racism, and homophobia is going that way.


  2. I received a shocking and endearing anonymous email today. The ‘boy’ said I was groundbreaking. Apparently in a time when gays here were subservient entertainment, I was unintentionally razing norms.
    Who knew the haphazard 21 y/o me was doing anything of worth? Also, apparently, I shocked society by being gay and also more establishment than most of society- all at the same time! Such is the beauty of natural born snobbery. I knew it would be worth something someday!
    Somewhere in Sotogrande, some boy thinks he can live on in style because I led the way. Evidently he’s right. I never questioned entitlement based on sexual orientation. I took birthright for granted. Apparently x 3, I was right 😛


    • 😀 Congratulations. It works- people being visibly gay make it easier for others being visibly gay. It makes it harder for people to be visibly homophobic, and attitudes shift. They see being gay is not monstrous.


  3. As far as I am concernedif a couple male or female, gay or stright wish to publicly declare their love for each other in a church, registry office, the roof top of the Brighton Pier then let them. We live in a civil society and everyone should have the right to the freedoms that everyone else enjoys. It really does pea me off when you get some righteous do gooder who thinks if you utter the word homosexual you will be turned into a pillar of salt.

    I bet the Almighty is sitting on his cloud looking down and having a good belly laugh at the fiasco that homosapians have got themselves in to. I wish the church and its ring master would remember that its not about sex, its not a peversion, its not about upsetting God, its about LOVE, something the world is strictly lacking in.

    So the Bishops, Archbishops even the Pope, should climb down from their mighty pedestals as God is only allowed that high up and see what is changing in the world and try teaching more love rather then trying to turn the world against homosexuals and teach love and those without sin cast the first stone.


    • These are the views of the decent Scot or Englishman, and so recently ordinary Scots were a tinge homophobic, or “tolerant”- “ass long as they don’t frighten the horses” mockery, dislike of any overt sign of homosexuality, tolerating bullying in school over sexuality. The change is liberating. Even bishops are seeing the light: when Stephen Ackermann said homosexuality is not unnatural I thought it was satire, and was wrong.


      • Everyone gay or straight are a tainted with homophobic thoughts, we have heard it so many time on TV, at school, in the pub, at work, as you know Clare I have many gay friends and even they laugh at gay jokes, just as everyone black or white are tainted racist its human nature and I don’t think you will get everyone to agree but everyone has the right to live their life how they choose. One gay person I know is so outwardly camp that he has become comical and its like living in a Carry On film being around him and this is the behaviour that brings the homophobes out the wood work and then he wonders why he gets attacked, he tells us about his latest conquest and what a great kisser or not they were, just the same as one of my straight friends, he does the same but the difference is that my straight friend doesn’t get attacked…….But I wouldn’t want either of them to change as they are who they are.


        • Well, yes. And- are the very camp gay men trying to fit in to an outmoded way of culturally acceptable gayness- John Inman, Kenneth Williams- or are they being authentic? Or is it the straight-acting ones who are being authentic? Both, perhaps. In the 90s, Salford City council tended to put single gay men in one tower block for council housing, as gay men scattered all over the estates might be a target. Ghetto! Bad! Or, preventing harassment! Good!

          Onywye, one straight acting man, known to be gay, had a great deal of difficulty with homophobic neighbours, and one whoopshowsyourfather camp as a row of tents bloke in the same house had been OK- perhaps because his neighbours accepted that as the way to be gay. My gay friend certainly thought that was what it was. I think camp, and straight-acting, and everything in between, are possibilities in us, and where we end up depends on the circumstances.


  4. The way that I see it is that gay people are someone’s children, brothers, sisters …parents … most came out of a marriage, so it’s normal for them to want one too! And yes, marriage is and should be about love – don’t know about the arranged ones, though – I guess love can grow?


      • I think many do work because of the tradition and culture behind them and the sense of responsibility that comes with that. Don’t like “child brides” for one second though. I know couples who married “by proxy” decades ago e.g. a male migrating to Australia from Croatia when Australia needed workers, not enough women around to chose from, so they’d marry someone “by proxy” and meet them for the first time at the docks when ship came in or at the airport … most worked well.


  5. Yes. Gay marriage may make those of us who choose to stay single not seem so weird either. There’s this thing among conservative christians that if your not married by a certain age there must be something wrong with you. I think we should except people where ever they are in life.


  6. This is a great post. I spend a lot of time arguing about how the Bible doesn’t mention ‘committed same sex relationships’ because it’s the easiest target to go for, and I don’t feel the anti-gay marriage lobby can respond to it in a convincing way. It is baby steps, showing people that what they view as a ‘respectable relationship’ can easily take place. But this is a significant step, illustrating that life isn’t as simple as a created woman and man becoming one, and more Christians are beginning to see this and accept it. Once they’re there, it’s not such a big jump to everything else.


  7. Pingback: Lies, damned lies, and ‘The Bible’ | Clouds moving in

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