PRIDE AND THE DOLLARFICATION OF QUEERNESS

PRIDE AND THE DOLLARFICATION OF QUEERNESS

The thing with being subjected to queerphobic violence by a socially-constructed heterosexual majority group is that amidst the violence, you’re expected to accept the barest minimum from the ‘decent’ ones among them, even if their act of decency is performative and only serves to line their pockets. You’re not allowed to call them out on the violence of their exploitation. They gave you your rights after all.

The history of sexual behavior is many thousands of years old, but the queer identity – what we know as L G B T Q – is a creation of the modern social world. The modern queer identity is tied to capitalism, in the way that the nuclear family (another modern European creation) is. Under capitalism, the most important goat, much more than anything else, is to gain capital. This is why today, you find many corporations being more behind queer struggles than another minority struggles, because queerphobia cuts across every social group you can think of, including the Bee Keeper community. Queerness has high economic value and corporations fall behind it for this simple reason. They have discovered that discriminating against queer people is bad for business. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said, “The business community recognized long ago that discrimination in all its forms is bad for business.” No, Tim and the rest of the capitalists don’t recognize that discrimination is bad because it is inhumane; rather they recognize that it is bad because it means they will make less money. Basically, your pocket and ability to generate revenue is more important than your humanity. Your ability and availability for exploitation is why big corporations fall behind your ‘liberation’, not because the violence you’re subjected to is bad. Queer or non-queer, you’re only relevant for laboring for the capitalist. A price tag is placed on your queerness.

To put this into perspective, legalizing same sex marriage in the US was an expensive venture. Anti-homophobia campaigners raised $11 million to fight an initiative banning same-sex marriage in Arizona and Florida. The Human Rights Commission has also donated over $14 million to various Political Action Committees (PACs) and over $25 million in lobbying since 1998. We can actually say queer people bought their rights. Legalizing same-sex marriages has economic benefits for states that legalize them. Over 2000 jobs were created and over $31.4 million in tax revenue from marriage spending was generated in the California in the first 3 years of legalization of same-sex marriages in the state. Another $2 billion was generated in the states that legalized same-sex marriage, far exceeding the $500 million generated via heterosexual marriages. Businesses have argued that “recognizing the rights of same-sex couples to marry is more than just a constitutional issue. It is a business imperative.” (Hollingsworth v. Perry, 2013, p16)

Same-sex marriage is an enforcement of strict heteronormative standards that the institution of marriage has stood on for decades. It further pushes the notion of ‘nuclear family’ as an ideal and a safety net, especially financially. Marriage is a religio-capitalist creation (majorly a capitalist creation if we are keeping it a buck), and that is why same-sex marriages are also a source of income generation and not just a union of humans in love. Why is the love shared between John and Mark not valid and powerful enough for them to get cheaper healthcare and lesser taxes without a marriage certificate? Why does Samantha have to marry Adejumoke before she can join her in the US and qualify for citizenship? Why does the state have to validate the love they share via issuance of a certificate? What is the business of the state with the love citizens share? Economic reasons were one of the options listed in open letters written by big corporations to the Supreme Court, why queer rights needed to be recognized. They realized money could be made from queerness and so, they fought for “queer liberation.” John Rechy in his book, The Sexual Outlaw, said “the heterosexual norm – marriage, children, home, property – is ingrained into homosexuals as the only possible means of happiness. Homosexuals are taught by heterosexuals to expect and even yearn for what given societal attitudes are possible under a different lifestyle.”  Same-sex marriage is not queer liberation. Where the goal of queer liberation is freedom from oppression, same-sex marriage is a heteronormatization of the queer community. It is sustenance of heteronormativity.

Corporations make their profit through labor exploitation, using the Relative Surplus Population (RSP). Capitalism serves to keep people poor and in desperate need of work, to ensure that it’ll always have a ‘reserve army’ ready for exploitation – the RSP. It survives on the sustenance of poverty. The RSP is made up of every social group, but mainly non-white people, women and other ‘minority’ social groups. Queer people serve a very unique position in the reserve army because we are a part of every group. We are carpenters, bus drivers, university graduates, songwriters. We are also a part of every race existing, and discriminating against us is bad for business. Queerness varies across class lines, gender, race or any other status. This is why it does not serve capitalists and capitalism to oppress people based on their sexuality. Give them their rights, but keep them poor.

As queer rights are slowly being recognized all around the world, our queerness is being commoditized. As human rights are expanded to include queer rights, we are being opened up for our queerness to be sold. Heterosexual allies are being rewarded for being decent people, making it easy to be performative. The meaning of Pride is being watered down in the rainbow-colored mugs sold on Amazon, in the rainbow-themed logos Netflix puts on its Twitter on the 1st of June every year, even though Netflix is still rife with queer erasure. Big corporations tweet #pride every day in June, but do not deal with queerphobia in the office nor prioritize the mental health of their queer staff. They still withhold promotions from their Black and other POC staff who are also queer. Corporations get behind queerness to sell queerness, and give very little money to organizations that support LGBTQ+ causes globally. This affects queer people outside the West, because the money donated to these organizations is not enough to handle our needs as queer people from the Global South. Queer representation and discourse is heavily whitewashed and male-centered, because it still has to be palatable to the consuming class. That’s why white gay male couples will be front and center and not, say, Asian Trans people. They’re representative of the highest placement in the social hierarchy and have to be presented as such if we want to be taken seriously.

For Pride, I want to see the commoditization of queerness less. It is disgusting to do this. Queerness is sacred. It is important and should not have a price tag. Queerness should not generate income for a heterosexual man who is married to a heterosexual woman and blessed with five heterosexual children, three of whom are virulently queerphobic. Queerness should not be sewn into poorly-designed lingerie and SOLD to actual queer people, with only $250,000 going to five different organizations to share. The heterosexual class and big corporations should fund projects for queer people by queer people, as reparations for years of socio-economic violence. They should not be able to turn queerness into a for-profit business. They’re the last people who can or should take queerness and profit off of it. They should not be given awards by queer organizations for being decent people. They should not be celebrated for respecting human beings like them. Exploitation should stop, and queer exploitation should be done away with forever. Not reformed; abolished.

For Pride, I want us to gatekeep queerness with the same vehemence (if not more) that those protected by heterosexuality spread, practice and maintain the culture of queerphobic violence.

Written by Big Bad Judy

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  1. Fred
    June 08, 09:54 Reply

    That’s the difference between Positive Economics and Normative Economics. When profit superceded “sentimental value”.

  2. Dee
    June 10, 10:35 Reply

    My word! This is a necessary piece. Thank you.

  3. trystham
    June 10, 15:21 Reply

    Sounds a lot like an extortion in Kito only without the beatings and blackmail

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