December 11, 2019


You Wanted Same-Sex Marriage? Now You Have Pete Buttigieg. (Shannon Keating, December 11, 2019, Buzz Feed News)

To me, and to a lot of other gay progressives -- from ACT UP activists to the queer wing of the DSA -- that moment in March made it suddenly and disappointingly clear that Buttigieg's rise was made possible by a gay civil rights movement that has focused above all else on marriage equality and assimilating LGBTQ people into the mainstream. In lieu of working toward a radically different vision of a more just society, Gay Inc. agreed to settle for the same bad deal that unwealthy straight people already have.

In general, Buttigieg makes the case that gay people like him, and like me, deserve to belong -- in our families, in our churches, and in our communities -- just as much as straight people do. He's right; we do deserve to belong. But Buttigieg is also effectively arguing that queer people's rights should derive from the very institutions we've only recently gained (tenuous) access to, like marriage and the job market. He's insisted that universal coverage for things like pre-K, Medicare, and college education -- policies I believe in, which would guarantee coverage to every individual, regardless of their marital or employment status -- isn't only financially impossible, but wasteful and unnecessary. (Why rely on the state when you've got private corporations or the conservative-approved nuclear family?)

It's not all that surprising, then, that I or other progressive voters who might have been initially optimistic about the prospect of a viable queer candidate quickly soured on Buttigieg after the brief thrill of his early rise. Since March, the mayor has steadily shuffled toward an open spot in the center of the field, and pivoted to attacking further-left candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders for what he positions as their pie-in-the-sky, unrealistic plans for gun law reform, universal free college, and Medicare for all. This week, he released the names of his clients from his time working as a consultant at McKinsey following intense public scrutiny over his involvement at the firm. But the disappointment -- and even anger -- of the "Let's Get Buttigieg To Quit" faction is different, and much more specific, than general progressive frustration with a more moderate candidate.

For decades now, queer radicals "against equality" have argued that, from marriage to the military, "seeking inclusion in a system that's based on institutional and economic exploitation is an unacceptable path forward." LGBTQ people, particularly the most marginalized among us, will never thrive in a country powered by capitalism, the military-industrial complex, and mass incarceration. But they -- we -- are clearly a minority within a minority.

...than the way homosexuality was stripped of its transgressiveness and institutionalized.

Posted by at December 11, 2019 4:18 PM