Lately I've had a burst of friends tying the knot. Some years it seems that everywhere you turn someone is dropping off the perch (I had 5 contemporaries last year- 2 of which were friends and the other three old uni aquaintances). But this year death has been reasonably somnambulant (so far & touch wood) but marraiges have cropped up everywhere. So far - I found out that two friends "eloped" - ie hired a limousine to a private cermony after one crossed a continent to join the other, at least two more friends have gotten engaged and I went to a wedding last week - a member of the same crowd who I'd seen at a funeral nearly 12 months earlier........... the last rush of weddings were of country school friends - all aged about 22 i think - and it seems like another world with different values; 22 was old for marraige compared with some of our classmaters who hitched at 18.......
I'm curious about this latest rush of matrimony, particularly between couples who have been together for long periods of time. The Mr. & Mrs. of last weekend have been together for about 9 years, and engaged for 2 of them. They had a great ceremony (how can you call someone's wedding crap anyway?) ...... the mother of the bride was flowing in cascading pink and blond curls, and danced barefoot with her latest boyfriend, a 7 foot Texan in black wranglers and a 10 gallon steston. the bride's stepmother spoke seriously about the nature of the ealier private garden cermony and non religious rituals, and the father of the bride, swaggering around with a bottle of stolli and a likely assortment of illicit intoxicants gave a speech worthy of a best man. The best man, gentle friend of the gentle groom gave a soft bridesmaid style speech of gushing epithets, and the bride and groom both gave speeches that bore NO resemblace to Bobbies wedding of Home and Away 17 years ago, or Charlene's wedding on Neighbours soon after. The band were a gathering of horns and guitars doing classic wedding music, (Eye of the tiger!) culminating in a crazed hora after the bridal waltz. (My first Hora not on a Cathode Ray Tube!).
As the stepmother of the bride said, this was a chance for the friends and families of the couple to gather together and celebrate what was a great relationship between two lovely people. I could and hell! I should add my own two cent anecdote about the couple. I met the groom as part of a trotksyite sect 15 years ago, and I met the bride in a dear male philandering friends boudoir about 5 years later, where we were both being gleefully wenched...... When I first brought my newly found french lover to australia, the bride bought us both a bottle of champagne and then dragged anna into ther toilets of the nightclub where we were, before having a sudden attack of Jane Austen sensibilities (as one so often does while snogging and snorting in a night club toilet). In fact the bride IS the type of person who DOES have Jane Austen fits while snogging in nightclub toilets -which is probably why she is so damn classy!
At the same time I'm scared of the increasing conservatism of Australian society, and part of me thought that for straights to have weddings is particularly un politically correct at a time when Gays and Lesbians have been officially prohibited from doing the same. But self denial as Political Protest ? (fuck that, I'd rather go on a fast at lent). Even thinking such things I can feel my lips pucker into a disapproving sapphic scowl, and I feel the insidious claws of lavender ideology gripping at my recovering catholic entrails, oh god and it's a slippery slope from one little act of personal boycott to the whole behave! deny! refuse! decline! keep it firm, pure and under moral control school of political disengagement.......icky icky icky beige horror!
Because I'm in the habit of citing philosophy in these blogs - I'm going to continue here. I may have written this bit before, but I love it, so forgive me. Liz Grosz is a goddess. She has a crap haircut and great bone structure, what more could a Dykon need? Her books from 10 years ago (volatile bdies and space time and perversion) both have bits where she takes up Deleuze's interpretation of Nietsche. In space , time and perversion she uses this exploration in relation to lesbianism and queer politics. Nietsche was a bit of a weirdo and had definite crypto fascist leanings - and all types of freaks give all types of spins on his writings...... He is most famously cited in relation to "the will to power" which sends shudders down my spine in invoking distant memories of essentialising mysanthropic goths....... Anyway I *think* the will to power - is the characteristic of those in society who are "masters" , libidinal, powerful, actualised and the opposite of "slaves" those poor neurotic, reactive whingy persecuted losers with whopping inferiority complexes. Like Me, and pretty much anyone catholic, except the pope and all those scary priests and nuns in the marquise de sade stories. Actually Donatein Alphonse has a pretty protonietschean idea of the whole master/slave thing (whihc somes from Hegel by the way). If you are familiar with De Sades works - Justine is the slave, and Juliette is the master. According to Liz, Deleuze reckons that the whole masterliness and slavishness are much more interesting when seen as tendencies in a subjectivity composed of forces impulses and drives rather than fixed desciptions of the subject.
From what I've read (Anti oedipus, the fold and 1,00 plateaus) Deleuze reckons there is no human subject, and he hates freud, and reckons we are all better off describing ourselves and each other as a collection of forces impulses and drives rather than individuals (Hi! I'm not mayhem, I have an urge to sleep as well as a burning need to write, and I keep thinking of that vulva mask i need to make by saturday. Do you know I'm kind of anxious about the meeting I've got with my supervisor in 5 hours? particularly as I've sat up all night and havne't done any serious work on ym thesis...oh well.......). So if we imagine masterliness and slavishness as forces like yin and yang instead of inherent conditions like male and female, we can appreciate that most people deal with conflicting forces of desire, growth, progress, will and change and reaction, fear, conservatism, denial.........etc. It all sounds kind of nice doesn't it?
Anyway - what I lvoe about Liz, is that she was citing her take on Deleuzes take on Nietsche in relation to Teresa de Lauretis - who calls for a lesbian aesthetic and a lesbian practice of love, sex, desire and politics. and liz took a bit of an irigarayan speculum to de lauretis and went "oh but what is a lesbain if we don't even know what a woman is, escept a non man - isn't it all a bit negative?". and Liz, (bless her) says, affirms that lesbianism is foudned on a positive expansive and libidinous desire! Women don't become lesbians against men, as a reaction, terror or fear of men, but because we like women much more! She takes this further in stating that we can come to know what a female subject(ivity) is by acknolwedging the specificity of this desire towards women as a positivce direction. Liz takes if furhter in other essays to. she says again and again, that gay and lesbian desire is not a reactive slavish condition, but a libidinous, joyous one. If anything is reactive and slavish, she reckons it is the heterosexuality founded on homophobia or just general conformity and fear..........
I hope this long meandering has arrived at a point where it seems vaguely relevant to my previous discussion on marraige. for me, this point to a way that queers can have a sexual ethics, which is not proving the hipness of one sexual preference or category over another, but to encourage a socialised expression of sexuality and sexual/emotional relationships that is expansive, inclusive and joyous. I think marraige can be good where it is an inclusive celebration within a community of friends and family of the sexual and emotinoal happiness of a couple (or a commune even) of people. I beleive we need ceremonies and ritual structures so we can give social expression of feelings that are mstly confusing and complicated.
I was going to incvlude a description of my own marraige here, but I'm tired. No OK I'll include it - coz its a great story. anna and I got married nearly 4 years ago and it was the stuff of urban legend. Our initial pretext was anna's permanent residency application as my interdependant partner. We had lived together for a year and needed "6 -10 photos of both of us in a social setting with friends and family" this we didn't have, so we thought a big wedding party would solve the problem and give us a way of thanking all the people who'd provided emotional and material support while we shared a dole for 12 months. People asked my (school) friends who were coming about what type of cermony we were having, if we were going to have celtic hand tying or wicca incantations. Hell we scoffed! Of course we couldn't marry in any of our ancestral churches (Islam, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic or Anglican) but we had our own cult to get married under!
New Orders Of the Flesh was established by Faher Stan and Sister Joan about the time we started squatting with Father Stan's alter ego. Bascially Gavin had this theory that if the squat was busted, we'd get a lot more media if he could make it look like some freaky anti socog cult conspiracy. We decorated the squat with bits of catholic and religious memorabilia and set up morning worship ceremonies for Deomonda -( who was i guess the cult's mascot and who had her own shrine) and gavin even wanted to break into a hospital to get body speciments and use them in fake threatening letters........... oh the dreams!
anyway, three years later, Father Stan and sister joan donned their habits, and we decorated the ALpha Gallery space into a small chapel. Father stan was reading lots of Bataille and was obsessed with strangulation and bloodletting and he wanted to have a fleshly element to the proceedings. So we strung up Deomonda by a noose, and agreed that Sister Joan could extract blood from each of us and combine it in a cup that we could drink from. Then coz all the food was an RSL style buffet - I thougth it would be more appropriate to dip saveloys into the mixture and place them in each others mouths. We then offered blood dipped saveloys to the crowd but most of them were vegan. It was a beautiful wedding. Anna dressed as a full meringue, me as a groom with a white satin stetson, and Arlene Textaqueen was our official illustrator. the sermon and ceremony highlights were broadcvast on 2SER! We did get lots of people to take photos - but only those from my camera that I had entrusted to a friend were ever seen by either of us since.
I guess this has been a long way of arriving at the real point of this blog - which is my blood boiling rage at the Gay and Lesbian Inc. press in sydney in the past few weeks. Last year when John Howard made a federal decision not to recognise homosexual marriages or unions, the federal ALP, with about as much policy initiative as the average axolotl did not oppose him. this is not only because they are stupid or inept, but because most of the ALP right and a good section of the left are paid up members of the catholic church. This is in contradiction with many members of the ALP left who are also gay or lesbian. In fact at its best, the ALP represents that nice image of hegemonic australian social tolerance, where people from difference backgrounds and different belief structures can still get along in the same community. Now John Howard is an evil bastard because he creates and enhances divisions in society, turning us all into nietschian masters or slaves (winners or losers). Most howard critics write about this as wedge politics. But what amazes me is that the ALP can't even respond to this and try to take sides - and the side they have taken in every issue - from boat people to industrial rights to gay and lesbian marriage - is that of the slave:, whingeing, reactive, fearful, neurotic, reactionary.
there was not an outcry last year from Gay and Lesbian Inc. because most of the self declared community representatives (iue the ones who've forged careers from gay and lesbian movements) are also paid up members of the ALP. hell, the ALP gives people a great training and support structure for poeople who want to use social movements in order to enhance their career prospects. (the only equivalent organisations are churches in welfare/charity groups). and I can see why these poeple are loyal to the institution from where they derive their real social power. But I wasn't running down the streets shouting either so I wans't going to get too het up. I DID make a point of polling for the greens at the last federal election in the seat of my local (official community endorsed) member, Tania Plibersek.why? Because I'm gay and married, and I oppose any party who reckons I don't count.
In the past week I've been reading in the gay press (the lesbian press - lotl has about as much content as who weekly - so I don't bother). about some forum that the greens ran in sydney about introducing state based changes. Lee rhiannon - probably informed by the contacts and research of her staff member (an ex gay officer from uni 10 years ago, who has been active and visible in queer politics ever since) announced that she intended to put up a state based bill for marraige reform in the NSW parliament.
Hells bells! and because the corridor sharpies of the labour left hadn't spent many nights over bitter beers and bitter tears using it as some chip to broker some deal with the right over some minor cabinet allocations or power plays for the forthcoming State ALP conference - well! they all oppose it! the gay and lesbian rights lobby oppose it, a number of senr workers at ACON oppose it, a number of prominent gay and lesbian journalists, lawyers, activists oppose it. Of course they cite their principalled ooposion as the voice of "our community", and their tactial oppostion to simply campaigning for a decent policy. IN the process they have earn't my undying hatred. They do not represent the community I come from. the community of queers who I know respect live, teach and work with, and the community of non queers who I also know, respect, work, live with do not act like this. We also don't go to boring expensive mardis gras parties (and you wonder why your making a loss guys?) Or pay membership fees to the Gay and Lesbian business association. We also don't beleive in living our lives in fear, its kind of one of those things you accept to live without when you stop being a catholic.
I don't believe anyone in the ALP is actually a non catholic. Its they way so many of them especially on the left use guilt to harrangue other radicals into joining them. how often have I heard "Come ON! you KNOW the only way to make a difference is from within, you KNOW we need your support to defeat the right! it's people like you who keep the ALP left so weak in this country!" Heaps - but I've never said what I believe, that it is people like them, who keep it weak, narrow minded and selfish. The attraction of a large organisation is its resources and the possibility of gaining some sort of status and security in society. Lots of people make careers based on their political networks and the ALP is one of the biggest. but at what cost? At constantly grovelling and making compromises to people who are your social opponents? (and I won't mince words here - right wing catholics would prefer if queers had never been born or at least never been fucked) At spending your life in brokering deals and playing numbers games of rhetorical strategy? No wonder these people have lost sense of what a community is outside of their own sectarian selfish interests.
Community occurs when poeple follow their hearts and pink bits. When people live full and happy lives and share their ideas, desires and relationships with others, we make real communities of social and political strength. I think I can honestly say that anna and I have phsically and emotionally suffered due to homophobic discrimination. We've lived in terrible poverty, uncertainty and stress and for her linguistic exile. What carried us through were our communities of friends and families who accepted us and supported us in any way they could. Either of us could have married a man and gained instant alternate passports for the other country, but having the courage to put ourselves and our communities to the test created and experience of trust and love that I wouldn't swap for anything.
Nov 11: Giving a reading at Naked Heart Festival
2 weeks ago