Alex Blaze

Did I shovel the drive-way this afternoon?

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 13, 2007 3:43 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Indiana, marriage amendment, personal, SJR-7

The snow is piling up here in Indiana and quite a few of the schools are closed. So, instead of being locked in my house, I did what every respectable ex-urban does when it snows: I shoveled the drive-way.

The problem with this chore is that it's boring and mechanical enough to give one a lot of time to think. Of course, what was on my mind, besides the articles that I had read about the future of Russian gays, is SJR-7, or the anti-marriage amendment, that just passed the state senate here in Indiana. It felt strange to at one instant be reading about how I, as determined by a majority of lawmakers in my state, am not a normal human being deserving of a complete and fair shot at life, and at the next, to be doing what everyone else in my neighborhood was doing. How could both be possible?

Shoveling away, I had to wonder about how much an individual is defined by rhetoric. One of the first moments of self-awareness that separates a person from the rest of the world is a rhetorical one. We learn our names, and that they are only our names, and they identify each of us as different from everyone else. In first introducing ourselves to others, we engage in the same rhetorical self-identification. The importance we place on a name isn't the only evidence that we are rhetorical creatures - think about our second-worst criminal punishment: solitary confinement. We think that the worst thing we can do to another human being short of killing him or her is to lock that person away from human interaction. Much of that interaction on a normal basis comes from rhetorical intercourse - I wonder if too long of solitary confinement would warp a person's understanding of the difference between the world inside and outside his or her mind.

So in the "debate" and passage of SJR-7, the Evangelism of Abnormality was, of course, thrown around haphazardly. I was (and, yes, I took it personally) labeled as being disordered, overly sexual, an unfit parent, irresponsible, a biological error, and, ultimately, non-existent (if one takes the narrative of mutability and ex-gayism to its logical end). I was further rendered non-existent in the same way that Mike Huckabee attempted to make Mary Cheney this past weekend by saying that he "wouldn't get near specific cases" when talking about marriage equality - if one actually thinks about the individuals that such legislation affects, one can't support it, so they cannot exist as individuals. They have to be an abnormal and disordered mass.

I definitely believe that my sexual orientation is not just part of myself that can be separated from everything else - it's an integral part of my constitution and identity that affects everything I do, even if I couldn't discern its effect on my snow-shoveling. But to be rhetorically defined based solely on my sexuality, and defined so negatively by my sexuality, and defined so much by my sexuality, I'm left in a state of meta-physical schizophrenia. Do I have an identity outside of my sexuality? The state legislature certainly doesn't think so. It's entirely unavoidable for that rhetoric to seep into my self-identification as that self-identification is always dependent on rhetoric.

But the ultimate question loomed like the snow falling off the roof onto my hard work: how can I be simultaneously disordered and abnormal and shoveling the drive-way like all my heterosexual neighbors are doing? It's that split at that moment that gave me that strange feeling of meta-physical schizophrenia as I started shoveling, that feeling of "weird" derived from reading the anti-gay rhetoric on the internet and then going outside to do a chore.

The ultimate conclusion of the heterosexual supremacist rhetoric that surrounded the passage of SJR-7 is that I simply could not have been shoveling the drive-way. While my psyche is prone to contradictory feelings, reality can be simple and identifiable. And an abnormal, deranged, hypersexual person simply would not be shoveling his drive-way this afternoon.

It's such logical games that keep me sane and prevent me from ever thinking that such people should be given the power to grant me identity. I just need to remind myself every now and then.

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The money quote: ...if one actually thinks about the individuals that such legislation affects, one can't support it, so they cannot exist as individuals. They have to be an abnormal and disordered mass.


Dear Friends--

I agree with what you say.. and now I know I don't have to shovel. ;-)

This is one battle.. and we have a larger one looming ahead of us. We have to regroup, gird our loins and make sure we take it to the House. The Senate was never going to go our way-- but we still picked up 3 votes.

We need to turn out in large numbers on Monday the 19th and then take that chance to lobby the House.. make it clear to Speaker Bauer that this is going to be painful.

As much as this hurts us, let us keep in mind the young man or woman in Indiana who feels hopeless, verbally battered, and without a chance.. the gay or lesbian kid in a rural school who can't see any light in the future. We simply can't abandon him or her to these wolves. We have to redouble our efforts to stop this travesty in the constitution.

And yet this disordered mass is going out to not only shovel my snow (as I did twice yesterday!) but also the elderly neighbor's walk too. And you know what? I have no idea what her sexuality is - and I don't care. Unlike the legislators, I don't need to know and discriminate on someone's sexual orientation. All I need to know is that she needs help and I can provide it.

If only our legislators were that helpful, eh?

Great article Alex.

I especially like the use of "heterosexual supremacist". It packs a lot of "wallop" if you will, and for me speaks so much more than bigot, rightwinger etc. (Not that there's anything wrong with calling a bigot a bigot!)