A few days ago, my friend T sent me this link to a story about drag queens being banned from a Pride event in Scotland, and I posted it to Facebook with, "Will someone tell me again how assimilation leads to freedom? If this is gay rights, I don't want rights. I don't think I even want to be gay any more."
A good friend suggested that this ban is stupid but that it is a well-intentioned desire to shield people from pain. My friend is serious and thoughtful and supportive of greater freedom for everyone, but I think, like many "liberal allies" he's wrong on this one. I hope he will not take my response personally.
I don't think this policing of queer expression is as benign as that. Part of it is about protecting people from pain, yes, but the larger part is about suppressing behavior that doesn't conform to their worldview. It's particularly noxious when it's directed at drag because drag queens have always (explicitly and also just by their very existence) been the ones fighting hardest, taking the biggest risks, provoking the hard questions about gender and sexuality and identity that have made it possible to even have a Gay Pride event in the first place, let alone gay marriage and civil rights and all the other stuff. Rather than shutting them out of the celebration, we should be down on our knees thanking them every day for the modicum of safety we enjoy.
Before I got married -- a fact that complicated but didn't essentially change my stance -- I was much more vocal about the danger of putting all our energy into the gay marriage campaign. I, along with many many other queer people, saw this coming, and it's infuriating to see it play out. All that shouting and marching and writing -- and loving -- has led us to this, a world where expressing a trans identity means looking like Caitlyn Jenner and expressing homo love means getting married. And the whole range of expression outside that new norm is suspect if not banned outright.
I am so mad!