62% of all Australians believe Australia should have marriage equality. This isn’t because of our devotion to the LGBTQIA+ community, but because its the easiest way to support a queer issue without threatening heteronormativity.
At a party recently I overheard a discussion amongst straight and cisgender identifying people talking about marriage equality. I decided to further the conversation on LGBTQIA+ issues by raising the notion LGBTQIA+ homelessness. After some blank stares and a question about just how much I hate Margaret Court, the conversation quickly moved on.
While it was undoubtedly important that these people support the LGBTQIA+ community as young, left wing, inner city residents, it did not occur to them that queer issues extend past marriage equality. Nor did they wish to ask about those issues.
If anyone had bothered to ask I could have told them that The Council to Homeless Persons say that LGBTQIA+ people are 250% more likely to experience homelessness. Or, that there is only one homelessness service provider in Victoria that explicitly caters for LGBTQIA+ people, the Family Access Network.
However, I had forgotten something very important. The extent to which most straight people wish to talk about LGBTQIA+ issues is that gays should be allowed to marry, and that Margaret Court is a demon. These conversations do not stem from genuine love and emotion for the LGBTI community, but self-actualisation for straight people in an easy non-confronting way.
There is no mention of HIV/AIDS as when talking about PrEP, or trans health when talking about access to transition related healthcare, or gay sex when talking about GP’s giving appropriate STI screening.
Instead straight people can look at same sex couples replicating heterosexual weddings with flowers, tuxedos, dresses and monogamy. This doesn’t threaten the heteronormativity in which they are most comfortable.
There is no question that marriage equality should be legalised. However, in order for a queer issue to be considered politically relevant or worth discussion does it have to relate to a heterosexual idea? Why should I have to dumb down my experience as an LGBTQIA+ person to make it palatable for straight people?
The conversation that occurred at that party reflects the wider marriage equality campaign in Australia. Many straight people want to support an LGBTQIA+ issue because it aligns them with the left wing politics to which they identify so strongly. But they do so without any awareness or willingness to learn about what it is like to actually live as a person from the queer community.