Strategies for Change: Queer Cautions and Resistance

Sarah R. Young & Sean G. Massey

It is important to acknowledge that for some LGBTQ people, the LGBTQ movement’s recent emphasis on assimilationist approaches to social change, approaches that push for access to heteronormative institutions like marriage, are misguided and actually privilege heterosexuality over queer lives. Some highlight the diverse and creative ways that LGBTQ people create families, emphasizing the importance of families being chosen and raising concerns about laws and legally sanctioned institutions that often place limitations on what counts as “family’.

Some LGBTQ people are concerned that vital and limited resources in the fight for things like a national non-discrimination law have been reallocated to the fight for marriage equality; meaning, ironically, that a lesbian living in a state like Texas can now marry her wife on Sunday and be fired for being a lesbian on Monday. Others challenge the argument that marriage provides a way to gain access to important resources and benefits (e.g., health insurance, inheritance and property rights, visitation rights in hospitals and jails, adoption rights, etc.), instead asking why these benefits must be tied to marriage in the first place. Scholars like Edelman (2004) suggest that queer communities should reject all notions of family building altogether. They point out that instead of making these benefits available to all, marriage equality has simply created a new set of boundaries, and a new class of people for whom they are denied.