The price of normal - Page 3

THE QUEER ISSUE: Who, exactly, does gay marriage benefit?
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An early Gay Liberation Front
poster from the 1970s

After all these years, I still don't want to head to the chapel to get married.

When it really comes down to it, gay marriage is a conservative issue. It's about wanting to fit in, to be like everyone else. Beyond the important issues of tax breaks and next-of-kin status — and the fact that if any institution exists, it shouldn't discriminate against queers — marriage is ultimately a means of normalizing binary queer relationships, especially for gay men who have always enjoyed the freedom to be promiscuous. It's a way to try and rein in our libidos, though the prevalence of extramarital sex among straight couples — 50 percent for women, 60 percent for men, according to a recent issue of Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy — shows that marriage doesn't come with a chastity belt.

It also doesn't come with any guarantees, as researchers discovered in Sweden, where queers were able to contract for same-sex partnerships from 1995 until recently, when full same-sex marriage was instituted. According to a study by the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, Swedish queers have been divorcing in high numbers, like their straight counterparts, who have a divorce rate that's just a little higher than the United States.

For queers in Sweden, that's the price of being normal.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca, who has been a queer activist since he was involved with the Gay Liberation Front at Temple University in Philadelphia in the early 1970s, is editor of Smash the Church, Smash the State! The Early Years of Gay Liberation (City Lights Books).