Sat 24 Jul 2010
So there’s a story from NPR this past week that’s getting passed around like ladoos at an Indian ceremony. It’s about gay weddings and Indian-Americans. I appreciate the sentiment and do agree that it’s moving that there are Indian-American parents who are coming to terms with and celebrating their kids’ unions with others of the same sex. I understand it’s a light-hearted piece, but I have a few very critical reactions to it.
First, it’s a story, in typical NPR style, that’s pre-packaged and presented in sing-song like fashion, from beginning to end. It’s sad, and honestly nauseating, how so many NPR stories are crafted like “afterschool specials”. Please, treat us with a little more maturity and respect.
Second, and this is my bigger issue, the story celebrates gay marriage and Indian-Americans (a step forward), while celebrating and lauding practices of arranged marriages and twisted ideas of what is acceptable in society (parents advertising their children in the paper, using socioeconomic status and fair skin and other regressive ideas of what is desired in society). The story ends with this sequence of paragraphs:
And I remembered that old coming-out line: “Mom, Dad, I am not going to get married.” The next generation of immigrant gays and lesbians might have to come up with some other coming-out line.
In fact, I can imagine this ad in the local Indian weekly:
“Hindu very well-established Los Angeles family invites professional match for daughter, 25, 5-foot-3, slim, fair complexion, U.S. born, senior executive in Fortune 500 company. Loves music and dancing. Prospective lesbians encouraged to reply in confidence with complete bio data and returnable photo. Must be professional, under 30, caste no bar.”
It might just be time for the gay arranged marriage.
Gay marriage is NOT the only manifestation of gay/queer relationships, so the idea that in the future most Indian kids who are gay are going to need a coming out line other than “mom, dad, I am not going to get married” is a little silly. And, the ad in the local Indian weekly, I almost jumped out of my seat when I read it. The piece is embracing the idea of moving gay marriage into the old ways of representation of desire — socioeconomic status, fairness of skin (don’t say caste no bar when you’re bringing these two things into the mix!). This is exactly the very fear that queer people have about gay culture and marriage ‘equality’ — that it risks succumbing to the normative model of what is desired and what is not desired in society, as a compromise instead of moving to a model of liberation and love. Embracing the modern day caste system doesn’t feel very much like progress to me. Thoughts?