Pop Theory 20: Can the LGBT Movement Move Beyond Sexuality?

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Pop Theory 20: Can the LGBT Movement Move Beyond Sexuality?

[Editor's Note: Pop Theory 20 was first published at AfterEllen on 21 Sept 2012. I feel that this piece has become particularly relevant in light of last week's New York Times piece, "Generation LGBTQIA," in which Gen. Millenials lament the "constraints" of "LGBT" and instead are opting for "LGBTQIA"—that, rightly so, one's sexuality has become less important than gender. Although, there are numerous problems with the article..."bi-gender"? My little students, please take some women's & gender studies courses (become introduced to the term "androgynous") and then talk to me. kthxbye.]

The LGBT movement is by definition conservative. The two issues that have been at the fore of our movement—for which we and our hetero-allies have contributed our money and our time—over the past twenty years have been “same-sex marriage” (“marriage equality”) and the repeal of DADT. While the repeal of DADT celebrated its one year anniversary this week, there have been marginal gains on the same-sex marriage front; DOMA has yet to be repealed on a federal level even though the President has voiced his support for this action and the Democrats included a marriage equality plank in their 2012 platform.

Public queer intellectuals from Fran Lebowitz to J. Jack Halberstam have lamented the fact that these two issues have defined our movement for so long. How ironic is it that we crave admission not only into two institutions that by definition are exclusionary but institutions that are patently patriarchal and demand both the explicit and subtle subjugation of women in order to reaffirm the foundation of their existence?

To be frustrated by the time and resources spent reinforcing these institutions is an emotion best not harbored long; the time has come for us to think more substantially about our political and activist future. First comes the military, then comes marriage, then—well, what becomes of the LGBT movement now?

The Scholar & Feminist Online tackles the question of our political future most thoroughly in its recent issue “A New Queer Agenda,” with the attempt to push “beyond the vision of security and belonging offered through gay marriage to a broader politics of economic, political and sexual justice for all.” In her article “Beyond Marriage: Democracy, Equality, and Kinship for a New Century,” Lisa Duggan, queer feminist amazing-scholar