“Queer Rage” from LGBT Students of Color: Poetry Performance Critiques Marriage Politics, and Is Badass

Cross-posted with permission from Stanford student publication, Static.

Queer Rage by Janani Balasubramanian, ’12, Alok Vaid-Menon, ’13, and Cam Awkward-Rich, graduate student in Modern Thought & Literature

This poem, “Marriage”, also known as “Queer Rage”, is a critique of gay marriage politics as a strategy of liberation. Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage (or anyone else’s) is not where the struggle ends, or even begins, really. In the piece we call for a consideration of race, class, and other systems of control that complicate and intersect with queerness. We also point to the increasing corporatization and overwhelming whiteness of gay marriage politics. Overall, we point to a more critical consideration of violence and material oppression that is linked to queerness, and how insufficient marriage equality is in this regard. This piece was performed by the Stanford Slam Poetry team at the 2012 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. Video and transcript below.

There’s no place like homo
There’s no place like homo

somewhere over the rainbow
way up high
there’s a land that I heard of
once in a lullaby

Wake up honi
it’s called san francisco
where white bourgie bitches getting gay married
but my ass ain’t got an invite sha hoo~

Somewhere over the rainbow
Blue birds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can’t I?

BECAUSE YOU’RE BROWN HONEY GURL

I’m bout to sassy gay friend this ish ~
Not gay as in happy but queer as in fuck you
Rainbows are just refracted beams of white light,
Gay marriage activism is a temper tantrum:
Mommy I’m going to buy an “I’m a second class citizen” American Apparel v-neck to go with my corporate internship and some ass

I didn’t always think this way
Cuz philadelphia taught me everything i still know about shame
that my queer body was something to “correct”
that looking like “a faggot with a cunt” only meant
I was looking for trouble

So in high school I laced my shoes with rainbows
and preached the gospel of equal rights and pride
That tell us marriage will finally untangle
our love from shame, will legislate us wholly human

But the day same sex marriage was legalized in New York, DC, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa it didn’t get better because “Somewhere over the rainbow” there’s a pot of Goldman Sachs
**DUN DUN DUN DUN**We are gathered here today**

for richer, for poorer
tell that to El’Jai who lost his job last year
His state is one of only 12
where you cannot legally be fired
for having a body that doesn’t sit right with your heart
but his job “could only be done by a man”
and his genitals did not conform to his employers expectations.

[I do not know if he won the court case, only that he has a son,
and that being brown and trans means being 4 times less likely to find work]
but who needs money for bread when you can eat wedding cake!

in good times and in bad
tell that to Temmie Breslauer a transwoman who was arrested for using
her father’s discount subway card.
the NYPD chained her to a wall for 28 hours and called her a he-she
to have and to be held
this is what marriage means for queer people
as we send the government wedding invitations to incarcerate our love

till death do us part,
tell that to asher brown who at thirteen took a gun to his head
as if it was an act of patriotism because in texas
being gay is a death sentence
it is nights spent whispering secrets to open skies
it is the sound of your mother crying because she wonders
how that thing came out of her

and i do, i do, i do
not believe that a marriage certificate
could have stopped the bullet

Remember,
Remember,
Remember,
There is something beautiful about being lied to:
Rainbows are just a trick of light,
They make us forget the storm is still happening,
When walking towards the end of the rainbow, it will always move away.

Cam, Janani, and Alok are all members of the Stanford Spoken Word Collective.

About the Author

QWOC Media WireQueer Women of Color Media Wire is a media advocacy organization that amplifies media and thought leadership of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women, including gender non-conforming racial and ethnic minorities all across the globe. Follow us on Twitter @qwocmediawire, Tumblr (http://qwocmediawire.tumblr.com/), or Like us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/qwocmediawire).View all posts by QWOC Media Wire →

  • http://twitter.com/Vsachdev3 Vijay Sachdev

    These are really powerful words to synthesize why gay marriage is a privileged struggle. I love the honesty and the brilliant use of phrases we associate with wedding ceremonies that also represent the oppression we face as queer folks. Poetry is such a great way to challenge this oppression especially when delivered as fantastically as this group. Time to search more queer poets of color!!!

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  • Furbirdsqueerly

    thank you so much for this poets. What poetry that tells the real story of our lives at this time. Thank you poets for reminding us of what we should really be facing in our world today. On Furbirdsqueerly we too take issue with the privileged struggle of marriage. We will link to this page and hope that our readers will come over and read and learn and think beyond the privileged one issue movement of marriage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kynthia-Alice/100001009247368 Kynthia Alice

    I have been reviled for saying the same thing, gay privilege is a bitch.

    • Richard

      Oh me too. I feel so much better that the young see right through this marriage crap. I feel so much better today.

  • http://twitter.com/nonviolentrage/status/316663316602843136/ @nonviolentrage
  • http://twitter.com/StyleBecomesHim/status/316680241663836161/ @StyleBecomesHim

    “Queer Rage” from LGBT Students of Color: Poetry Performance Critiques Marriage Politics, and Is Bad http://t.co/yrSGPpdfId

  • http://twitter.com/killallhombres/status/316681243565625344/ @killallhombres

    tw cissexism queerphobia racism slurs ect. http://t.co/OgIRSQ98zb im bawling rn

  • http://twitter.com/QueerKnowledge/status/316755760510013440/ @QueerKnowledge

    “Queer Rage” from LGBT Students of Color: Poetry Performance Critiques Marriage Politics, and Is Badass
    http://t.co/6wI2KswJbQ

  • http://twitter.com/JohnnyGolightly/status/316759179022966784/ @JohnnyGolightly

    2:47 of chills! / “Marriage” aka “Queer Rage” from #LGBT Students of Color http://t.co/rKafdyrX41

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  • http://twitter.com/IzzyNastasia/status/316783807648899073/ @IzzyNastasia

    “I do not believe that a marriage certificate can stop the bullet” #QTOC #Poetry http://t.co/6fneaPersg

  • Me

    “No man is free until all are free.” I appreciate your sentiments in this jam, but honestly, why does one fight preclude another? Isnt that a lot like saying “Your fight isnt important but mine is, so you need to support mine but I wont support yours”? Gay marriage is not the end or the beginning of our fight, it is a step along the way.

    • http://www.facebook.com/MiriMiriAru Miriam Fallyna

      Trans people have been fighting alongside gay people since there has been a gay rights movement, and yet have been told at every turn “this is just a step along the way, you’ll be next”. Why are trans rights where gay rights were 20 years ago? Why is marriage plugged as the final step to “full equality”, when there are many members of the community, trans and cis, who will not benefit in the slightest from being able to get married. The only ones who will benefit are the largely white middle class cis gays and lesbians who are avid followers of the gaystream’s liberation through assimilation strategy. Not all of us want to or are able to assimilate, and nor should we be expected to just to convince the muggles we deserve our rights as human beings. Gay marriage isn’t a step along the way except for minority within our already minority community. It doesn’t help the majority of us, no matter how deluded many of us are by the lines we’ve been fed. This is the message of these poets. It’s a hard message for those with privilege to take in, but it’s nothing but the truth.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mayowa.willoughby Mayowa Willoughby

        SAY YO PREACH

  • http://twitter.com/JenniQueSs/status/316911800820043777/ @JenniQueSs
  • http://twitter.com/wildgender/status/316966257909981184/ @wildgender

    “Queer Rage” from LGBT Students of Color: Poetry Performance Critiques Marriage Politics, and Is Bad http://t.co/WrY2ANaAwx

  • http://twitter.com/SolidariGee/status/316968515661885440/ @SolidariGee

    “Rainbows are just a trick of the light.” #queer #poetry #gaymarriage #lgbt http://t.co/nJMGftkjTP

  • http://twitter.com/vruzzo/status/317003774323474432/ @vruzzo

    http://t.co/iroD4sNWdz if kids can get it why cant we all?

  • http://blog.themerchgirl.net Creatrix Tiara

    Just so you know, whenever this post has been shared on Facebook, the title ends with “and is Bad”…very different meaning!

  • http://twitter.com/lalalalinsa/status/317060943953674240/ @lalalalinsa
  • http://twitter.com/garconniere/status/317075014878912512/ @garconniere

    “Queer Rage” from LGBT Students of Color: Poetry Performance Critiques Marriage Politics, and Is Badass
    http://t.co/DiwMnNlRkU

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  • http://twitter.com/Dafliwala/status/317298639959638016/ @Dafliwala

    @aparatbar there’s opposition and then there’s critique.. http://t.co/BU9nNQDypO

  • http://twitter.com/Gkhosh/status/317330449980588032/ @Gkhosh

    Sing it!! <3 http://t.co/iwinNPC0Cs #queerofcolor #queerrage #marriageequality

  • http://twitter.com/annieqsajid/status/317371899787239426/ @annieqsajid

    all previous tweets quotes from the poem “Queer Rage” http://t.co/OCa0MGJ9hO “gay marriage is not a strategy for liberation”

  • http://twitter.com/TriangleProject/status/317584430665449472/ @TriangleProject

    “Queer Rage” from LGBT Students of Color: Poetry Performance Critiques Marriage Politics, and Is Bad http://t.co/F1VVvEgyHd

  • http://twitter.com/Biancha8/status/317622401309474817/ Bianca Remer (@Biancha8)

    ‘#Queer Rage’: performance from #LGBTQ students of color critiques #marriage #politics, and Is BADASS http://t.co/rlnVHDNfSI

  • http://twitter.com/WAAsuperladies/status/317623291521146881/ @WAAsuperladies

    “Queer Rage” from LGBT Students of Color: Poetry Performance Critiques Marriage Politics, and Is Badass
    http://t.co/bcTpAQjQi5

  • http://twitter.com/v2boi/status/317750262871773185/ @v2boi

    “Queer Rage” from LGBT Students of Color: Poetry Performance Critiques Marriage Politics, and Is Badass
    http://t.co/YZLrXv0hEC

  • matt2201

    I can’t get over all this talk about “privilege”. Everyone has some sort of struggle, and people seem to be so fixated on how theirs is bigger or more important than everyone else’s. Gay equality/marriage is a good thing, how it can be viewed negatively because it mostly benefits (what people think are) more “privileged” people, but who also are in a struggle, is beyond me. I can’t see any help it can do. The world owes nobody a favour, do the best you can in this world and be as happy as you can, and make change for good, that’s what I think 🙂

    • Nina

      They never said that marriage equality is a bad thing! It isn’t! People do, however, hide behind the fact they support marriage equality and pretend that it’s the only challenge queer people can ever face. “A rainbow is just a trick of the light.”

      • matt2201

        Ah, I see what you mean, Nina. I still have a problem with a “privileged struggle” though, as some people are terming it, it’s viewing a struggle the wrong way – why do struggles have to be graded like this? Rather let’s view it the right way: everyone struggles, any advances are good advances and let’s continue fighting for advances for everyone

  • http://twitter.com/debbiehu/status/319191448237006848/ @debbiehu

    “Queer Rage” from LGBT Students of Color #zomg #anger http://t.co/siWG0ALeEX by @qwocmediawire

  • http://twitter.com/debbiehu/status/319239636339785729/ @debbiehu

    “Mommy Im gna buy an “I’m a 2nd class citizen” American Apparel v-neck to go with my corporate internship/ &some ass” http://t.co/siWG0ALeEX

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  • http://twitter.com/robotno9/status/319397045834227713/ @robotno9

    http://t.co/Js6B1taP0b this is the most amazing thing. please watch it. please. these people are wonderful and amazing and great

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  • http://www.facebook.com/freezara Zara Vaccarella

    BEAUTIFUL!!!

  • http://twitter.com/transformingfam/status/322170766143668225/ @transformingfam

    Must-see poetry performance “Marriage”, aka “Queer Rage”, about marriage politics from queer students of color: http://t.co/goEWuGEbkS

  • http://twitter.com/baum_glueck/status/327487213011099650/ @baum_glueck

    “Rainbows are just refracted beams of white light” http://t.co/JdkDc3HeSg #spokenword

  • http://twitter.com/KabaadiWalah/status/329834745489928192/ @KabaadiWalah

    ‘Queer Rage’ – Poetry performance critiques marriage politics and is badass. http://t.co/JG7K2VeH2H via @qwocmediawire

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  • http://twitter.com/Dafliwala/status/335809833741713408/ @Dafliwala

    @GeorgeTakei @otcimow epic epic epic!, although think a bit on the queer teens as well http://t.co/Avsaw5dpmL

  • Counterculturalist

    Powerful

  • Hussin Yusof

    sounds whiny to me. fight the fight. Any fight. Don’t look down on gay marriage, it may not be as dramatic as being arrested for using ur dads discount card but its damn important when your “partner” is dying and his biological kids have to go back to their abusive junkie “mother”. Privilege my ass. And before u sass me, I live in a country where being gay can send u to jail and it has, where trans are rounded up and sent to religious camps.
    so yea there are worlds of differences in suffering. why not lament about the kids in Cambodia forced to slave away making your pretty dresses? Coz you fight for causes that are close to your heart. and mouthy little bitches don’t endear to the heart.

    • Counterculturalist

      well you’re white so these aren’t your problems.

      • Soupée

        Are you blind, ignorant and dense??? A white guy named Hussin Yusof…yep you’re an idiot.