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
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.