In “A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories” Roxane Gay posits that, in terms of sexual orientation, access to privacy is a privilege that only heterosexual are afforded. She says that heterosexual people “can date, marry, and love whom they choose without needing to disclose much of anything. If they do choose to disclose, they are rarely negative consequences” (163). Their life choices are rarely scrutinized in the public eye because they fit into what is deemed as the social norm. The backlash that homosexual people face when they come out makes it all the more difficult (hate crimes, loss of rights and privileges from the government, and alienation from the public). Although the common norm among members of society dictate that homosexuals are subjected to these shortcomings, Gay elucidates the more ethically favorable option to allow equal rights despite peoples’ sexual orientations.
By Zahra Morgan and Yooseob Jung
In “A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories”, Roxane Gay speaks about privacy and the privileges that public figures are not afforded in terms of their privacy. Humans often view the right to privacy as an unalienable human right. However this is all thrown out of the window once someone ascends to fame. This dismissal of people’s right to privacy is made especially clear when public figures who identify as lgbtq+ are expected to come out and publicly declare how they identify.
I agree with the sentiment expressed in this piece. However I walked away from reading this with a sense of hopelessness. If I understood her correctly, Gay expressed that the burden of sacrificing one’s privacy for the greater good of society shouldn’t be placed on public figures, it should be placed on all of us. We should all be willing to sacrifice our privacy for the greater good too. We should speak up when small offenses are made against marginalized people. But why would it be okay in situations like congressmen Edward Schrock’s where he sabotaged his own self interest and worked against the greater good of the people? Is it justified because he’s protecting his unalienable right while simultaneously barring millions of people from being able to exercise their unalienable rights? Isn’t he one of “us”? He didn’t need to sacrifice his privacy in order to do the right thing, so why are his actions justified? Although I don’t agree with him being publicly outed, why should we sympathize with him when he is failing to hold himself accountable for his actions as one of “us”?
My greatest take away from this piece is how much complacency can be a detriment to the cause we are advocating for. When we relinquish our responsibility of advocacy and let public figures (sometimes involuntarily) assume that role, we are being complacent. While we should praise them for their courage to come out and be “counted”, we should also make sure to “ask ourselves what sacrifices we will make for the greater good”(169).
In his article, “The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts Club”, Michael Cobb criticizes the language used in the Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges. Cobb takes issue with comments made by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family” he says. That statement shows the flawed way in which he, and many others, decide the value of someone’s character. If someone has made the decision to live their lives in solitude, they are miserable and should be pitied. Everything else that person has accomplished in their life becomes invalidated simply because they don’t have a partner. This way of thought is harmful for people because it pushes people to strive for something that is trivial. It distracts people from Behavior like this further proves that the institution of marriage means nothing but trouble for everyone involved and not involved.
All in all, I agree with the sentiment expressed in this article. There is no reason to valorize the relationship between spouses, it’s oftentimes short lived and sometimes lacks the stability that familial and platonic relationships have. Rather than being a testament to how great of a person you are, to me, marriage is also a testament to how well one can remain stationary in a unsatisfying situation for a long period of time. I think it shows that people are scared of change, and if their marriage doesn’t pose a threat to the way they live, they will stay in it. I also think that people apply what they’ve learned in their relationships to their everyday life as well. If people are okay with remaining static in relationships that aren’t necessarily the most satisfying for years just to protect the stability of their lives, they probably will be okay with not challenging the dominant parties that dictate other aspects of their lives and oppress them in ways that they don’t even realize.
In his longwinded first chapter, Michel Foucault discusses society’s repression of sexuality in the 18th century compared to the 20th century. Not much has changed. Despite the lack of progress, It is nice to see the ways in which society has evolved since Foucault wrote “The History of Sexuality”. After reading this piece, I’m not really sure that I have anything of substance to say in response to it. I found his writing to be verbose and overwrought which made it hard for me to actually grasp what he was saying, thus making it even more difficult to form thoughts in response to the piece. The repressive hypothesis makes sense especially when one thinks about the institution of marriage and how much those ideals are forced upon us. The bourgeoisie profits from marriage because married people feel motivated to earn money in order to provide for their family, so they make up the bourgeoisie’s workforce. They then use the money that they have earned to buy things to provide for their families because that is what is expected of you when you get married which puts the money they earned right back into the bourgeoisie’s pockets. I don’t think I have ever considered the ways in which discourse on sexuality (or lack thereof) is used as a means to create class disparity, but I think that it’s a productive way to think about it. Although Foucault does not seem to like the revolutionary nature of speaking about sex, I think that it’s okay that it’s seen as revolutionary because I think it creates progress and I think it pushes more people to be speak openly about sex.
In her piece titled “Against Love” Laura Kipnis outlines the ways in which love has served as a hinderance to human happiness. I thought that this reading was interesting, but I felt as though the writer was arguing against the wrong thing. I felt like she thought that love as an emotion and love as an institution was the same thing. I also feel like she didn’t make it clear enough that her disdain for love was rooted in it as an institution and not the other form of love. One part of the reading that caught my attention was when she said that “Saying no to love isn’t simply heresy; it is tragedy—the failure to achieve what is most essentially human” I feel like this isn’t necessarily true. I feel like love is a feeling that humans feel in order to do what is “most essentially human” which would be to reproduce. Or better yet, love isn’t necessary to do what is “most essentially human”, this notion is imposed upon us by our capitalist society in order to make us think that love as an institution is necessary to reproduce successfully.
My favorite part of the reading was the last paragraph where she talked about modern love as a vehicle for our submission to our partners and more importantly, authority. I definitely do take issue with love in this sense. However I think that I (and many others) subscribe to this ritual of modern love because it’s easy, and challenging it would be a very hard task to take on.
Although I understand what the author is saying and see the rationale in her arguments, I feel like this piece is more so about the downsides of being in a long term monogamous relationship rather than the inconvenient nature of falling in love.