Rewriting history

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"Celebration will only get us so far, for pride itself can be toxic when it is sealed off from the shame that nurtured it." ~ Heather Love, "Feeling Backward"

Last week, Marianne and I sent out our save-the-dates which included the actual save-the-date magnet along with a copy of the “What to call a wedding when it’s not one?” blog post. One of our friends called on Saturday concerned that we might be putting people off with the in-you-face tone of that specific blog post and that politics maybe shouldn’t be a part of our wedding because it’s supposed to be a happy day free from all that.

To her, and to others who might feel that way, I say: politics have to be involved. And feelings like happiness, pride and hopefulness must function alongside anger, shame and sadness to be worth anything.

I’m reading a fantastic book right now called”Feeling Backward: Loss and the politics of queer history” by Heather Love which basically questions how to move forward (into the future) without losing the absolutely essential history of where we came from (the past). She also questions whether it is right or good to rewrite all the painful history into a “what did we learn from this experience?” moment. She writes:

In attempting to chart our course by the lights of the queer subjects who preceded us, there is always a temptation to disavow their suffering. We tend to read history off of the success of the past and to see in its failures only ideology at work (127).

By rewriting history and twisting it up until it fits in an appropriately “happy” box, we make the subjects of the actual, factual, past disappear. We also make the claim that suffering is useful only if something positive comes out of the suffering. According to Love:

We want our politics to respond to inequalities of power, but we construct a model of politics that has nothing in common with the experience of the powerless (70).

On some level I understand the need for folks coming to our celebration/wedding/thing to understand what’s happening, and they will. That specific day, surrounded by family and friends, will look, more or less, like a “traditional” wedding/celebration/thing. But until then, I don’t think it cheapens the ceremony at all to dig into the politics and the history of it. Love says:

Resisting the call to gay normalization means refusing to write off the most vulnerable, the least presentable, and all of the dead (30).

And that’s what I’m attempting to do with this blog: resist, or at least draw attention to the impossibility of, gay normalization. Ironically, Marianne and I are doing the most “normal” thing of all by getting married, yet we are also bringing with us the entire history of folks who have not had the ability to be so visible. Not to mention that we’re not actually getting married because it’s.not.legal. (in North Carolina or the Methodist Church).

I know some folks who got save-the-dates will never read this blog and that’s fine. I am still super-excited for them to be a part of our day and I don’t think they’ll feel any less a part of it because they’re not getting the “backstory” so-to-speak.

But I do think it matters that there is a backstory. To write fluff pieces about finding a wedding dress, working on our ceremony and having the cake tasting would not do the celebration justice. It is our day, but we carry a whole history of people along with us. To deny that would be the real way to cheapen the ceremony.

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