The Importance of Difference: Imperatives for the LGBTQ Movement

In: Connecting, Rethinking and Embracing Difference
Nick J. Mulé
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The LGBTQ movement has generally been following a strategic path towards equality and rights claims, that on the surface is both necessary and commendable, yet one that needs to be deconstructed for its inadvertent assault on the concept of difference. Of note, is that the equality standards being sought are premised on heteronormativity in pursuit of acceptability and respectability within the heterosexist status quo. Not nearly as noticed are those who live their lives differently or identify outside of the norm, and who often become marginalised due to the course of action taken by the mainstream LGBTQ movement. In examining such strategic directions, it is important to question the difference between legal and social justice, the extent of the former and its implications on the latter. Have formal legal victories created a veneer of equality that in effect masks the inequities that lie beneath? Have such ‘legal victories’ created apathy in LGBTQ activism? What is the cost to the LGBTQ movement when some benefit from such victories while others are further marginalised by them? Ultimately, are the goals of the LGBTQ movement assimilationist towards equality within the status quo or liberationist towards diversifying society? In this chapter I apply these questions to three LGBTQ issues: same-sex marriage, pride festivities and recognition of trans issues in policy. I argue that limiting goals of the LGBTQ movement to that of equality is a stunted approach that privileges some while marginalising others; contributes to assimilation at the expense of diversity and in maintaining homonormativity lacks creativity.

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