“Is [marriage] the battle worth fighting for?” he asked. “I think not.”
As the author and founder of Against Equality, an online critique of “mainstream gay and lesbian politics,” Conrad was invited to campus by GU Pride, the Lecture Fund, the LGBTQ Resource Center, and the Women’s Center as a part of Gender Liberation Week.
“What does marriage do for us?” Conrad said, explaining that marriage would do nothing to help the queer community in terms of health care benefits or monogamy. Marriage, he claimed, is an arbitrary, social institution that is coveted beyond its usefulness.
“The conservative Christian Right and the gay liberal [political] narrative look exactly the same,” he argued.
Conrad founded Against Equality last November when witnessing the defeat of Maine’s Proposition 1, a state-wide referendum that would have legalized gay marriage. Before the vote, he witnessed “rampant homophobia” and misguided efforts from outside activists, which inspired him to get involved.
“By pulling on our heartstrings and appealing to equality, many of us have been duped into the gay marriage debate,” he said. “People are dying because they can’t get access to health care and you’re talking about marriage as a battle to end all battles; it’s a huge distraction.”
Conrad also criticized “the platform of Lady Gaga,”—which includes gay marriage, openly gay military service and anti-gay hate crime legislation—for privatizing and assimilating the gay community.
“People talk about inclusion, inclusion, inclusion. But it’s really about transformation, transformation, transformation,” he said. “Lady Gaga is evil.”
Members of the audience, many of whom identified themselves LGBTQ or allies, seemed bewildered by Conrad’s arguments. While a few students asked questions, the dialogue between Conrad and the audience was limited; Conrad’s message of transformation and rejection of the “hetero-norm” came at the expense of those LGBTQ persons who want to marry.
“[Gay marriage] is a massive collapse of queer political imagination,” Conrad said.
Photo: Against Equality