Our own fam­ily val­ues

Si­mon Wil­liamson lives with his hus­band in het­eronor­ma­tively-as­sim­ila­tive fash­ion in Athens, af­ter a year of sur­viv­ing ru­ral Georgia.

GA Voice - - Out Spoken - By Si­mon Wil­liamson

The po­lite man­ners of the South, in­clud­ing the so­cial ta­boo against speak­ing about re­li­gion and pol­i­tics, are dashed in some are­nas, one of which is in ac­tual pol­i­tics. I am do­ing my master’s in po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at the mo­ment, which is nice train­ing in both the sci­ence of pol­i­tics and in learn­ing to live on fickle money, both of which will be mighty use­ful in my cho­sen field.

Po­lit­i­cal sci­ence folks tend to have their own opin­ions on pol­i­tics and also hap­pen to be pre­dis­posed to shar­ing them. This set in­cludes the all too com­mon ag­grieved white man, whose opin­ions, as you will know, dom­i­nate ev­ery as­pect of so­ci­ety, more com­mon than ni­tro­gen and more nox­ious than fart. Hav­ing grown up a white man dur­ing the years that apartheid fell in South Africa, I have been a pur­veyor of such whiny bull­shit, but more con­tem­porar­ily, an en­emy of it.

A class­mate not too long ago de­cided to as­sault my ears with his whole ag­grieved white man opin­ion, adding that he was glad to be liv­ing in the “fam­ily val­ues South,” which made me retch into my mouth faster than Sea­hawks fans stop car­ing about foot­ball.

Of all the in­sults thrown our way, the “fam­ily val­ues” one grates my tits worse than Face­book dur­ing elec­tion sea­son. It man­ages to dele­git­imize the full span of re­la­tion­ships we have with­out at all look­ing at them even the least bit crit­i­cally. With one swing it dis­misses the po­ten­tial of the sex­ual rev­o­lu­tion, on the ba­sis that it ex­ists out­side the con­fines of the in­creas­ingly il­le­git­i­mate gen­der bi­nary. It ax­iomat­i­cally dis­en­fran­chises the par­ent­ing of les­bian and gay cou­ples (along with sin­gle par­ents), the mar­riages and re­la­tion­ships that are not sanc­tioned by mod­ern-day in­ter­pre­ta­tions of ho­ley (sorry I meant holy) texts, and re­jects any sort of idea that trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als may know a lot more about them­selves than com­plete strangers, who out­side not lik­ing some­thing, have ab­so­lutely no dog in the fight.

If we are go­ing to be faced with this go­daw­ful term all the time, per­haps it is time we ap­pro­pri­ate it. Per­haps it is time we make clear that in same-sex re­la­tion­ships there isn’t some­one play­ing a man and some­one play­ing a woman, be­cause our fam­i­lies can ex­ist out­side one sin­gu­lar prin­ci­ple. Some­times our fam­ily val­ues in­volve re­la­tion­ships with more than two peo­ple. And some­times the re­la­tion­ships with two peo­ple in­volve sex out­side the tra­di­tional con­fines (of only each other). Some­times our sex­ual his­tory be­fore shack­ing up with one per­son was key in our readi­ness to set­tle down. Ex­pe­ri­ences dic­tate ma­tu­rity, af­ter all.

“Fam­ily val­ues,” it­self, is a ridicu­lous term. But the way WE con­sider fam­ily val­ues is prac­ti­cal: we de­fine them for our­selves be­cause we know our­selves, and our im­plicit re­sis­tance to tem­plates means we think about them for our­selves. What we do not do is try to squash our re­la­tion­ships into glass slip­pers left be­hind, that don’t fit.

It is time we prof­fer our own ver­sion of fam­ily val­ues: where your be­liefs are sacro­sanct, and yours to hold, even if most strangers don’t back them up. The most com­mon deities may not sanc­tion our fam­ily val­ues, but they are real, and they are con­sid­ered, and they work for us. And most im­por­tantly, maybe we are bet­ter judges of our own lives than morals pre­scribed by a pre­sumed ma­jor­ity of an ar­bi­trary elec­torate.

“Of all the in­sults thrown our way, the ‘fam­ily val­ues’ one grates my tits worse than Face­book dur­ing elec­tion sea­son. It man­ages to dele­git­imize the full span of re­la­tion­ships we have with­out at all look­ing at them even the least bit crit­i­cally.”

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