Sunday, November 17, 2019

Only Queers Can Save the Flaming Refugees of Love: Time to Decriminalize Polygamy

Massacres aren't exactly unusual in the failed narco-state of Mexico, especially since the US pushed its beleaguered southern neighbor to declare all out war on the cartels a couple of decades back. More blood irrigates the Sonora Desert than acid rain. Barely a week goes by without some horrendous Bataille-esque crime of absurdly grotesque proportions popping up on the CNN news ticker, - 16 heads found in Juarez Chucky Cheese ball-pit, no tongues or eyes - But it's rarely enough to steal Anderson Cooper's attention from the latest minute kink in the Ukrainegate circus. This month was different though. This month, in early November, the cartels crossed the ultimate Rubicon of corporate news hysteria. They killed a bunch of pretty white people. 9 to be exact. 3 mothers and 6 children, savagely slaughtered in what appears to be a tragic case of mistaken identity.

But as the usual yammering heads blathered on about the proven necessity for endless drug wars, and Donald Trump used the garish details to further his border jihad while he and his brown counterpart AMLO compared dick sizes, there was one detail to this story that seemed to come to no one's attention but mine. Oh, there was plenty of coverage of the fact that these innocent victims of American drug policy were Mormon Fundamentalists, usually in the form of some off-hand detail on the way to some other asinine point. But nobody seemed to do the math, to acknowledge the very basic fact that in an age when people are so desperate to get the hell out of Mexico that they're willing to risk losing their children to one of Trump's immigration zoos, there are still American citizens, dual citizens to be exact, who are living in exile in this hellhole, seeking refuge from 19th Century American puritanical persecution. The cartel put the bullets in those bodies, but those bodies where put in cartel country by the American government's ongoing war on polygamy.

The families who were shot and roasted alive in their SUV's were part of the Mormon Fundamentalist community of La Mora. While most of this community no longer practices plural marriage, they are all descendants of polygamist families forced to flee Utah after the federal government strong armed the Church of Latter-day Saints into banning a lifestyle among consenting adults which had long been a cornerstone of their religion. To this day, all fifty states maintain bans of varying degrees of severity against polygamy and the federal government has continued to make a point of persecuting polygamist communities, often on severely flimsy evidence of child abuse, separating and, in the case of Waco, even murdering whole families in the process. Our government has made it crystal clear that they don't approve of the way these people choose to worship and raise their families and the result has been historically devastating. Thousands live in exile. Others have been forced to seek refuge in the shadows of demented false prophets like Warren Jeffs. All because of what? People finding love in unconventional places? Where the fuck have I heard that before? And why am I the only one outside of this community who seems to care?

As a queer person, I can't help but to find common ground with these flaming refugees of love. These are whole families living in the closet of a close minded society that still can't handle the fact that happiness doesn't have to come pre-packaged in a nuclear family like some goddamn TV dinner. I may be painfully single, but as a lesbian transwoman, I have never felt a greater sense of peace and intimacy than I do when I'm alone in the company of more than one woman. What makes my transbian polyamory any different than the Fundamentalist's polygamy? Why am I seen as "brave" while they're reduced to the status of zealots? Why should our love be given any less legal cache then that of couples? And, finally, why is this not considered a queer rights issue?

But to most queer people it isn't. After achieving the assimilationist token of Supreme Court approved gay marriage in 2015, too many cisgender gay and lesbian couples have become gate-keeping snobs, peering down their noses at us lesser queers for interrupting their new found privilege. The body of DOMA wasn't even cold before right-wing hatefucks like Antonin Scalia and Rick Santorum began barking "Next it'll be polygamy!" Sometimes I feel like the only fag who responded "Fuck yeah!" The Buttigieg Queers responded with more than enough reactionary pomp to match the homophobes in passion and stupidity. "Gay marriage isn't polygamy! We aren't perverts like them!!" Well maybe your not but I am.

As a Queer Anarchist, I've always preferred marriage privatization to government sanctioned religious ceremony, but the criminalization of love in all of it's consensual forms needs to stop and the queer community are the ones to stop it. We've done it before and we should do it again. These people may see us as hedonistic heretics and we may see them as sexist prudes, but we both want the same thing. We want to love who we want to love, how we want to love. And we want the government to get the fuck out of our way. Lets make it happen, dearest motherfuckers. Lets welcome our vanilla pioneers home with open arms and a hobbled police state.

Peace, Love, Love, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack; songs that influenced this post

*  Gigantic by the Pixies
*  Sad Day by FKA Twigs
*  Love Love Love by the Mountain Goats
*  America (You're Freaking Me Out) by the Menzingers
*  Superstar by Sonic Youth
*  Forced to Love by Broken Social Scene
*  God Only Knows by the Beach Boys
*  Light and Day by the Polyphonic Spree
*  Cosmogony by Bjork


  1. I never thought of polygamy as a queer rights issue before, I just thought of it as morally equivalent to the queer rights issue. The reason I had separated the two in my mind, was, exactly the reason you point out, and that is that many in the queer culture saw them as different, and this kind of intimidated me into seeing it that way myself.

    You are absolutely correct that the two are essentially the same issue, that is, freedom to form whatever loving relationships we wish to. I really do have an axe to grind here, in that my next door neighbors are a polygamous triple (couple?), and they are the most wonderful people in the world, many times giving me eggs from their chickens when I had neither food nor money in between paychecks. If they are so evil, why would they do that? Is there any logical reason they should be persecuted? Yet that is exactly what the State would choose to do if these people became too blatant about their family structure (we have to think about the children!).

    1. Trouple I believe is the official poly term for modern day triad. They sound lovely. From what I've heard, there are a great deal of these little isolated families scattered about the rural west. I'm sure they're pleased to have libertarian neighbor as well. That's worth a few eggs in this country.

  2. I love your stuff as a rule, but I think you're dreaming in technicolor here. Religious polygamy, whether Mormon or anyone else's, has never been about love or free choices. It's always been about power and control. It never becomes widespread without an overt or tacit form of arranged marriage. Come on, why do you think Mormon polygamy is always ONE guy and MULTIPLE women? If it was a free expression of love sometimes it would be the other way around or some other setup, all one gender, all the other, or multiples of each. But it ain't, because it's all about boss man and subservient women who accept a cultural norm where they're told to marry some guy. You do not get women seeing a man with three wives and thinking "He's so dreamy, I just HAVE to be his fourth!!!"

    Now, societies with arranged marriages, whether polygamous or not, do not necessarily lead to widespread unhappiness--apparently people in such cultures are often content in their arranged marriages. People get used to things and make the best of them. But freedom it ain't, and neither is it love. It's control and domination and sexism.

    Probably some kind of polyamory should be legal. But if such legalization doesn't grapple with the reality of what religious-based polygamy actually is, the results are likely to include a lot of ugly stuff.

    1. I respectfully disagree. Marriage in general is a decidedly patriarchal construction. That's why I personally remain skeptical of it, but there is no more or less hypocrisy and/or sexism in binary marriages than there are in polygamist ones, or at least there wouldn't be if these people didn't have to seek the protection of cult leaders to protect their families from the state. Was Ike Turner a polygamist? In the early frontier days women held much more power in polygamist families than in binary ones. They had strength in numbers and they had huge households to manage while the husband worked. Sister wives were like marital unions. If their hubby didn't respect them, they would put the pussy on lock down and turn his balls bluer than a rock lobster. Why do you think Utah was the second territory to give women the right to vote? Your cultural critique over simplifies a diverse and complex society. I've heard similar critiques about Muslims. Assuming you have cultural superiority over people you disagree with is just a different flavor of imperialism and that ain't my bag. I may not agree with the way they live either but I respect the hell out of their tenacity to do it under such oppression.