Gay Marriage

A Rainbow Whopper Is Exactly What Gay Liberation Is, Actually


I am usually slathered with ketchup, too.
Burger King

To celebrate gay pride month (technically June, but stuff tends to happen all summer anyway) a Burger King in San Francisco started selling something called a "Proud Whopper." It was just a regular Whopper in a rainbow-colored wrapper. There was nothing different about the burger. Inside the wrapper, a message read "We are all the same inside." We are all delicious hamburgers! No, we're all the same people inside. It was kind of a weird message because most gay folks are "the same" on the outside, too. But anyway. Burger King produced a little video about it and it went modestly viral.

Periodically, whenever a major business takes a hankering to marketing to the gays, there is an outrage, and not just from the religious right. Those guys get outraged about all things gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or even just friendly smiles from straight allies. No, sometimes outrage comes from certain folks on the old guard left who, despite having lived through it, don't seem to have a good understanding of where gay liberation was actually going and are shocked that the parade didn't end with the dismantling of the capitalist economy and full-throated embrace of progressive politics by all gay people.

This time outrage duty fell on Julie Bindel, in The Guardian. The headline and subhead annoy from the very start: "The Proud Whopper? This is not the gay liberation we fought for: The gay community has bought into marriage, babies and big business at huge cost to its radical potential." What radical potential is she going on about?

The gay community used to be defined by politics, but lesbians and gay men no longer share a political base – only, in some quarters, a social one. Rather than meeting on the picket line, we meet on a commercialised social scene, in clubs often owned by straight entrepreneurs, or at the annual gay and lesbian wedding show.

Saying the gay community was "defined by politics" is a bit vague. The gay community was defined because of politics, as in politicians and government force denying gays their rights. She seems to think that the only reason gay activists from the time were considered radical is self-identification. That's nonsense. Certainly many (even most) gay activists like Bindel saw themselves as radical, but it ignores the fact that those with the power—the government, the police, the politicians—cast gays as radicals and dangerous. The government considered the gay person living quietly, peacefully at home just as radical and dangerous (if not more so!) than the ones organizing in community centers and marching on police stations or government buildings.

Because Bindel sees herself as a radical and probably found herself surrounded with similar folks during her life as an activist, she has mistakenly come to a conclusion of what the gay experience is or supposed to be. She seems to think that "radical" and "gay" are supposed to be synonymous:

This deradicalised version of gay life revolves around marriage, babies and mortgages. Many gays have kidded themselves that bigger and richer sponsors for our Pride events and charities means acceptance rather than acquiescence; that it is a sign we are reaching full equality.

But how can we be liberated when there are still daily attacks on gay people, and when the school playground remains, in many ways, hostile to gay pupils? Just last week a YouGov poll, commissioned by Stonewall, found that 86% of secondary school teachers had witnessed homophobic bullying.

Holy crap, those goalposts zipped by so quickly, they left behind a cartoon-style puff of smoke. Gay liberation was once about being treated as equal by the government under the law and not being beaten by police in raids, getting hauled off to jail, getting humiliated in the newspaper, and losing jobs. Now gays aren't liberated as long as some kid is getting bullied? That appears to me to be a definition of liberation that can never actually come to pass. And what does it have to do with Burger King or gay marriage? For that matter, what does it have to do with being "radical"?

It is hardly surprising that we sometimes appreciate being targeted by big business. Gay men, in particular, tend to have more disposable income than their heterosexual counterparts, and while there has been a baby boom in the gay community as a whole, the majority of lesbians still don't have children, so potentially have more money to spend on luxury items such as exotic holidays and expensive clothing.

Even pregnancy and childbirth have become commercialised. In recent years a huge amount of money has been spent by lesbians and gay men on embryos, sperm, IVF and surrogacy services. Now that we are indivisible from straight people – at least those who marry and have children – banks are targeting us to help increase their profits. Last year, a cosy lesbian couple featured in one of NatWest's adverts, showing just how important our spending potential is.

Some will hail all this as a great stride forward, an indication that we are now so mainstream that even banks represent us respectfully. But this is about equity, not equality.

Lesbians and gay men have accepted a fake, highly limited liberation which involves spending and sponsorship, and embraces the notion of inviting church and state back into our relationships (preferably monogamous, with mortgages and babies). In the radical days of the Gay Liberation Front, both lesbians and gay men wanted to abolish marriage, not be invited to join this oppressive, patriarchal regime. As Jill Tweedie wrote in this newspaper in 1971, Gay Lib does not plead for the right of homosexuals to marry, "Gay Lib questions marriage".

I know her questioning of state-controlled marriage will resonate with many libertarians of all orientations, but her definition of what is real liberation and fake liberation is not based on equality or liberty. Her idea of the pursuit of happiness is "the pursuit of what I tell you is supposed to make you happy." Her idea of "liberation" is really about instilling a new orthodoxy, not eliminating it.

And she's entirely wrong to say that what "lesbians and gay wanted" was to abolish marriage. Again, she only sees the community she was directly a part of and not the larger picture—as in, all those gays and lesbians who were still in the closet or who didn't move out to the big cities and were, in fact, never radical.

Guess what? Those gays and lesbians are no longer in the closet. And they are not and never were the radical anti-capitalist, anti-business leftists that certain activists always thought they would be. Burger King is right. Gay people are just like everybody else. And most everybody else doesn't want to abolish marriage or think that the exchange of goods and services is a massive plot to keep us all down. She continues:

What would real gay liberation look like? Marriage would be abolished for all in favour of something based on equality and next of kin rights rather than ownership and tax avoidance. Gay men and lesbians alike would challenge a culture and politics based on consumerism, and would speak out against the misogyny that confines both groups to stereotypes. And we would look beyond the picket fence and rejoin the picket lines in protest about the ongoing oppression and anti-gay bigotry we still face, despite legislative equality.

This isn't "gay liberation." This is the answer to the question, "What does Julie Bindel think gay people should believe in?" Because the larger gay population does not (and probably never did) share Bindel's larger values, she doesn't grasp that there has been no selling out. This is what many wanted all along. The label of "radical" was forced on everybody included in the LGBT acronym by the state. It didn't mean everybody saw himself or herself that way. Bindel's failure to grasp that we don't all share the same goals or politics and never did pushes her into this space of denying the agency of gay people everywhere. We've been "sold a dream of marriages and babies" as though it we didn't actually want it. We were tricked by evil banks and businesses!

But it's simply not true. Freedom means gay people can decide what sort of relationships they want. Those who always dreamed about getting married can have those dreams. Those who don't want to embrace the state's classification of relationships don't have to. That's liberation. What Bindel cannot grasp that being gay is not radical, despite the fact that this was the argument coming from the gay and lesbian community for decades now. She asks, "What happened to that early radicalism?"

We won. That's what happened.

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  1. “We are all the same inside”

    Actually, some people are full of shit

    1. And I don’t have a dick in my ass, nor a gerbil. Does that count as “inside”? Cause that would be “different” than people who do.

      1. You are a filthy person and I think you don’t deserve a Burger King hamburger.

        I was talking about Guardian writers in toto, of course.

        And no, I am not making a reference to Wizard of Oz…. my pretty.

      2. if you have a dick in your mouth that counts the same as having one in your ass Almanian so you are the same.

        1. Shoulda seen that one CUMMING, shouldn’t I?


          1. The way you boys flirt with each other. Get. A. Room.

    2. The problem with that motto is that the activists don’t think they are just like everyone else. They think they are special. Saying they are “the same inside” as cis-hetero breeders is an insult.

  2. You know who else wrapped up the same old thing in a different wrapper…

    1. People who use Durex instead of Trojan?

    2. Democrats?

    3. Coca-cola?

  3. There’s nothing gayer than high cholesterol.

    Again, she only sees the community she was directly a part of and not the larger picture…

    Or gayer than living in an echo chamber.

    1. Griefers are so fucking gay.

  4. So is the Gay Whopper the one with extra pickle or the one covered in mayonnaise? Either way it’s…not my taste.

    1. One week out of the month they make it with extra ketchup.

      1. You’re thinking of the Feminist Whopper.

      2. That’s the lesbian whopper.


  6. Scott really missed an opportunity with that alt text.

  7. “look beyond the picket fence and rejoin the picket lines”

    Mmmm…that’s good left-wing sloganeering!


  9. She really hates babies, huh?

  10. GERMANY GOAAAAAAAAAAAAAL 4!!4!!!!$!@*(&@!#$@@#

    1. It’s really pretty embarrasing. A total domination. They should give up at halftime. Has Brazil neverheard of defense?

  11. To what other tiny minorities can we pander? Maybe we should have a Hmong whopper or something.

    1. Based on my contact with the Hmong community in Wisconsin, that would be a burger made of . . . wait for it . . . squirrelz!

      1. I think all Reasonoids could get behind the burgerization of squirrels.

      2. They do love them tree rats.

  12. Just last week a YouGov poll, commissioned by Stonewall, found that 86% of secondary school teachers had witnessed homophobic bullying.

    Little moron boys calling each other faggots is not homophobic bullying, it’s little morons being little morons. If you have to look at 12-year-old boys to find oppressors, you might not be very oppressed.

    Glenn Reynolds posted this old bit about feminism today.

    And then, at that exact dispirited moment when there seemed no one at all willing to play the proletariat, along came the women’s movement, and the invention of women as a “class.”

    The same thing goes with gays. Gays aren’t really people to this type of activist, they’re just tokens that they hope to use to achieve their nonsense Marxist mass-murder fantasies. Fuck them.

    1. I disagree. If the 12 year old and his or her parents are forced to enroll in the school where this is happening and have no choice to go elsewhere and the kid is even afraid of raising the issue with his parents, the child is being viciously abused for years.

  13. It must be frustrating to see civil rights progress, and yet have the beneficiaries go on to display genuine autonomy instead of remaining a tractable knee-jerk voting bloc like urban blacks. Why’d the gays have to get all “uppity”?


      But seriously, the Progtards only cared about gay rights in so far that gays were useful idiots to keep voting for them while they mostly ignored gay rights up until popular opinion went north of 50%.

      Gay rights were championed by the LP long before most Democrats even bothered.

      Thanks for nothing, Democrats. Obama could issue an executive order allowing us to legally donate blood (just like he could also issue an executive order reclassifying marijuana into a lesser schedule), but instead he is focusing on issuing executive orders that are probably unconstitutional.

      1. Exactly. And now we have equal rights to visit our spouse as they die waiting in a VA medical center or to file income taxes jointly with our politically active spouse so we are targeted by the IRS.

  14. “We are all the same inside.”

    When you take off the pretty wrapping, it’s still crap?

    1. Actually, some gay men are the only people not full of crap:…..stem.aspx.

      I’ve heard.


    …. sigh.

  16. “You are gay. We own you.”

    – The Left

    1. Hmmm … you people are mad that you’re not allowed to get married. Clearly, you need to OVERTHROW the capitalist system, and enact radical social change!!!

      What? You only cared about getting married? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? You selfish bastards! How dare you only care about issues that you care about. You should care about the stuff that we think you should care about!

      Look you have a mailing list and a website, do you mind if we just use that to send out our message of RADICAL SOCIAL CHANGE? Our mailing list is so small, we need yours to help spread our message. Also, nobody comes to our meetings anymore, so can we come to yours and talk about capitalism instead og gay rights?

  17. Leftists seems to assume that any organized group of people seeking any kind of political change is a natural ally of “radical” anti-capitalist politics. How dare people organize themselves for political action NOT fight the global capitalist hegemony?
    What? People marching in unison for a cause? Such potential for revolution! Must… Hijack… Movement…

    Argh! Why do gays not care about full employment or worker cooperatives??? STRANGE!!!

  18. The gay community used to be defined by politics,

    Uh, no they weren’t. They were defined by something else. I can’t put my finger on what that other thing was though. Anyone?

    1. Being gay? I’m pretty sure it was being gay that defined the “gay community” if such a thing can even be said to exist. Putting all people who share some characteristic automatically into the ___ community seems awfully insulting.

    2. The Golden Girls?

  19. And I’ve been posting this anecdote for years: THIS ISN’T ANYTHING NEW.

    Over a decade ago many major brands were directly marketing to gays.

  20. And I demand to know why Shackford keeps getting the gay beat? I suspect some discrimination.

    1. This gay-beating will not stand

    2. Most of the other reason writers have written a story or two about gay rights, but usually only for their college papers, and they were just experimenting with the beat. They don’t like to talk about those stories publicly.

  21. Homophile movement succeeded gay liberation failed. She’s just upset most people, even homosexuals, are largely conservative.

  22. Also, it’s not particularly strange that a group of people, once they have acheived the goals they set out to acheive (in this case, gay marriage rights), stop being interested in continued political activism.

    It reminds me of the 1996 Chiapas uprising in Mexico. My proggie-leftist sister was all “There’s a REVOLUTION going on in Mexico! The Chiapas guellias will be in Mexico City in 6 months! WEEEEE!”
    But shortly thereafter, the mexican government sat down and basically negotiated a settlement wherein the Chiapas provinces would have regional autonomy. And the “revolution” evaporated. Shamefully, the mexican peasants in Oaxaca province really didn’t want to overthrow the capitalist system. They just wanted to run their own lives.

    1. They just wanted to run their own lives.

      Progs hate that.

    2. I’m of the belief that about 95% of people really just want to run their own lives, be they gay, straight, Republican, Democrat, Sunni, Shiite, Conservative, Reform, Liberal, you name it. They may fulminate occasionally about those other people, but basically, as long as they have a decent living and a decent amount of say in their own lives, they’re satisfied enough to live and let live.

      The problem is the other 5%, who will never be satisfied until they get to run everything, and the trick is to keep them from getting to run the show.

      1. I’m of the belief that about 95% of people really just want to run their own lives,

        Odd that they don’t vote that way.

        1. People vote for the candidates they’re given, by and large…but they’re given the candidates by people in that 5%.

  23. “…a definition of liberation that can never actually come to pass,” thus guaranteeing continued employment for the liberation activist. I learned long ago that there is no point in arguing with someone whose job depends on not being convinced.

  24. Those gay bastards. They were supposed to carry the left all the way down the path of socialism; why the hell aren’t they playing their role right?!

    1. Well not every gay person is into role playing….

  25. Inside the wrapper, a message read “We are all the same inside.” We are all delicious hamburgers! No, we’re all the same people inside. It was kind of a weird message because most gay folks are “the same” on the outside, too.

    Hunh, I would have said that while we’re the same on the outside, *obviously* we’re different on the inside. I mean, its biochemical/genetic/whatever differences on the inside that push you to one side or the other of the het/homo spectrum.

    Unless this is a stealth campaign in *support* of conservative religious views that het/homo attraction is a *choice* and not innate.

  26. However it _is_ true that Gays and Lesbians are over represented on the left end of the political spectrum. And the polticial center of gravity of the LGBT community is several degrees to the left of center.

    The 25-75 Gop/Dem voting split goes without saying (the question might be why are those quarter voting Gop) but why are there not more gay (big L) Libertarians.

    The Libertarians should be running a gay or visible minority candidate _in every _ political contest.

    1. The Libertarians should be running a gay or visible minority candidate _in every _ political contest.

      I would hope that kind of collectivist thinking is anathema to big and small l libertarians.

    2. I’m sure your 25/75 ratio is false, much as when Obama supporters says Obama won over 50% of the vote. Obama won 30% of the vote; 40% didn’t vote.

      Similarly 100% of gays or gay registered voters did not vote for Obama or Romney. Probably 60% voted for Obama; the remainder didn’t vote for Romney. Some didn’t vote. Others voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson etc.

  27. …full-throated embrace…

    Not a Freudian slip at all.

  28. “we won”. Well maybe some major victories, but call me again after about 2 generations of being able to just get on with life. Optimistic, but cautiously so.

  29. She sounds like fun.

    Humans are the problem. Humans screwing each other over within a system is prefreable to humans screwing you over with the system. Far more folks prefer to not screw each other over by being decent.

    Deserves got nothin to do with it.

  30. Marriage comes with perks and benefits, mostly relating to ownership of property and life decisions, not to mention mainstream social acceptance. Attacking the legal institution of marriage, something to which I’m sympathetic on libertarian grounds, would’ve meant the loss of these benefits to gay couples and would’ve meant that the gay movement actually was out to change straight marriages. So in a sense, that would’ve been more radical – and also probably would’ve meant far slower acceptance of same-sex marriage.

  31. Actually gay and other kids being bullied is a major civil rights and libertarian issue. The absence of school choice and the state monopoly school system meant for decades kids have been beaten at school and didn’t have the obvious remedy of choosing another school that made sure they were treated better. Even most homophobic parents would send their little boy to an artsy school or their little girl to a sporty school, without even thinking about the kid’s sexual orientation, if the child came home depressed, friendless, shunned, bullied or beaten at their current school.

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