Snaptivism: A collective biography of feminist snap as affective activism
I am one with the chair and the chair becomes one with me. It compliments my body; supports my lower back and so I find myself sitting – and very comfortably seated.To get more news about snap-zed futures review
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The choice to sit in the chair was not mine to begin with. My choice was to show up to the event itself. But on the table in front of me, there is a small card with my name written on it. The card tells me that the chair is my designated seat for the wedding banquet that I’m attending. Around the table sit another five guests. Together, we form one of several small islands of tables in the room – each populated with family and friends of the newlywed couple.
Love songs play over the speakers. Their lyrics express heterosexual desires. The atmosphere is, perhaps not surprisingly for a wedding dinner, thick with joyfulness. I can’t help but get affected a little. Even though the music – the love that is in the air – does not bear any resemblance to the love that I feel, know of, and can identify with in my own marriage.
It may be that the current mood is gay. But it is gay as in happy and not as in queer.
I scan the room to find my husband located across the sea-floor that divides the party into separate parties – one at each table. I notice that him and I, and the only other non-heterosexual couple, have been split by the seating arrangement. Everybody else is paired with their opposite-sex partner. A friend of the bride, single and female, is positioned next to my husband. I feel an ache in my chest – the kind that makes you aware of the discomfort of your own body being misplaced, of belonging; but not quite.
Suddenly, the chair feels less comfortable. I’m trapped in that chair, and no matter how I reposition my body, I can’t let go of a sensation of uneasiness and restlessness. The chair has turned me into a passive bystander to a setting. A setting that in that moment emerges to me as the very materialisation of a differentiating societal institution. Marriage. An institution that I, and others like me, have been excluded from historically. In most countries, we still are.
The seating plan seems to keep my husband and I – as well as the lesbian couple that are also legally married – from enjoying the recognition of our marriages on equal terms with all the other married couples that happen to be heterosexual.
My thoughts revolve around this idea(l) of marriage. I now remember why I find it problematic. As a society, we reward and honour marriage; legally and grant economic benefits. Marriage becomes a socially desirable way of living your life. And at the same time, society excludes (some groups) of people from enjoying the same privileges. This seems both unfair and absurd to me.
Am I naïve to believe that equal access – in the form of the right to same-sex marriage – would also mean equal treatment? Are queer lives simply being co-opted?
As the merry-gay music continues, I depart with my line of thought. I notice and become attuned to the dinner set-up that renders my love invisible. In this physical setting, my affection for my partner is apparently deemed less legitimate, or even irrelevant. We are unequal to that of all the heterosexual couples. Couples whose romantic feelings are omnipresent – and so readily accepted as ‘right’ and proper. Couples whose love every-body strives for.
I feel this physically. It is as if these couples have sucked out all air in the room and taken up all space. There’s room for no deviation from that norm.
With a simple seating arrangement at a social event, I’m momentarily confined to that infamous closet. The same closet that I was expected by family, friends, and society to come out of. I am made to pass as part of the collective One rather than the Other that I am.
My Otherness, however, becomes visible time and again, as conditions force me to come out the closet again. And again. And again.
The two other couples at the table assume that I’m coupled with the woman next to me. I’m assumed heterosexual until otherwise proven. Oh, the irony! She and I are in this together, and more than they can possibly imagine. She has also been temporarily torn from her same-sex spouse. Sitting next to each other, we cannot help but constantly act as a mutual reminder of our circumstances. Our mis-matching makes us appear ‘same’ to the other guests. But two wrongs don’t make a right.A photographer asks us to scoot together. We are to have our picture taken so as to capture – and immortalise – the loving moment. A moment we are forced to spend away, detached, and disentangled from our own spouses. The woman and I pose. Reluctantly. We try to shake off our conflicted feelings. So the make-believe can seem true. For the happy couple.
What else can we do? Make a scene? I keep reminding myself that it is all about the newlyweds and not me. The purpose of my attendance is to witness their love. By witnessing, I attest their social status as the quintessence of what it means to be a family.