A Salute to Families Outside the Box: Why Queers Should Embrace the Duggars

by: Khai Devon

What’s with all the hate for a family in West Jesus Nowhere who has a bunch of kids? If there’s any one group of people who should be embracing Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their twenty children—it’s us, the queers. After all, what other group of people is also hated by a bunch of straight people for being a “deviation from the norm?”

As a person, I ask for the right to live my life free of interference from others, in exactly the way I see fit, as long as it does not harm another person. As a queer person, that right is consistently denied me in a variety of ways. In the state in which I make my home, although it is fairly liberal, I still cannot legally marry the love of my life because the government still cares what’s down our pants. I face verbal and sometimes physical assault and harassment on a regular basis because I live my life in a visibly queer manner. Although my identity is not something I have to hide here, in the state I recently left, I could have been fired because I let it slip that I was gay, and I would have had absolutely no legal recourse.

 As a person, especially as a person who believes in, expects, and campaigns for the freedom to live my life as I see fit, even if it is a deviation from the heteronormative paradigmatic “norm”—I also have the obligation to extend that same freedom to other people. Sure, the way the Duggars live isn’t my cup of tea—it wouldn’t work for me to live my life that way. But as long as they’re not hurting anyone, who am I to judge or say that it’s wrong for them to live their lives in a way that makes them happy and fulfilled?

And if I do judge, and if I do say that they have somehow violated a rule of human decency because they have a lot of children, or because they raise their children along heteronormative lines, or because they’re conservatively religious or whatever, then how does that make me any different from the people who say that I have violated some rule of human decency because I kissed a girl on the lips, and I happen not to have a penis?

The Duggars do not receive governmental support. Their children are happy and well-adjusted. All twenty of them have received or are receiving an education on par with Arkansas public schooling (a requirement for homeschooling families is to pass standardized testing each year).  Yes, their last child was born prematurely and with some possible developmental disabilities. But it’s hardly fair to judge a family for having a disabled child either—that’s certainly not something that any of us, when we step back and think about it, would support doing.

So, why do we do it to the Duggars? Because they’re not what we’re used to seeing? Because they’re different? Because they’re strange? Because they’re… queer?

Khai Devon is a genderqueer lesbian poet with a dreamer’s sensibility and a compulsion to create the world sie wants to live in. Sie writes blogs at http://disturbinglynormal.wordpress.com, and http://duffelbagandadream.wordpress.com, updating whenever the words overflow and sie has internet access. Sie also writes poems like sie’s breathing, and sie’d like it if you emailed hir at khaidevon@gmail.com if you wanted to talk about poetry, activism, or anything sie’s written about here.

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3 responses to “A Salute to Families Outside the Box: Why Queers Should Embrace the Duggars

  1. Win. I love you muchly and although I think the Duggars need to stop having offspring (her body is not suitable for bearing children any longer; having a preemie that small should have been a wake-up call) I like how you expressed your views here. [Yes I was a preemie, but my mom didn’t have the risk factors the Duggars had and knowingly choose to go along with it]

  2. Not sure I agree. They’re risking the lives of every new child they have as she medically is pushing her body to extremes by having this many children, and I do not think the children get the attention they each individually deserve. I’m not going to police how many kids they have or anything, but I am definitely allowed to say I disagree with their choices. Raising your kids in the Quiverfull movement is in no way queer- I see no examination of gender roles, ecological impact, economics, or other intersectional factors in any explainations of why they have so many kids. It’s just, “Well, our religion says to have a lot.” Which is fine and valid, but doesn’t mean I have to be gung ho about it.

  3. I have to agree with MPC on this one. Ms. Duggar went against medical advice not to have anymore children because of the risks it imposed on both her and the potential children. The doctors told her that the children would have medical problems if she chose to continue. She knowingly produced children that would have a problamatic life and put their health at risk. I believe that is, in a strange way, harming another person, regardless of whether or not they exist yet. Its the same as if a mother were to smoke, drink alcohol, and take drugs while pregnant. Medical advice has told us that this is wrong because of the adverse effects it will have on the child. What Ms. Duggar has done to her body, produces similar effects.

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