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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you wanted to talk about poetry, activism, or anything sie’s written about here.