Commentary  The Human Rights Campaign logo

Same-sex marriage is not a panacea

I am not a political radical. I am not seeking to tear down the establishment. And I am not, by any means, an activist. But I am a member of the LGBT community, though I do not choose to use any one of those labels – not because I feel any particular hatred for them, but simply because none of those words really describe me. I am quite the apathetic non-heterosexual, if you will. One thing has bothered me recently – the glut of profile pictures sporting a red equals sign on a pink background (and all of the other colour combinations).

By no means do I not support same-sex marriage – there is simply no justifiable, secular argument that exists in opposition. What I do not support, though, is the use of same-sex marriage as a rallying point, as a universal goal that all gay people are somehow striving for, or as something that can be obtained by changing your profile picture. No one is going to suddenly realize, “My god, I’m a homophobe! I suppose I really ought to change my entire set of social values,” because you engaged in a piece of Facebook slacktivism (although, as I’ve said, I make no claims to be a great activist myself). I appreciate your support, but you could do something better for me.

You could help me feel comfortable holding my boyfriend’s hand anywhere in town by not doing a double take when you pass us. You could not awkwardly look away when I kiss him. You could not equate homosexuality with certain political philosophies. This is the important stuff.

Marriage equality is not a battle to be won by the LGBT community, because most of the battle is going to be fought after the fact. Just because I can marry whomever I want doesn’t imply that I’m going to be treated equally in all other regards in my life – there is still going to be a struggle for total equality that will take multiple generations to resolve. I already feel socially accepted here in Montreal, and acknowledge that LGBT acceptance is greater here than elsewhere – in the U.S., for example. Change will not come from the courts: it is the societal change that has already taken place that has caused them to even consider the question.

So this is what I ask: support this broad societal change. This goes for the LGBT community, as well, who often marginalize themselves through inaccessible ideology. Don’t assume you’re fighting a battle on my behalf, when really the accessibility of marriage is quite low on my list of priorities. Just continue to treat me like you would any other guy. Isn’t that what equality’s supposed to be about?

*Alex Cooper is a pseudonym. Alex is a U1 Arts & Science student who is so much more than their sexuality. To respond, email