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Happy Families

An exposition of the family from the gay perspective

Salima Nadira

on 14 November 2012

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Transcript of Happy Families

Happy Families Quote #1: Quote #2: Quote #3: Conclusion "It is because the world is unhappy with queer love that queers become unhappy, because queer love is an unhappiness-cause for the others whom they love, who share their place of residence. It is not that queers feel sad or wretched right from the beginning.” (98) "...the desire for recognition ... comes from the experience of what is unbearable, what cannot be endured." (111) "Good and bad feelings can be generative, even if they do not simply spread." (43) In the past, gays used to have to subsume themselves under heteronormative standards. Many hid their identities, or led double lives.

With contemporary activism and movements towards greater egalitarianism, gays now have greater leverage to use happiness to bargain for greater rights and acceptance for themselves within the framework of the state. Media has become more flexible, allowing for gay issues to be portrayed more openly, no longer needing to be apologetic or conceal themselves in song and dance.

By giving these issues greater public exposure, we can delve deeper into the public consciousness and discover other relevant layers of human experience, e.g. human compassion in Texas and indifference in a big city. Such insights challenge the prevalent narrative of "happiness" as being the white heterosexual family, providing alternative views within the community itself.

However, as Ahmed says, "the risk of promoting the happy queer is that the unhappiness of the world could disappear from view" (105). It is up to the gays to maintain their unhappiness while still lobbying for greater happiness - perhaps the balance can be maintained in being "happily gay".

Ultimately, as Ahmed warns, "We must stay unhappy with this world" (105), to prevent prevalent narratives from defining our experiences of being human. an exposition of the family from the gay perspective by Salima Nadira
U091659Y The family has been made a happy object, an ideal reproduced through photographs and images. To inherit the family is to inherit the demand to reproduce its form. Gay families must work as much as straight families to keep their family a happy object, and they often use methods that parallel that of straight families. While the approach has changed over time, this method remains the same. La Cage aux Folles (1978; based on film 1973)
- Renato and Albin's son Laurent request that his parents hide evidence of their gay lifestyle for an evening to win over the parents of his fiancee
- They try to disguise him as an uncle, but this fails
- Ultimately, Albin appears at the dinner dressed as a woman and acts like a female mother - The "happy family" of Renato, Albin and Laurent is only broken by the girl's parents; before them, the family is not portrayed as having any problems.

- Albin's dressing up as a woman was an act of love for his son. Although he was offended by the initial request to hide his gay mannerisms, he "just wants his son to be happy"; though this is not explicitly stated, it is implied in his actions.

- By asking Albin to be what he is not, i.e. an uncle, Laurent perpetuates this unhappiness already felt by Albin from society, now bringing it into the sphere of the family. Albin must struggle with this opposition from both public and private realms, to stay true to himself while also doing what makes his family happy.

- Albin chooses to confirm to the image of heretonormativity in order to make everybody happy, by which he himself can be happy. Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends (2012)
- This tongue-in-cheek video targets the WASP / young Republican male voting public
- It uses the "happy family" ideal as a right that belongs to all people
- It desires recognition for the "gay family" unit
- Underlying the joking threat is an unhappiness at being "unhoused", excluded from society - "The recognition of queers can be narrated as the hope or promise of becoming acceptable, where in being acceptable you must become acceptable to a world that has already decided what is acceptable." (106) The queers align themselves to acceptable standards of heteronormativity in the video by foregrounding the concept of family and the equality of marriage.

- Yet they do not subsume themselves under these standards, but use them as leverage to bargain for a better future for themselves. They are "happily queer", recognizing the unhappiness of the world against them, and responding with defiance.

- This queer activism ensures that queers will not be given rights as part of "straight hospitality", and end up having to be guests in a straight world; it attempts to create "a place at the table" (Ahmed 2006: 174).

- This unhappy queer is "unhappy with the world that reads queers as unhappy" (105); this video ensures that their unhappiness does not disappear from view.

- Although it sounds threatening, it is an optimistic video. "To narrate unhappiness can be affirmative; it can gesture toward another world" (107); they aim for the promise of happiness for gay and marginalized communities. ABC News Primetime: Gay parents bashed (2011)
- It reveals the affective contagion of happiness as described by Hume: the bad feelings expressed by the waitress affect the gay family as well as onlookers
- These feelings generate other feelings and responses in the onlookers, which are not uniform
- Made possible by investigative mainstream media - "Happiness for some involves persecution of others: it is not simply that this happiness produces a social wrong; it might even depend on it.” (Ahmed, 96) The waitress refuses to leave the gay family alone; she would not be happy until she had slammed the couple, tried to get others to join her discrimination, and tried to use the law against them.

- "Others enter into the same humour, and catch the sentiment, by a contagion or natural sympathy" (Hume, [1748] 1975:250-251). Morality becomes obligatory in this situation; the onlookers are spurred to action by the desire to maintain sociable happiness.

- The onlookers are affected by the scene; even though the scene is artifice, the effect is real. The onlookers even affect the actors with their actions.

- The dominant narrative of happy white heterosexual family is slightly unhinged when the onlookers show their support for a homosexual family.

- Ironically, the waitress becomes the troublemaker, disturbing the peace and getting in the way of the happiness of others. http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6846855/gay-men-will-marry-your-girlfriends
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