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Lindsay Lohan's
Fight for Marriage Equality

Lindsay Lohan's
Fight for Marriage Equality


She's young, she's messy, she fights with her sometime girlfriend, and she's been to rehab -- but she's leading the charge for marriage equality in the process.

COMMENTARY: Lindsay Lohan's recently released faux eHarmony profile is perhaps the most brilliant 90 seconds in the young actor's career. She simultaneously manages to poke fun at herself, her relationship with Sam Ronson, and eHarmony -- a homophobic dating website that would never allow her to post an ad looking for a "man or a woman."

But when I posted a link to the video on my Facebook page, I received comments like "she's young and immature and well -- who cares?"

The answer: I care. Deeply. And so should anyone who's concerned with the future of queer rights and visibility in the United States.

It can't be stated strongly enough: Lindsay Lohan is unlike any other LGBT celebrity to come before her. She's young, she's beautiful, she's A-list -- and at the top of her career, she began publicly dating a woman. This is not the coy "maybe/maybe-not" game that other young celebs have played, or the outing of a former star. It's worlds beyond the occasional kiss or the admission of having "dated women in the past," which until now was the most radical truth that Hollywood stars would own up to.

While never choosing a label and avoiding public statements, Lindsay Lohan lived her relationship with Sam Ronson in the public eye almost exactly, one feels, as she would have had she not been famous. They partied, they made out, they fought, they bought groceries. And yes, I read about it every time. Not just because I love gossip, but because Lindsay Lohan is both representative of and at the forefront of an important cultural shift in the way sexuality plays out in the public sphere. She is the first of a new post-identity wave.

And it is this same wave that is helping to win the fight for same-sex marriage -- as well as other queer issues like adoption by same-sex parents, hate-crimes bills, and discrimination protections. In the aftermath of the Prop. 8 vote in California, an important set of data came out: 63% of voters ages 18 to 29 rejected the initiative, but 54% of voters 45 to 64 supported it.

If that's not a generational shift, then what is?

It's not to say that time alone makes change, but instead that the work of organizers, radicals, and individuals brave enough to come out and educate those around them accrues over time. Lindsay is the flowering of the queer movement in this country: She has not attempted to sanitize or hide her life for anyone. She's queer, she's messy, she's had problems with drugs and alcohol, she gets dressed up and flashes her shit, she fights with her girlfriend (sometimes publicly) -- frankly, she sounds like a lot of people I know.

The more honest she is about her sexuality, the more it creates the normalized expectation among young people that sexuality is not a big deal. Of course, there is a danger in this, because violence and discrimination are still the norm for many queer people -- especially those who are not white, beautiful, rich, young, and/or gender-normative.

Now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back and believe that we live in a post-homophobic world. But this new attitude offers a deep well of potential for taking the queer movement in a radical direction. In the post-identity future, where same-sex desire is less likely to be an inherently radicalizing identity, we must find a way to continue to be relevant.

The issue of marriage has long been a divisive one in the queer community. Some see it as the final frontier to equality; others as a misguided move toward assimilation and away from more important issues, such as housing discrimination or escalating violence against transgender people.

Personally, I'm not invested in marriage. I think discrimination is wrong, but why should the government give tax benefits to citizens based on relationship status? When marriage is tied to important freedoms like citizenship, keeping families together, and health care, I can understand the appeal. I'd simply prefer to decouple these benefits from marriage. But that's another fight, one we're not likely to have soon.

But in a world where more people can be honest about their sexuality, and marriage equality seem like an increasingly obvious civil rights issue, perhaps we can one day move on to these greater issues.

With Lindsay, of course, leading the way.

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