There is much controversy on the rights of same sex marriage ranging from religious viewpoints to the rights as individuals being able to obtain the same rights as heterosexual couples. In the essay “My Big Fat Straight Wedding” written by Andrew Sullivan, he asks his audience to see the option of gay marriage through the eyes of each person’s own individuality. In his essay, his language, tone, and arguments seem to speak to a specific audience letting them know change is coming and naturally as it should. He gives examples of his own same sex marriage in California and how it made him feel as an individual.
Sullivan’s main point was to prove as individuals we all should have the right to marry whom we want and eventually same sex marriages will be understood and accepted. Starting with the tone of the essay you get a feeling as if Sullivan is speaking to you in a conversation, asking his audience a question. Andrew Sullivan’s first line in the essay sets the tone for the language he uses throughout the text “What if gays were straight? ”(102) Sullivan challenges the reader to find absurdity in even the thought of it. Reading that line alone, I could tell that Sullivan was pro for gay marriage.
The tone of the essay comes across as though it is a crime to not think of gay marriage as an individual right. There are many places were homosexuality is still uncommon and it is clear the author might be writing to a younger audience in a more diverse area. Sullivan jumps back and forth through the essay with different attitudes in his text. He provides a passage from a California ruling and then asks his audience a serious question. He sets a tone for his readers to question the government and its laws, providing evidence that the laws easily contradict itself.
He then uses examples from reality television show, telling his audience that suggesting homosexuals are now more accepted because they are on T. V. How are readers supposed to take the essay serious if references to MTV’s Real World as made as evidence? What about all the small towns in America who don’t have a monthly television subscription to MTV? If Sullivan wants to the readers to question the definition of individuality and how we use the term, he definitely challenges the reader to think. The definition of ndividual alone shows contradictions in civil right laws and constitutional rights we have as Americans.
In some parts of his essay does not seem serious or sincere rather seems as if his readers should know what is wrong. He mocks the laws for not giving homosexuals their own right or individuality and the essay comes off less informative and more sarcastic. Homosexuality may be normal in some states of America but he speaks to his audience as if it is accepted everywhere even though gay marriage is only legal in nine out of fifty states in the United States.
Sullivan sets up a whole war of counter arguments in his tone alone, because gay marriage is still not legal everywhere in America and he makes light of the issues still at hand. While reading the essay, there seem were to questions that weren’t fully answered. Sullivan sets up a good argument through his own personal experience of marriage and the sense of comfort he found when he experienced it. There is no better argument than personal experience because no one can argue with someone’s own experience.
I found his experience of marriage very sincere because if one has a sense of family you can relate on the emotions you may feel with them. Sullivan touches his audience with the relation of family and the good or bad emotions you can feel when you’re with them. He makes the reader feel empathic towards his wedding, allowing them to stand in his shoes and experience the joy you feel when you are getting married. Although the gay culture is accepted in some parts of the United States it does not answer for all the other places in the United States where it is still uncommon.
Just because gay culture is now shown on television, or there are now gay soldiers it does not answer the one question he asks which is “Why don’t gay people have their own individual rights to get married? ” In providing fun pop culture facts he can relate to a younger more diverse audience but it does not change the fact that marriage is not legal. He also goes on in the essay saying that the gay culture is more common in this era and suggests more people are coming out at younger ages. This reference brings out a counter argument.
What about all the areas in the United States and around the world where people cannot come out because it is not accepted where they live? It contradicts his whole argument that our country is going in the right moral direction of accepting gay relationships. Are we being racist or is being gay morally wrong? Sullivan leaves his essay open for a lot of counter arguments because his essay suggests that although gay marriage laws were passed in the state he lives in; but in forty-one other st ates gay couples still cannot wed.
His reference at the end of his essay, suggests that it written in the time period gay marriage was legal in California. Same sex marriages were legal in California; 5 months later Prop 8 was passed and gay marriage was illegal again. At this point where same sex marriages are not legal in California anymore, the author comes off as arrogant and too confident in his thought of America changing its thoughts of homosexuality because it marriage is not possible for the gay community in California anymore. The language in Sullivan uses comes off as accessible; it is easily read and understood.
The author shows his viewpoint on homosexuality with emotional language pointing out an argument and then calling it “absurd”. With his use of certain words and phrases you can set a tone and even sense a vibe from the reader that he is emotional about the topic. In one of his arguments he says “This transformation in understanding happened organically. ”(103) he leaves his essay open for argument. Saying the world “organically” suggests that America is slowly and naturally is starting to understand the gay community. Is understanding the gay community going to happen naturally? And if so why hasn’t it happened yet?
The language the author uses shows his emotion towards the topic, which eventually starts asking the reader to choose sides. The essay can start to become more bias and less informative. Sullivan also uses the slang “gays” and “straights”. In using the slang his essay might be less appealing to a broader audience, because although Sullivan is gay himself, it may offend people gay or not. The tone, text, and content in which Sullivan provides his audience seems like he may have a target group maybe of college students who live in California and comfortable with the gay culture and passionate about same-sex marriages.
He seems although he is just reminding his audience of their rights, as individuals and letting them know that the gay community are supposed to be considered as individuals first. It seems to miss the millions of people that are unaware the unfair injustice homosexuals may face. The essay may not touch a broader audience because still in forty one states same sex marriages is still not legal and reading this essay may just remind them of that and prove his whole essay as a false hope.
Courtney from Study Moose
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