These pages are mainly about sexual rights, a term whose meaning is open to anybody to decide. I take it to encompass the idea that people have the right to enjoy their sexualities and bodies freely. As part of that, they should be able to define who they are — including their identities and gender — move freely, live freely, wear and say what they want or need to, earn a decent living, see doctors when they have to and visit hospitals when they must, control their reproductive lives, have food and water and a roof with walls, and be recognized and treated with dignity in community, family, and society.
Lots of people don’t think those premises are true. That’s the first problem.
The poem, though, expresses something more to me: the idea that you can’t love freely, or be yourself fully, while repression and injustice walk openly around the world. Unfreedom is as seamless as its web is subtle. The hatred of pleasure and the immurement of emotion are only part of innumerable strictures that wall us in, stopper our voices, confine our hands, and stop our hearts. Another way of putting this is that, as the lawyers say, human rights are universal and inalienable, indivisible, interdependent, interrelated. That is, they all connect.
Human rights themselves, however — once they harden into defined norms and become the instruments of institutions — demand to be questioned too. What ends do they serve and not serve; whom do they help and not help? They lay out ground rules for a reasonable society, but while they imply fairness and assert they embody justice, they don’t necessarily mean liberation. At times, indeed, they only turn the tumblers of the lock on our confinement. And some kind of liberation is needed if the barriers are to fall, and the time for kisses to come.
So there are a lot of questions. There will not be answers; only different ways of rephrasing the questions.