eHarmony: The Battle for Gay Rights in a Nutshell

I’ll get to the changing-your-life follow-up on the weekend. News comes first.
Back in 2005, eHarmony got slapped with a lawsuit for discrimination because gays couldn’t use the service. Now, personally, considering their overpriced, weird cult-like dating service, I kinda thought eHarmony was doing gays a favour. But I agree with the spirit of the lawsuit, because it’s bullshit.
Well, now it’s three-plus years later, and eHarmony finally has a gay service available. Yay for progress!
Oh. Wait a second. Not so much?
See, gays still can’t use eHarmony. No, they get Compatible Partners. (Which is yet to be launched. Look to March 31st, 2009, for that.)
Did they even put a marketing team on this? Do they even give a fuck? “Compatible Partners”? What, “Ass-Pirates and Their Friends” was unavailable? Holy segregated fuck, Batman!
Compatible Partners? Fuck off. Why not something with some kind of emotional quotient to it? Something that conveys what gays have is love, too? Aren’t gays entitled to harmony? No, they’re apparently entitled to compatibility. Anything beyond that would evidently offend corporate sensibilities.
Why not just say, “Don’t bother, we’re not really serious in finding you a knee-shaking lover, just an activity partner” anyhow? The name’s not the issue, though. As fucking lame as it is and all.
The issue is, gays get the service — but only if they go down the block, turn the corner, and visit a completely different location. Through a back door. That’s dimly lit. And they gotta jiggle the handle to fucking get in.
I mean, god forbid the primarily beautiful happy right-wing old-fashioned paying customers of eHarmony actually notice that gays are getting in the front door. GASP. They have cooties! NoOo!
It’s like my beloved GayBoy says about “civil unions” for gays: If you call it something else, then you’re saying it’s not equal. If it’s not the same thing, well, it’s just not the same thing. If you want to get ideological about it, his argument essentially is, love is love and it’s about acknowledging the essence of that emotion, its universality, and not believing that one segment of society somehow has a monopoly on it.
Love, pain, joy, grief, laughter, sorrow… they don’t know “gay” or “straight”. We’re all capable of them. Why should any of us then be denied?
Because that’s what a lot of this fight is about, between more “traditional” straights and the gay community — it’s about finally feeling a part of something older than mankind itself: the many-splendoured power of love. Not the “queer equivalent” of it. It’s about love, loyalty, faith, longing, trust, sacrifice, commitment — between two people, whatever their genders or orientations. It’s about the thing itself, not the participants.
And that’s what eHarmony and its pathetic “Compatible Partners” is failing to get.
Never mind that “preserving the sanctity” of heterosexual relationships is a fucking joke anyhow. Marriage was, first and foremost, throughout history, merely a political and/or financial transaction. I mean, dowries? I have 500 sheep for that foxy bride of yours? C’mon. “Love” only entered into marriage in the romantic Victorian era. You’re talking a couple hundred years, at best, of a love-comes-first union, stacked against thousands of years of it being a trade? C’mon!
But, here we are. Having to fight the fight.
Acceptance is saying “You’re fine the way you are, come, join our fold.” It’s not about smiling and showing you the door to a party where you’re more in keeping with the status quo so a few sensibilities don’t get offended.
I mean, think about it. Instead of spending a few bucks to change the code on their parent site so gays could just find the love of their lives there, they decided to spend untold amounts more in order to make a completely different “exclusive” site. They might try to sell that as showing they’re putting their money where their mouth is, but I see it as akin to paying extra to sit in first-class on a flight specifically so you don’t have to suffer the company of lesser-thans in too-close proximity for too long.
The Gay Rights Movement will not have succeeded if its victories are along the lines of Compatible Partners. The Same-But-Different kind of acceptance they propose is just a watered down kind of Jim Crow in the modern sexual age. Sure, you can drink from fountains! Just the ones intended for your kind.
If you really want to fight the fights that need fighting, well, this asshat move of eHarmony’s is one that deserves your attention. Until gays can use their parent site, it’s more of the same; the wrong kind of same, and the same kind of wrong.

10 thoughts on “eHarmony: The Battle for Gay Rights in a Nutshell

  1. Kat

    This doesnt sit well with me either. Despite that I do discount labeling often, the “seperate but equal” approach sounds like so much BS.
    You suck, eHarmony.
    PS: eHarmony seems like a cult to me too. Its totaly relying on the customer to give up control and rely on whatever the company deems as “compatible girl/boyfriend material”.

  2. maymay

    I think I own “Ass Pirates and Their Friends.” Oh, no, wait, I’m just an owned ass pirate. 😛
    Don’t really have much more to say except, “Yep, you hit the nail on the head.” If you’re not calling it “marriage” then it’s not marriage equality. Then again, I think the whole marriage equality thing is totally the wrong battle anyway, but that’s just me.
    maymay’s last blog or Why I Am Crowdsourcing My Own Pornography

  3. Mike

    Why did eHarmony have to create a whole new site. Why not just a “Men seeking men” or “women seeking women” option to the site they already had ?? Seems like a lot of extra work on their part.

  4. Nina

    There’s no doubt about it that the whole thing sucks. Unfortunately they’ll probably get by with it as far as the discrimination laws are concerned.
    It would have made much more sense to simply expand the existing site and modify the software to tailor the compatibility search to take orientation into account.
    It really is too bad that at first glance we seem to have come so far, but the truth is that we’ve barely taken the first few steps.
    Nina’s last blog post..*Le Sigh*

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