To Love is to Die

“Loving you is like living / in the war years” (Moraga, 23).

The first line of Loving in the War Years, a poem featured in Cherrie L. Moraga’s novel under the same title, sets the reader up to understand Moraga’s relationship with her identity as a lesbian. She connects loving a woman to living in a time of turmoil and fear. She goes on to write, “Loving you has this kind of desperation / to it, like do or die” (Moraga, 23). Moraga must either confess and act on her love or die with this secret (the secret of love and the secret of identity) buried in her.

Ironically, this line contrasts with the first line. To love is to “do or die”, but to love is to live in pain and turmoil. It is a painful reflection on the fear many queer people live in; loving means putting yourself in the line of fire, either physically, verbally, or mentally. It means risking your relationships with your friends and family. Loving is akin to war when your love is not accepted.

I was pulled to Eve Sedgwick’s Tendencies, where she writes “I’ve heard of many people who claim they’d as soon their children were dead as gay. What it took me a long time to believe is that these people are saying no more than the truth” (Sedgwick, 2). Parents fear the very nature of their child’s love, because at least death would protect their kid from the hatred queer people face. If you ask people “what is the meaning of life”, you will hear at least one person respond “love”. But when your love is dangerous, it can feel like there is nothing to live for.


One thought on “To Love is to Die”

  1. I agree, for queer people loving means walking the fine line between certainty with your identity and self-preservation. To be queer is to exist in the space between and to accept the war that exists around your love.

    However, I think this symbol of war also references how some queer people feel pressured to remain in relationships even when they feel like a war zone, because at least it is something. Moraga writes, “I’ve got to take you/ as you come, battle bruised” (Loving In the War Years). In her relationship, her partner is all that she had, and even if her partner or the relationship was broken, she fought to keep it alive.

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