On the roof of a Brooklyn loft, with the Manhattan skyline blazing in the back-ground, my good friend Dana wed her dreamy companion, Annie, over declarations of “love” and “forever.” Although their wedding will not be officially recognized, these two women did it anyway. I’ve known Dana for quite a few years— she’s the sweetest kid you’ll ever meet. No one I know seemed more destined for marriage—certainly not me.
Since her wedding last March, I began to wonder: “Am I the marrying kind?” I’ve never considered proposing to anyone and no one has even come close to beckoning me to the Altar-of-Always. I’m all for romance (with the right guy), but even at age 30, I just don’t feel that sense of urgency to pair off like so many of my contemporaries.
Whether you’re destined like Dana or ambivalent like myself, it’s abundantly clear that marriage isn’t what it used to be. Over the last hundred years, the issues of why two individuals decide to marry and who is allowed to do so have changed considerably. In parts of the United States, interracial marriage was a crime. To give a licence to an interracial couple was punishable by imprisonment in 16 states until a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Currently, gays and lesbians—who have already been granted common-law benefits in some provinces—are fighting to get same-sex marriages legalized in Canada and other Western nations.
I share their fervour even though I presently have very little invested in such advancements. The problem lies in our relationship with the straighter powers that be. At times, I wonder if we should bother trying to woo straights into letting our united twosomes use their institution. Though gays and lesbians become sexier and more popular in the public eye each year, we’re still stuck between a long-
lasting trend and a half-acknowledged entity loitering around the gates of popular opinion.
Many opponents to same-sex marriage believe gays and lesbians will ruin their marrying practice, which they regard as an exclusive union between a man and a woman in the eyes of their God and/or government. They fear a change in current laws will cause the whole thing to come undone, leaving them in a cesspool of singles, queers and divorcées, as I and other members of the gay and lesbian legions pour into city halls and churches in a rush to pair off.
The truth is, most queers don’t want to get married. Many haven’t come out publicly until their 20s (with the exception of a few brave teens). I considered myself an early bird when I came out at 20. Because of that, our social adolescence often begins about 10 years later than our straight friends. While straight people plan marriages, many of us are still learning the landscape of sex and dating. Since the gay and lesbian culture I know places strong emphasis on friendship, there is less fear of being alone. And while some gay men and lesbians have children or would like to, I don’t believe we feel the desire to start a family as much as our straight pals.
Though I cheer on same-sex marriages and think myself a good catch, thoughts of officially embracing married life are far back on my priority list. I’ve come to learn the language of “married” couples—gay or straight: the in-depth talks about renovations, compromises over housecleaning, the snoring. . . . It’s a fundamental civil right I should be free to reject.
Some ofDavid Coffey’s best fiends are married. Guest submissions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to (416) 596-7730. We cannot respond to all queries.
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