Well, okay, there are a number of things bothering me about it, but I’ve already ranted here at length about how it’s still being referred to by the media and politicians and other people with various vested interests as “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage”, which between them exclude a whole load of people who are not gay, or are intersex, or are non-binary in gender.
But the thing that’s bothering me at the moment is about sex and love – and I’m writing this as someone who’s more or less asexual, so I don’t have the same perspective as people who are sexual, I’m sort of a disinterested party.
It seems to me that in some way, Equal Marriage is being marketed as a way of “making queer people more acceptable” – because some of the general public are squeamish about the idea of non-het* people having sex. So all the Equal Marriage rhetoric is about loving, committed relationships, which is in itself perfectly valid (given that the discussion is about marriage), but there’s this undertone of “you can like queer people more if you think of them as being loving, rather than as people who shag differently from you.” This squeamishness, by the way, naturally extends itself towards trans* people, whom many cis-het people insist on not seeing as being their true gender/sex.
I’ve got mixed feelings about being bothered by this. I’m bothered on behalf of people who do not wish to be judged-and-condemned for enjoying non-het sex, and yet whose acceptability, it seems, is being made to be dependent on the more “respectable” face of romantic commitment. On the other hand, I’m glad to see a recognition of queer connectedness as being not just about sex, too, since there’s something of an over-focus in the community and in the media on that aspect, i.e. the assumption that if you’re not het, then your sexuality is all about sex, and not about, for example, whom you fall in love with.
But there’s something a bit smug in the “we’re just like you, we want to settle down and be domestic” sort of message, which contains more than a pinch of theistic “marriage sanctifies sex.” And that’s probably what is really behind most of the discomfort of people who want to “keep marriage traditional”, because they can’t bring themselves to imagine sex receiving any kind of blessing at all if it’s not going to be het sex.
To my mind, Equal Marriage is not about Marriage, it’s about equality. Citizens should have equal rights regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. As I’ve said before, I think that if a relationship is legal, it should be legal to solemnise it if the people in it want to – marriage, for those who want it, should simply be gender-neutral, sexuality-neutral, and not limited to couples.
I’m still piecing together why this all bothers me so. In the end, it’s something like the het world trying to absorb us like grit in an oyster, instead of taking on the challenge of accepting diversity in its many, many forms. And it’s also a celebration of the insularity of coupledom, worshipping it as the pinnacle of an imagined hierarchy of kinds of love. Humour me, this is the best I can do at the moment.
[*I’m using het as a shorthand for heterosexual because that’s too long a word, and I don’t like the word straight, and I think being het doesn’t deserve more syllables than being gay or bi or pan or ace, it’s just one of the possible orientations.
The bottom image is of skeins of recycled silk – I just thought it was a good image for an ideal intertwining of diversities. The top image is, um… just me wanting to mess with the apparent paradigm of “Equal Marriage is about passion, therefore scarlet.” Sometimes you just follow your nose and in my case, I often end up somewhere emerald.]