Let’s talk about marriage. Let’s talk about monogamy. Let’s talk about commitment.
As a little girl I dreamed about one day getting married. I wasn’t one of those kids who had her whole wedding planned out down to the flower arrangements, but it was definitely something I wanted for my life. I imagined I would date for a while, eventually find the right person, who was at that point strictly male, have a simple wedding that would probably still cost too much, and juggle kids and a career, just like my mother did. It just goes to show that we generally stick to what we know. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I began to consider other options, or to be perfectly honest, that I realized that other options even existed.
Halfway through my freshman year of college I came out as gay and I had to relearn everything. I had to completely rethink my entire worldview. Up until then my actions were ruled by the truth that I was a woman and I was attracted to men. That my parents were a man and a woman. That all of my friends, family, and neighbors were straight and were in (or hoped to be in) heterosexual monogamous relationships. Most of them were white too, but that piece of the puzzle wouldn’t come to my attention for another couple of years. I didn’t know how not to be straight. All I knew of lesbians came from what I’d seen on tv, from the few girls (out of a class of 600 kids) who identified as lesbian at my high school, or from my dad’s gay cousin with whom he wasn’t very close anymore and who was adopted (somehow that seemed important for him to mention). While coming to terms with my orientation, I remember thinking “I’m not this girl. I’m sweet and quiet and Catholic and I am not this girl.” Eventually not being “that girl,” the stereotypical lesbian, became a source of pride for me. At 18 though, it just made me feel lost; like I didn’t belong to either category.
Once I was comfortably out as gay, one of the first things my mom asked me was if I was still going to have children. I said of course I was, just not with a man. Now, I think it would be more accurate to say, of course I am, just not necessarily with a man and not necessarily within the context of marriage. With my adoption of a queer identity came an appreciation of the gray areas. When I identified as gay, I was still thinking in black and white: “Okay, so maybe I won’t marry a man and have his children, but I will attempt to create the closest approximation to a nuclear family I can have with a woman instead of a man.” As I got older I realized, why fight for an imitation of a life that I will never have? Why fight for a life that I don’t actually want, that I have actually rejected in my rejection of heterosexuality?
So, although gay marriage is now legal where I live and Obama has endorsed gay marriage, and although I would certainly never deny anyone the right to marry someone they loved, I do not think marriage is the ultimate sign of commitment. And couples, whether gay, straight, or inbetween, who do not choose marriage certainly do not love each other any less.
HOWEVER. I do think that monogamy is steadily becoming underrated in the queer community and that is something I am wary of. Just because we want to celebrate our sexuality and our freedom to write our own rules, does not mean we need to chuck all the old standbys. Polyamory can work, I do not mean to deny the validity of polyamorous relationships. But queering relationships for the sake of being queer will not make anyone happy. I am speaking from some limited experience with this subject; do what makes you happy. I think sometimes we feel pressured to ask ourselves, “Am I being queer enough?” If you have to ask, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. There is nothing wrong with a committed, monogamous, queer relationship.