When I was seventeen I started up a LiveJournal. Part of the reason behind this was I had a close friend with whom I IMed, and he would constantly send me links to his, so I wanted that social aspect of it; the other part was that I wanted a place where I could just dump my thoughts, every thought no matter how inconsequential. There was also wanting to record my life in a diary of sorts. Among my first entries was despair that I knew the country in which I was living had no care for me in its systems of equality for discrimination, marriage, or life.
Eleven years later, I am not entirely sure whether my opinion is more favorable, though the needle for such equality has surely shifted toward my desires a bit. Of course, the difficulty is that I myself have changed, and what I believed about life, love, and the world at the age of seventeen does not hold true for myself at twenty-eight. I now find myself at an odd intersection of holding opinions that don’t hold up well on a national stage because they are not simplistic enough, and are generally not regarded in the fight for marriage equality.
Here’s the thing: I believe in marriage equality. If we’re expanding that beyond just same-sex marriage, I also believe in marriage beyond just two consenting adults, to include polyamorous relationships.
I also don’t believe in marriage for myself and never plan on getting married (I say plan because I already know how I can change in eleven years). Instead, I would prefer a system whereby I could choose to enter contractual agreements with any close friend, and end them just as easily.
In the past I’ve had roommates with whom I would have wanted to share such, particularly as I have no close relatives anywhere near me in the country. The longer I look at it, the more I wonder what marriage’s function in society is anymore.
The exchange of property? Ensuring a place for a woman in society? Finally giving into to literary romantic themes of love? Keeping together a family and encouraging it to stay together?
It’s an institution I just don’t see fitting anything I desire, even if I do want a long-term committed relationship. I just do not see that desire for a relationship meaning I have to enter marriage to ensure that I can share all manner of benefits others can have simply by signing a document. It seems a bit daft, really.
In my increasing desire to understand the world and privileges around me, I wonder why we give so many benefits beyond just hospital visits and the like to a couple that is wed. I would like to see more debates on what marriage means in these contexts. I certainly haven’t figured out my own feelings towards this, but entering the debate is quite draining these days.
As that is a conversation that will not be happening, and I do not absolutely oppose marriage (the benefits are benefits, and we make do with what we can), I find myself fighting for marriage equality for the LGBT community.
The other part of it is also naturally that I do find myself a bit at odds with cultural norms and expectations. I have been fascinated by the history of the LGBT community in the past, where groups existed that believed we did not have to conform to the relationship power structures that existed at the given time. We did not need have the same families, lives, and expectations. Being queer was a celebration of the fact that we could break from the mundanity of what was expected to be a contributing member of the world.
This desire of mine is a desire of mine, and even I must eat. I want to contribute to society, though I often find myself (even when I do have a job) valuing my outside hobbies and volunteer work as more defining of that contribution. Life is full of compromises, and other such adages. Though I say the desire is mine because I recognize there are many who just want to be a part of society, feel welcomed, and to live the lives they were promised growing up.
It was in my sixth grade social studies class that my teacher talked about how the average family unit in the US has 4.2 family members, and in my mind, I pictured having such a family. When I was disillusioned of the fact that I would grow up to have a wife and children, I realized I had no interest in the dream at all. There are times where I wish I could have held on to that vision and pursued it, even if just changing out a wife for a husband.
I am often critical in my life. Of the institutions around me I think could do better. Of the communities for whom I believe the same (and the LGBT numbers among those). And of myself. However, while I can critique the institution of marriage and how we privilege couples over individuals, I find that I want to support those who want to be a part of the system that currently does exist.
In another decade, perhaps I’ll join them. Or perhaps I shall remain a stubborn, curmudgeonly single gay male writer who thinks and opines too much.