When I was a kid, I never fantasized about getting married, or having a wedding, or keeping house with a husband. I didn’t get it; I literally could not imagine myself in a romantic relationship with a man. I figured I’d just have a female friend as a “roommate-for-life,” basically, and we’d adopt kids together. (And yet it was a total surprise to me when, at 15, I realized I was gay!)
Somehow, though, it feels like the last year or so I’ve been trying to catch up on all the wedding-fantasizing I “missed out on” as a kid. I find myself mentally planning the perfect, patriarchy-smashing wedding. Generally my partner is Doctor-Who-as-played-by-Lucy-Lawless-in-a-tuxedo or some such similar fantasy spouse, since I really don’t want to be getting married any time soon! No, really; I don’t even want to date for at least another year.
But I somehow can’t help thinking about what kind of dress I’d like to wear (something ridiculously sexy!) and what kind of cake I’d prefer (the jury’s still out on that one– but it’ll be something nerdy, for sure.)
It might be because I’ve been thinking a lot more about where my future is headed, lately, whereas before, I always sort of “knew”: I am in school, and next year I will also be in school, and after that I will still be in school. Only now, I’m not in school. I know I’m going back to school, but I’m thinking more about what will happen after that, where I will live, what I will do.
And I’m especially thinking about my Canadian citizenship. Should I move to Canada? When should I move to Canada? Should I become established in my career first, build a resume, and then move, or just head straight for where I want to end up? The family I know best is in the United States. (Probably because that’s where I am; I would know my Canadian relatives better if I moved there.) My history is in America. Does my future need to be in America, too? I’ve always lived in the Midwest or the South; what if I just moved to New York or someplace in California? Mostly the desire to expatriate is a nebulous feeling that I am painfully out of place in the States. Mostly.
But I could get married, in Canada. One hundred percent, legally recognized everywhere, no oops-we-take-it-back or only-in-this-state, but really, truly married. Which is tempting. I could have a big party. My parents might even publicly say that they’re happy for me. We could have crab at the dinner; I love crab.
This is about when I start having second thoughts, where I ask myself, “Why the hell do I want a wedding, anyway? Marriage has been a tool of the patriarchy for centuries! I don’t need to have any part in it!” I always sort of appreciate it when straight folks opt out of marriage, challenging all our cultural ideas about its necessity. I especially appreciate it when they do so as a symbol of solidarity with the millions of gay folks in America who don’t have handy Canadian dual citizenships to buy them access to the institution.
Except, of course, that I’d like to have hospital visitation rights for my partner, and all the other very practical benefits of marriage, not to mention the official recognition of our relationship as real and important, all of which which straight folks “living in sin” tend to get regardless of legal status, but which gay folks are often denied, also regardless of legal status.
I’m tentatively thinking that, in a perfect world, after the great feminist revolution or whatever, we might do away with the current conception of marriage altogether, but in the mean time, in the world we live in now, it’s not fair to exclude people who want to participate in marriage’s assorted messed-up-ness from doing so.
So… what? Gay folks should all opt into marriage and straight folks should all opt out? Huh? Where am I even going with this??
Maybe I shouldn’t post this when I’m still so conflicted, but the thing is, I really don’t know. Is homosexuality a sufficient “subversion” to “justify” playing into as patriarchal an institution as marriage? Or do I need to ignore the confusing longing that I find in myself, and throw my hands up at all marriage? Which extreme will move us towards the revolution we need? Or, what would the “middle ground” even be?