Listen, some of my best friends are married.
And yes, I celebrate their happiness. I think it's a valid lifestyle choice. Honest I do. And sure, same-sex marriage should be legal. Obviously. Way obviously.
But marriage is not, sorry, the end-all and be-all for me. It's not that I don't believe in love with a capital "L." And it's not that I think that the state should stay out of what is, ultimately, a private matter. In fact, my honey and I, who've been together for many, many happy years, are registered domestic partners. Sure, that sounds a lot more like legalese than romance, but hey, it got me health insurance.
Still, when we had the chance to get legally hitched—during that brief, joyous interregnum between the California Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage and the axe-fall of Proposition 8 that undid it—we chose not to head down to San Francisco City Hall and tie the knot.
Why didn't we wed? Well, we're both ex-hippies, yes, and unrepentant left-wingers. Atheists, to boot. But more especially, we've always had an open relationship, still do, and the biggest stumbling block might well have been the "forsaking all others till death do us part" thingy.
Not that we had to say that stuff. We could have staged a nice pagan wedding, with a call-and-response that sidestepped monogamy.
But that's not, let's face it, what this marriage bit is all about. The other day, I was watching a Showtime documentary on Massachusetts marriage, and this one fellow said something to the effect of, "Well, I always thought that the good part of being gay was not being like everybody else, but now here I am, married, with two kids, living in the suburbs."
Exactly. He seemed happy, but… exactly.
And what it's also about is the oft-raised argument that, yes, marriage is good for the gays because it'll keep those traditionally promiscuous homos at home instead. No more tomcatting around; no more meaningless, anonymous sex. No more risk of HIV transmission. Just monogamous, married bliss.
You know, same as all the straight folks have.
Years ago, my sweetie and I went down to City Hall for our commitment ceremony. It was a Moonie-ish group thing, with a whole bunch of us same-sex couples clustered under the dome, professing our love and commitment. And that was fabulous. We were not just a couple, but a couple that was part of a larger community.
But even back then, when we headed down to the reception, we came across a photo exhibit titled "Love Makes a Family." Every single picture featured a pair-bonded couple and their kid or kids. Our own semi-extended family, which included, by choice, zero children, but did have room for a few longterm fuckbuddies, was nowhere to be found. Apparently, the fix was in.
And since then, it's only gotten more so. We've had conservative gay cultural commentators like Andrew Sullivan declaring that gay marriage was good for us all because we'd have reason to Grow Up and stop slutting around. And if it turned out that the oh-so-mature Mr. Sullivan was himself hunting online for bareback sex at the time, well…it only went to prove that sexual hypocrisy is by no means the exclusive province of the religious right.
I've often figured that most people believe the True Religion is whatever faith they happened to have been raised in when they were kids. So perhaps my taste for radical nonmonogamy is, likewise, just a nostalgic holdover from my misspent gay-lib youth.
But maybe not. Maybe, in fact, monogamy is not, at least for male-male couples, the best option, but rather just one valid possibility among many. Sure, if sexual fidelity is freely chosen—and not from fear of disease, fear of desertion, or fear of societal disapproval—then yes, fine, go ahead. Do the shoes, rice, and one and one-only bit, with my blessing. After all, as archaic bourgeois institutions go, traditional marriage is a fairly nice one. And if you're like my sex-radical buddies who've gotten married for the beauty of it, the legal benefits, or even the gifts, but who, by choice, aren't limiting themselves, at least for a lifetime, to shtupping only their spouses, then that's fine, too.
But if you're one of those folks—especially one of those young, pro-marriage queers who tend to look at folks like me as morally deficient holdovers from a decadent generation—well…
See, I think that the homo hubby in the Showtime doc was, in fact, correct: One of the great things about being queer is that we are, in fact, different…and that includes the right to proudly be a slut. Not that it's wrong to want to be like everybody else—that's a basic desire of us humans, at least when we're in high school. But, just as other oppressed groups seem to impose hierarchies on themselves, it looks like we're now entering an era of Good Married Homos being privileged, at least in the public discourse, over the Bad Old Rest of Us.
And that's just so fucked. So as long as I keep fucking, I'll happily fuck around if I fucking want to. Because love—not child-rearing, not vows in a church, and not sexual self-denial—is what truly makes a family.
That, and arguments over who does the dishes.