I had a really weird conversation tonight. A gay family member was talking about his possible upcoming nuptials and said he didn't want a ceremony. The jewelry and the pomp, sure, but the walk down the aisle wouldn't be part of his day. Why? Because he felt that was supposed to be between a man and a woman.
I believe marriage should be between two people who love each other, regardless of their anatomy. I reminded him that it wasn't long ago that it was illegal for blacks and whites to marry. Should fat people or short people not be able to marry each other based on their physical traits? No. Marriage is between two individuals who love each other and choose a life together. I'll wait for your applause on my progressive, and as it turns out, simplistic viewpoint that doesn't consider the nuance of the lives of actual gay people.
Newsflash for me: It's not that easy. Real life is complicated. For a person who grew up in the suburbs in the midwest with Catholic values and a father born near (in?*) the middle east, a certain value system is formed and it's not that simple to just buck everything you know for marriage - which to a 22-year-old, just means a lot of flowers and photography. (Our family member is not really ready for the commitment right this second, but give him time.) The truth is gay people are taught values and culture just like straight people that doesn't magically erase because they are gay.
Much to the chagrin of liberal straight people who operate with both heterosexual privilege and a sympathetic need to champion the rights of others (GUILTY), not all people with homosexual preferences are waving flags and marching in parades. Some are living quietly, having made certain concessions with themselves or living peacefully merged in the heteronormative world, posing as straight people, which is frankly easier.
Saying all gay people should be gay rights activists is like saying all black people should be Panthers or that all women should be feminists. Who are we to say what other people should be aligning themselves with? What business is it of ours to expect people to fight for their own interest, especially if it could mean a great deal of pain and cultural upheaval for that person? Why do we outspoken liberals demand such sacrifice of people when we'll never experience the backlash?
People vote against their own economic interests all the time. Hello, poor Republicans. Why in the hell blue collar people vote for candidates who support policies that are in direct contrast to their economic success based on soft issues that will never amount to a hill of beans outside of an election (abortion! stem cell research!) is a mystery to me. But it's their business. They have a right to think the way they do and vote the way they want. Who am I to demand those people vote in their own interests? I'm a rich, straight, white lady and I guess in the end I'm risking nothing and it's none of my damn business what they do. It's this save-them-from-themselves mentality that I'm against when it comes to spreading Christianity in third world countries. I ought to be consistent when it comes to telling conservative gay people what they should believe about marriage.
ON THE OTHER HAND. I wish all gays had the courage and support systems to give a giant middle finger to the establishment and walk down that aisle with pride. To think there is a modicum of shame hidden under those layers of "this is how I was raised" or "no really, I didn't dream of the aisle part" makes me absolutely sick.
Marriage is a human right. No one can tell you that you are less than human by forbidding you to marry the person you want to be with. You have to believe you are worth just as much as anybody else.
Sashay down that aisle, conservative midwestern, Catholic, gay men! In the words of Andrew Carnagie, nothing worth having is easy. I just wish I could offer better support than the vantage point of a married straight lady with a blog.