Have you noticed one of the themes of this project: altruism. The fact that people who aren’t necessarily interested in marrying are psyched about the opportunity of marriage for those around them. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:
My family collects pairs of marriages like cards. My sister has had two (played one, holding one). My stepsister had two (played them both). And my dad two (one played, one holding). My mom folded her hand after being dealt one bad marriage. And the other sister went all in but hers ended in death, not divorce. Me? I’m a spectator, no playing.
Never in my life did I dream about or consider getting married. The white dresses, the flowers, the dry cake and crappy champagne, this was the stuff of my friends and sisters. Always the bridesmaid was I, in my sweat-stained pastel taffeta and stiff toile. Weddings taxed me, made me tired, gave me anxiety over having to make small talk and couples dance. Weddings were things other people did; they were things other people had done to them. And the rate at which people collected them baffled me.
When I came out in my thirties, I realized my aversion to marriage was part nurture, part nature. On the one hand, I had been nurtured to equate marriage with failure. On the other hand, gay people couldn’t get married by the nature of their relationship. And, my whole paradigm had been off: I was looking at it through fake-it-til-you-make-it eyes. Now, as an out gay person, marriage was out of my grasp whether or not I wanted one. Relief. I didn’t have to explain myself anymore. I’m just gay not weird.
So it seems strange the idea of marriage equality has ignited an activist flame in me that hasn’t been lit in years. Watching my state legislators vote to affirm gays and lesbians of our right to marry, I found myself choking back tears, getting goosebumps, and fervently live blogging on Facebook as the vote went down. There I was, sitting alone in front of my laptop, saying over and over, “hot damn, hot damn.” I could not find words big enough. Heart racing, skin tingling. It is happening in my state. My state!
I think about one of my best friends, who last year was only “embracing the concept” of having a girlfriend. She now talks excitedly about her lover as being her “person” and how they are going to get married in every state where it’s legal. I think about friends who have been together for decades, friends who raise children together, friends who have just found each other, friends who want a family. And all of the untold, unknown stories across the state of commitment, love, and sacrifice. Suddenly, I want this for them. Her and her, him and him, and them, all of them.
Do I want it for me? This is a question I thought I had answered and that now hangs precipitously unanswered. Hopefully soon, we will all have that choice in Washington.