next life, i’m coming back as a golden retriever. maybe a rottweiler. Love rotties.
So, I don’t know if you knew this about me, but I’m not really down with marriage. Weddings, I don’t mind so much, (well– I have some political critiques– still, I do get kinda mushy and smiley), but marriage the institution–bah. Patriarchal, heterosexist institution. gay. lesbian, heterosexual–it’s the same institution, and it was founded on men’s ownership of women, and it is not redeemable. uh, no.
That said, I’ve been to three lesbian weddings. Well, one commitment ceremony, which was held before same sex marriage was legal in Canada. and two weddings. ’cause, well…mostly because I love the people who got hitched. And this was important to them. And one of the six brides was my lover for the longest i’ve ever been in a love affair and now she’s my best friend ever, and there’s no adequate descriptor for our relationship, but we’ll always be in each others’ lives, and i’ll do nearly anything for her. Including be a witness at her wedding, and play a song on my accordion for her and her partner to dance to. which i did. She knows that I hate marriage. every time i go over to visit, i say something disparaging about the institution–not ’cause I want to be mean, mind you, I just forget myself, and sometimes I lack tact. I always get all kinda red and flustered and say, “oh, uh, you know…” and sputter to a halt before i get kicked out–
but you know, it makes me want to cry. even though she explained to me that neither of their families could be trusted to honour their wishes were they to become ill or die or…they were both afraid their parents or some members of the extended family would come in and take over and freeze the lover out. that’s why they got married. and my friend’s lover really really wanted to. and they could, it’s all legal now…
Never mind what will happen to me. Where do I fit if something happens and i want to be with her and do what loyal and long-term and there-is-no-word-to-describe-what-this-relationship-means-to-us kind of friends should do, and there’s no place for me? There’s no law, there’s nothing in religious books, there’s no social or political agreement.
And we’ve all been (well, not me) so goddamn busy fighting for the right to spend all our money on dresses and shoes and tuxedoes and parties and fees for retired lesbian United Church Ministers and Marriage Licenses and to sign ownership papers for our lovers that we didn’t take any time to try to use the small permission we have here (we can’t be killed for being lesbians, for example–and we exist here, for example) in Canada to imagine something bigger. Different. How do we acknowledge and celebrate and commit publicly to the people we will always know and need? Our friends, our allies, our roommates, our co-workers, the ones we always fight with but learn so much from, the ones who called us every day for a month when we sobered up, the ones we live with as roommates or family, the ones we call when our lovers leave, the ones we rant with and plot with and laugh with and …
Why are we settling for only this tiny thing we can imagine, ’cause it’s all we’ve ever seen? The state can take marriage away from us just as easy as it gave it. Easier, i’ll wager. But if we invent something else, something bigger than just one couple, something fierce and loving and way different than we can even imagine yet, well, the state can’t take that, ’cause they won’t be able to see it.
I read somewhere that when the first of the Spanish explorers came to the Gulf of Mexico, the Aztecs could not at first see the big ships, becasue they had never, not EVER, in all the centuries and millenia they had been there, seen anything like those big, tall masted ships. There was nothing in their lives or lands or stories to compare it to, to prepare them. I think it was that only some women and young children who could see them, and no one believed them at first, that there was something out there.
The explorers came to conquer, and in a way, that’s what we have to do, too. but it’s freedom we’ve gotta be after.
We’ve already been conquered. We’ve given in, capitulated to the pressure. “Don’t you want the hatred to stop? Then c’mon, be just like us. You’ll belong then, you’ll fit it. Here. drink this…”
I get it. I think I get it. We all need to belong. We all need to see and know that we’re going to be safe. Sometimes we confuse ‘safe’ with ‘free’. Free, in fact, is unimaginable. And I don’t think it’s too safe, either, to be free. It’s fraught with danger and uncertainty. But it’s a condition of being responsible and needed. We can’t be free all by ourselves. We need each other, and we need to be looking out for each other. all of us, together. Not just two-by-two. Though i can see when that’s necessary, too–when two people find each other and keep each other warm and promise to love and to hold. And then it gets better and more real when each of those two people make a promise like that to their other people–and their other people promise back. “I’m gonna be part of your garden, baby. I’m gonna be here making sure you’re okay, ’cause you’re gonna be there, making sure i’m okay”.
problem is, marriage the institution does not have a garden, or make the promises to the other people, or acknowledge the deep bonds that didn’t start out as sexual (or if they started out that way, didn’t get glued together forever by only sex)–the institution, it’s rooted in capitalism and patriarchy. I can’t see it ever transcending that.
Even if you want to make sure you’re together when you get old. Even when you want your families to accept you, and finally believe you’re grown-ups. Even when you can get the pensions and the benefits and the okay to be part of each others’ wills with the support of the law and all that. Even then. because it’s still a decision made from fear, and it’s a decision made in lonesomeness and dislocation from all the beautiful people who could hold you up.
I don’t know how to make something better and bigger and more righteous than marriage. But I am pretty sure we could do it together.
then again, you know…I live alone. and here I am after midnight, tilting at windmills…
I have never wanted to be same sex married, and now that Canada recognizes common-law relationships for same sex couples, I thought it was unnecessary, too. However, I just heard on CBC this week that said that common law couples do not have heritability of each other’s pensions. For older couples, this suddenly looms as an issue of possible importance. I hear that there is a bill pending in BC but nothing is likely to happen on it for at least a few months.
Yea, I know, eh? Impossible contradictions everywhere. and still no garden…
Good post, sister. Bigger IS better.
Married in Massachusetts Lesbian
Fuck, this is such a beautifully written post and I agree with it 100%. Cannot stand marriage. Do not for the life of me understand why any lesbian would want to get married. It is a really hideous institution and always has been. And this is coming from a lesbian who is in a relationship with someone who really likes the idea of marriage. Sigh.