James Bennett explains his reservations about defining marriage by sexuality
The LGBTQ+ movement has gained significant civil rights in recent years, following decisions in favour of marriage equality in the UK and the US. The media has overwhelmingly taken the phrase “gay marriage” as a descriptor of the addition of same-sex couples to the law; a seemingly innocuous term even to many members of the LGBTQ+ community, who have adopted it in their own discussions.
But I hate the term – it does absolutely nothing to help equality. The phrase itself shows the church’s reluctance to accept marriage equality by creating a division between marriage and ‘gay marriage’, while at the same time it’s portrayed as a spectacular act of compassion, kindly bestowed upon the gay community.
The LGBTQ+ community still face an uphill struggle, and a part of that struggle is to realise that our rights are human rights. Frankly, I’m fed up of being dehumanised and shoved into a little gay box. Maybe I’ll buy a gay engagement ring and ride my gay unicorn to my gay wedding, simultaneously belting out Chicago, and doing jazz hands as I fear for my limp wrist’s safety.
Plus, the connotation of “gay” marriage is that everyone entering into a same-sex marriage is gay. Arguably, gay can be seen as an umbrella term that applies to gay men and lesbian women, but what about bisexual people entering into a same-sex union; is that ‘gay marriage’?
I may be gay, but I don’t want it as a preposition to everything I do. How ridiculous would it be if we started referring to unions between men and women as “straight marriage”?
As a gay man you eventually get sick to death of coming out to people. Coming out to family is just the first step. Coming out to new people becomes a regular occurrence in every day life and now I avoid it, not out of any kind of shame, but because I shouldn’t have to.
I love being gay and wouldn’t change the way I am, but my sexuality does not define who I am, and doesn’t relate to everything I do. When people ask if I’m seeing someone I’ll mention my ‘partner’ rather than ‘boyfriend’. Again, not to avoid the conversation, but instead because it’s a conversation I don’t feel the need to have.
When I eventually marry a man, it won’t be a ‘gay wedding’. Marriage is about love, not gender or sexuality – so let’s not define it in terms of either.
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