Home from our honeymoon, I’m back in my car office, wondering what I might write or which scribbled-down words I might tweak. This is my pre-writing hour, this time while my kid is in yoga class stretching her limits … I find it more challenging lately to stretch my own … I page through my journal, the one with a fox on the front …
Those words I wrote about marriage in Asheville …
Those words about being a child of mental illness, a lesbian growing up in a time when “gay” was not “cool,” a young woman whose parents finally – eventually, inevitably, thankfully – divorced …
The words I put down on the page right after my wedding, the choice I made to remove both rings from my finger while I sleep …
Words I’ve written, so many others I haven’t yet opened, unwrapped, let free inside my own mind …
The words I keep coming back to…
The words about marriage trapping my mom (and my dad, too, though it’s not something I’ve heard him say), haunting words that were given to me when I asked, “Mom? Do you want out of your marriage or out of life?” Her response, so shocking to me at seventeen, although it seems a common perspective for women of her generation – her response after two or three attempts to end her life – her response, which was a question but not: “Does it matter? It’s the same thing.”
And when I share that, it feels like if I’ve reached the crux of my own … hesitation … to marry, to hold a ceremony, to invite family and friends, to commit. These words are revealing. Pivotal. True.
But this is only part of my story.
The rest of my story is a thread from a larger story, a story of community, of hope and heat and strength and power and trying and flailing and loving and fighting and working hard and giving up and going on and being.
See, marriage is an option for me – for us – where it never was before – and it was hard-won – and it’s not an option everyone will choose.
We have built our whole lives with or without partners and without the option to marry. So now what?
If we’re part of a couple, how do we merge our finances if we haven’t already? Do we really want to own our partner’s car? Or debt? Or house? Is that who we want raising our kids if something horrible happens? We’ve never had to be sure. Until now.
As I said to a gay colleague on the phone, “I have the option to wear fishnets, too, but that doesn’t mean I will.”
And maybe it’s the pressure our straight friends have felt all along – When will you marry? Or – Still waiting for the right man/woman to come along?
Marriage was the right choice for me. I haven’t always known it – and, in fact, it hasn’t always been – but I want to say to every same-gender-loving person I know:
Make the choice that’s best for you. I’ll have your back.
Choosing not to marry your partner of twenty years – even choosing not to marry your partner of twenty years now – does not invalidate your love, or the life you have built for yourselves.
Choosing not to build a life or a family with one other person does not make you unlovable or unloved or broken or damaged or wrong.
The point of marriage equality is having a choice, having the option, and making the choice that’s best for you.
Queer people have spent their lives outside the mainstream to one degree or another, but we have found ways of being that work for us, that work well for us, ways of moving through our world and lives that help us feel strong and whole and proud. I see nothing wrong with continuing to be how we’ve always been.
And yet, who hasn’t called the question? Who hasn’t asked themselves sometime in the past one or two or three years: Would I or wouldn’t I? Whose life as a same-gender-loving human in this country has NOT been altered by this string of marriage wins?
Inside a romantic relationship or outside of one, we are seen differently now. We are seen more completely. We can live more openly. In some places. In some families. Sometimes.
We feel it.
Slowly, the tide is changing. Love is winning.
Let this string of wins be an opening.
I don’t want us now living in wedded bliss to come inside and shut the door, forgetting how cold it can be outside.
I want this to be an opening.
I want us to continue loving one another and supporting one another’s choices, whatever our political beliefs, our connection to the state, our personal histories.
I want us each to choose from a place of strength and hope and love.
Because beyond the choice to wed or not to wed, for me the goal has always been – and always will be – to feel and to be seen as whole.