Cultural Appropriations · Rants For Thought

Baby Steps Don’t Mean We’re Victorious: Thoughts On Marriage Equality

When I was little, we’d play house under the trees at the back of the school field, and snatches of conversation could be heard over the grass if one walked towards the fort we had made out of grass and branches.

“Boys can’t marry boys. And girls can’t marry girls. That’s just not the way it works.”

“Well, we’re all girls, and someone has to be the daddy.”

“Well, you’ll just have to pretend you’re a boy. We can’t get married unless you pretend.”

And we’d pretend, the unlucky girl chosen to be the boy protesting, and the game would go on in relative harmony. The one chosen to be the boy was always afraid that the other schoolchildren would find out that she had to pretend to be married to a girl and make fun of her. So we’d keep the games a secret, acting out what we thought marriage and family life must be like.

When I was little, I had no idea I was gay. I don’t think anyone really knows for sure about their sexual orientation until they’re introduced to the teenage world of dating and attraction. And I knew then, deep down, for years before I admitted it. I liked women. I liked them more than just wanting to be their friend. And I was ashamed, so I pretended for years that I wanted to talk about boys the way my friends did. I said that I found certain boys attractive that I didn’t. I pretended to drool over them, too. And while I did find some boys attractive, they were never the same ones my friends did, and my attraction was never as strong as it was when I thought about certain girls in my classes.

I felt just like I did when I was little and I got picked to be the daddy. Ashamed. Not wanting to tell anyone. And wondering why it was that two girls couldn’t be together and married, because to me, that seemed okay. It seemed like a valid family decision.

Now, I’m a happy bisexual woman. I live in a country where marriage equality is a reality. I can get married to the person I love, be they male or female. I’m privileged and I know it. And yet there’s a sense of foreboding . . . because I don’t believe it can really last in our current climate.

To the south of us, the United States is debating two extremely important marriage movements that will impact people like me. They’re going to decide if gay people should have the same rights as our straight brothers, sisters, friends, parents – in other words, if Prop 8 should be overturned.

Today, I saw a lot of people changing their social media profile pictures to an equal sign. And there were blog posts galore, some from my gay friends, some from my straight friends. There seemed to be a general feeling of “this is such a step forward, because now it’s about marriage instead of being about hatred against the sexual orientation. People don’t care if you’re gay; they’re just concerned about marriage.”

Here’s the thing, though.

If you tell me you don’t care who I love, but tell me I’m not allowed to get married to that person, you’re being homophobic.

If you tell me that you know I’m the same person I always was, but you refuse to talk to me anymore after I came out, you’re being homophobic.

If I have to hide myself from you in fear of you making fun of me, or ostracizing me, because you act strangely when we talk about gay rights, you’re being homophobic.

If I feel unsafe around you, it doesn’t matter how much you insist you don’t care about my sexual orientation or “what I do in private”. If you’re trying to block my rights, you are being homophobic.

This isn’t about anything BUT sexual orientation. And unfortunately, I can’t see it the way some bloggers see it. Because anyone trying to block a group from rights that they have enjoyed for years is not being any more tolerant than they were when they openly said they hated that group. I mean, fine, you don’t want to see me dead or locked up in some kind of gay concentration camp, cool, but you still think I’m less of a person and shouldn’t have the same rights you do.

Bigotry is bigotry. Equalizing marriage for all is a huge step towards bringing GLBTQ people from the “Other” category into the “Human” category. But we still have a long way to go, and we can’t get caught up in the small victories and lose the bigger picture.

For me, victory would be someone traditionally opposed to who I am treating me like a friend, despite our differences. Victory would be not having to come out to anyone, because being gay would be as valid as being straight is. Victory would be not getting looks from people surprised that I’m holding a woman’s hand, or comments behind my back – “She always looked like a lesbian.” “She always struck me as being gay.”

And victory would be not having to have this fight about marriage at all.

Behind the sexual orientation is a beating heart, just like yours. The heart feels love, just like yours does. The soul inside that person longs to be recognized as valid, just like you do.

It is about sexual orientation, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s start over. Do you think that anyone should be allowed to marry the person they love?

Yes?

Okay. There’s our answer then.

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