Please Don’t Make Me Get Gay Married

7 minute read
Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie who lives in New York. His work has appeared in Gawker, VICE, New York magazine, and a few other safe-for-work publications.

The first time I heard the question was a year ago at my brother’s wedding, an occasion where such coaxing is commonplace. “When are you and Christian going to get married?” asked a well-meaning aunt whose daughter married another woman several years previously. “I know it’s legal in New York. Wouldn’t it make your mother happy?”

Weddings always make my mother happy, so I have no doubt that it would, but I always fancied myself not the marrying kind. Like I do to everyone who asks about my and my boyfriend’s plans on making honest men out of each other, I reminded my aunt that while it might be legal in our state, it wasn’t legal in the rest of the country, so it just didn’t really matter all that much and would probably make everything more complicated that it needed to be.

That is no longer true. Now that the Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality is the law of the land, a marriage with my boyfriend in New York would be just the same as my brother’s. Like all those people who immediately washed their Facebook profile photos in a rainbow bath, I’m overjoyed at the decision and glad to finally have the choice to get married. But, as of right now, it’s a choice that I’m deciding not to make.

Speaking of Facebook, immediately after the verdict was handed down, I posted, “Christian and I are happy to announce that with today’s historic decision we have decided to continue being legally unmarried forever.” My friend Lux, a woman who is in a long-term relationship with a man, almost immediately replied, “It brings a tear to my eye that you’ll now finally have the right to constantly defend the decision not to get married, just like straight couples have been able to do for forever.”

I realized that now I’m going to have to start fielding this question all the time and, well, it’s a little bit annoying. Despite my parents entering their fourth decade of wedded bliss (and they’re still one of the happiest couples I know), I’ve just always been incredibly skeptical of the whole institution. Maybe that was because it was one that I was barred from, and I thought I would never be able to partake in. Putting a spin on that Groucho Marx quote, I didn’t want to be a part of any club that wouldn’t have me as a member. If the two people in the partnership decide how it should run, isn’t that enough? And why is the government even bothering with organizing us into pairs? Let’s just abolish the federally recognized institution altogether and let churches bless unions and have every individual file her own taxes.

I actually thought it was a virtue that I couldn’t get married, and I still do. Because the state and society wouldn’t accept gay couples, the gay community had to come up with their own ways of codifying their existence. Wedding announcements for same sex couples ran in gay papers, some gay couples adopted each other so that there would be some official recognition of their union, and enterprising couples looking for a big party founded the “commitment ceremony” (which sounded like it would be held for someone involuntarily entering an asylum). More important, not having a standard set of behaviors to pattern ourselves after, gay relationships became more varied. Each couple had to talk about what they expected of each other, who was able to have sex with whom, and just what the boundaries and expectations were for this union.

That’s what I loved about being gay. We didn’t need the state, the church, our parents, or Emily Post telling us how we should live our wedded lives; we were making it up as we went along and finding new configurations and arrangements that worked for each individual couple rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to marriage that is so stifling it has lead to the skyrocketing divorce rate.

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A couple kiss in Trafalgar Square after the annual Pride in London Parade on June 27, 2015 in London.Rob Stothard—Getty Images
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Actor Ian McKellen waves to the crowd as he attends as grand marshal during the annual Gay Pride parade in New York City on June 28, 2015. Eduardo Munoz—Reuters
Couple carry an American flag and a rainbow flag during the annual Gay Pride parade in New York
A couple carry an American flag and a rainbow flag during the annual Gay Pride parade in New York on June 28, 2015.Eduardo Munoz—Reuters
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A reveler attends the annual Pride in London Parade on June 27, 2015 in London.Rob Stothard—Getty Images
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People take part in the annual Gay Pride Parade on June 27, 2015 in Dublin.Clodagh Kilcoyne—Getty Images
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Fifty thousand people walk on the street for gay lesbian and diversity rights in Milan on June 27, 2015.Roberto Finizio—Pacific Press/Corbis
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People march in front of the Colosseum during the Gay Pride Parade (LGBT) on June 13, 2015 in Rome. Filippo Monteforte—AFP/Getty Images
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Israelis and foreigners celebrate during the 17th annual gay pride parade in Tel Aviv on June 12, 2015.Menahem Kahana—AFP/Getty Images
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A participant takes part in the annual Pride in London Parade on June 27, 2015 in London.Neil Hall—Reuters
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People take part in the annual Pride in London Parade on June 27, 2015 in London.Rob Stothard—Getty Images
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A man waves the Rainbow flag on a truck during the annual Gay Pride parade in central Sofia, Bulgaria on June 27, 2015.Nikolay Doychinov—AFP/Getty Images
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Revelers with skull masks take part in a Gay Pride parade in Panama City on June 27, 2015.Carlos Jasso—Reuters
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A participant in the Pride March against discrimination in Manila on June 27, 2015.Ritchie B. Tongo—EPA
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Participants march during a Gay Pride Parade in Mexico City on June 27, 2015.Edgard Garrido—Reuters
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Participants of Sao Paulo's 19th annual Gay Pride Parade hold a large flag with the LGBT colors in Sao Paulo on June 7, 2015. Tiago Mazza Chiaravalloti—NurPhoto/Corbis
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Participants of the 20th 'Regenbogenparade' (Rainbow Parade) wearing body paint march on the Ringstrasse in Vienna on June 20, 2015. Herbert P. Oczeret—EPA
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Costumed people attend the Christopher Street Day, CSD, gay pride parade in front of the Semper Opera in Dresden, Germany on June 6, 2015. Jens Meyer—AP
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Keira Phair, of Westchester, Ohio, holds a rainbow flag during the Cincinnati Pride parade on June 27, 2015, in Cincinnati.John Minchillo—AP
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Revelers run under a huge rainbow flag during a Gay Pride parade in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on June 21, 2015.Jose Luis Gonzalez—Reuters

Now that is all gone, or at least on its way out. While being gay and boring is certainly progress, it’s not really the progress that I wanted for my personal life. I was hoping that I would still get that special something with my special someone rather than walking down the aisle in matching tuxes, entering into a monogamous relationship, and opening all the gifts we registered for at Restoration Hardware. That’s the kind of pressure that Christian and I are already getting and “not being the marrying kind,” isn’t as valid as it used to be for two confirmed bachelors like ourselves. (And don’t even get me started on people asking if we’re going to have kids.)

Now we get the question constantly, and we have to tell every well-meaning enquirer that we are both intellectually opposed to marriage for ourselves, though we think it’s great for anyone who would choose to do it. At least it’s starting a dialogue but, like my friend Lux mentioned, having to go through this with family members, coworkers, and friends—gay and straight alike—is exhausting. Whoever thought that equality would be such a drag? When we demanded these rights, no one ever imagined the consequences that would come along with them.

The babies born today who will think of Will & Grace the way I think of I Love Lucy will grow up with this right being just another fact of life and might even attend a few ceremonies that feel real and have the real weight of the government behind them. Gay marriage will be controversial for a while, but eventually it will become normal and even boring. Someone will write an etiquette book on how to have them, and suddenly there will be as many customs to fulfill as there are for straight marriages.

While contemplating a two-brides episode of Say Yes to the Dress, I can’t help thinking about my mother’s Aunt Bunny, whose life-long partner Mary Ellen was an accepted part of the family, though no one ever spoke of their commitment, and they certainly didn’t have a ceremony announcing it to the world.

Aunt Bunny and Mary Ellen worked out the definition of their own relationship and were committed until they each passed away. Christian and I have done the same thing, and I hope that what we have will be as real and long-lasting as what they did. We’re happy to have the right, and we’re also happy to not exercise it. We didn’t need anyone’s seal of approval before, and we don’t need it now. Maybe that will wear off, as gay marriage becomes more of the norm, and the outlaw appeal of opting out loses some of its cache. But right now, just because we’re able to do it doesn’t mean we have to and doesn’t mean that we want anyone pushing their strictures upon us. We’ve worked out just how we want our relationship to work, and, frankly, our covenant is none of your business.

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