How gay marriage made me want to get straight married

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by AerialDelight
"Marriage is so gay" pattern from Etsy seller PurpleHippoStitches. Buy it here!

I never really had plans to get married. I know that might shock my fiancĂ©, who has seen my Pinterest boards — but to be completely honest, that has only happened in the last two years or so, and they stemmed more from my love of party planning than anything. I wanted a wedding, the ultimate party planning experience, but marriage… eh.

I've always known I wanted to have a child. I know I want to experience that in my lifetime; I just never thought I necessarily needed someone else that was legally bound to be there. Sure it would be nice to share the financial costs of child rearing, but I figured I'd find a way through it somehow.

Marriage came with too much patriarchal baggage, as far as I was concerned. Wives and servitude and make-me-a-sandwich living held zero appeal to me.

And so I sang to myself my modern spin on the classic childhood rhyme "So-and-so and so-and-so sitting in a tree": K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes baby. Then comes marriage… maybe.

In college, as the nation's consciousness for marriage equality began to gain traction, I signed a pledge to refrain from getting married until marriage was something anyone — regardless of orientation — could enter into. It was great: it fed my desire for activism and made me feel virtuous, even though it required no hardship on my part since it's easy to pledge to do something you had no intention of doing in the first place. They even sent me a black ring to wear on my left hand — and who doesn't love a cause with accessories?

But then a funny thing began to happen.

We began winning.

DOMA was struck down and soon you couldn't find a newspaper without a photo of some ebullient homosexual couple sharing a triumphant kiss.

I was thrilled.

Beyond thrilled.

Gays, lesbians, and trans folks have been in my life since before I even understood the concept of sex and sexual mores. I don't know that it ever occurred to me that the lesbian couple at church or my mom's gay friends were anything other than "that couple at church" or "my mom's friends." I take the fight for equality incredibly personally, and as state after state dealt with marriage equality, I waited with bated breath to hear the outcomes.

As the results began pouring in, something funny began to happen to me: I started to want what those kissing-on-page-three newspaper couples were having.

And then something even funnier happened: I sort of met someone.

There was drama, of course, as there tends to be in any relationship when you feel the stakes are finally starting to matter. There was one particularly tense week when my then-boyfriend Jason went out of the country to visit his ex-girlfriend where I was nothing short of a hot mess of nerves and angst. It also happened to be the week I was scheduled to fly back home to help my mom with a party she was organizing for church.

Standing in the church's familiar chrome, no-nonsense kitchen, I poured my heart out to Doreen and transitioned-since-the-last-time-I-was-home Mark, as we filled up tiny appetizer plates of pulled pork as per my mom's Pinterest board-infused orders. (I'm telling you, I come by this party planning stuff honestly.)

When Christmas came around and I brought Jason home with me, Doreen and Mark met him with enthusiasm. That same trip home I learned that my mom's friend and his partner for nearly as long as I've been alive were planning to fly to California to get legally married. It was wildly out of character for them, and came as a shock to me when I heard their intentions. However, when we all had dinner before their big trip, I could see how much these wedding plans had changed their relationship's dynamic. I was used to seeing their long-term couple, lightly-bickering act, but that had changed, softened, into something tender and sweet.

And I began to want something like that too.

When Jason and I got back to Brooklyn from our trip, we began to talk about it all: weddings, marriages, and all that it entailed. For the first time I began to get excited about this marriage thing. I began to want it in a way I never could grasp before.

I want the tax breaks, sure, and I still have my eye on a Kitchenaid mixer. But more than that I want to stand in front of Mark and Doreen and my mom's newly-married friends, in front of my blood relatives and chosen family, and tell them all how much time I intend to spend with this man who has become more dear to me than I can sometimes believe, myself.

We are flying to Miami for some wedding planning reconnaissance. It will be the first time since we announced our engagement that I'll get to see my Miami chosen family. But there's more news we get to celebrate together: the Presbyterian Assembly voted to change the Book of Order to define marriage as being between "two people" and officially allow the gay marriages my own church has been performing on the down-low for years.

It feels momentous, but more than that, it feels right.

For all those Bible-thumpers that cry that gay marriage will weaken our society and ruin the sanctity of marriage, my reality is that the fight for marriage equality did just the opposite. It made me believe in marriage for the first time in my adult life. It made me want to get married, and now that this is something I can share with (nearly) all my brothers and sisters in this changing and evolving American society, it makes this time so much more precious and wonderful.

  1. Straight people who make these "We won't get married until everyone can" never manage to actually hold on to that.

    • As someone who is organising a non legal commitment with my partner of 7 years, I find your generalisation pretty hurtful.

      While I'm not straight, it is an opposite-gender relationship that I'm in, and we discussed early on that legal marriage wasn't something we wanted to do while the marriage act in my country requires the celebrant to advise that marriage is between a man and a woman.

      • Cool story, but this post is literally "I made a pledge to not get married until everyone had equal rights, like a good ally, but once the gays gained SOME ground I decided I was too impatient" like it actually is article-worthy, and also comes THE SAME WEEK the news broke that a celebrity couple reneged on the exact same "pledge."

        Maybe I should specify that straight people who make a big to-do about this kind of promise never stick to it.

        • Hey there- I'm the one that wrote the article and I felt I should chime in here.

          I understand your frustration and where you're coming from with this comment. It is something I struggled with internally for a lot of reasons, not so much for the "pledge" which I tried to make the point of saying was sort of a weird thing to do seeing as it was a long time ago (2004, if I'm not mistaken) and it was a cause that came with accessories (which, kinda weird, but it was a donation, and for a kid without much disposable income that really felt significant at the time), but for moral ones.

          I don't know, now that I'm an adult looking back on it, that "pledging" I won't get married does much of anything to change the social landscape as much as donating to charities that work for change, or using my vote for candidates and policy that I believe in.

          Whereas in my personal life- not to say this is everyone's experience ATM but it is mine and that's what I wrote about- is that so many people in my own life are getting swept up in this national excitement to get married regardless of their partner's sexual orientation or gender identity. It's hard not to get inspired when there are so many happily excited soon-to-be and just-marrieds every time I log in to facebook.

          Really the one that did sort of seal the deal- and I talk about this in the article- was my mom's friends that have been together for about as long as I've been alive. Seeing them over Christmas before they got married and seeing them now- they are so fucking happy. I don't know if that's okay to say on this site but it's true- they are so *fuckin* happy it blows my mind because here are these middle aged guys and they are acting like twenty-year old newly weds and I am so fuckin happy to see them like that. I realized it's what we have been striving and fighting for- the right for every one to be as happy and open with their love as they are. And it might be selfish, but I want to be as happy as they are, just like I want to try to make it so everyone gets that chance, too.

          So while I understand how frustrated you are to see another portrayal of someone "not keeping their pledge" (which, while the timing of this post is unfortunate, I did write it two months ago and its only now being shared so, while unfortunate, is not something that is all that fair to hold me accountable for) I think it's more of a case of the best way to show that marriage equality hasn't "eroded traditional values" is showing another version of what a happy marriage can look like.

          It can look like my mom's friends, just like it can look like me and my fiance.

          • Just so we're clear, I did read the article. Here's the thing. First, it's fine if seeing your friends get married makes you realize you want that happiness too. It's your framing of it that is a problem. I just don't get why we need an entire article about how gay marriage making SOME progress (because we are far from winning) inspired a straight marriage–we do not need to benefit straight people. I mean, imagine, like, an article by a straight white guy mentioning how all these feminist articles about reproductive justice made him realize he really wanted kids, and then the rest of the article was about how he personally benefits from feminism. That would be annoying, and this is along the same lines for LGBT people (at least the ones commenting here).

            "(which, while the timing of this post is unfortunate, I did write it two months ago and its only now being shared so, while unfortunate, is not something that is all that fair to hold me accountable for)"

            BTW I am not holding you personally accountable for a straight conspiracy, I'm just pointing out that this is a trend and especially piling on us this week.

    • I had two friends who were going to do that and as their closest queer friend, I told them not to do that. The feelings on it are too complicated to really just jump into, but it's summed up by "don't stifle your happiness and relationship because the government doesn't want to believe you two and us two are equal couples".

      Remember that everyone has reasons for changing their minds and some people don't realize that striking down DOMA or their local laws doesn't mean that a Nebraskan (for example) queer couple can't now get married.

  2. I had a very similar experience with my views on marriage just in a different context! I have been saying that I was not "marriage material" practically since I could comprehend what marriage is and understood my feelings towards it, not that I was stuck on a patriarchal example (everyone knew my mother ran the house) or a justification of not getting married until everyone could (though I believe any consenting adult that wants to should have the right) but because I knew how crazy and erratic my personality is and couldn't imagine exposing someone to that, especially someone I liked. Then I found my person and one of my very close friend found his person as well, and I saw how desperately they wanted to be married and I found myself wanting the same. While before I thought that type commitment would be something suffocating, I now believe that it is just a different kind of freedom.

  3. Just follow your heart and you can't go wrong !!! Some people more than other must grow to that decision. I totally agree with Whoops.

  4. Congratulations, you managed to make other peoples' marriages all about you and your feelings.

    • Yup! Sure did, lol. That's the funny thing about planning a wedding, it leads to a lot of soul searching which, in turn, sounds really self centered in a post. I'm sorry the post didn't resonate with you but I hope it means something to someone else as they make their peace with marriage and hopefully one day leads to changing the cultural landscape of what it means to be married. Again, that makes me sound super self centered (like here I am one person pretending I can change what it means to get married in this country) but it's hard to wrestle these feelings onto (I was gonna say paper but blog? pixels?). I guess it wasn't as successful at doing that as I had hoped. 🙂 Take care

    • This whole website is devoted to how other people look at other people's marriages. "$TRADITIONAL_THING isn't offbeat enough. My feelings say I want to do a more $OFFBEAT_THING!"

  5. I've never understood why straight couples put off getting married until "everyone can". Like, thanks? but no thanks.

  6. I'm… intrigued by the comments here as they are really going beyond the usual "my opinion" to "fuck you personally" territory. Yikes folks.

    • Shockingly, when someone makes someone else's rights all about them, those people don't respond well. I know. Also, no one has actually personally insulted the OP.

    • On the one hand, I'm surprised that there hasn't been a call for civility as per the comment policy, but on the other, I understand that tone policing can be a big problem. The LGBTQ community shouldn't have to hide their annoyance or couch it in "comfortable" words for straight people, even if it comes from a source that has typically proven itself worthy of being given the benefit of the doubt.

      This particular article clearly missed the mark for some people and especially for some queer community members; I'll admit that I didn't read it until today because the title alone made me feel a little squicky. And while, as a straight person, I can sort of see where the author is coming from, I definitely don't think that is more important than the voices and opinions from the actual LGBTQ community.

      So, IDK. Because OBB has such an excellent track record, I'm going to assume the intent of good here, but I also understand the other reactions and don't think they should be silenced.

      • Yeah I'm honestly kind of surprised, as the OP, that I haven't gotten any help from OBB here for what is really turning out to be a lot of harsh words. On the one hand, ouch, but on the other I'm going to assume the comments they did delete were REEEEALLY awful and these are a representative of what was actually civil, lol.

        The title was originally "Gay marriage and me" which I think tells a little bit more about the fact that I was intending it to be a me-centered blog post and not something as global as most commenters seem to think it ought to have been. I absolutely see where a lot of the anger is coming from- that here's this "straight person" talking about "gay issues" when, in reality, its really a matter of perception isn't it? It seems that I've been distilled into what my perceived sexual identity is and being told my opinion counts for little on this issue because of that. Which is absolutely a fair point- who am I, anyway, to be saying these things except that I have a platform on a post and everyone else is relegated to the comments? I can see how that can be frustrating.

  7. Hey, guys. It seems like comments have escalated to the point where I need to step in and gently remind everyone about our comment policy: http://offbeatbride.com/comments

    I totally understand why this is a heated topic, which is part of why we published Aerialdelight's post — there's a lot to discuss, here! Our goal with being hands-off in the comments here is has been to allow the discussion to unfold without anyone feeling (as one commenter said), "silenced."

    I want to give Aerialdelight credit for responding to all the concerns (even the more snidely-worded ones) with grace and an open mind. Each reader is entitled to their opinions on this piece of writing. That said, at this point, I do want to ask everyone to take a deep breath, and consider the ways in which we can talk about this with respect and civility.

    • Really, part of why you chose to publish this is because you knew it was heated and would offend some LGBT readers?

      • Nope, that's not what I said — for better or worse, my editors and I did not adequately anticipate that this would offend some LGBT readers. That's our mistake, and I'm sorry.

        • I guess I don't understand what the hubbub is about. I enjoyed the post and appreciate the OP putting herself out there in this way.

          I don't feel like her change of heart is hurtful to me as a lesbian or to the "cause" in general. I was under the impression that the whole point of the work that the LGBT community has been doing is to get people to understand why marriage is so important to us. Isn't someone learning that first hand and thus understanding the struggle a little bit more a good thing? Doesn't that make her a more effective ally? Maybe even getting legally married and being fully able to appreciate the benefits that come with it will make her a more knowledgeable and passionate supporter.

          The idea of refusing to participate until everyone can has never made much sense to me anyways, though. If the argument is that the LGBT community will destroy marriage and families, doesn't it help us when people who are deeply intertwined with our community have successful, happy marriages? Doesn't it prove that our mere presence didn't make marriage explode into a million pieces?

          Also, I'm all for having multiple perspectives joining together in this fight. If the same people saying the same things in the same exact way was working, we'd be able to freakin get married by now. Perhaps a different perspective will help more people understand what we're trying to say.

    • Hey guys, OP here again. I know, I know, here's another chance for me to talk about myself, but here are some thoughts I've been having on what all is happening on here (and fwiw I'm also trying to look at this academically. As I said to a friend: it's a good lesson in the difference between what you write for you and yours vs what you write for mass consumption.)

      I guess what especially hurts , which is pretty ironic, but it's the fact that they way I was raised, the way I thought I had made it clear in my post, is that a person isn't a distillation of their sexual orientation, that the people I wrote about in my life that raised and inspired me are *people* and not "those gay people", which I think is so reductivist and dismissive. And I feel like here is a case of "shut up, breeder, your insight is not welcome here."

      I understand in my heart and my logical mind that it is true- that for those that are marginalized, the best way for them to speak of their oppression is through themselves and *not* an "ally" or mouthpiece, which is where I can see the point of view that has taken hold of the commenters. But, what's hurtful is that I *never* wanted to way "see, I'm an ally, let me speak of your oppression," in fact I *never* used the term "ally" because I think it is problematic as a concept. I spoke of my own experience which I thought was what was appropriate for me to speak for and instead it was read as an exercise in narcissism. Which it was. But was never intended maliciously.

      I guess its still new and smarting, and I'll intellectualize it and get over it soon enough. It;s actually made me start to think about this whole idea of narcissism and weddings and criticism. That it is considered immodest (and thus fair game to criticize) to be narcissistic and yet weddings are inherently an exercise in narcissism. I went into my wedding planning with the key words being "community" and "gratitude" and yet, because I am the one going through this rite of passage/life event, it all becomes me questioning myself, my values, my motivations, my choices, and the perception of my choices by other people. In other words "mememememmemememememememe".

  8. It seems like what ArialDelight is saying is that she didn't see as much worth in marriage until she saw it mattering so much to lgbt folks in her community. I think that's pretty common.

    In general, the marriage rate has been falling, but when straight millenials and gen Yers who formerly put no emphasis on marriage start to advocate for their queer friends who are in same sex relationships and want to marry, they start to see the value of marriage. They study the legal and financial benefits given to married couples so they are educated in their advocacy. They learn about why marriage matters (so they can argue why it is important for same sex couples to have marriage rights), and happen to discover meaning in marrige for themselves. When they get up in arms about someone's same sex partner being removed from their hospital room because they have no legal right to be there, and that marriage can protect this right for same-sex couples, they realize they and their unmarried partners are at the same risk, although they have the privilege to gain that right easier. When they attend friends same-sex weddings, and see the tremendous joy of the couple commiting to eachother, they think maybe there is a point in marrige after all. When they see married friends forming new ways to be married free of many patriarchal gender-expectations, it starts to feel possible for them and their opposite partner to create a marrige with less patriarchal gender-constraints.

    This by no means changes the fact that the point of gay marriage and gay marriage advocacy is securing rights for LGBT couples. That is the point, period. It's just that this can also have a side effect on straight people too. I don't see anything wrong about that, or about talking about it. If it was the only post on gay marriage on OBB, sure, but as a queer person, I don't see the problem.

    • Thank you for this! I find some of the above comments because (a) some responses have a very us/them language which I think is counterproductive to the movement and hurtful to those who don't fit cleanly into a specific group/label, and (b) there seems to be some assumption that by publishing this OBB was somehow saying that "straight" opinions are more important than "LGBT(etc.)" opinions.

      A straight person sharing their personal experience does not inherently silence or minimizing LGBT voices. There's room here for everyone.

      • I'm going to post this again because it got deleted! OBB deleting comments from offended LGB people (lbr, lesbians) is, however, minimizing our voices. Choosing to publish a post about a straight person making gay marriage about them, then having moderators who are also in straight marriages delete any comments that aren't the right tone (I want to be clear my comments may not have been sweet, but they never personally attacked the OP), does not look good.

  9. As a woman engaged to a woman, I can honestly tell you that I found this essay encouraging and sweet. Looking critically, I can see why some would interpret it as a taking an "LGBT issue" and making it about a straight person. Let's learn from that to, once again, be more sensitive of our privilege. Hell, I live in a state where I can get legally married so there's some privilege right there!

    But, if I may, I would like to call bullshit on the "us/them" argument. Marriage equality is not the exclusive property of the LGBT community and that attitude does nothing for us. The overturning of DOMA and the tidal wave of gay-affirming legal decisions across the country are celebrated by queer and straight folks alike. Privilege exists and matters, but the fact that a straight person sees the joy of a gay couple recently able to marry and is so moved that she would want to share in that joy is in no way an attack, it's a victory. The point here is that this essay is an example of the qualitative similarities between a married gay couple and a married straight couple. Or, in other words, marriage equality.

    We can point out the flaws in the system and areas of oppression, but you have to be able to celebrate progress when it happens, picking apart how everything "isn't good enough" just creates a culture of constant frustration and anger. ArialDelight is not the enemy, and this story is not "yet another expresion of heteroprivilege," this is friendly-fire.

  10. While our staff isn't online to closely monitor this discussion, we've decided to close comments overnight, since things have been getting contentious and accusatory.

    Comments will re-open tomorrow morning.

    • Where "closely monitor" means "delete comments from lesbians who don't have the right tone," I guess.

      • Dude, did you stop and think that *maybe* your comments might have been hurtful/rude? Tone-policing is definitely shitty, but the opposite of tone-policing isn't "I get to be as big of a jerk as I want." This is their site and they get to decide what they consider appropriate discussion. Your words don't deserve a spot on the website just because you have strong feelings and you're a lesbian. If you phrase it like a jerk, your comments will get deleted like any other jerky comment. Get over yourself.

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