My dear friend Manky posted this link on FB recently along with Helen Razors recent article about the 'trash the dress' trend in big weddings lately. the jist of both being that Marriage is an institution already trashed by hetties, so there's nothing to lose in queers being allowed to share the party.
Manky has also shared articles which criticise the massive amounts of pink cashola and queer energy directed towards marriage equality campaigns. And it's a really toughie, because pink dollar politics aren't really radical, but dodgy, assimilationist and ultimately restrict queer activism to a 'tolerance' model, whereby the best we hope for is to be assimilated into hettie society rather than explore the really radical possibilities of queerness to challenge the really crapola basis of straight capitalist society which ties love and desire into a binarised model of gender and a privatised model of property ownership. Queerness fucks with both.
However, while I have a right on radical analysis of such things, I'm still negotiating how that works with the way I am in the world. Maybe the points I'm going to note below merely prove this analysis right, that Queer Marriage is merely a means to enable tolerance of queerness, and it's containment within hettie society.
The above shot is of the splendiferous cake that my mate Elyss made for our wedding last month.
I have many strong personal reasons for marrying the woman of my dreams. Like many queers in coupled unions and in polyamorous collectives we are passionately in love and committed to each other and our relationship. We also have a rapidly diminishing family unit consisting of one surviving parent (mine) as well as some cousins, aunts and uncles on both sides.
We had a wonderful ceremony in the garden with about 100 people present, including about 12 biological relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins). We were both given away by non-related older female friends, and we both had a range of chosen families of various ages and genders. For me this isn't a particularly queer thing, as my closest friends, the ones I call 'family' are straight. It is feminist thing though - because it derives from a particularly feminised experience of family - or alternative families that women are forced to develop when they break from the family structure.Both of us grew up with single mothers so we were both brought up by a network of family friends, and both of us have maintained and developed various non-biological families since. My Mum was too sick to attend so she sent a speech mentioning the biological family of Renaissance Girl and (typically) missing the point of who the celebration was for, and about.
Getting married this time was for me, a way of publicly and privately acknowledging our relationship as the foundation of our adult lives and the centre of the kinship networks of friends that we have chosen and continue to choose to be a part of our lives. Maybe I lack imagination, but I can't think of any other way to make such a firm public statement about who we are and how we 'do' our family, or make it, or how they make and constitute the fabric of our lives. It was also a significant healing moment as many of Renaissance Girl's mothers friends were able to come and enjoy the garden and home of Renaissance girl's recently deceased mother. Now it is a truth rarely told that death doesn't bring people together, but often drives them apart. people really don't know what to do with their own grief, and have no idea how to 'support' someone else who is grieving.
Maybe it's the Irish in my that thinks that if you want to bring people together it's better to hold a big party rather than a big funeral, but I also believe that grief releases a lot of love, and there has to be a space for that to be expressed in a positive and creative way. Asking people to make food or create a contribution to the wedding meant that we had a day that was profoundly social, in that it was something socially created and shared among a group of people. We had the world's best wedding cake, a wonderful CD, incredible food, a great sound system and playlist, a beautiful wedding album, plants, cookbooks, portraits, photographs and lots and lots of other things made by people we know and love, and who showed us they loved us.
The above is all easily palatable and I have no political quandaries about what we did, or how, or why.
It's been very weird though to realise just how 'straightening' marriage is in the real world. "I'm getting married" made coming out at work incredibly easy. A few of my colleagues blushed when I clarified that my betrothed was a woman rather than a man, but they all chipped in and gave us a wedding present. (I really love my workplace). Marriage is something that lots of people can share and speak about. the wedding rituals and the mention of a spouse all act to ensure that my identity at work is as a fully fledged adult and functioning member of adult society. As a single 'out' lesbian I would be aberrant, with the slippery status of queer desire not containable within the heteronormative conventions of straight socialising. My gender makes it easier because I am 'womanly' at work - I'm not really a 'femme', but I'm certainly not butch, and I do easily pass as straight in straight society. So by being married, my queerness is contentedly eunuchised, and I become a working wife. The fact that I am a wife with a wife shrinks into a minor detail.
While I criticise this situation, in reality it's a great relief and makes my life easier. Marriage is a nice easy bridge into the straight world, and it creates a nice friendly space where straights get to be 'right on' and tolerant, and queers get to be palatable and contained and integrated, rather than single and slippery and seductive.
Is this what I want?
I've been thinking about this a lot, and chewing my nails, and.... I think that actually the question is not so much about queers versus straights, but a broader question of feminism. the thing that really shat me about interdependent relationships recognition was that it was based on a profoundly anti-feminist model of union - where ALL property and finances were completely merged. It was FUCKED!
I have a fantasy that Renaissance Wife and I will maintain our financial independence and continue to split bills and partake in groceries and household duties in a way that respects both our needs to remain as two distinct adults. We share our lives and our love, but we don't own each other and don't intend to. I believe that the feminist model of relationships that refuses the feminisation and disenfranchisement of one member of the relationship for the benefit of the other is a good one. Feminists are forced to create kinship structures because to be isolated in the world as a single woman or a single mother without the crutch of a masculine 'half' (actual or imagined) is almost unbearable. Maybe all the queer marriage movement needs is a strong dose of feminism. Maybe all the world needs is a feminist movement again. where did we all go?