Monday, March 28, 2011

Being the poster child

This essay really resonated with me:
Yes, I'm a bona fide California Married Gay, one half of one of that bandied-about statistic of 18,000 couples married in the state between May and November 2008. And from the beginning, our marriage was not like straight marriages. I'm not sure it ever will be or that it should be. But I am sure that when my straight friends announce they're getting married, people don't fall all over themselves to point out to them how difficult it is to get divorced. Yes, that happened. Repeatedly. That's how my marriage started, not with well-wishes, but with forecasts of trouble that had nothing to do with the reality of my relationship.

...But in a bunch of ways that I couldn't anticipate, we weren't actually equal.

Most obvious is the stuff like income taxes (we have to file jointly in California but can't file jointly federally) and various administrative headaches. But after two and a half years, more important to me is the way that we act out equality every day — how people signal to us that our marriage isn't like theirs in what they say and do.


Even more unsettling and depressing is that sometimes it is safer for us not to correct people....however much I believe in what Harvey Milk has to say about the power of doing it, sometimes I just don't have the energy to be a game-changer when I'm at a car rental counter after a red-eye flight...

Sometimes people who are genuinely loving and genuinely mean well — the straight folks on the party bus — put huge pressure on our relationship and our marriage. We are one of the only married queer couples most of our friends know, and they've unwittingly turned us into their Poster Couple. This one's really hard for me, because I don't want to be rude or unkind or ungrateful for their love and support. But JESUS it is a DOWNER when you're out somewhere and you have to start talking about whether or not your marriage is in legal jeopardy because your friend is SUUUUUUUUPER interested in this but hasn't bothered to follow it in the news at all....

I guess what I've learned from the marriage misadventure is something I probably should already have known: that equality doesn't automatically come with changes in the law.
The one that slays me is the generally supportive person who says brightly, "Oh, are you still married? I thought that prop8 eliminated that!" Like the clueless person cited in the essay, who doesn't follow the news. It's a kick in the stomach, frankly, that they would say it in the way they do. As though marriage is just a piece of paper, a here today, gone tomorrow sort of thing, as though it wouldn't be an utter agony and the most painful thing in the world to have the government try to rend your relationship apart.

I've had clued-in straight people ask me what year we got married. Uh, 2008? During the 6 months it was legal? They blink for a minute, and say, "oh, yeah, that's right!" (I think many of them don't really think Prop8 is still in force). And I continue to marvel that the Prop8 news that is so much in the forefront of my awareness, is barely even background to straight friends.

Hence this blog.

(H/T Andrew Sullivan)

No comments: