The Marrying Kind

By Hicklin, Aaron | Out, September 2011 | Go to article overview
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The Marrying Kind


Hicklin, Aaron, Out


Until very recently, British newspapers had a sly euphemism for known homosexuals who had resisted the kinds of sham marriages that were once par for the course. In the words of obituary writers, whose job it was to find substitute words for "gay," they were "confirmed bachelors" - an infinitely lonely construction. Reading those obituaries, you would never get the impression these men (there was no equivalent phrase for women) had ever loved, or been loved in return. These were not confirmed bachelors in the American sense (commitment-phobic straight men on the merry-go-round of short-term relationships). They were men who were never getting married because they couldn't. Worse, the reason they couldn't - being gay - was cloaked in ambiguity that suggested it was by personal choice. In fact, the option did not exist, was not even- to tens of thousands of teenage kids growing up, like me, in the 1980s- remotely conceivable. No wonder we came to believe that what we were fighting for was the right to choose whom we could have sex with - it was the only way we had been allowed to think of gay identity. All along, the fight was to choose who we loved.

Long before I told myself 1 was gay, I had told myself I would never get married. It was my way of groping toward understanding the life ahead of me. For millions of gay men and women, it has become so commonplace to shrug off questions of marriage with the hollow phrase "I'm not the marrying kind" that we come to believe it, unwittingly colluding with those who are determined to ensure it stays that way. I spent years reinforcing gay stereotypes by telling straight friends that, while I was attracted to men, I couldn't be romantic with them. It was, clearly, a crippling lie. Writer Andrew Sullivan has been making this point for a long time- longerthan almost anyone- but I'm not sure howfully I appreciated it until the New York State Assembly voted for marriage equality by a slim-but-binding margin. A Democratic governor, a formerly Republican mayor, and the work of thousands of activists made that possible.

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