Is it ok to crave heteronormativity?
Disclaimer: I’m a white, cis, gay male and this discusses my experience. I realize I live with a ton of privilege and I have no idea if this will resonate with my friends who are non-cis, non-gay, or non-white.
For centuries, being gay was defined by what it is not, and that lead to the development of a relatively uniform gay culture, one that embraced sexual liberation, a childless lifestyle, living in cities, and musicals. Now that gays can get married, I see my friends partnering up and having kids. Seeing this makes me happy and makes me want to find a partner as well — but it also makes me wonder, just because you can get married, should you?
About a year ago, a friend decided to gift a group of friends The Velvet Rage, a book aimed at gay men who grew up in a straight world. You can argue that all gay men grew up in a straight world, but the book reads with the assumption you’re supposed to think of yourself as a victim. Yes, being gay is hard sometimes — it’s hard to date when you only have 3-5% of the choices that straight people do — but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy to think of yourself as a victim.
The book argues that to in order deal with the pain of being gay, many men choose to compensate with sex, wealth, and gym memberships. I would go one step farther and suggest that some men choose to pursue getting married and having kids as a way to compensate for their shame as well and prove to their parents they too can lead a “normal” life, the same as if they were straight except for the gender of the person they sleep with at night.
I see some of this in myself, and it’s problematic.
Having a husband to come home to sounds so romantic. Marriage is the realization of a dream that’s told to every child through society, images, and the media from a young age. Really it goes back to the bible, and that biblical tradition became codified into law. If your parents were married, you looked up to them. If a single parent raised you, you looked up to your friends who had married parents. Every romantic comedy ends with a happy couple and for the last fifteen years everything we’ve heard about being gay in the media has been related to gay marriage.
But it seems unhealthy to fetishize marriage, especially when you only have a small fraction of the dating pool to choose from to start with? Growing old without a partner but a strong circle of close friends is a probable reality that should be celebrated, not shunned. I can make logical arguments to this end all day. And yet, even as I try to write a justification for why I shouldn’t idolize finding a partner, I am overcome with the feeling that having a boyfriend is definitely better than not having a boyfriend. I think that’s how I feel, but maybe it’s just the story that’s been told for centuries.
Getting married and falling in love story that’s been told for the last fifteen years to get gay marriage legalized. If you hear a story enough times, you start believing it. Having the right to get married is great, but getting that right may have screwed up dating for my generation. Relationships can be prosperous and beneficial, but if we’re pursuing them just because that’s always how families have worked, that’s problematic.
(Thanks to @meat for helping to clarify the conclusion)