My wife and I live in France and we got married one year ago. I can relate to what you’re saying: it still happens too many times… I guess it still happens to most same-sex couples in “Western-culture” societies (of course we’re not discussing here what happens to same-sex couples in other places: it’s like, from that point of view, a wholly different universe with a wholly different paradigm of issues!).
Here in France, people (gay and straight) watch closely what’s going to happen in the USA and needless to say that we keep our fingers crossed for you guys.
In France, obtaining the right to marry has been an ugly fight (I wrote a short post about it; I think it is still a trauma for most French gays and lesbians). It actually pushed France into a political mess and redefined a lot of political boundaries between parties. Humanists came out. So did fascists.
I don’t know if you heard about it all. In France, the Church has been separated from the State since 1905 and the debate around marriage equality revived both Church’s and State’s most extreme fringes. For the first time in decades, the French saw people march in the street with crucifixes, praying in the street, saying NO to marriage equality, and starting informal debates about forbidding abortion and the birth control pill, yelling to whom might want to hear them that God was going to punish France.
Worse: we saw people doing nazi salutes, proudly standing in front of churches, as if they wanted to defend them and warn their foes with this horrid gesture. Worse still: some Church representants defended them (because they were suffering Christians, you see).
Yes, it’s been ugly. The debate around marriage equality literally drew Catholic fanatics out of the closet, and harmed both gays and moderate Catholics who did not want to have anything to do with these people.
During all that time, my wife and I have experienced contradictory feelings: on the one hand, we were marching the streets and taking an active part in marriage equality campaigns; on the other hand, in our daily life, going to the post office or buying bread, we were afraid. If we had met your neighbor on our way to the boulangerie and he had asked us the same question at that time, we might have said: “Yeah, we are” (roommates).
Fear was creeping in. Anger had left the door open for it.
When the Marriage Equality Law (Mariage Pour Tous) was finally passed, we thought we had won. But we had not quite won: when trying to rent a place for our 120-guests wedding, we faced two refusals based on our sexual orientation (such refusals are, of course, totally illegal in France).
So there we were: these people had lost, and they were now embracing the resistance.
But hey, finally, we found a place. Finally, we married. Finally, we would tell your neighbor: “No sir, we’re married”.
But yes, there’s a lot more neighbors waiting ahead to ask us: “Are you roommates?” It will hurt. You guys and us will feel blasé, angry, exasperated about it. But we’ll smile and simply say: “No sir, we are a couple”.
And one day, finally, all of our neighbors will know. And they won’t be looking for pickles anymore.
In the meantime, we wish you both happiness and love ☺
CARRIE SPEAKING, aka C.I.D
Travel Writer, Blogger.
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