(Originally published in French)
Love is fragile. Think about it. Everyone has, at least once, had in mind this romantic notion of a flower ready to be crushed under the boot of anger, money, social class, war, populism, dictatorship, illness, death.
But that fragility is not just a notion when you’re gay. I’ve got about 90% chances that you’re straight, so let me explain:
Would you consider advancing or postponing your wedding day depending on your country’s elections day?
Would you consider playing the brothers or sisters card when crossing the border of a hostile country (which means a lot of countries when you’re gay)?
Would you consider writing a bullet-proof will, in case something bad happened to you or your significant other before you guys get married?
When I look at my wife, well, I can see she’s my wife of course… But she is also a woman living in a patriarchy, a lesbian living in a homophobic world. She is that flower.
Nobody expects anything from us. We are below society’s expectations — and so, in a way, free from them. My colleagues don’t really expect me getting pregnant. They know I can (it’s 2017 and it’s Europe after all). But they still don’t expect me taking a parental leave. If that day ever comes, they’ll probably be like: “Damn. We didn’t see that one coming.”
So everyday, I honor our love. I honor us. Or I try. I enjoy what we have, while we have it.
We got married on May 17. May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. People often point that out to us, and smile. But we didn’t do it on purpose. We had the choice between May 17 and October 4. These were the only two days available at the place we rented for our wedding. I’ll admit it was short notice. Yet, we had been proactive and had booked a place, and then another, months before. We were supposed to get married in July. But eventually both of these places returned our money and rental applications, because they “refused to rent a wedding place to a homosexual couple”, they said. In fairness, marriage for gay people in France was still a recent innovation. I guess they needed more time to adjust.
So we chose May 17. We figured we had a better chance of sunshine in May than in October.
This May 17 in France, there’s a lot of talk over Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in the newspapers. You know, sperm donors, insemination and all that. Trying to get such assistance in 2017 in France would require expert calculations from us. When should we start? How many trials should we go through before the presidential election on May 8? Two candidates wanted to prevent my wife from adopting my child if I ever got pregnant (namely, they wanted to cancel the adoption rights that go along with marriage, but only for gay people). One of them actually wanted to cancel our marriage. People told us he couldn’t do that. But hey, I don’t know. I remember Prop 8 in California. What if he beat Prop 8 and made it retroactive?
Eventually, the candidate who won is the one in favor of the “Assisted Reproductive Technology For All Women” project. Only, he didn’t include it in his 2017 to-do list. And he just chose a Prime Minister who’d gotten very upset when that project was first discussed. The guy had even signed an editorial in a newspaper.
Anyways, signing up for Assisted Reproductive Technology in France in 2017 would have required us to plan everything around election day. And while I’d have gone through the heavy medical procedure that goes along with ART, my wife would have worked a lot of extra hours, to pay for the thousands of euros that each ART trial costs in other European countries. More money is also a good idea in case a lawyer is needed once the child is born in France — better safe than sorry, as they say.
Also, we would have needed brave doctors. In France, medically helping a single or gay woman to get pregnant is punished with 5 years in prison and a 75000 euros fine. That includes the prescription of a simple blood test to check on your hormones, or an ultrasound to check whether you’re going to ovulate or not. It includes any exam that helps determine whether you’re fertile or sterile. If you’re a single or gay woman in France, it is unlawful for a doctor to help you find out.
So my wife, our doctors and I would have had to be very cautious. We would have lied to the pharmacy, and to the lab where we would have checked in for my blood tests. Well, where I would have checked in: we wouldn’t want them to find out that we are in fact two women.
They say everyone makes their own fate. I see that everywhere online, on beautiful Pinterest pins, colorful Facebook statuses and witty Twitter tweets. They say, “you write your own story”.
Well, that really depends whether you’re gay or straight.
So right now while I’m typing these lines, if you’re straight, you are writing my story. If you’re straight, you have more votes than I do.
They all say that having a baby when you’re gay is a less pressing and less important issue than global economic issues, like unemployement, terrorism and climate change. But when you’re gay, starting a family can be a pressing and important economic issue for sure. Every ART trial you do abroad is a global economic issue for your household. And very often, you just can’t afford it.
Ah, sorry if that piece ruined your bright mood. Let’s cheer up! It’s no use to mull over the future, right? There’s not much we can do about it anyway.
I don’t know if unemployement, terrorism and climate change will be over by then, so that maybe we can start a family, but this year in August, I figured I’d take my wife somewhere. She loves camping. She loves it when we hike together, alone, on a crisp morning. Finland. Why not Finland.
aka CARRIE SPEAKING,
Travel Writer, Blogger.
Visit my blog @ http://carriespeaking.com