Something personal and very dear
I had occasion to revisit my status on Facebook this morning. No earth shattering news, only updating my employment and other personal facts. While I scrolled around the various opportunities for sharing information I noticed that sometime back in the whenever I first signed onto Facebook I had marked my family status as “In a relationship.” Hmm, I thought this morning, is there a “Married” selection? Did I miss it the first time? What was my thinking then? I hovered over the drop down menu and selected Married. I was not able to put David’s name in because my angel eschews social media. He prefers face to face contacts.
I reflected for a while on the conversations regarding marriage that David and I have had over the years, at times we have both stated and felt that, “We don’t believe in queer marriage – we remember our past outlaw status (as queers and fags) and believe that ‘outlaw’ is a valuable place to be. Personally and for society.” I also recall thinking to myself and later discussing with David a desire to stand with our friends and be counted as queer AND members of society – so maybe marriage was ok. There have been straight friends I have talked with, most memorably Karl Erickson, who was kind enough to tell me of his and Gretchen Larsen’s decision to forgo marriage “until our queer brothers and sisters can be wed.” In addition to being kind with that gesture, Karl also challenged my thinking on “not needing marriage” as a being a potential cop out, and he made me think hard and talk fast before he would acknowledge the sense David and I made.
This dilemma of definition is challenging, and I think good. David and I must always question our status – which to our brothers and sisters may sometimes feel like an unnecessary burden placed upon them by a conservative culture. I am certain that all couples, whatever their make up, must work through such questions. No marriage is a gift – such unions are work and pleasure and take time and effort and sacrifice.
Perhaps you discern my own struggle in this conversation. Nothing comes natural. I am easily persuaded by emotional as well as intellectual arguments. I am happy and this is enough.
But back to our change in status and me finding my way: recently I have been reading about and talking with people about the Occupy movement. I have an admission to make – a queer admission, if you will – I am conservative and pretty reactionary politically even while I am open and supportive of new ideas personally. My “real” politics are close to home and my beliefs are in people. Big things are so distant that it is possible I react to feeling lost in the magnitude of policy questions by being conservative.
Despite my resistant nature, I have found myself drawn to the ideas and the feelings that emanate from Occupy, and especially from the Los Angeles branch and a group of artists and thinkers. I visited the City Hall camp, I spoke with friends who are involved, and I watched with tears in my eyes on that final day when the police and the mayor broke up and threw away the town that had sprung up on the lawn around the monument to Senator Flint.
Which brings me around to our marriage. I reject absolutely the terms set up by our larger culture for discussion of the question of queer, gay and straight marriage. I have learned from – or been reminded by – people like John Burtle, Adam Overton, Carol Cheh, Robby Herbst, John Barlog, and Ken Ehrlich that to have any substantive conversation about our culture and our community we need to, as Lewis Carroll said in Alice, begin at the beginning and go on until we stop. I get the sense that we are no where near stopping.
So, no my friends on Facebook, David and I have not changed our status, rather we have redefined our relationship according to our own terms, because the terms set for us are invalid.
Oh, and that wrecked town of the mayor and the police? They can have it, trash that they made of it. The community that they sought to demolish is strong and is growing and will continue as more and more people begin to question just what is right.