I found myself on my soap box again today. It is odd, ‘after feminism’ (af), as I am not sure exactly which issues are going to get my blood racing and my political heart beating again. Turns out it will probably be the same ones that always did. Somebody sent me this link, supporting gay people’s campaigns for equal marriage rights. This is a particularly hot topic in America at the moment, where various state governments are debating laws about the status of marriage for gay people:
A few things got my goat. One was the assumption of the sender of the link that everyone would support the campaign unquestioningly. That we all think ‘gay marriage rights’ are a good thing. I am no fan of the institution of marriage. It is one of those massive big issues in my history as a feminist that have stuck with me: why support a ritual that is designed to keep people within a church-endorsed, state-controlled, utterly gendered and heteronormative structure? (My parents never married so this will have influenced me as well). It is one thing I thought gay people would be pleased to be free from. I go with Mark Simpson’s views on this subject:
I also found the website linked to, very Christian and ‘family values’ oriented: it portrayed marriage as a badge of ‘cultural respect’ for couples, placing civil partnerships as second best. When I was last in a long-term committed relationship, with a man, albeit a rather ‘gay’ man in many ways, we said we’d like to have a civil partnership. My partner was a Christian and he joked that we couldn’t get married because I don’t believe in God, and he doesn’t believe in the state. But we couldn’t have a civil partnership either, as straight people in the Uk are not entitled to them. I’m glad we didn’t cement our union as we’d only be uncivilly separated now. But I liked our sentiment.
And then there’s something else. A deeper feeling I have had for many years. That the problem with ceremonies and institutions that promote the importance of the ‘couple’ in society, is that this occurs at the expense of all the people who can’t or don’t want to live up to that ideal of monogamy. Of happily ever after, at the exclusion of all others. There’s people who are non-monogamous. I thought quite a few gay people were. But also there’s the lonely people. The Smiths fans that took Morrissey at his word, who loved his songs, because they’d ‘never loved no-one never’. Because they were the sons and heirs to ‘ a shyness that is criminally vulgar’. I’ve always thought about those people, even when I have been in a relationship. Maybe it is purely selfish and psychological, and that is the ‘identity’ I hold in my heart, despite the relationships I have somehow managed to form, but always to lose. Or maybe I just don’t like social institutions that make being single or alone seem so unacceptable and inferior. Because quite a lot of the time I have been single, I have actually been quite fine with it thank-you very much.
I don’t really have a big polemic here. But I will leave you with some footage of one of my favourite lonely people, Mike from My Own Private Idaho. Nobody would marry him. Nobody really loved him truly. Except for thousands of fans of the film, who identified with his alienation, and loved his humanity and the fact people like him were acknowledged on film (especially as he was played by the gorgeous River Phoenix). And then I will give you some music. And we might not live happily ever after. But fuck it we are alive. There’s one thing I know about lonely people. They are not alone.