What difference does “marriage” make to same-sex couples? Here’s the difference it makes for me.
I was probably 21 or so. My parents were horrified at my attraction to men, and my defiant embrace of a gay identity. We were arguing after dinner, tensions coming to a head, tempers fueled by too much alcohol.
I forget what awful, angry thing my dad had said. He seemed to be convinced that I had decided to be attracted to men, that that I was doing this despite warnings that it wasn’t good for me, or the family, etc.
Something snapped inside me.
But instead of screaming at him, instead of attacking him, instead of denouncing him yet again for being a homophone, I burst into tears. “How do you think I feel? What do you think it’s like for me knowing I can’t get married, knowing I can’t have children, that I can’t have a family?”
That changed the conversation. I wasn’t rebelling against their values. I was, they finally saw, to some extent anyway, that I was trying to figure out how to get by in a world where I excluded from embracing them.
It was a turning point for all of us. I was shocked–I hadn’t realized that was there for me. Eventually, it led to me getting married to a woman, despite both of us knowing I was attracted to men, and having a family. As wonderful as our marriage was in many ways, as great as our children are, as much as I love my family, aspects of it were a living hell for both my wife and I. Sometimes our sex was great–no kidding. Other times, too many times, I had to fantasize about a man, and she knew I was. That sucked. It was horrible, and it lacked integrity, and eventually we realized it.
To keep it going I kept telling myself that I was actually straight and that my attraction to men was a symptom of something else. (After being out, I became a non-religious ex-gay, you might say. I can expand on that another time.)
The point is that at the height of my angry gay young man telling off his parents phase, underneath it all I wanted to be married and have children and have a family.
It just never occurred to me that I could do that with another man.
Well, now it has. And it’s occurred to a lot of people. Our society is finally getting it. We’re people. We love. So many of us are called to love and commit to a spouse. So many of us are called to love and raise children.