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Monday, December 5, 2011

Love and Marriage

I turned 50 in October, and I'm really happy about that. Half a century. That sounds old.

It did make me stop and think, re-evaluate my life, think about what I'm doing - after all, I never expected to be alive this long,  every year feels like a bonus to me, so I want to make sure I'm making the most of it all.

And life is pretty good. I could do with more money, but materially my life is ok. I have a lot of people who care for me very much, family and freinds who love me, and I'm lucky in that.

It did strike me though, that I will probably never fall in love again. It's not impossible, I know, but let's face it - the odds are getting pretty long that I am going to meet a guy I am going to want to buy flowers for and do all the silly romantic things people in love do. It would be great to have that wonderful feeling in my life again, to meet a man and revel in that sense of joy and silly happiness that being in love brings. But I doubt it's going to come my way again. I think it's just the logic of circumstance - a barely employed 50 year-old HIV+ gay man isn't such a great catch.

And that does make me a little sad - only a little though.

I don't really share this desire that seems so common now, this desire to be married. I can understand the logic of it, the argument that if we really are equal citizens, we should be treated with exact equality, so from a pure human rights point of view, ok, I get it. But I don't get the desire to mimic mummy and daddy in the suburbs, to get engaged, and have a big wedding with a gift registry. I understand, it's validating for a lot of guys, but it still doesn't grab my heart or mind. I can understand wanting to celebrate your love in front of the most important people in your lives, but marriage, hmm, not for me. And really, expecting your friends to fork out cash because you want a new $500 toaster - that's just grasping and mean.

Most of the gay men I know who are married/civil unioned or whatever are still fucking around, so monogamy obviously isn't the driver. And gay men are different from straights, we do build our relationships differently.Celebrating love makes sense - aping straight marriage doesn't for me.

But back to romance, to falling in love - will I ever meet a guy and have that "swept off my feet" feeling again? Like I said, probably not. Someone somewhere said you never fall in love again after 40 because we've lived too long and can't trust in the same way, and that could be true.

To really fall for someone, you do have to suspend a lot of your hard-edged reality-based life, the world is full of butterflies and rainbows - that's the fun of it all, and that sweet, mad, intoxicating feeling of tenderness and the delight in getting to know each other - it's fantastic when it happens. And of course, it wears off over time.

When I look around at my friends, the ones in the successful relationships have been able to move from the "in love" to "love" stage, and that isn't always guaranteed to happen. Because building a loving relationship isn't about being in love really - it's about finding someone you want to be with through all the ordinary stuff in life, paying bills, cleaning the house, all those unromantic things.

I am glad I'm around, and I am lucky to be loved in the ways that I am, but a little part of me mourns that I'll probably never have that feeling again, that all-encompassing, light-headed, seeing stars when he walks in the room kind of feeling again.

But who knows - life has surprised me before.


Garth said...

I have faith, you were always quite a catch. They just haven't picked up that you are waiting to be caught. I always found it helped to dismiss the whole concept, contemplate celibacy, and bang they start queuing.

Patrick Wright said...

This is quite an offensive post, if not homophobic.

"Most of the gay men I know who are married/civil unioned or whatever are still fucking around, so monogamy obviously isn’t the driver. And gay men are different from straights, we do build our relationships differently.Celebrating love makes sense – aping straight marriage doesn’t for me."

Perhaps you should only speak for yourself. There are many gay people who include commitment as an essential part of their relationship- whether this is part of or not part of a marriage. Somebody who has been in this form of a union for thirty or forty years, and those who want love, support and commitment are nothing other than married or proper candidates for marriage. To suggest that all these gays are promiscuous simply because you know married couples who are is ridiculous.

Generally in the past, gay people were not socialised like straight people- there were no social expectations regarding relationships that explained how to have a relationship in the gay world- a world where sex exists on demand, compensating for a more broader acceptance which is unavailable, .

However, there are plenty of gays who want the same as their peers, their sexuality being a point of difference, not particularly more significant than race. Increasingly more gays are coming out to their parents, and their parents want their children to have stable and responsible gay relationships, recognised as equal by the state. Increasingly, people, gay or straight, build their relationship on love, support and commitment, not gender or sexuality.

Gay men do not collectively build our relationships differently. Individual couples, gay or straight, build their relationships according to their needs. A heterosexual union with children is a different marriage to one without. Both partners can choose whether their marriage is based on traditional ideas, or if it ought not to be. However, all these definition can exist within the definition of marriage as it stands for straights, and should for gays.

I understand what you are saying, but you are promoting the deeply homophobic and deeply marginalising stereotype that every single gay person is unable to achieve a committed relationship, and that we are all promiscuous. And while I don't believe having lots of sex is something shameful, I do believe using the same reasoning as extremist Christians to denigrate gay relationships and gays is harmful and unfair.

Peter Wells said...

Crikey! Someone's touched a raw nerve. Can I just say this and it is very trivial in a way. .J.D.Ackerly wrote a book called 'My Dog Tulip' and it is about how he grew to love an animal. Love comes in all forms and in many ways. (In some ways the madness of love is very over-hyped, it's kind of the manic up to the manic down.) But love is also a profound emotion and as you say Michael, it changes into something not necessarily linked to sex. I know this. My cat was knocked over by a car last night and when I saw it lying dead on the road I felt the most brutal feelings of love. It turned out the cat was only stunned and had lost consciousness. Today the cat is ok. As I say, love comes in many forms - can be felt in many different ways. Would I want to fall in love in the way I did when I was younger. Yes....and no. And yes. And no.