I have little to say about the Orlando massacre aside from the horror and grief that we all feel at such a useless (and is there ever a useful?) loss of life. Aside from a couple of gay friends, one now living far away and the other long dead of AIDS, and some lesbian neighbors of mine, I do not have much interaction with that community in particular. As a matter of fact, I’m on record as having been a little miffed off when the issue of gay marriage popped up on Ohio’s state ballot the year that I hoped we could rout George W.
My reason for not being entirely on the bandwagon for gay marriage was simply this: You want to get married? Why? I’ve been married twice. I don’t even have the excuse that either one was a bad experience. It’s just that marriage and I did not get along. I could only be the loving, supporting wife for so long and then I had to get out of there. It was all on me. The thought of never getting married again was a liberating one. I thought gay rights was all about liberation.
I’ve long accepted the idea, of course, but in the wake of the Orlando massacre, I found myself adding some broader, alternative thinking to my understanding. I don’t know why. Maybe it was the sight of all those folks in the line to give blood. Maybe it was the thousands who showed up to grieve together. Maybe it was listening to the group of doctors who worked on the injured, together with some of the survivors, that inspired me, that set my mind roaming down little side passages. That made me think of gay marriage in a different light. That made me think of it as holding possibilities for all of us. Possibilities for seeing marriage itself in a different light.
Now, I don’t think for a minute that gay people, as people, are any different from any of the rest of us. I discovered long ago, in correspondence with my gay friend who had moved across the country, that lesbian relationships do not, in and of themselves, eliminate any of the usual sturm und drang that are too often part and parcel of any other intimate relationship. But here’s the thing.
Gay relationships do not, to the outside observer, anyway, seem to revolve around the usual boy-girl role models. That is, one is not necessarily perceived to be either the little woman or the man of the house. Gay couples may play these roles out – they have been influenced by similar role models themselves to behave in traditional marital roles – but it doesn’t alter the fact that within gay couples it will not be unusual to see males doing the housework or females earning the living. Actually, in these days of families earning at least two incomes, both sexes may be seen to be doing both jobs, inside and outside of the home. I may be wrong, but it doesn’t seem likely to me that a same sex couple can get away with delegating all the housework and childcare to one of them while both of them also work.
Of course, I see many heterosexual couples striving to accomplish this ideal of shared responsibility, but with a culture-wide expectation that it is the woman who takes care of the house and the children, it is an ideal that too often falls short of hopes and dreams.
Which is where I see the culture of gay marriage having something of an impact. How two people of the same sex work out between them what roles they will play within the relationship and how that works for them might well provide a template for others.
I also may not know what the hell I’m talking about. These were just idle thoughts on a Sunday afternoon. But since gay marriage is now an open part of our future, I can’t help but be curious about what the impact will be on the rest of us. And I like to think that perhaps it will be a positive one. Or maybe I just needed to think a good thought on that awful Sunday afternoon.