Today I’m writing on a very personal topic to all of you readers out there. To be completely honest, this post is more of a therapeutic exercise for me, but I’d like people to see what I have to say this time.
As of late, a few important strides have been made towards marriage equality for gays and lesbians in the United States. Most notable is the recent Supreme Court ruling to grant same-sex married couples the same federal tax rights that heterosexual couples get to enjoy. Without a doubt, I’m grateful. It also continues to give me hope that one day marriage will be something all gays get to have access to.
All of that being said, there is still so much more to do. I know firsthand. I live in the Midwestern Bible belt. Gays just don’t get to live the same lives they could in states with same-sex rights. That’s how far something like marriage reaches: it affects one’s own entire way of life. When something like marriage seems like an impossibility, you very easily lose your will to take relationships seriously. Casual sex becomes ever more appealing, and any dream of having a family with that white-picket fenced house in a nice neighborhood fades. Finally, when faced with such dismal affairs, one has little choice but to take pride in the person they have to be, thanks to society’s restrictions, and then one begins to look down upon the notion of “settling down” or looking forward to a marriage, let alone children.
I and many others lead a life of tightrope-walking between still upholding some traditional values and adopting more liberal and progressive ideals. We are rarely, if at all, accepted into religious domains, and yet at heart we disagree with the notion of completely changing our ideals to lead a life more akin to the stereotypical licentious gay man. To be caught in such a void can be maddening. Just to be your everyday American, looking to lead a productive life with a loving family of your own, you have to work twice as hard to earn it. The Church (as a whole, to all the liberal Christians out there, thank God for you) is always looking for opportunities to point out gay people’s lack of morals or how gays fundamentally threaten the sanctity of marriage. To prove these people wrong, I have to lead a very reserved lifestyle and can’t indulge in even something like a short college relationship. If I didn’t take relationships so seriously, I would have given up years ago and led the life of the typical college student: more frequent sex, short-term relationships, etc. I would have let the religious world tell me I’m a moral-less heathen more so than my fellow students just because I happen to be gay, since apparently straight people undertaking such acts is just them going through a phase in life. I have to close myself off from much of the gay community AND the religious community just to prove to everyone close to me and “far” from me that we’re capable of being upstanding citizens too. So many gays, like me, have to put up with this every day. We have to fend off peer-pressures that call for relaxing and taking part in the typical college student life, AND we have to fend off unwarranted judgment from the religious community. It gets so bad that there are days where I catch myself being angry and resentful of even fellow gays: the gays that are always atypically looser in sex habits and defiant of basic social mores like dressing in assless chaps in the middle of San Francisco’s busy streets. I catch myself thinking, “Thanks, assholes. Thanks for making my job, which is to prove that we are capable of happy marriages just like anyone else, one more step harder.” I have to remember that this is the gay world that the right-wing would like us all to believe in, and that there are gay men and lesbian women who dedicate their lives to being productive and honorable.
Me and those like me, lead thankless, unapproved lives, and have to endure unwarranted judgment from all sides. I don’t get a shiny medal for wanting to get involved in relationships after my schooling and when I can look for serious commitments. Instead I get raised eyebrows from fellow students who are allowed to have looser college experiences without incurring the added judgment gays and lesbians would get. Instead I get immediately ostracized from religious institutions for being gay. Yes, I am complaining, I’m whining, and I’m raising hell. I can count the number of times I got positive feedback regarding my personal values with the fingers on one of my hands. I’m a human being; I want respect just like all of you do. When I have days like these, I honestly find it hard to judge even the most ridiculous of acts done by gay people in the public eye. If those things are the only avenues of acceptance and respect for gays (by gays) then I can’t say I can condemn them for seeking it.
To the religious community, I ask of you, even beg of you, just give us a chance. There are some of us who think of marriage as a priceless treasure and want it to be treated as such. Don’t judge us because some of us exhibit sexual behaviors that are opposed to the traditional values that coincide with marriage. If you don’t let an entire people marry, you think they are going to value it for very long?