Around a year ago, I wrote an article for Polari about Bachelors and Married Men. I wrote about my own dreams of putting a ring on it (thanks, Beyoncé), of the gay community’s campaign for gay marriage in Ireland at the time, of the binary of Husband and Wife and of the happy couple in Disney films.
Some of that has changed. The Irish government has now passed the Civil Partnership Bill, and it is expected that the first ceremonies – let’s not call them ‘weddings’ just yet – will take place in the Republic by the beginning of 2011. Some members of the LGBT community are happy with the Bill’s passing, while others don’t think it goes far enough. Others – both within and outside of the gay community – think that gays don’t deserve marriage at all. Despite what I wrote last year, I’m beginning to wonder myself.
A friend of mine recently became ‘official’ in his relationship with a nice Scottish guy with whom I’m also friends. A few weeks ago, they went to a house party that a friend of the Scot was throwing, where there were a good few other gay guys. Six of them were in relationships, although none of their boyfriends were with them that night. As my friend started to make small talk, as one does, the topic of relationships eventually came up in conversation.
It turned out, to my friend’s horror, that the guys who were in relationships defined their situation as being ‘open’, saying that they didn’t see the point to monogamy. It was a revelation to my friend’s horror because he’d consider himself – in comparison, at least – as much more traditional in his views on relationships. His philosophy is that while someone is single, (s)he should have as much fun as they like. Once you get into a relationship, that’s it. One on one. It seemed that my friend was the only one at the house party with those opinions. What was worse for him was that his new Scottish boyfriend also felt the same way as with the others. It probably didn’t help my friend’s shock that some of the guys who had boyfriend propositioned him for a threesome later that night. He declined politely, but that didn’t stop the other guys from getting off with each other.
When I was told the story over coffee in a busy Dublin café, I found it quite shocking. I thought that more gay couples seem to experiment more than their straight counterparts, but to think that the ‘traditionalist’ was in the minority at that point in time was a little unnerving. While it’s a great milestone for equality that the gay community anywhere in Ireland have the choice to be legally joined to their significant other, what about the part where marriage – of any kind or label – is supposed to be about devotion and loyalty to one another? Is that dead in the gay community? Did it ever exist, or is it more that it never had a chance to develop in an underground world? A British or American reader should be reminded that acts of homosexuality were still a criminal offence in the Republic of Ireland until 1992. Eighteen years later, gay men can now become as near to married as a Catholic country will allow, regardless of how feeble the power of the Catholic Church in Ireland currently is. The question is, who would bother to get married when most people, whether on the scene or not, seem to be more concerned about sexual experimentation and freedom? Why choose to go into a union that is all about monogamy when it seems that only a few gay couples are truly monogamous?
I wrote last year that I hope to be lucky enough to marry an amazing man whom I’ll be madly in love with. What I forgot to add is that I hope I’ll be lucky enough to be in a monogamous marriage with another man.
That is possible… right?