Written by Z. Amara Perri
I just came across a post from a woman who decided to dump her boyfriend of five years. Why? Because after five years, he still hadn’t proposed. She felt dumb that he got all of his cookies AND milk for free. She didn’t say what else was wrong with the relationship, but I immediately thought how different things are in the LGBT community. Before a majority of people started understanding that #loveislove, we had to make up our own rules. For starters because we are often in same-gender relationships, we don’t wait for the one with the penis to ask for our hand in marriage.
Anyway up until very recently, marriage was strictly the domain of heterosexuals and so the getting-the-milk-for-free concept was somewhat alien. Why? Because most queers don’t adhere to the heterosexist pressures to reserve sex for marriage, and frankly we didn’t have the same societal pressures to marry each other. Of course legal same-sex marriage didn’t suddenly cause queer people to realize they wanted some sort of commitment after all. For decades many of us in the LGBT community patched together our own marriage-like ceremonies, partnerships and contracts without government oversight. While not having access to legal marriage inspired some to fight for marriage equality, it gave others (like me) a convenient excuse not to make such a public, binding contract as legal marriage.
But now that many of us in the gay community have gotten access to some of the rights and privileges of marriage, I wonder if that has changed the conversation about marriage for some of us. Personally, I never had a desire to get married to any of my previous partners. I mostly told myself it was because I was a child of divorce, I knew no happily married couples, I worried it wouldn’t work out and I honestly didn’t feel ready. I was however, okay with long-term relationships. In fact I replicated marriage by living with and sharing financial responsibilities with two partners. I knew plenty of lesbian couples that did the same thing and so this was normal for me. I didn’t start feeling the pressure to get legally married until gay marriage started becoming legal, and I avoided it successfully. I often told women upfront that marriage would never be on the table. (In essence I was one of those who liked to get the milk and cookies for free-ish.) Today, I realize that the biggest thing that stood between me and marriage was fear. Now I’m definitely open to legally marrying the love of my life whenever she decides to make herself known to me.
Now I’m curious, do same-gender loving women, especially those who are black, place more value on a legal marriage than a long-term relationship? I’d love to know what you think!
As a lesbian do you want her to put a ring on it or are you cool with a long-term commitment? Comment below.