Vancouver
2 min

Challenging the ritual

It's not just the flamboyant heterosexuality of it all

‘Tis the season. I just mailed my RSVP to my cousin’s wedding saying that no, sorry, my partner and I won’t be able to spend thousands of dollars to travel to Colorado for the event. It makes sense to me: I’ve seen my cousin twice in the last 30 years and I know nothing about his bride-to-be.

My family thinks I’m making some kind of anti-marriage protest. But honestly, I just don’t want to spend the time and money to go. I haven’t attended any other events in my cousin’s life. So why a wedding?

And that’s what’s driving me nuts. Not the celebration or the ritual itself, not even the flamboyant heterosexuality of it all. No, it’s the automatic unthinking way in which everyone responds to it. Wedding = good. Always. Like Christmas.

It’s funny, isn’t it, when you think about it? When my sister got engaged to a man she’d known for a few months, all our relatives were overjoyed. They’d never even met the groom. They just assumed it was something to come and celebrate. And, my family being good lefty types, they’d probably do the same for me.

I guess you could see that as a good thing, a positive attitude (a concept fairly foreign to me). But the last thing I want for myself or my community is unconscious ritual.

If I ever get married, I want to invite people because they know me and my partner and have been connected to our relationship, and I want them to come because they are invested in our bonding. We would all be engaged with the reason for the ritual, and not just the ritual itself.

I also don’t ever want to value marriage over other relationships that could be ritualized and celebrated. I admire my friends who had an elaborate ceremony with witnesses when they formalized their top/bottom relationship. And another couple I heard about who had a party to mark the break-up of their partnership and their transition into friendship.

While the rest of my family was booking tickets to Colorado, I was waiting, with tears in my eyes, for my friend to run by in her first-ever marathon. Her two lovers had come to the race together to cheer for her. My partner waited a bit farther on with the camera. We were taking time to mark an important event, celebrating my friend, her dedication to herself, our affection for her. It was the best kind of ritual: witnessing and celebrating a hard-won achievement by someone I love.

For me, questioning convention is part of being queer, as opposed to simply homosexual. It’s resisting the automatic yes, the force of the mainstream.