Ottawa
4 min

Oh, grow up!

An abundance of loving relationship styles surrounds us

MAKE IT OUR OWN. We don't need the acceptance of straight society, and its traditions, to find fulfillment. Credit: John Crossen

So I want to marry my brother. I mean, who could blame me? He comes from an excellent family known for good looks, charm and wit.



The idea would almost be funny if these words did not echo the statements made by a “distinguished” MP from rural New Brunswick, Charles Hubbard.



Hubbard is not alone. Another supposed “Liberal,” Pat O’Brien, calls equal marriage an “oxymoron” and in violation of the “true” nature of heterosexual marriage.



Okay, so perhaps we could pass this off as political posturing or ranting by a few isolated MPs, but it seems fear-mongering is the same stance that is being promoted by those within the queer community determined to prove they do follow the “true” nature of marriage.



The creation and push for equal marriage has drawn yet another line of scrimmage within our community – the “good” gays who want to assimilate into the heterosexual apparatus of marriage and those “others” who want to create an alternative set of intimate and family arrangements.



Equal marriage should be just that – equal. What we have, however, is a politically impotent and socially dishonest push for equality that is based on the ignorance of the ways that people, our people, create their own version of domestic bliss and tranquility. I guess straight society will only be happy when we do family and marriage like they do: cheat, lie and sneak around, basing our relationships on distrust and secrecy. So much for the hallowed vow of uniting man and wife “to the exclusion of all others.” I guess mistresses and on-line hook-ups or trips to the bookstore for a little casual sex don’t really undo the bond of marriage.



The hypocrisy of this reminds me of when my mother would ask me if I were telling the truth about something and all the while I had my fingers crossed tightly behind my back. The difference, of course, is that we are talking about people’s emotions, hearts and the trust they put in the faithfulness of their spouse, not how many cookies were stolen from the cookie jar.



Alternatives to strict monogamy exist all around us. Take non-exclusive relationships as one example. Many couples have opened their relationships to include other sexual experiences. Many of you are probably saying, “Oh, those people are not happy. If they were happy they wouldn’t be cheating.” I would argue that two mature people who have agreed to discuss their sexual and emotional needs with their partner in an honest, calm and rational way, making sure that both are satisfied and content, are far from cheating.



It is infinitely healthier than people who go on emotional “auto-pilot” and live a Queer Eye version of Leave It To Beaver. Yes, of course there are situations where these relationships don’t work. There are also tales of those relationships that do work and are based on things far more important than sexual exclusivity. Things like companionship, trust and affection. For all of us, sex eventually peters out, pardon the pun, but in a relationship where sex is only part of the equation, the couples are left with a solid base upon which they can be sure their hearts are full and all of their needs, not just their sexual ones, are met.



For those on the right, and those traditionalist liberals who believe that marriage will make queers more acceptable to “normal” heterosexual society, I would caution that there may be too great a price to be paid for this lukewarm and half-hearted effort. We trade human creativity, resourcefulness and flexibility for a selective and biased interpretation of “traditional family values.” I do not need the acceptance of straight society to complete me as a person. What I do need, however, is to be free from the constraints imposed upon me by a society that is plagued by Victorian notions of pureness and “right” on the one hand, and which on the other hand, has a social hard-on for sex and is obsessed with all things queer.



Heterosexual monogamy is based on two related and fundamentally flawed principles: marriage for life, and that we as people stay the same.



First off, the idea that one marries for life was a lot more attractive centuries ago when the average life expectancy was only 35 years. Second, and perhaps a more important point, is that people change. Our lives are not lived in a vacuum. Think of it. How many times a day do you come across a new piece of information, meet someone new or are given the opportunity to do something different? We don’t have to sleep with all those people or live our lives as exclusively sexual creatures, but we take a little something away from each of these encounters and incorporate them into our own lives.



That is what it means to be human. This is the inevitable consequence of living in such a rich and diverse culture as ours. What would be the harm if, rather than continuing this farcical illusion of exclusive, heterosexually-oriented behaviour, queers were able to express themselves in relationships that were oriented toward growth? Away from a cloistered and stunting existence? People would be free to choose the types of relationships that suit them and not be forced to please the powers that be.



The push for equality in marriage should be about all types of relationships. MPs O’Brien and Hubbard may want to decry alternatives by providing ludicrous analogies of incestuous relationships and other “unnatural” desires. The truth is, gentlemen, your constituency, and our community, includes people living in all sorts of relationships.



The choice becomes clear: We either use real examples of loving and functional relationships upon which to base public policy, law and cultural systems, or we continue to force people to assimilate to unrealistic and fantastic notions of “normal.”



As one mystic wrote: It is no sign of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.



* Criminologist Alan Brown-Hart recently escaped Jesusland to find refuge in Ottawa.