…which is exactly why I want one. As an extraordinarily boring person, in an extraordinarily boring relationship, I am fed up of people proclaiming I should be ‘rebellious’ and stick it to the heterosexual paradigm. That whole idea becomes very tiring after years of feeling different to everyone else. A bit of sameness, a bit of domesticity, a bit of sheer marital boredom would not go amiss at this point.
We gays are a pretty harmless bunch, as demographics go. We are often accused of being militant, and aggressively recruiting people to our ‘agenda’ (agenda? What is this? Can I get it on my Kindle?). But as far as I’m aware, burning people at the stake isn’t really our thing, bullying is universally a one-way street and when it comes to recruiting, I’ve certainly been stopped by persuasive Christians in the street before now. Never gays though. Funny that.
We are accused of wanting ‘special rights’, and yet we only want the same rights as everyone else. We are accused of being intolerant, when really we are being asked to tolerate our own persecution. We are accused of being aggressive, but it is not usually gay teenagers punching the living daylights out of their straight peers. No, I fail to see what gay people have ever done – throughout all of history – to deserve the sort of treatment that is dished out to them.
This post isn’t against Christians. Sure, there are a number of homophobic Christians in the public eye right now; but then the media is always full of those with the loudest voices. In my experience, whenever I meet a Christian, I am always struck by a great deal of warmth, caring and open-minded compassion. I’m sure the vast majority of Christians are like that. Just getting on with their day and being as kind as possible.
This post isn’t even against those who oppose equal marriage (although I do feel strongly that such people are universally homophobic, despite their protestations to the contrary). What it is against are those who oppose equal marriage, and do so in the most perjorative, vitriolic and abusive terms.
I didn’t feel strongly about equal marriage until the whole business became a potential reality. I had other things to concern myself with – boring things, tedious things, like what to cook for dinner, what film to rent, when to do the online Asda shop. But then the whole thing reared its ugly head. An aggressive petition campaign resulted in the largest number of signatories in history. The BBC – a taxpayer funded corporation (unbelievably some taxpayers are gay) – gave a respectful and privileged platform to those who will, perhaps, be treated by history in the same way as those who opposed inter-racial marriage. According to an email I received from Stonewall, such opponents have compared gay marriage to slavery, domestic abuse, bestiality and incest.
The media has become rampant with arguments to and fro. Each newspaper has taken a stance and is arguing it to the death. I can’t even turn on the news without somebody, somewhere, questioning whether my marriage to my partner could result in child abuse, an attack on the family, the destruction of the very fabric of society.
I suppose I should feel flattered that they think my marriage could be so powerful. But funnily enough, I don’t.
When the recent vote was impending I hunted out the views of my MP, Hilary Benn; I discovered he was intending to vote in favour of equality and I was thrilled. I wrote to him to thank him. I told him he was on the right side of history, and that later generations would appreciate his actions.
His response seemed a little strange. While he confirmed that he would be voting in favour of equal marriage, his tone was verging on apologetic. He said that “I greatly respect those who hold a different view to mine on this issue” and was adamant that religious freedom should be respected (religious freedom to discriminate, I might add). There was little pride or pleasure in the fact that one of his constituents had thanked him. He seemed to have been beaten into submission by the extraordinarily vocal opposition this motion has received.
So, while I didn’t feel that strongly about marriage before (my partner and I have always referred to civil partnerships as marriage anyway), now I feel it is essential. All the arguments made against it essentially boil down to: ‘Gay people are a bit yuck, and I don’t want you contaminating our straight club’. A barely dormant vein of homophobia has erupted to life, attacking our very ordinary, inoffensive and boring way of life, defining it as something different, second class, something that belongs at the back of the bus.
There are many gay people, I’m sure, who object to an arguably outdated institution. But hopefully they will forgive those of us who finally want a turn at the table of convention and ‘sameness’. After so many years of hiding away, choosing the moment to ‘come out’, being stared at in the street, and being debated in the most abusive terms in mainstream media outlets, I’ll take a bit of boring conformity any day.