Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I do. No, I don't. Er, I dunno!

Good friends of mine are getting 'married' in England this weekend. I really wish I could have flown over for the occasion. They've been together for umpteen years - through thick and thin. They still drink champagne together on special occasions and regularly go away for mini jaunts to lovely places. Not only am I really sad not to be able to be there for the 'I do, I do' moments, I am also secretly yearning to be at a rainbow wedding! Since SA legalised gay marriage several months ago, I have not been invited to a single gay wedding.

And that's not to say I don't know any gay people: I do, honest! It's just that the gays and lesbians apparently aren't jumping to take the proverbial plunge. They're not leaping to walk down the aisle. Which begs the question: why? Is it that we are not the marrying type, or are gays and lesbians reluctant to tie the knot the heterosexual way? Is there an aversion to the concept of marriage? Or are we traditionally poor at commitment?

My personal take is that we haven't been thinking marriage, and so now that it's a possibility, we're a little taken aback. We need to take stock and get used to the notion, slowly and surely, and also make it our own. Marriage, in my books, is all-too hetro. It's also all-too biblical: a man and a woman declare their love before God. The cynic in me says that marriage among hetro's often works because kids come along and give the couples a reason to stay together! Yes, I did say that was the cynical view! Of course there are those who stay in love and have the groove, and know how to move and shake and stay attracted and remain faithful and respectful of one another. In my experience though, and judging by my straight married mates, these are few and far between. And who are we to speak? The gays are not great at staying together for life. 3-4 years is 'good'; 10 plus is a bloody miracle. Then there are the living historical figures who've attained the 20-plus milestone. Because gay years are really like doggie years. One gay year is like three or four straight years together. Don't ask me why - it just seems that way. So the 20-plus milestone is more like 30-40 years. And, no public declaration to keep them together, just love, love, love! And bloody hard work!

I digress though. Why is it that the gays and lesbians don't seem to truly settle? If I look at a fairly large handful of friends and acquaintances, quite a few seem to methodically be going through all the available options in town. Swopping and moving from partner to partner over the months and years. Do we settle for second best because of the limited pool of people? Do we settle for a warm body in our beds for a while, because it beats sleeping alone in the cold? Or are we just more honest and more realistic about partnerships and what they mean? Do we just understand that people aren't meant to be together for life?

I don't know what you think. Your experiences will define that. For me though, I think I do believe in commitment and love and honour and respect. I'd rather sleep alone that with a hot-water bottle and I do still believe there are people out there meant for us. Yes, I admit it. I am still a romantic. Does this mean I believe in gay marriage? Hmm, well, I am not sure about that. I do believe in commitment ceremonies though; in partnerships and in really gay affairs in the name of love. And I also believe in the right for everyone to choose what best works for them. Ultimately, if we can be together and love one another for a long, long time though, it doesn't matter what we call it.