To Have and to Hold

Many gay activists seem to believe that “gay marriage” is the single most important issue facing gay people today. I’m not inclined to agree. While I do believe that same-sex couples in committed relationships should have the same benefits as opposite-sex couples, I’m convinced that a far more important issue is the recognition of the freedom NOT to couple.

Here’s a bold statement: being paired off with a “life partner” or a “soulmate” ot whatever is not the end-all and be-all for everyone on the planet. Coupling is not the right option for everyone at evry phase of life. It’s not even the right option for some people at ANY phase of life.

I’m not sure why this is such a radical notion for some people. Our whole society seems to be designed for cute little pigeon-holed Noah’s Ark pairs, all the way from junior high dances to tandem burial plots. The tax laws favor married heterosexuals (preferably with children). The gay press is increasingly obsessed either with finding a mate or with what to do with one once you succeed. Singles are made to feel uncomfortable when they dine alone, go to movies alone, or when they just want to sit a home alone.

If the entire”gay movement” is about our right to choose our own partners, shouldn’t it naturally follow that we also have a right not to choose anyone? Is this not a valid viewpoint?

I want to make it clear that I’m not against coupling. I know many happy couples, and the happiest seem to be those where each partner has his or her own life. I’m not even averse to the idea of coupling myself at some point. But this notion that “finding the right mate” will somehow be the end of all one’s problems is just plain stupid.

Suppose, say, that my problem is that I’m trying to figure out who I am and who I want to be — not an uncommon problem, I might add. How will having a husband help? If I want emotional support, I go to my friends. Frankly, bringing somene else into this situation would only make things worse.

Once again, I may indeed “couple” at some point. It will obviously not be because I need 24-hour companionship, because I’m usually more happy by myself. It will not be for the tax breaks, because there aren’t any. It will not be beacuse I need a date for the movies or dinner or parties; I’m a big boy and I can do these things by myself. It will not be for sex; that’s why there are sex clubs. It will not be to please Mom and Dad, or (God forbid) to have children.

And it will most definitely not be because “I’m supposed to” or because “that’s what people do”. It will be because I’ve met someone I enjoy being with…someone who doesn’t want to spend every waking moment with me…someone who understands that the first person plural needn’t supercede the first person singular.

I’m not so cynical as to think that most people are in relationships for the aforementioned suspect reasons. I just wish all the “we” people would stop trying to get ME into one for those reasons.