“The tension between who I wanted to be and who I thought I had to be…”

This post has been submitted by a friend of mine at my request to conclude a week themed around the equal marriage vote and campaign – he’s pretty quiet about all this in our friendship but seeing something of his heart and hopes in black and white makes for a pretty powerful read…

“In more ways than one, I am my father’s son. My relationship with my dad has shaped how I view practically everything in my life. My views on politics, economics, religion, while perhaps not identical to my father’s, are certainly based on the models he presented to me. It’s important to note that perspective determines opinion and so my upbringing as a middle-class, gay, male, catholic leftie all shape how I look at marriage equality and may be markedly different from a working class, heterosexual female atheist.

For me, order is important. Structure is important. Justice is important. I believe that societies perform best when they are well organised and this is true on both macro and micro levels. On micro levels, families are one of the most foundational and important structures in any state and while families are diverse and multi-faceted they have remarkable similarities in how they pool time, resources and abilities to protect and nurture each other.

As our understanding of family and marriage has evolved, so have the structures which sustain them. Marriage is no longer seen as a way of men determining the parentage of their children and women are no longer deemed to be the property of their husbands. Today marriage is seen primarily as a partnership of equals, where both parties work together for each other and any children they may have. When more and more same-sex couples are forming families, we need to ensure that the structures keep pace with society. This is why marriage equality is important to me, because it shows that the state recognises the families which currently exist but also provides to LGB populations a model of stability which had previously been considered antithetical.

When I was a child, I wanted to be my dad. When I realised that I was gay in my early teens I thought that I would never be able to live up to the standard that he had set. My understanding of who and what gay men were, was completely warped by the homophobic attitudes I had picked up on school playgrounds. I thought that if I was gay I would have to be an eternal partier, having sex with anything that moved and definitely never having children. The tension between who I wanted to be and who I thought I had to be was incredibly distressing but entirely consistent with many of the struggles LGB people experience when coming to terms with their sexual orientation.

The world has changed a lot in the short space of time between my adolescence and adulthood. More and more LGB people are coming out to their friends and family with the knock-on effects of reducing the amount of people who have never met a gay person before. There has never been a better time to have a minority sexual orientation, particularly in Europe, and while things are not perfect and there remains plenty of work to be done, marriage equality removes another legal barrier to the full participation of same-sex couples in society which is a great achievement.

I support marriage equality because I am a family man. I want to get married because I want to model a stable and fulfilling relationship to my children if I am ever lucky enough to have them and I hope that I am able to be the role model for my children, that my father was to me.”

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Filed under Culture, Gender, Justice, Sexuality

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