I am not the only queer person to have this conundrum of “head versus heart” when it comes to marriage. In her book Queer Intentions, Amelia Abraham grapples with these ideas constantly, saying how she and her friends “opted for what we saw as queerer ways of living: rejecting conformity, making irresponsible decisions, attempting to be more free.” Except then she met someone who made her hold these ideas in her hand and turn them around, even just briefly. “It wasn’t the first time I realized I might be able to settle down—that happened when same-sex marriage was legalized,” she writes. “It was just the first time I thought I might want to.”
But it isn’t just queer people who struggle with the concept of marriage, politically and personally. I know plenty of straight women in particular who say that they’d never get married. For so long, marriage was a business-like arrangement that allowed men to practically own their wives. And while this isn’t the case in the UK today—in theory, at least—the bitter taste still lingers. When I asked a straight friend recently why she’d never get married, she said, not unfairly, “What would be in it for me?” She makes her own money, has her own savings, and doesn’t plan on having children (lots of people who have kids get married, for custody reasons). She also has a partner, whom she adores. But marriage? What would be the point? I get it.
Paradoxically, though, I also wonder whether marriage means more to me as a queer person than it would had I been straight—and whether the idea of being married to a straight man might have felt different, too. I don’t believe in the institution of marriage in the same way past generations might have done. But getting married to another woman also feels like a little fuck you in the same way my love sometimes does. For so long, queer people have been ignored or deprived of celebrating their love in public or “legitimate” ways. So why wouldn’t I take this opportunity to get married, purely because I want to?
When my partner and I do get married, we’ll do it our own way. There won’t be a priest, or a wedding dress, or someone chucking a bouquet. There won’t be confetti or a car with cans tied to the back, or people in those big hats with the netting. I don’t know exactly what it’ll look like, yet, because I don’t know what weddings are supposed to look like. It’ll look like whatever we make it, now and well into the future. That much I am sure of.