Relationship challenge no. 220 of being genderqueer/non-binary (and in a poly relationship). Somewhere in the last few weeks the discussion about long-term, committed and monogamous relationships have come up in conversation with friends.
Unbeknownst to me some people think that because I am (a) genderqueer/non-binary, and (b) in a poly relationship, that I would not want to marry. I suppose the dilemma might be how do I fit into the current “Mr. & Mrs” title, or that because I am in a relationship with a (technically) married man that I couldn’t, or wouldn’t want to “walk down the aisle”. This lead me to asking myself the question of, if I could get married would I want to? If the answer is yes then I can start to find what term I would use instead of “Mrs”. What I dislike, what triggered me, is the assumption that genderqueer/non-binary equals not wanting to marry. Those closest to me were basically trying to tell me that getting married/weddings look one way, and one way only—completely conformed to traditional gender expectations. It would be a challenge to negotiate issues of gender expectations while navigating the wedding world, and/or trying to plan a wedding that felt authentic and unique to me.
So, this got me questioning that tired old argument that “marriage is between a man and a woman”. Do people who believe that, believe that those who identify as genderqueer/non-binary in any fashion should not be allowed to marry at all? Is that what I am actually dealing with? It feels really hard now to be vulnerable and open myself and my relationship to possible criticism, exclusion, or just confusion, regarding gender role assumptions or heteronormative expectations; let alone when it comes from friends and family. No one should have to feel uncomfortable and outside of a range of ‘normal’ in order to celebrate their (legal!!!) marriage and loving relationship, especially when all someone might need and want is to feel represented and celebrated for their uniqueness and beauty. Keep in mind, these were all good-intentioned friends and family (they just weren’t educated on what it means to be genderqueer/non-binary), who understood my gender and relationship status, but also had some presumptions as to how “weddings work” (and trying to put me/my experience into a box), thanks to the very gendered wedding industry.
Then two days ago I was reminded of these latest conversations while driving home from work and hearing the following lyrics of Missy Higgins’ “The Special Two”:
When you’re young you have this image of your life
That you’ll be scrupulous and one day even make a wife
And you make boundaries you’d never dream to cross
And if you happen to you wake completely lost
When I was a small child, being raised as a little girl (although tomboyish) I too dreamed of marriage and a wedding. Playing pretend in kindergarten involved white sheets to make up a dress, and creating a circle of teddy bears and dolls to represent the guests. I felt okay marrying my best female friends, boys I had crushes on, and daydreaming about one day being a “Mrs” to my favorite superstar. In adolescence when I accepted my attraction as queer I still fantasied about two wedding dresses / going in drag and wearing a suit, while attending rallies for same-sex marriage. I still have an old notebook full of my collages from magazines, which included pages of wedding images and ideas. The bridal wear section in op shops as an adult was often a must just so I could try on meringue-looking dresses while laughing at the hilarity of it all, sometimes even joking that I would one day walk in the Zombie Shuffle with a blood-spattered dress because “even zombies deserve the right to get married”.
Now with everything that’s been said I am just not sure anymore…