It frustrates me often that we look at ourselves and see halves. Even when outwardly I make claims to want to see myself as a fully realized person outside of my romantic relationships, I still often buy into the belief that somehow I will become whole while in love. This is something I want to change. And I know that lately the discussion that I am just as valid single as I am in a relationship is beginning to get old, but the pressure to be in romantic relationships as a queer person in a society that has until very recently denied me that privilege is sometimes overwhelming.
As someone whose beliefs run alongside Side A theologians, who claim that God affirms same gender relationships, there is a lot of pressure (often from myself) to be IN a same gender relationship. I get that. Its important for there to be healthy, fruitful, realistic gay relationships that exist in public spaces like a church or in schools. People need to be able to see those and understand that gay people aren’t always how conservative media portrays us. I GET that. But that does not have to be for everyone.
In fact, a big problem I have with how the gay community has operated after things like the legalization of marriage, or the advent of more LGBT affirming theologies within churches, is that we have tried to frame our relationships after straight ones. Our theologies frame celibacy as the antithesis to a healthy marriage, and the binary of the Side A and Side B debates only exacerbates that divide. Because Side A affirms same gender relationships, we therefore find a pressure within affirming spaces to therefore BE in same sex relationships. This does not have to be the case. It’s okay to be single. Its okay to STAY single. Our worth is in no way determined by these relationships.
We commodify relationships so that certain ones have more value than others. This seems to have links to straight capitalism wherein the nuclear family is easily the most marketable social grouping. What is unfortunate about this is that Christianity has co-opted this economic structure to be seen as somehow more holy or God-approved than other types of relationship, or than celibacy.
This imitation of heterosexual Christianity/romance stunts the development of greater understandings of queer Christ-oriented relationships and how we might be positive role models for ALL relationships. It forces us to internalize for queer bodies and queer relaationships what contemporary Christianity has often led us to believe: that marriage is the greatest relationship we can attain.
This is bullshit. Not only do queer relationships not have to follow any kind of white picket fence fantasy, or perpetuate gendered stereotypes about domesticity, but we do not have to believe that without romantic love, we will be lesser people. I need to stop believing it. It’s harmful and its detrimental to the knowledge that I am just as important outside of a relationship as I am in one.
It bothers me that we haven’t identified this as a problem collectively. Our very existence as queer people breaks down barriers like this all the time, and yet we continue to try to enter into Hollywood-esque relationships where we live happily ever after and have 2.2 children. Just because we can, does not mean we should. Our strength here comes in our ability to see another way: to understand that chosen families can be just as dynamic and resilient as our biological ones, that refraining from entering into relationships can be a healthy choice, that our emotional needs can be met outside of romantic relationships by those communities that we can now call our families.
I write this because it hurts to see so many of my friends try to enter relationships that fail merely because they believe the untruth that their worth is intrinsically connected to their ability to attract a significant other. It hurts to see myself chase after people for those same reasons. I want us to rethink how we define our worth when it comes to relationships. I want to rethink how we provide emotional support to one another. Let’s build communities centered on the same support and connections that you find within romantic relationships. Break down concepts of nuclear family and actually USE the village to raise a child. We have the ability to recreate how our society sees romance and community. Let’s not screw it up by playing into a false idea that our worth is tied to who we get (not) to marry one day.