- Sun, 05/27/2012 - 21:43
- 55 Comments about Talking marriage?
Dear Queer Radical,
My parents’ 40th wedding anniversary is coming up. They’re planning to make a big to-do about it. My Mom has expressed that she hopes I give a speech at the event. Whatever enthusiasm I can muster for their marriage is quickly snuffed out by the unequal rights afforded to heterosexuals. I do love my parents and appreciate their relationship. I want to support them, so I told her I’d think about it.
But what do I do? Should I give the speech? If so, should I silence my opposition to the issue? Or should I use this as an opportunity to share my own thoughts about marriage?
Mamma’s Boy Pondering
The rituals of marriage hammer home social rules and regulations. Wear a white dress: Virginity rules. Wear a ring: My spouse is my property. Brides and grooms, dresses and tuxedos, his and hers: Marriage is meant for one man and woman. After all, it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Isn’t possessive breeding grand?
The state showers perks on married, hetero couples. Tax breaks (ah, the tax breaks), health care, visitation rights, social and emotional support, cultural reinforcement and praise fall to the feet of married breeders, like manna from heaven.
If you feel compelled to speak, you should. However, the event is about your parents and their relationship and you should treat it accordingly. Before you turn the event into an opportunity to discuss equal rights, talk about it with your parents. Give them the chance to evaluate whether or not they want you to do so. Perhaps through that conversation they might find ways to reinforce your message throughout the celebration.
If and when you address the political problems of marriage at the anniversary party, do so from a place of love and respect for your parents’ relationship. Don’t whine about yourself. Be strong, succinct and celebratory.
Also don’t forget that your parents are the center of attention at their anniversary event. As much as you might want to fight for what’s right when you give your speech, remember: This is not about you.
All too often people giving kind remarks at special events talk on and on about themselves and forget those being honored. If you’re talking about equal rights and broader critiques of marriage, find a way to make it about them, to reflect on them, to show them you care.
Bring your own voice to your speech, but keep the spotlight turned on your parents. After all, this is their day, not yours.