During past family reunions, all my cousins and I used to get asked by our grandma/aunts/mothers, “Are you seeing anyone? Do you have a boy/girlfriend?” Of course for me, I would get asked if I had a girlfriend, which bothered the hell out of me because no, I’ve never been remotely interested in girls. Over the years, I saw my cousins get married off and have kids in chronological order from eldest to youngest. But ever since I came out of the closet, they all finally stopped asking me about my love life, which I hate to admit…kinda bothered me. So the shitty thing about being a woman, regardless of your college degree, is that society gives you a restricting formula from which to base your life: find a man, get married, have kids. In contrast, the thing about being gay is (at least from my personal experience), society doesn’t expect anything from you at all. As polite as my loving relatives are about my homosexuality, I know they don’t ask about my love life because…they see me as a waste of sperm and therefore I don’t have purpose. Harsh but true. And even though I think breeders are [insert unfair judgments here based the ecological and economical harm of overpopulation], it still stings a little.
Well, at least the recent legalization of gay marriage in the US is finally bringing some normalcy for the gay community and LGBT families, right? But a part of me also asks…is “normal” something we should strive for? Here’s a hypothetical, radical thought: *what if* straight marriage was illegalized instead? Maybe you’ve heard the argument that marriage is an “antiquated institution.” Whatever your stance is on the legality and politics, there is no doubt that we as a society can boil the purpose of our existence down to finding companionship and mating. Perhaps it is an innate biological instinct, but without a doubt it is a social expectation that is burned into our psyche. I grew up observing the exhausted, unsatisfied and/or divorced mothers in my family whom have all lived by the only formula presented to them in an impoverished part of South Korea during the 1960s and ‘70s, learning the hard way that no formula can guarantee fulfillment and happiness. I know through observation that making important life choices solely due to expectation is a risk that may yield disappointing results.
The intersection of being born gay and male in my family has its blessings, a huge one being: I am free. I am free to explore and live out a variety of life’s scenarios without the social expectation of becoming a husband or a father. And after my exploration, if I end up finding fulfillment in marriage and parenthood, then great (though I virtually have no interest in either at the moment). At least I had the freedom to write my own formula from scratch. It is a freedom the women in my family of all generations would never know because all their lives they were asked the insidiously harmful question, “Are you seeing anyone?”
There’s been some mutterings recently on Tumblr about the “authenticity” of Dustin Sohn and while his shirtless pictures can be problematic, I don’t believe that necessarily detracts from his other musings on race/LGBT/social justice issues. However, I would love to entertain other opinions otherwise (send an ask!)
In regards to this post, I find that Dustin’s formulation of gender roles in society to be rather stiff and Victorian (and as a reader commented, especially the derogatory term, “breeder”) but I think the point he makes about societal expectations regarding relationships have some merit. Dustin argues that while women are expected to “find a man, get married, and have kids,” gay men have no such expectations. I would say, however, that gay men are “expected” rather to be promiscuous and are incapable of settling down. I use “expected” in the sense of a broad social stereotype.regarding their relationships. As with any stereotypes, this preconception is blatantly false and reminds me of an argument during the gay marriage debate about the heteronormativity of marriage. As LGBT people, who have already opted out of the hetero-dominant society once, can we not forge a new space within relationships that is seen as legitimate as marriage and claim as our own? In particular, I’m thinking about open relationships, polyamorous relationships, and other “unconventional” relationships that allow us to embrace the nuances and fluidity of the sexual spectrum.