Dear Fannie,

I’m a 23 year old gay man living in Portland with my boyfriend/partner (I can’t figure out when you start calling your significant other your ‘partner’) of 3 years. We’ve been together for what seems like ages and we get a long great. But my bf/partner keeps on bringing up the prospect of getting “married.” I intentionally use LARGE air quotes with that. I’m not really feeling the whole marriage thing. I mean, I’m committed to my bf/partner, I’m not planning on leaving any time soon…but the whole project of getting married just makes me uncomfortable. Am I being an irrational, self-hating gay?

Pre-nuptial in Portland

Oooh… the big M word. It can send even the butchest straight man running for the hills. It’s made a lot of people miserable, some happy, and historically oppressed a full half of society. Now, while it seems that every gay and his fairy godmother wants to get married (I’m going to side-step the cheap gay wedding planner jokes), it’s interesting to remember that this posh hip brand of gay marriage is a relatively new idea as far as queer activists go. Hard-core queer activists at the beginning of the Gay liberation movement pushed for a radical queering of society, and gay marriage was the opposite of that goal.

Marriage, for many in the feminist/queer theory camp, is an elaborate and efficient way for the state to regulate sexual relationships of its constituency. The purpose of marriage (in this Machiavellian, secular view) is explicitly for A) the maintenance of a patriarchal heterosexual family structure, and B) the continued production of children (read: labor). The State achieves this by limiting marriage to one man and (usually) one woman. Marriage confers benefits, privileges, and protections to carefully selected cohorts of the populations (namely monogamous heterosexual couples intending for child rearing), but at the same time damages any kind of familial structure that is contrary to or weakens that patriarchal heterosexual society.

This is why queer activists in the 70s considered gay marriage to be a step backwards for queers. By buying into the institution that systematicly disadvantages non-traditional families, queers who opt-in for gay marriage become this “homonormative,” tamed, manageable, respectable, and mute gay and lesbian community (please note exclusion of bi and trans people). We should be advocating for the expansion of the rights that marriage confers onto any number and combination of consenting adults that wish to form a household, rather than creating a loophole that lets a few more people into an exclusive and limited club.

Now, that I’m done ranting on “gay marriage,” onto your question! Pre-nup… now, given that you live in Portland, Oregon… you actually can’t get “married.” Oregon recently amended its constitution to refuse to give gays and lesbians marriage rights. So, what it sounds like is that your bf/partner basically wants to throw a big fat gay wedding. There’s nothing wrong with that. I encourage that. As much of a raging feminist that I am, I encourage people to celebrate their commitments to each other. But I get the feeling why you feel “uncomfortable” around this whole issue of walking down the aisle is because it all feels a little jinxy.

To borrow from my patron gay saint, Dan Savage, having a Big Gay Wedding to celebrate your Big Gay Love is just asking for karmic trouble. Think of how many of those gay celebrities who made a big splash about their big gay loves quickly had their seemingly perfect relationships fall to shambles. Two words: Lance Bass. Not convinced? Mere months after proclaiming her lesbianism and her devotion to her girlfriend, Ellen and her belle broke up. The list goes on and on.

But if your bf/partner must ABSOLUTELY have his Big Fat Gay Wedding, I’d just concede. For there is little that can stand in the way of a queen and her wedding gown. I would let him revel in the joy of picking out the decorations and plan for your wedding. Just be there to pull on the reins and keep this ceremony under control. And please… for the love of God, don’t buy a frozen wedding cake. ‘Cause that’s just tacky.

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