The Heterosexual Dream?
Dear Sasha question #1
My partner and I are in our early 40’s and we met when she was 35 and I was 33. We have spent a beautiful 8 years together and have a nice home we built together. However, we have noticed a trend with our friends –both straight and gay. They are living what used to be called “the heterosexual dream” being homeowners, two large cars, children, 9-5 jobs, fully funded 401 K accounts and all the other perks of being a middle-class married couple in America. My partner and I never talked about marriage until everyone began asking us when we were going to get married. Now we feel all this pressure to conform! We grew up in a day and age when not marrying and having kids was part of the gay privilege. Maybe others would disagree with me, but the fact that no one expected you to go through the legal process of marriage and having kids was freeing and felt like one of the few things that we got to hold sacred in the struggle we all fought coming up gay in a heterosexist world. I now feel very conflicted. I wonder if it is my duty to be “normal” and make the political statement to heterosexuals that we are all just as capable of living the American dream as they are or if I can continue to hold to my somewhat dated beliefs that being queer and childless is a privilege.
-Sincerely Old School Values? in Chicago
Dear Old School –
Thanks so much for this question! I think it is fantastic and it is not only a marker of our political changing tide but one that many of us out there are asking. I love that you bring up the point that being a partnered (or single) queer adult used to entitled you to a certain amount of freedom from the questions about children and marriage. It gave you an excuse to be the eccentric uncle or crazy butch aunt who was fun to go to sporting events with or kvetch about your latest boyfriend with, but there was never an expectation to be parents ourselves. However with the passage of marriage equality (yay), the expectations of society have changed for many of us. Gay marriages are big business, and same-sex parents are common in many schools. With that being said, we are no different from any other human beings. If you don’t want to get married and have kids….then don’t! Don’t cave to pressure from anyone! Although if you are in a long-term partnership where you own common assets, it is always good to be legally protected so you don’t loose them the circumstance of an untimely death or disability. Look into a will or in the case of a relationship where children exist, specific guardianship documents if your state allows them. Most of all, but true to yourself regardless of gender status or sexual orientation. Your life journey is your own and you have the right to make your own political and personal choices about marriage and children regardless of the trends!