I remember playing with Barbie dolls as a kid. I didn’t really like Barbie. There was a disconnect between her reality and mine though at the tender age of 8 and 10 I had no idea what that was.
My cousin Curt and I played with Barbie dolls together. He always wanted to make Barbie look pretty. I stole the uniform off my brother’s G.I. Joe and made Barbie go to war. We didn’t understand each other. He loved the clothes I was presented for my Barbies’, clothes that came at Christmas, Easter and my birthday…any occasion they could think of to get me dreaming of my future “Ken” and the joys of marriage and motherhood. Barbie was a stay at home Barbie in my family’s eyes. I never had nurse Barbie or any of that. I had primped and proper ladylike Barbie. I had the Barbie that got married to Ken in a heterosexual pink fantasy world of happily ever after. That was the only option and I knew it was not my option. I knew at 12, after I stopped playing with Barbie what gay and lesbian meant but even before that I knew they were selling me a product I wasn’t going to need.
I think back and wonder what it would have been like if absolutely anyone in my generation could really have grown up to get married. Would I still be as cynical of marriage as I am today? I mean, I think it is okay for other people. I even think it ought to be on the books so whoever wants to can get hitched. It’s just not something I believe in the way so many others of my generation did. I grew up gay and knew that marriage was out of the question. I knew my brother could marry any woman he wanted to but I would not have that option.
I’ve lived a whole lifetime knowing marriage isn’t going to happen. Now, these young upstarts come along and they dream big. They believe anyone can have the fantasy and make it their reality. What incredible gall! What courage! What vision!
I’ve lived too long and become too set in my ways to believe the possibility for me in my own heart yet I think of the little girls and boys playing Barbie dolls together who have that feeling that marriage isn’t ever going to be for them. I think how their world might change in some small way. I think about those years in junior high when “queer” was the best way to stop a foe dead in their tracks. No one wanted that title put on them. Those scary words controlled a lot of adolescents. Peers always know the secret words that instill terror and offer control to the skilled manipulator of such terms.
I wonder about the best way to protect the next generation. They will come along, just like we did. When they are figuring things out for themselves what kind of world will they be seeing? What kind of world will they be stepping out into? What type of world do we want to prepare for them? If we create a world where to be LGBT is just another something that is part of the larger mix, then we will have given them something. For that, I see reason for gay marriage.
What is a civil union anyway? Are people unionized if they are joined in this manner? Can they no longer work in sweat shops? Must they have central air in their homes? Or are they civilized? Must they always be civil at table? Were they not civilized before they were joined together? Is a civil union one in which Jimmy Hoffa never would have disappeared? It really is an awkward phrase!!!
If there is no difference in a name, then why all the trademark hoopla when someone says Charmin and means toilet paper? Shakespeare said it best, “a rose by any other name would not smell as sweet.” In fact, a civil union is a sterile concept devoid of love and romance and true unity of souls. It is a legalistic rendering that falls far short of the mark. Let’s give tomorrow a shining ray of hope. Let’s let the future dream what to us seems an impossible dream. Let’s have Barbie and Barbie & Ken and Ken at the altar. Let’s create the social change that the right is so afraid of so that they can see even dramatic change can be a positive. Their fears have taken away the dreams of the past, let’s not let them destroy the dreams of the present and the future. I may not want to get married but I want those who want to get married to have the chance to do that.