Not The Marrying Kind

In my mind, I know exactly how it should go. After months of working out with an annoying, but highly effective trainer I find myself standing in front of the mirror freakishly observing myself in an obnoxiously expensive and impeccably tailored tuxedo. It fits perfectly. Yes, I’m being self-involved. So what if I am? I’m within my right given the occasion.

One too many looks soon prompts my friends to chorus in, “Please get over yourself. We need to start.” Reality checks, they never bounce. There inside some fancy room that I can now afford (Who shot ya, Citibank?) I cue the DJ and my march begins. Well, following a celebratory shot. My nerves are bad.

Beyoncé’s “Get Me Bodied” is blaring. I proceed to jig, get it big all the way down the aisle. Not long after the participants in the front down to the back proceed to stand up and join me and the other groom as we drop down low and sweep the flo’ with it.

Imagine me like this the second after I pick it back up:

If I can’t get Beyoncé there in person, she will be there in spirit. Got dammit. The reception will be catered by Mia X, who will do double duty with a performance of “Party Don’t Stop.” The other groom and I will fill in for Foxy Brown and Master P. I’m not sure if I want to be P or Fox Boogie yet. I mean, Foxy’s voice sounds deeper on the song and her part goes much harder than Percy’s.

The reception will call for non-stop dancing to 1990s era hip-hop and R&B and southern rap of every decade. And you know, I’ll be sure the DJ throws in some Teedra Moses and tracks like Beyoncé’s “Lay Up Under Me” for the folks in need of their emo moment.

This is how my wedding would go if it were to happen. I thought of all of this way back when during a conversation with a few friends obsessed with how their weddings will go (or maybe just obsessed with getting married period). We all have friends like this and given I don’t ever intend to play the role of spoiler and avoid such a scenario at all cost, I played along. It only took a few minutes to conceive. I’m a fool with it by nature.

Now, once the New York State Senate voted to allow gay marriages (but say “marriage equality” in group settings, it sounds better for the cause) a few people mumbled verbally or electronically to me that hey, maybe one day my wedding plans will really come to fruition!

The truth is, though, I don’t see that happening. While I surely will continue to donate money and use whatever status I have as a working writer to contribute to the advancement of marriage equality (see what I did there…better, right?), I don’t anticipate myself enjoying the fruits of such labor.

I have never wanted to get married anyway. No, not ever. Yes, I can pretend how such a move would go but it’s never been something I was really interested in doing.

Predictably, much of this resentment is rooted in the relationship between my parents. Do you know what it’s like to see two people who probably never wanted to be together that long end up legally bound together through the cultural and familial pressures of the time? Then factor in lots of depression, addiction, and resentment.

My parents are still married, though I’m not particularly sure why. It’s like one is waiting for the other to die — or at least hoping so in order to prevent premeditated murder. No, I’m not being facetious. They don’t like each other. I’ve written about bearing witness to violence growing up before, but I neglected to mention that as an adult I asked my mother why. I needed to deal with the resentment I had towards her over keeping us in that kind of environment for so long. She said didn’t want to end up on welfare raising multiple kids. Fair enough.

I know it isn’t right to base the failures of your parents on anything you do, but generally I didn’t grow up seeing a lot of people in what I’d consider to be a happy marriage. I barely saw married couples period outside of the few family members I actually knew. None of their unions looked all that appealing either.

I never quite believed the romantic fantasy Hallmark and various clergymen try to sell people about marriage. I always looked at marriage as some means to some end, typically an economically-centered one. As I got older, I read more about its origins and I continued to think, “Nope.”

My sister never wanted to get married either. She never said that she wanted to be lonely. She just never wanted to be someone’s wife. She did get married, however. At the encouragement of our mother. It was sort of a secret. When she did tell me and mentioned that our mama was pushing for it I instantly quipped, “Why would you listen to her?” She’s asking herself that now as she moves forward with plans for a divorce. Not her fault. She tried. But she did what our mom did: Marry a man who wasn’t right for her for the wrong reason.

I love my mom, but I’d rather accept a dentist referral from Amy Winehouse than entertain her push for marriage. Not so long ago she mentioned did she mumble something on the phone about me getting married and having kids. With a woman.

 

Ma’am, bye. Selective memory, that woman has. I know damn well she remembers what I told her and more importantly, I remember what I told her.

The irony of it all is that my mom used to tell me that I would end up alone. I ignored her, thinking to myself that I have just as great a chance to live in sin as anyone else.

Hell, if I ever did decide to get married I highly doubt she would show her face given I’d be marrying a man. Should that happen, I would gain a partner and be rid of my parents. Period.

Interestingly enough, my dad was upset with my sister for getting married. He told each of us to avoid marriage at all cost — in times when he was both drunk and sober. You see, his mother was abused by his dad. When my dad would jump in to defend her, he would end up getting beat, too. Shotguns shoved into his chest at that. His mother would then go on to leave him, and marry some pastor, who is technically my step-grandfather. I call them what they mean to me: nothing.

My dad has numerously made mention that the family life he ended up with was not one he ever intended on having. While I’m certainly glad to be here, I don’t blame him for not wanting the pressures that come with marriage. He didn’t think he could handle it. He was right.

I’m not sure I can either. Being honest with one’s self isn’t always some event that mirrors a “positive affirmative” you can read on a bumper sticker or Twitter timeline.

Not to mention that even if I did get to the point where I felt compelled to be tied to someone on paper, I kind of wonder would anyone even want to do that with me. I’ve been successful with a lot of things. I can see myself being even more successful in the days, weeks, and years ahead. I don’t know if such success will me bet in my romantic life as it will in my professional one.

I know, I know. I sound like a sad Mary J. Blige song. I’ll be that. I’ve had people in my life that I felt loved me. Problem is I also knew that they didn’t want to. Much of that seems rooted in the whole being gay is an abomination and God will personally spit on you should you even dare approach Saint Peter to see if your name is on the list thing.

I know of so many gay men say to themselves and my friends, “I’ll probably end up married to a woman.” Bitch, shut up. I am a magnet for this type. I’m not sure why. I do know that I wish I had some sort of spray for them, though.

I fight that stance so firmly that I know I very well may be alienating people still trying to reconcile who they are with what they’ve been told. I increasingly worry that my mom may have had a point. That warning still haunts me from time-to-time, especially when I think about previous relationships. Or lack thereof.

When I say these things to people, I wonder if I sound completed jaded. If so, there are days when I’m quite comfortable with that. I usually think, “If I don’t end up with anyone or like, get married and shit, I’ll still lead a happy and fulfilling life.” My goal in life is to help make sure those who come after me don’t have to ever feel this way. If by the end of my life jig I made things better, I’ll die smiling.

About a week or so ago, I started to debate if such a life would really be enough and whether or not I should have a better attitude about all of this. It started with a post from one of my favorite writers, Rich Juzwiak. A few days later I was able to officially buy and once again take in how happy married Beyoncé sounds. Finally, conversations with new friends who got me to thinking about the possibilities.

But as soon as think about the possibilities, I go back to all of these darker thoughts. For much of last night I tried to conceive of a way to tie a pretty bow around this post. As in: “Yeah, clearly I’m dealing with a lot – but wait – I still believe!”

I couldn’t think of anything and it only made me angry.

When I think about the kind of commitment that most associate with marriage, I think about people losing. Losing themselves, their dreams, or at the very least a part of their happiness. And though I really am happy gay people are making stride in our efforts to have our love recognized fairly (in terms of property, taxes, medical visits, etc.), I can’t wrap my head around the idea of me ever making that kind of move.

That is my truth. Why should I feel bad because it doesn’t sound “right?” Maybe that truth will change, maybe it won’t. If it doesn’t, I will continue to be happy with my life as it is lived. If it does, I’ll have my Beyoncé-inspired ceremony and I’ll make sure everyone is sent the registry info. No matter what happens, I will be okay.

Finally, I found a way to accentuate the positive. It feels good to know that once I finally deal with this confliction I might be able to do something about it. If nothing else, I think that’s worthy of a celebration.

Comments

  1. Greg says:

    Woah. I really connected with this one. My parents are also at odds (that’s putting it nicely), although it was never to the point that yours seem to be. They never married, and by the time I was born, they were broken up. My mom and dad have since harshly admitted that my mom used her pregnancy with me as a ploy to keep my dad from leaving her. In more colder terms, she lied about being on the pill.
    So I’m very jaded when it comes to the reality of love and marriage. I (like to) believe in the former, and I’m indifferent to the latter. Anyways, back to your post, you define what right and wrong for you in your life. So I’m 100% with you about having a fulfilling life that doesn’t involve the electric slide reception. As for what your mom doomed you with, that’s really tough. I’m not surprised since I’ve read conversations you guys have had, but that one was just downright evil. And based on your character, I doubt you will have to deal with it coming true. He’s out there Michael, he’s just getting his jig together first. :)

  2. Adrienne says:

    You would be surprised with how much your feelings change once you do meet the right one. Sure, while marriage may not be for everybody, there is no reason your parent’s failures have to be your own. My parents were married for almost 20 years when they divorced. I used to try and wrap my head around that thinking, “who does that after so long?”. Now that I am newly married myself and have watched my father thrive in his second marriage of almost 20 years, it taught me so many things about what it means to be a good partner in order to have a successful marriage. Continue writing, dating, and enjoying your life. When that person comes into your life, leave open the possibility that you could have a different – more fulfilling marital relationship than your parents had.

  3. Terrence says:

    You have a gift and a way with words. I look at that as a blessing since many people who cannot express themselves through words use violence to get their point across. I too, was a victim of my parents failed marriage. Their divorce was abusive and at times almost fatal not because they could not articulate what they felt toward one another. They just grew apart and did not love each other anymore, but I always felt like I was the one in the middle (I was the youngest out of five siblings). My mom would tell me that she would stay in the marriage until I graduated from High School. I would get so mad because it made me feel like their unhappiness was my fault. For decades I thought my parents were the two most selfish people on the planet. One day I finally asked them, “How can the two people I love the most, hurt me the most?” The reply was almost the same, “We never stopped loving you just one another”. WTF, does that mean, so instead I had to watch the two of you beat each other to death. Anyway that was the best answer they had to give. And, I can honestly say I am finally over the past.

    Like you, I am gay and have no intentions on jumping anyone’s broom. I was teased in High School, condemned by the church, and at times I am still frowned upon by society. Oh well, I have my life to live. I keep reminding myself that the world we live in is cursed and that we are all born with a fallen nature. Many people forget that especially the church. The pastor cannot forgive me of my sins nor can forgive him of his. Please do think I am saying being gay is a curse, it is not. There will be gay people, murderers, rapist, and thieves in every generation. I have come to learn that I have choices that I must make based on my own life-experiences.
    The relationship and love I have for God and He has for me proves that his grace is sufficient. My days of trying to win the People’s Choice Award as long ended. I hold no grudges and cast no judgments upon anyone. Like everyone else my life is a journey and I refuse to let others ignorance deter from my purpose and goals.

    Thank you for embracing your gift and expressing your thoughts I pray that God will bless you with increased LOVE, FAITH, HOPE, and of course FAVOR!

  4. FEE says:

    It was like reading a page out of my life story. I won’t say that my parents were the ONLY reason that I decided that marriage was not for me, but they didn’t do anything to promote the concept. Especially since my unplanned existence was the reason they had to get married. I struggled with the guilt of not wanting to be married or a mother for years, but once I accepted who I was and realized it didn’t make me a criminal, I got over the guilt and started to feel better about my future. That’s not to say that I don’t want a man in my life, I most certainly do and I am not interested in playing the field. I want a stable, committed relationship I just don’t need it validated by a certificate. People don’t like to admit it, but marriage changes EVERYTHING: roles, meals, vacations, finances, where you live, what to record on the DVR, etc. Call me selfish, but I like making decisions about my life without having to consider someone else’s. We need to accept that not everybody is cut out for marriage, motherhood, college, 9 to 5′s and the church choir. And it’s OK.

  5. K says:

    I totally agree with all the previous posts. I dont think marriage is for me either but it’s not going to stop me from living life, and I dont think it should stop you. Everything isn’t for everyone. I have friends who attended college earned degrees, have children and may one day walk down the isle. But I still dont let that dictate my life. We all have to live our own lives, because at the end of the day we answer for OUR OWN sins!! So keep doing you boo :)..You were put on this earth for a purpose and you are truly blessed, gifted and I really appreciate you sharing your gift and blessings with us. I know growing up was difficult and some days will harder than others. Please just put God 1st, keep praying and yes jig’n..Thank you for sharing it’s not always easy :)

  6. Memphian says:

    I agree with Adrienne that some relationships change the way you think about life. I think one of the big problems with the institution of marriage in our country is that some people want to be married and are more concerned about reaching that milestone then thinking about who its with, or why they are doing it. You not feeling the cult of marriage? Probably a good thing. Thinking about getting married without being in a loving, stable relationship is putting the cart before the horse. Plus, how many healthy gay marriages are out there to be held up and learned from anyway? In a healthy relationship y’all set your own boundaries and create your own common ground, if you’re willing to put in the effort you can overcome not having the healthy role models. Also, it’s my experience love always comes around when you are not looking for it. So just live life and do you until whatever happens, happens.

  7. Zett says:

    Yeah, I love you. For all the right reasons. I’m a 28 year old heterosexual female, but this post? Sums me up entirely.

    Beyond our loving Teedra & Beyunsay, we >HERE<, Michael. Boy, I'm feeling you.

  8. Austin Brown says:

    WOW! I think i have said in other posts, how if you were still in NYC we would sooo be bestfriends!!! lol
    Reading your posts force me to relive moments that I think I have closed off for years. When I came out to my parents the first thing my mom said too me was “You will end up alone” it stuck inside of me and I buried that piece. I have always pictured myself married. Growing up I seen how happy marriage can make someone. I watched my grandmother dying at the time of cancer say as she looked on at my grandfather passing away. “I only lived to make sure Elis was ok.” Those words echoed in my mind for weeks and months to come. That when life came down too it, all that mattered in the world was here love and life for her husband. I was never particularly close too this set of grandparents but their love was always evident. They were married for 60 years. I have always felt that I deserve that love, that I too oneday would be married. As NY passes this marriage law in the next few weeks, I still wonder if that part of my life will air out. Dating and relationships are fleeting in both the straight and gay world. I watch my straight friends wonder if they will ever see that part of their life pan out. I agree wholeheartedly with you, even if I should never have my Beyonce filled reception (Rather DIe young will be played no matter how OLD I will be at my wedding) my life will still go on and I still will continute to push and as Jack from Will and Grace said ” Gay it Forward” so that the following generations have something more to live for and something new to carry on. I am still visited by my mothers words of being alone for life and part of me wishes that too never be true.

  9. kishan says:

    The whole notion of wanting to reconcile what you’ve been told with what you’ve grown up to be is incomprehensible to me. The marriage equality movement is really the simplest thing – “I am what I am, whether you like it or not. And I expect to be treated as nothing less than you are. And I will push, strike and kill until I get exactly that!”

    I don’t know if I’ll ever marry either (not because I don’t want to but the only man I would doesn’t want to), but the option to do so if we so choose is still non-negotiable.

    Oh, and I’d walk to “Halo” lol

  10. Rissa says:

    This is interesting to me because it echoes a sentiment that I’ve long said about parents influencing their children’s views/hopes in regards to love and marriage.
    My parents met and were married in eight weeks time (GOTDAMN!) and are still married almost thirty-three years later. They waited a while for kids (they’d been married seven years before I was conceived) and unlike most of my other aunts and uncles, this was their first and only marriage.
    So for me- I’ve always wanted to get married and have kids and all that other domestic stuff…until recently. Now, I wonder if it would even happen (but I’m not here to get emo) or if my friends from different backgrounds are more practical because I definitely realize my parents are an extreme case.

    Also: I’d save my Beyonce for the reception and “see” myself two-stepping in my reception dress to “Love on Top”.

  11. Damn. Wow. This is easily one of the best things I’ve read by you. Open, honest, and what millions of people all over aren’t able to articulate. Seriously. I admire that you, at the core, do possibly see some glimmer of hope for yourself. Knowing you, I think that you hope it is possible one day, but since you’ve seen so many failed attempts at marriage and relationships, you are skeptical that a successful one can occur.

    Being the practical, logical man you are, though, I doubt you’ll find yourself in the same traps: marrying due to familiar pressure, rushing to marry due to potentially unflattering circumstances, and so on. You also don’t have nor will be planting seeds in a uterus, so there’s no Solange-style rush weddings.

    Great job. Thanks for sharing this.

  12. Jackie says:

    Love your post, so open and searingly honest… You are a brilliant, fearless writer. Also sounds like you are totally ready to call for the partner and the relationship of your dreams. It can and will be different from your parents.

    One day there won’t be a need for cynicism, with your power and creativity. I can only imagine the vision.