The topic came from the Misanthropic Collaboration, but the feelings are entirely mine.
Life Lessons: Love
A Gay/Pagan Opinion 6/07/01
by R.A. Melos
The greatest thing you can ever learn is to love, and be loved in return.
So much joy and so much pain are associated with love they usually overshadow the real importance of love itself. I don't portent to know what love is, only what I felt as a result of exploring the possibilities.
I was raised to believe love was something lasting, sacred, good, and discovered instead the reality of disillusionment. My parents were married 35 years when my father died. While I'm sure their marriage wasn't perfect all the time, they never gave divorce a thought. In this atmosphere, I was raised with unrealistic expectations of what love and relationships were all about. While I was raised by straight parents to be straight, my unisexual goals were to meet a person, fall in love, and we would spend the rest of our lives together.
The reality of what I saw among my friends, and among those I considered friends, the examples of human behavior I observed since reaching adulthood, contradicts everything in which I was taught to believe. I wasn't raised to walk away from something as important as a relationship just because I was bored, or just didn't like the other person anymore, or wanted someone else more, because divorce, in my family, was considered a disgrace.
However, thanks to viewing the more realistic life lessons of my friends, I've learned not only is divorce not a disgrace, nor are multiple divorces, but also open hostility between former partners is not only acceptable but expected by society in general. Thanks to the life lessons I've observed among my peers, I've learned it is much more acceptable simply not to face the problems which crop up in a relationship, but to dissolve the relationship as quickly as possible without ever trying to work out differences.
Since I, as a gay man, am denied the legal rights of marriage, I probably, in some peoples minds, have no right to offer up my own opinion of divorce. This may be just as well, since both legal marriage and legal divorce, as far as I'm concerned, are just byproducts of general societies attempt to draw the focus off the ramifications of both marriage and divorce; the feelings which both legal acts create within the participants, and redirect the focus on to the trivialities of both events.
I've witnessed heterosexual and closeted friends enter into and dissolve marriages. For many of these people, entering into the marriage, the importance of their commitment to each other, was overshadowed by the importance of spending large sums of money in order to impress a bunch of people whom the "happy couple" may never again see during the course of their wedded bliss. The entire ceremony and reception is not so much about their love for one another but about making the guests believe they are in love, and their union will last, and will weather any storm.
It's almost as if they are really spending the money to impress this fact upon everyone, because they don't actually buy into the "life commitment" idea themselves, and if they have enough people believing their love will last, then it will last. It's a pity they don't stop to consider all the people who are really attending the "event" not out of their belief in the couple's love for one another, but because they want any excuse to party.
So, the "happy couple" put themselves, or if possible, their parents, into debt, for a memorable champagne toast, top of the line DJ, and fantastic rubber chicken wedding feast, only to dissolve their oh so "sacred" union in divorce a few years later.
The concept of forever is much too grand a scale to measure a relationship by. After witnessing my friends multiple marriages, divorces, and my own miserable attempt at finding love, I have taken the archaic ideal of love, which I was raised to believe in , and revised it. I now believe any relationship which lasts long enough to actually remember last names, is an unmitigated success.
Whether or not a couple actually marries for love no longer matters to me, because, thanks to societies denial of equal rights for same-sex unions, All I am left with in the way of commitment to a life partner, as a gay man, is love. So, while many heterosexual couples marry for their version of love, or more likely, for financial security, all of the legal reasons for marriage are denied me. I only have one reason to have a partner with whom I will share my life.
Since only heterosexuals, according to the laws (Vermont excluded for the time being), have legally sanctioned marriages in the eyes of the state and, for many, in the eyes of their maker, and since society is going to such great lengths to preserve the sanctity of heterosexual unions by creating legislation describing what types of unions will be recognized under such laws, commitment and separation are as meaningless to me as the words marriage and divorce.
However, once again, society has drawn the focus off of the real issues which go into the acts of commitment, the feelings a commitment creates between two individuals. In my opinion, what two people feel for each other is more important than caring about the legalities of marriage, or, for that matter, caring what society in general thinks of the commitment.
While I was raised, by heterosexuals, to desire a life partner, the reality of our society makes the entire process of marriage and divorce so unappealing, I'm actually surprised heterosexuals are so anxious to hold on to such an arcane notion as legally tying up their lives with another person. The only advantage of marriage, as I now see it, is the financial security people get when they divorce.
I still believe in love, because it is the only thing which society can't legislate. My feelings for another person of the same-sex will be there whether or not society acknowledges or accepts them. I can't just turn my feelings off because society may not approve, or because it isn't want is legally recognized as a marriage.
There are enough legal ways around the laws drawn up by heterosexuals and closeted and paranoid homosexuals to overshadow all the little trivialities any union can offer, but love is not something which will ever truly be overshadowed, because, after the ceremonies, and legal paperwork, if a couple can't manage to face each other every day for the rest of their lives, then no laws, no societal pressures, no religious leaders, will make their union work.
Our greatest lesson as human beings is to learn to love, and be loved in return. I hope to one day master this lesson.