After our very first post about sex and marriage, or more particularly waiting to have sex until you got married, I got to thinking that our next sex and marriage post needed to be from a LGBTQ perspective. I started chatting with Desaray (who formerly blogged at Digmoonment, and since her marriage has been whirling through blogs, and is now at Be More Yours) about things I’d learned from the LGBTQ community about relationships and sex. Because here is the thing: it’s fashionable at the moment to say that gay relationships and straight relationships are exactly alike. And, well, love and love are exactly a like, but as Desaray points out, gay relationships are sort of the Galapagos Islands of relationships. EG, if you deny a community access to publicly sanctioned relationships, the one up-side is that gives them all the room in the world to be creative, and to come up with what works for them.
So. As we were saying, what I am very grateful to have learned from a multitude of queer committed relationships that I have had the joy to observe closely in the last 20 years, is that I do not have to set never-failing-no-mistakes-monogamy in the center of my relationship, as a booby trap that has the power to take down a lifetime of commitment. That is, perfect monogamy can be the ever present goal, but I don’t have to conflate perfect manogomy with fidelity.
So. Desaray and I chatted, and then suddenly, I had in my inbox a guest post that gave me chills every time I read it. It made me want to take notes, it made me giggle, in made me teary. And it made me feel a whole lot smarter. So, it’s provocative, and brace yourself for that. And Desaray isn’t speaking for everyone, she’s speaking for her. But DAMN the woman is smart:
I have the special privilege of being bisexual. That means I’m also bi-cultural when it comes to sex and relationships. I really like to relate to people, too, so I’ve been in a lot of relationships. Long-term, sexual ones involving cohabitation. If you want to do the numbers, I have 10 years and 3 lovely people on my LTR resume. My LTR education includes a bachelor’s in Women’s Studies and a Master’s in Social Work. My LTR skills include: anorgasmia, chat room sex, phone sex, long distance relationships, interracial relationships, impotence, premature ejaculation, heterosexual bed death, pornography addiction, cohabitation, condoms, birth control, non-consensual sex, coming out, dating, on-line dating, internalized transphobia, non-monogamy, female ejaculation, non-legal in-laws, legal name change, marriage-type agreements, divorce-like situations, transgenderism, STDs, BDSM, diamond rings, weddings, re-marriage-type marriages, budgeting, interstitial cystitis and infertility.
Clearly, I’m an LTR expert*.
And what I’ve found is that queer people are really great at sex and heterosexual people are really great at relationships.
What I Learned From Queers About Sex
Everything is sexy. And by this I mean, everything. Queer people taught me how to dance, dress sexy, talk about sex, and watch sex. Queers taught me that almost everything is sexy, including high heels, dresses and cellulite. From watching porn to replacing light bulbs, life is sexy. I guess once I took a millennia of rape and domination out of the equation, I was really able to let my hair down when it came to sex.
Sex is not a deed. When I started hanging out with queers, I noticed that sex was a lot easier and more fun because in addition to everything being sexy, sex was no longer contractual, it was not transfer or bargain. Sex was an art, a good time, a goal — but it was never binding. (Except, of course, when it was.)
Every relationship is sacred. OK, fine. Queer folks know a thing or two about relationships, too. Without the labels of marriage and divorce in the queer community, all long-term relationships are meaningful, really, romantic or otherwise. It doesn’t matter if your person died, cheated on you or moved out. It doesn’t matter if you shared a lease or fluid or neither. If you loved them, if you lived together, or if they cooked a meal for you during a Judeo-Christian holiday, what you had mattered a lot. Even if it ended. There is no such thing as a “failed” relationship, like the way heterosexuals talk about “failed” marriages.
What I Learned From Heterosexuals About Marriage
Marriage is a group project. As a queer person with a wife, I thought that it didn’t matter if my partner never hung out with my parents and I thought that standing up in front of friends and family to declare my love and devotion was unimportant. For some reason, I was under the impression that my relationships could survive if It my partner skipped the baby showers and birthday parties, or wasnt invited. I thought it was OK that my friends were iffy about her and I had nothing in common with her friends. This was not the case.
Marriage is not a feeling. I called my first wife a wife because I loved her, but we had nary an understanding when it came to money, sex or children. We may no longer come with cows, but heterosexual people taught me that marriage is still an arrangement, rife with expectations, compromises and promises best made explicit and in advance. If you love someone, buy them a coffee, send them a card — heck, you can even have sex with them! But, marrying them is a whole other matter entirely.
Sex is not a choice. OK, fine. Heterosexuals know a thing or two about sex, too. They were kind of right when they came up with the whole sex-is-a-duty angle. It is non-negotiable. If you’re not having it, you should. If you disagree about it, come to an agreement. Sex is the key to the lock. Sometimes you want the door locked, sometimes you want the door open, but you have to have the key. If you lose the key, you have to get a new one made and if you havent lost the key, you get a spare and hide it. All doors have locks, losing the key doesn’t make the lock disappear. If you lost the key and don’t want to get another one, you’re not going to remove the lock are you? Unless you are going to call the locksmith and have the lock removed, you need to get a key. Because what if some one accidentally locks the door and you can’t get it open? (Heterosexual people also taught me how to talk about sex using extended, extended metaphors.)
Applying What I’ve Learned
In my new role as a lesbian wife, I am trying to apply everything the straights and the gays have taught me about sex and relationships. For me, right now, this means fighting the urge to fret about “divorce” and therefore cling to my marriage. It also means showing up for family functions, in fact, creating family functions and encouraging the family to actually function at them. It means telling our families about our baby plans and asking for their advice, even if makes them uncomfortable. (Well, my wife takes the lead on that one.) It means getting married in a new state every year until the IRS and the Social Security Administration fall to their knees. It also means actively addressing the effects of depression and stress on my sex drive because I now have wifely duties. And it means continuing the conversation about non-monogamy.
Oh hey! I have an LGBTQ marriage tip: For those of you who are trying to convince your partner to experiment with threesomes, do this. Turn to them, sweetly, and say, “Honey, let’s have a threesome,” then start kissing your own arm. Your partner will start kissing your arm because they love your arm, too, and voila — feels like a threesome. Seriously. Try it and report back.
* My sex and relationships resume does not include one night stands, blind dates, multiple orgasm, polyamory, legal marriage, legal divorce, abortion, pregnancy, birth, or motherhood. Damn. Maybe I’m not an expert, after all. For a real expert take on sex and relationships from an LGBTQ perspective, I have to recommend Dan Savage’s The Commitment (editors note: you certainly should read this, all of you. If you’re getting married/ newly married/ thinking about getting married and haven’t read it yet, for shame! Go get it today.). He has an especially great take on the role of non-monogamy in marriages.
Photos: from Desaray’s wedding by the lovely Kelly Prizel, APW sponsor, maker of awesome, but not a sponsor of this post. Dan Savage, for the record, was not a sponsor of this post either, though I reckon he’d approve.
BEFORE I OPEN THE COMMENTS: Be nice. Remember that Desaray is being occasionally humorous (I know. On the interwebs and everything. Brave girl). Remember Desaray is speaking for herself, not for the whole LGBTQ community, or really the whole of anything. And remember that comment report button, if someone is being, well, harsh.