When I heard about civil partnerships, they seemed like a middle finger up to the LGBT* community. Designed to appease ‘everyone’, they bought into the idea that the heterosexual majority created the terms and conditions of what made a relationship normal. As that appeasement broke way, 2013 finally, embarrassingly slowly, waved in marriage for all, I still didn’t feel satisfied.
The laws may have skated by, flirted even, with one of those letters in that bold rainbow – but I don’t know how well they considered it. Marriage can be a beautiful thing, but for me, personally, it’s hard to swallow the conventions of a tradition that preaches women should ‘love, honour and obey’ without feeling my gag reflex come into action.
I think a lot of straight feminists must want to reject marriage for that reason too. But for me, it’s not just that. I want to have the choice between either ceremony because I’m bisexual.
Bisexuals are overlooked a lot in society. As well as facing stigma in the straight community, a lot of bisexual people face stigma in LGBT* circles, with either side liable to say that a bisexual isn’t into one gender enough, is too indecisive, or is just simply going through a phase.
These attitudes fail to take into account the irony of bisexual isolation when we technically have ‘everyone’ to choose from. This, too, manifests itself in a bisexual’s private and personal life. In Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index Staff Survey, only 65 per cent of bisexual people said they could bring their whole self to work, compared to 84 per cent and 82 per cent for gay and lesbian colleagues. In the case of the marriage/civil partnership debate, it also means that considerations of bisexuals have fallen by the wayside.
The thing is, my attraction to men and women is as natural as my eye colour, my height, and as undeniable as my penchant for Jurgen Klopp no matter how many games Liverpool lose. It’s nothing I can change, and sadly, at one point in my life I thought I had to try.
That means that beyond the validity of heterosexual arguments, beyond the brief introduction of civil partnerships as second-class marriages, I want access to both. I am both, even if I would have decided to participate in the heterosexual showcase, making other people happy because I thought gliding down the aisle would be the best for them, rather than for me.
Am I meant to enter a marriage with another woman, playing yet another role of people pleaser, entering into a union that failed to accept my needs right from the start? I don’t know. Maybe one day; maybe never, because it’s personal. As personal as being able to make that choice with whoever I end up with, when the time is right.
I don’t want to become part of a system just to make other people happy, because I don’t intend to choose my partner that way either. I’m queer whether or not I marry a man and have eighteen biological children, and I’m still attracted to men no matter if I spent thirty-five years with my dream woman and the triplets and the dog.
Sometimes, I find it hard enough to be bisexual in a world that’s already awkward. I want, just like anyone else, to find some comfort in the notion that someone might see the world like I see it, and we can choose how we build our future together. I want to have the option to build it in a civil partnership or a marriage, without restrictions.
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