Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hers & His: It Need Not Be Like This

In time, most of us will get invitations to both same-sex and different-sex marriages and it will be interesting to see if nuptials will differ much in terms of rituals. I do not mean religious rituals necessarily, but "traditions" that have accrued over time, such as bachelorette and bachelor parties, bridesmaids and groomsmen, wedding and groom's cakes, etc. In other words, gender-based practices.

I thought of this as I watched a slide show at a recent wedding rehearsal dinner. Like most others shown at these gathering of tribes, it first flashed pictures of the bride from cradle to young adulthood, then of the groom, followed by their fateful meeting ... all lovely and we know where it ends. Or as many would tritely declare, begins. What stood out for me though were images of the bride and her girlfriends being and doing, well, girly stuff; of the groom and his posse acting like manly men; and of all of them together playing their respective and expected roles at sporting events, parties and other weddings. The odd thing is, while a union is being celebrated, separation is also exalted. Girls wear pink and play with dolls while boys wear blue and play with guns.

What would a same-sex rehearsal or wedding reception Power Point presentation or video look like? I expect the same story line but not many images that glorify gender-based roles and expectations. The beauty of being gay is that we are not held to such constructs, though there are those of us who choose to propagate these social norms and ways of being. There are lesbian and gay pairings in which one plays the masculine role and the other, the feminine. But most same-sex couples defy these categories.

The great thing about this day and age, at least in the West, is that straight people need not buy into these prescribed positions in society. None of this is preordained or "natural" (think male sea horses). It's all a matter of personal choice. It can be rather liberating for straight folks who rebel against how they have been socialized. I suspect that being a bit more fluid and open about our place in a partnership can only help.

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