The Nu(Q)ear Family

From giving birth to a child they conceived effortlessly to getting married on a whim at the courthouse, hetero-privileged couples make it seem easy.  Obviously it isn’t always that easy, but the options that heterosexual couples have when it comes to marriage and children do eclipse the options that queer couples have.

I find it funny how the conservative desis in my community look down on those that get pregnant by accident, get married too young, or elope. It was especially entertaining keeping my partner’s “illegitimate child” a secret for three years for the sake of these desis. These conservative desis also look down on us gaysis, but on the other hand, we often don’t have the option of having children “by accident” or getting married “on a whim”.

In many ways, our lives as gaysis may have to be much more planned out than our heterosexual counterparts.  If we settle down in a relationship, we will have to plan whether we want to get a civil union, and if we want to get married we will have to plan which state we will trek to.  My best friend recently told me that she is going to elope, and part of me is relieved that I no longer have to wear a bridesmaid dress, but the other part of me is jealous that she is even able to get married so quickly.

Anyway, some parts of the queer wedding planning game is trivial.  Who will propose to whom?  Who will wear the engagement ring?  What will the big fat gaysi wedding look like?  Who will take whose last name?  These questions are often relevant to heterosexual feminist couples too, but they have the privilege of being able to ignore the implications of gender if it becomes too inconvenient.

My point isn’t just to say that queer couples have to consider so much more when having a wedding.  I also want to say that while we are more likely to ask ourselves all these questions, we are less likely to go along with the status quo of wedding customs, which is often a good thing.  I am personally glad that being gaysi has forced me to question the patriarchal institution of marriage and the archaic wedding traditions.

…but then some parts of the game are not so trivial.  Will we be recognized as married everywhere?  Will we be able to visit each other in hospital?  Will we be able to easily own property together, adopt together, and write wills together.  This can affect queer couples for the rest of their lives.

After the civil-union/marriage/wedding-talk, queer couples will talk about whether or not we want to have kids and how – in vitro, adoption, surrogate…  And these options only go so far.  The obstacles that queer couples face when trying to have children are incredible.

The conservatives desis that look down on us, and the privileged heterosexuals that do not think about us, do not realize how beneficial, but also how difficult, our ways of creating families can be.

Queer couples looking to do in vitro, adoption or find a surrogate mother will have to deal with an additional set of stressors on top of the expected stressors that go along with preparing for parenthood.  They may face discrimination from adoption agencies and sperm donors.

Adoption agencies may worry that queer couples will be depriving the child of a male or female presence.  While these adoption agencies worry about these trivial matters of queerness that make them uncomfortable, dysfunctional straight people will continue to adopt kids all the time and not be questioned for the mere fact that they are straight.  My partner, who had a son, was queer and so was the son’s other parent.  I am confident that if that boy turns out to be a “trouble-child” it is not because his parents are queer.

Furthermore, a level of financial stability and security is necessary or desirable to be able to look for sperm donors, surrogate mothers, and adoption agencies.  Therefore, these options may not be feasible for a working class queer couple, while a working class heterosexual couple (of the same income) has the option of giving birth more easily.

While some queer people still manage to create happy unions and families despite the hurdles, many do not have that opportunity.  Those that do manage are an example of why it is senseless for conservative desis and heterosexuals to be discouraging less fortunate queer people from creating happily queer families.

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Anurag is a queer, feminist, social worker-to-be. Currently residing in the cornfields of Illinois.  Fierce, emotional and reclaiming the brown-ness. 

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