The marriage of two straight men in Ireland has drawn criticism from many quarters, our curator Karen Pollock explores why LGBTQ+ people should be congratulating them
What is love? From love songs to St Augustine many have sought to answer the question. In Oranges are not the only fruit love is mistaken for a stomach ache, and throughout history lust, the physical reaction of a bodies arousal, has been comfused for an emotional response. However we define it, it seems fair to say love comes in many forms, including romantic, erotic, fraternal and familial.
In western society of the 21st century it is considered usual that we associate romantic love and marriage. This of course is a relevantly recent development, and one limited to certain cultures and norms. In order to bolster the supremacy of a norms of white, western European, culture the idea that only a love based on a combination of lust and romantic love as described by Hollywood as a basis for marriage has been propagated. Other forms of marriage, arranged, or based on a love expected to grow after marriage, not before, have been dismissed as inferior.
Sadly the campaign for what is described as equal marriage focused on the idea that romantic love between two people was so praiseworthy, and laudable that it would be wrong to deny it to people who also wished to be married. Of course anyone of any gender should be able to marry, rights which belong to some, must belong to all. However as has been discussed here before the “love is love” narrative excludes so many; those who have no shame in sex without a signed contract, and those who are aromantic, who can care deeply, but form relationships outside of the confines of the acceptable, idealised romantic love.
In order to bolster the supremacy of a norm of white, western culture the idea that only a love based on a combination of lust and romantic love as described by Hollywood as a basis for marriage has been propagated
I feel I ought to make clear here I have no issue with romantic love, or with people marrying because of it, however it is not the only basis for a relationship. Which is why some of the reactions to the two straight friends who married in Ireland has saddened me, especially coming often from LGBTQ+ people who have historically been told they are doing love wrong. Whilst the headlines have focused on how the couple will pay less tax, (a common heterosexual reason for marrying), the men themselves have spoken of their deep friendship, and yes, their love;
O’Sullivan said after the ceremony: “I love Matt and he loves me, as friends.
Aromantic people (and we have no evidence either O’Sullivan or Murphy are aromantic) are used to being told that their identity is not good enough, and certainly not queer enough. Oddly, for some it seems the only acceptable way to be LGBTQ+ is to resemble allocishet people as much as possible. Matt Murphy and Micheal O’Sullivan have not had a queer marriage, since they identify as straight. However, the very point of campaigning for equal marriage was surely not so queer people could copy allocishet people into narrow boxes, but so that marriage could be, finally, a choice available to all. I would go as far as to say, if we can only get married if our relationships resemble conventional hetrosexual marriage in every way, then what was the point?
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