If you call a spade a spade, please call a family a family

I have just spent three months in Italy, where I have enjoyed very much listening to people’s conversations about a number of issues, including gay marriage.  Which, for the record, is not on the table in my country, unless you consider a signature on a register that gives half the rights of a heterosexual marriage, a marriage.

An astonishing number of Italians seem frightened by the threat gay marriage could pose to the “traditional family”.  I personally have trouble understanding how a person who is not interested in something could threaten it (I honestly couldn’t care less about ornithology (sorry, ornithologists), does that mean I am a threat to it?), but again, I’m a “feminazi who fights like a blood-thirsty warrior for those who shouldn’t be defended”. (That’s how one of my fans describes me on twitter.  I thought I was an idealistic development worker, more Jane Goodall vibe than Xena, but I’ll take it! Thanks fan!).

But what do I know about traditional family?  Very little, I must admit.  However, even if I come from one but don’t have one of my own, I stand with the righteous!!! I’m heterosexual to begin with (Whoop whoop, go me!), I have a long term, monogamous  relationship and i can have children.  Does that make me a suitable candidate for a traditional family?  No.  It just makes me a heterosexual woman in a long term relationship with no desire whatsoever to conceive children for the time being.  I believe there must be gazillions of people like me in the world, and part of them are the ones who take a very vocal stand against gay marriage.

I happened to spend a lovely week end hanging out with friends here in Vietnam, most of the people I spent my week end with are gay couples.  Two are married and one is in a long term relationship.  What I invariably saw were happy couples, who have their own lexicon and jokes, who care for each other, who worry when one or the other is tired or grumpy about work.  Of course they must fight, like any other couple, but what really strikes me when I look at them is how much they love each other and how they are just like any other couple I know, including my very happy parents.

Provided that I wish them all the best and that they spend the rest of their lives together, if they didn’t what I still saw in them (as in most of the gay and straight couples I know) is profound love and respect, which are not something you either have or don’t have, they have to be achieved. Before you know another person as well as yourself it takes time and effort, it means giving them time and allowing them to express themselves freely in order to understand who they really are, it means considering if who they really are is who you want to spend your life with.

I saw all that this week end.  I saw people who love and respect each other and who have created an environment where, if I was a kid, I’d want to live in.  Because they may not be traditional but they are beautiful families.

So, to all of those who defend an ideal “traditional family” I would like to suggest to investigate what the so called traditional family is based on, go read the vows of a catholic wedding and see how many of your gay-hating fellows are able to stand by their partner’s side when he/she is getting older, when there’s a disease that scares them and those around them, how many of them are truly respectful of the ideas and the identity of their partner.  If it’s all of them, which I doubt, you are a lucky person to be surrounded by so many special people.  As lucky as I am.

Because the incipit of Anna Karenina may be decades old but it still proves a point: all happy families look the same, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

The world is divided into happy and unhappy couples, not straight and gays.  In my dream world this would be a post I didn’t need to write.


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