We Ask You: Is This What We’re Fighting For?

Last week, an article appeared on The Advocate that really caught one of our writer’s attention. So much so that he was compelled to write this “We Ask You” reply post…

The heat is on in the presidential campaigns in the United States with gay marriage and equal rights at the forefront of many topics of discussion at debates and primaries. It’s a fight and a battle we as an invisible minority have been struggling with for years. We are proud to say that Canada opened up its laws to allow for gay marriage in 2005. However, the fight isn’t over as recently, the government proved that some of those marriages proved invalid. We can’t become lazy, we also have to keep fighting to stay equal.

For years, marriage has been observed as something sacred. It’s how many of us were raised and what we saw in some of our own parents’ marriage. Dedication to one another. Teamwork. Relationships take a lot of work in building trust, learning to cope with one another and how to compromise in certain situations. No one ever said that a marriage was easy. In fighting for the right to marry our same-sex partners means we should respect what marriage stands for: in sickness and in health, till death to you part, right?

In reading the article posted by Daniel Vaillancourt for The Advocate, my jaw dropped when I read a staggering statistic in regards to gay relationships. 4 out of 5 gay couples are in open relationships. As I read that, I asked myself – in the fight for equal rights and gay marriage, is that what we’re fighting for? The article itself is titled A Gay Male Couple’s Guide To Nonmonogomy. At a time when we are fighting and struggling so hard to obtain equal rights – to be able to marry our partners, is this something we should be bringing to the forefront to allow our agressors to throw back in our faces?

If you and your partner/husband are in an open relationship, I am not judging you by any means. I have met a handful of open couples and for them, it works. It keeps their relationship/sex-life fresh. As one couple puts it in the Advocate article’s comments, “as two men, sex isn’t particularly emotional for either of us. That enables us to separate our love for one another from the occasional physical attraction we may have for another guy.”

For some couples who trust one another enough and have laid down some serious ground rules on when and where these outside hook-ups can take place, this may work for you. While others who commented on the article state that sex is something he and his partner do not share and opening up the relationship would destroy them. I am sure you’ve seen or heard of this situation happening. A couple brings in a third. One of the original men in the couple has strong feelings for the third who reciprocates them. Those two have a side relationship and end up breaking up the original couple. In the end, was it all worth the risk?

In opening up the relationship, you don’t only assume the risk of potential heartache and jealousy along the way, you open yourself up to the potential of exposing your partner or being exposed by your partner to STIs and the like. Can you also be sure that you’re 100% safe? Again, we go back to the question we posed earlier. Is this what we’re fighting for? Is this what we are showing Americans – that this is how we view partnership and marriage – as a convenient way to save on taxes but still live the single lifestyle on the side? Are we are practically handing the extreme right grenades with the pins already pulled just to throw back at us?

So we turn the tables to you – our faithful readers. What is your position on the open relationship in relation to the fight for equality and gay marriage? Do you think that it is right for us to be so openly discussing an obvious on-going practice OR should we opt out as a stand to try and earn the right to marry our same-sex partners. Is your relationship open or closed? Does it work for you or did it end in heartbreak? Lastly, is monogamy and the idea of being solely with your partner during your relationship dead? Sound off below. Be sure to check the full article at TheAdvocate.com and read all of the comments posted below their article.

  • ADAM

    the idea of marriage being one man staying with one person has not always been the status quo . men used to have many wifes or sexual partners for centuries/milliania . this one on one only sexual activity in the timeline of history is fairly new . being commited to one person really goes against human nature and our biological make up . people can live by vows , religious doctrine or the presure of morden day soceity . basic instinc will always overide these ideals and take over no matter how hard human beings try to circum to them .

  • Wasselin

    Personally, I think marriage is outmoded in our culture for both strait people and gay. More studies are coming out that show marriage offers no psychological benefits not offered by cohabitation. Originally marriage had nothing to do with love, in fact, it was more of a business arrangement one that I think modern society has outgrown.

    I do think we should be allowed to marry though and continue the fight for gay marriage, not because of the marriage itself but for what it represents– equality.

  • Tyson

    I view marriage as a bond between two people who love each other and only want to be with each other. Thats what love is and how I’ve always seen it. Maybe some see marriage as a business arrangement, but the way I see it it’s a commitment. I’d never have an open relationship, I agree completely with The Advocate said about heartache and jealousy and risk of disease. If you can make an open relationship work somehow, then more power to you. But for me I believe in the real values of marriage, and thats what I want will fight for.

  • McKenzie

    Great article! I’m a bit torn after reading the Advocate article, and then yours. I dont believe that the issue here is whether or not we should be censoring ourselves to gain equal rights. I believe that everyone has the right to design their own relationship, and make their own rules. Personally, I reject the argument that because both parties are men, that that gives them some sort of license to add other people to a relationship, or stay promiscuous, because men’s minds work slightly different than a womans. I think men are just as able to form loving relationships with one another (twink from down the street not needed). Maybe the question here isn’t, should we keep this from our heterosexual detractors, but that we should really look deeply into our community and decide if this “nonmonogomos” lifestyle really applies to our general population. The risk here is that this article really doesn’t discriminate, it really generalizes us, and that isn’t something I’m comfortable with. I am a monogomos person, and would never even entertain the idea of an open relationship, and I know there are others like me. This article does play into a stereotype that I am uncomfortable with. Having said that, I am a firm believer that same sex marriage is only the catalyst to our fight for equality. Many may not want to get married, but still should support gay marriage because of its underlying message of total equality for all.

  • Adam A

    This is a very interesting piece, as it implies that we all subscribe to the ideals suggested. I believe monogamy is a choice and if that is something you choose to do, then you live by that choice. I am in a monogamous gay marriage, cause thats my choice. There are many different forms of marriage in existence, and what is being described in these articles is a conformist view of marriage. We are all individuals with individual ideas of what works for us. Its great that gay people are allowed to get married in Canada. But these are personal vows that apply to each circumstance. So if a couple makes a vow to have an open & non-hurting sexual relationship with another, that is the choice/circumstance that they have agreed to enter into. I think that the only reason these articles cause speculation, is cause yet again we are comparing ourselves to the Christian right of American society that exists in the US; rather than having our own identity we are trying to prove that we can be just like them!

  • Daniel

    “At a time when we are fighting and struggling so hard to obtain equal rights — to be able to marry our partners, is this something we should be bringing to the forefront to our aggressors to throw back in our faces?”

    The politics surrounding the unequal treatment of gays has little to do with the commitment or non-commitment involved in gay relationships. The article on non-monogamy is interesting and so to is the response here written. What is really being showcased is the process of homonormativity as sectors of the gay community seek to divest themselves of incongruent ‘queer’ identity and produce a normative married, productive, nuclear family facsimile. In the front lines of civil rights and equal-treatment protesting there’s occurred a blurring of lines. To what extent do gays want equal treatment under the law and to what extent to gays want to be just like straight people. My opinion is that we should advocate for equality and to have an institution that grants legal, medical and tax equality to gay couples, but I don’t think that has to involve adopting heteronormative ideals about family, wedding ceremonies and conventions in relationships.

    (And now if you’ll consider this: Our “aggressors” will by their nature always throw things at us whether it be this or that. What is more important to note is that the gay groups that want to “fit in” – homonormative groups – will attack and call to question the behavior, actions, politics, religion and voice of non-conforming queer groups.)

  • Mitchell K

    I don’t understand why so many gay people aspire to be like straight people. Even the idea of marriage seems to come with so many restrictions and judgements about what is a good marriage. What I like about being a gay man is that I’ve never had, or given into, that pressure to conform. I’m gay. I’m different. I’m proud of that and I support people in their choices to exercise the right to live their lives the way they want. Having open relationships is not undermining the “sanctity” of marriage. Is marriage even a sanctity anymore? When two people decide to spend their lives together they get to make up the rules and frankly it’s nobody’s business what they decide.

  • andy

    I fight for same-sex marriage for ONE reason. We deserve equal rights. How people define it and whether a gay couple wants to be monogamous is no one’s business. I guarantee you the numbers supporting or opposing gay marriage won’t fluctuate much whether the gay couples are monogamous or not.

  • Josh

    I’ve never cared about marriage. Maybe because my parents are divorced but I think it’s an outdated institution that society puts too much emphasis on. If I love someone, I don’t need a piece of paper proving it. That said, sex and love don’t have to go hand in hand so an open relationship is fine

  • Steve-O

    I think the ideal marriage that our parents, our teachers the government and society a whole tries to teach is very much a fantasty and not based on reality.

    The concept of marriage being about 2 people falling in loving and wanting to show a commitment to one another and raise a family as the main reason for marriage has only been in the majority for the last 100 years.

    Before then it was more a business transaction, where men and women were married due to larger financial or political motivations of two families.

    Today I see marriage as nothing more then a legal institution that infurs specific rights and protections on a couple who have chosen to share their life together.

    Though there is also a relgiously aspect to it, that is entirely up to the married individuals to see their institution as something relgious or not.

    Based on this my personal views (and not shared by all) is that if churches want to dictate who can have a relgiously marriage or not based on the rules of their relgions…fine go ahead.

    But Civil Marriage should be legally avialable to both same and different sexed couples. If they don’t want to call it Marriage to keep the relgious happy FINE, but then what ever they call it should be what they also call different sex Civil Marriage as well….and leave Relgious Marriage to what ever relgion one belongs to.

  • David

    For a piece that claims to not be judging those in open relationships, the tone of your article sounds fairly judgmental to me. How exactly a marriage works is nobody’s business but the couple’s. Some opposite-sex marriages are also open, and the legal validity of their unions are not questioned. What’s important is the right to marry.

    The choice of some couples (whether same-sex or opposite-sex) to have open relationships should have absolutely no bearing on the right of any one of them to enter into a legally valid union. Unless you like the idea of somebody else’s moral code being used to legislate what goes on in your bedroom. Trudeau realized that was a bad idea nearly half a century ago.

  • If you are in a committed relationship with someone and you get the urge to stick your dick elsewhere… then maybe you should just stay single. I mean, being in a relationship is not a requirement for anyone, so just make a choice. You can’t have it all so if you want sex over commitment, then you can have it. But be honest about it… after all if you are giving your body to multiple people it’s not possible to be committed to just one.

  • Jae

    People can say what they want about sex not “meaing” anything – it does. Because if it didn’t, we would all be marrying women. The truth is, sex means enough that gay men have felt the need to come out and open ourselves to potential discrimination and persecution.

    I love my husband with all my heart and refuse to believe that there aren’t thousands, if not millions of other gay men in the world who would sacrifice a cheap roll in the hay for the long-term love that comes from a fully committed closed relationship. I would never cheat on him because I would never risk his health, regardless of how small the risk. For people who have experienced real love, you know how much you would sacrifice for that person and how little appeal sex with strangers has once you’ve made love to a life partner. I have many friends in gay community, both married and single, that feel the same way. I know people who have had 25 years of wonderful monogamous married bliss who have made a significant positive impact on their communities and I hold them out as roll models for us all.

    I am both shocked and disappointed that the Advocate published this article and their “statistics”. I would be interested in how many people were actually surveyed and whether they did their research at the local nightclub.

  • andy

    Hey Brendan and Jae, do u get nosebleeds up there on your pedestal? The reason why someone can be committed to a person and still have sex with other people has been explained. You’re just either too thick to get it OR you’re so insecure that you feel like you have to possess to love. That analogy to sex meaning something or else we’d have sex with women is childish and stupid. Gay men can be sexually attracted to another man, have sex with that man, and it be nothing more than the emotional equivalent to jerking off.

  • Clayton

    I am in a monogamous relationship right now so let me say up front that I’m not defending myself. I think that we should not have to change who we are nor should we shy away from discussing something that is obviously a part of our community just to win acceptance. Doing so would amount to pretending that gay relationships can be just the same as straight relationships and that’s just not true. If it were we’d have to give serious answers to questions like “who’s the woman in the relationship?” We’re not looking for equal relationships, we’re looking for equal rights and in this case that’s the right for gay couples to have whatever kind of marriages they want, just like straight couples have. Some straight couples do have open marriages even if it’s not as common and many of those in “closed” straight marriages cheat and/or end up divorced. If someone tries to “throw [it] back at us” as the article fears all we should have to say you is “you can judge us and deny us our rights the very moment that straight marriages are perfected and really become ‘forever and ever, ’till death do you part’.”

    Open marriages and relationships should have their pros and cons discussed but that’s something that won’t happen if we “opt out” for the sake of acceptance. My personal opinion on the issue itself? I’m in a monogamous relationship with a guy I really like and I’m happy emotionally and sexually. However, If sex ever became boring, I don’t know that I’d be willing to throw away everything we’ve worked for just because we’re horny. Because I love and respect my boyfriend to much to cheat on him I would consider opening the relationship to other sexual partners. If one of us ends up leaving the relationship for someone else then it was probably doomed anyway but I’d say that it was “worth the risk” to try to save it.

  • Ivan

    I got married only after I felt like I wasn’t giving up anything to commit to this one man. If you’re with someone, I wouldn’t suggest it if you’re constantly looking over his shoulder.

  • Fraz

    I personally don’t care to assimilate and replicate heterosexual relationships that are based on a model of 50% failure. Open honesty is my model. None of us are with our partners 24 hours a day and that goes for heterosexuals too. We should all get tested for STD’s on a regular basis and do what we can to protects ourselves. Live in denial and fantasy if you want but the idea that two men will remain monogamous to each other forever just isn’t realistic. Get your head out of the sand and get real.