Beyond same sex marriage

Members of the original 1978 Sydney Mardi Gras in 2008. Older gays and lesbians grew up in beyond same sex marriage radical times, and some don’t support same-sex marriage. Disclosure statement Peter Robinson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Victoria State Government provides funding as a strategic partner of The Conversation AU. Swinburne University of Technology provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU. The Conversation UK receives funding from Hefce, Hefcw, SAGE, SFC, RCUK, The Nuffield Foundation, The Ogden Trust, The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The Alliance for Useful Evidence, as well as sixty five university members. This is what a 59-year-old black gay activist in Los Angeles told me of his views on same-sex marriage. He is typical of many older gay men who are bemused by the younger generation’s desire for marriage, reflecting the radically different experiences of those who grew up in far more restrictive and intolerant decades. We know that generally older Australians are less supportive of same-sex marriage.

In 2013, I interviewed a small international sample of men as part of my research on sexuality and ageing. Most of the men over 50 were dubious, if not opposed, to gay marriage, while most of those under 30 were supportive. These older men have largely remained silent in the current same-sex marriage debate. It is vital that we listen to their perspectives, because older gay men are an already marginalised group, experiencing greater financial and social insecurity than younger men. We must ensure that same-sex marriage should it be legalised does not further sideline their experiences. Rebels with a cause One aspect of same-sex marriage that could confuse older gay men, and possibly also lesbians, is that it is at odds with beliefs they might have formed when they were young. In the early days, these relationships were as simple as two men regarding themselves as an item.

The acknowledgement of friends, and sometimes siblings and parents, was enough public acceptance. Children from surrogacy or informal insemination between gays and lesbians became more common in the early 2000s. The appeal of marriage Gay marriage would suit propertied gays and social conservatives who want the security of marriage for their relationships. Maintaining gay relationships without church or state sanction takes courage and perseverance.

Marriage and children may appeal to young gay men because the alternative is to place their trust in community organisations and the social practices of the gay world. These are not always uniform or supportive. For example, I have argued that bars and clubs are the only safe space for gay men to congregate and socialise in large numbers. Parental approval can matter as much for young gays as it does for young straights and anecdotal evidence I heard while interviewing gay men of all ages suggested that for some young gay men marriage would ensure their parents’ approval.