real life

"When do I tell my kids their mums couldn’t get married?"

“We’re not traditional about everything by any means, but we’re fairly old-school when it comes to marriage and family.”

My wedding was last May. My dress was ice-blue and calf-length; my wife’s was coloured and had a wide patterned sash. The ceremony was held outside next to a popular tourist destination, and we attracted onlookers ― a smiley middle-aged couple with guidebooks in their hands and a friendly homeless man who yelled out halfway through the ceremony that he was happy for us. (My mother-in-law, who was approaching the microphone to read a poem at the time, thanked him, and everyone laughed.)

We got married in Washington, D.C., where my wife and I have lived since before we met, and where marriage between same-gender couples has been legally recognised for nearly six years. But if it hadn’t been legally recognised, we’d have gotten married anyway. We’re not traditional about everything by any means, but we’re fairly old-school when it comes to marriage and family.

The United States legalised same-sex marriage earlier this year.

Speaking of family… we’re just a few weeks away now (assuming all goes according to schedule) from the birth of our first child. My wife, Julia, is the world’s most beautiful pregnant woman.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favour of marriage equality ― which meant our marriage would be definitively recognised across the United States, no matter where we traveled ― Julia and I had just gotten home from a prenatal checkup. We decided to announce the pregnancy on Facebook that day. We headed for the Supreme Court building, just a short drive from our house. People had been rallying there all day ― almost all of them in favour of the court’s ruling ― and we joined in, posing for a picture holding one of the tiny newborn growsuits my mom had given us as a congratulations gift. When we posted the photo, friends we hadn’t heard from in decades wrote to cheer us on.

Robin Talley
Robin with her book. Image via Twitter.

Our soon-to-be kid ― and any future kids we may have ― will have to be told, once they’re old enough to grasp the concept, that there was a time when their mums weren’t legally allowed to get married. It’ll seem like ancient history to them. A relic of a time when people didn’t know any better.

When I was a kid myself ― a young adult, really, who was just starting to understand that I was more interested in women than in men ― I assumed I’d never get married. I mourned what I thought was the loss of the wedding I’d dreamed of when I was little, with a poufy white dress and a shimmering, Disney-like meadow in the background.

Watch Senator Penny Wong’s powerful speech on marriage equality at the 2015 ALP national conference here (Post continues after video):

Video via “Labor

My wedding-mourning period actually wasn’t that long ago. But the evolution of public opinion on marriage equality has been so rapid that what I once considered an impossibility is now an unquestioned reality. So much so that the next generation will have no idea why we were all so worked up about this.

That next generation is the one that’s going to save us, though. Now that I’m all grown up, I write fiction about teenagers who aren’t that far off from the teenager I was ― who are just starting to figure out their sexualities, their identities, and what that will mean for their futures. When I go to events and meet with readers, some of the LGBT teenagers I meet are fully enmeshed in the new world order ― they tell me they’ve been out since they were 14, since they were 12, sometimes even younger ― while others are still afraid to be honest about their identities. The world is changing fast around these kids, and the rest of us are still struggling to keep up.

But it’s up to all of us to give that next generation the support they need, so they don’t have to worry about their futures the way I did. Whoever my kids turn out to be, I’m determined to make sure they know they’re awesome exactly as they are.

Robin Talley is the author of What We Left Behind, a coming-of-age love story with a difference. You can purchase the book here.

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