While our generation has made some great and important strides in equality for the LGBT community, I still get questions like “What is it like to be in a gay relationship?” from other young people. While this isn’t necessarily an ignorant question, I’m surprised more people don’t realize that my same-sex relationship isn’t very different from any opposite-sex relationship. That being said, with same-sex relationships being so visible now and displaying something that looks different from the norm, I can understand why I get asked such questions. So I thought I’d share the pros and cons of gay relationships for those of you wondering how my relationship might compare to others.
Pro: Our Accepting Generation Means You Have Supportive Friends
As I mentioned before, young adults are becoming increasingly accepting of different kinds of love and relationships. While there are obviously some college-aged people who are more conservative and less open to homosexuality, it’s uncommon for someone to lose friends in the coming out process. And if they do lose a friend, that person isn’t worth associating with anyway. Friends support each other in their romantic endeavors, and having friends who accept you and your partner make it easier to be confident in your relationship being public.
Con: Your Extended Family Sucks
Maybe your entire extended family doesn’t suck. I’m very lucky to have an accepting immediate family and a mostly accepting extended family. And while some LGBT youth have experiences similar to mine, many others face an entirely unaccepting family. No matter what the situation with your immediate family is, though, chances are there will always be at least one extended family member that makes talking about your relationship extremely awkward. For me, conversations with this family member ruin any family get-together that they attend, leading to a disliking of seeing extended family altogether. After a while, you get sick of being asked “How’s your…friend?” and “Have you tested the waters with any girlfriends yet?” and, my personal favorite, “So do you still f**k guys?”
Pro: Your Relationship Doesn’t Come with Gender Roles
One of the most important issues straight couples currently face is dealing with gender roles. The idea of what men and women should do in their relationship is so deeply ingrained into us thanks to TV shows, movies, gendered toys and our own parents that breaking away from them is hard to do.
In a same-sex relationship, there are no pre-determined gender roles to break out of. You’re free to determine your role in the relationship independent of your gender. When someone asks a gay or lesbian couple “So who’s the man in the relationship?” they’re trying to apply traditional gender roles into a relationship that doesn’t have them.
If you’re someone who asks these kinds of questions to gay couples, I kindly ask you to stop doing so.
Con: You Receive Unwarranted Attention and Judgement in Public
Despite the confidence boost from supportive friends, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times that I felt embarrassed being in public with my boyfriend. People do stare, and no, I’m not just being paranoid. I try my best to be optimistic and ignore their opinion, but not caring what others think is sometimes easier said than done. We may be living in a more accepting and progressive time, but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to be okay with seeing a gay or lesbian couple in public. To them, we should keep our relationship to ourselves and in our bedrooms. Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, old lady sitting at the table while glaring at us and whispering to your fossil of a husband, but I will not refuse to go out to eat with the person I love because you can’t deal with seeing us share a plate of baked ziti.
While I’m trying to be lighthearted about judgement received in public, I have to acknowledge that it does pose real threats. That old lady and her husband sitting at the next table over might be harmless, but unfortunately, there are other people who are not. Violence against same-sex couples is a result of judgmental people who mean to cause harm. So, while I do believe same-sex couples should do their best to be themselves, they should do so with caution.
Pro: You Can’t Get Pregnant From Sex
Biology 101: a man and a woman need to have sex in order to create a baby. With a relationship between two men or two women, there’s no worry about missed periods, the morning after pill, or anything else of the sort. And although condoms should still be used when needed to prevent against STDs and STIs, sex is more fun when you don’t have to worry about it possibly leading to being responsible for a new human being.
Con: You Can’t Get Pregnant From Sex
Although there are alternative ways for same-sex couples to become parents such as adoption, they can never have a child with both of their genes. Using a surrogate or impregnating a woman in a lesbian relationship through artificial insemination can lead to a child with genes from one of the parents, but that’s as far as it goes. This reality is very difficult for same-sex couples who want to become parents, but at least other options exist.
Pro: Your Sex Life is Great
I know, I know, you’ve all been waiting for this part. Sorry it took so long to get to the good stuff.
In any romantic relationship, sex plays a unique role in bringing two (or more, if you’re open to that) people closer together physically and emotionally. Now, it goes without saying that it might be impossible to gain an objective opinion on what kind of sex is the best sex, because straight people like straight sex, gay people like gay sex, and bisexual/pansexual people might prefer one or the other. Thus, I’m not going to tell you that sex between gay men or lesbian women is better than sex between straight people, or vice versa. Besides, when it comes down to it, as long as you’re with someone you trust that matches your preferences, sex is fun.
What makes gay sex a distinctly different experience from straight sex, though, is the familiarity that comes with the territory; when you have sex with someone of the same sex as you, you know where to go and what to do there to make them feel good because you’ve already had experiences with your own body.
This difference doesn’t necessarily make sex for gays and lesbians a pro or a con—it’s simply a difference. Just like straight sex is a pro for opposite-sex relationships, sex is a pro for same-sex relationships, even if the experience is different.
I think that this analysis of sex is a good point to end with because it illustrates the point I’m trying to make about straight and gay couples: although there are differences that distinguish the experience of a same-sex relationship from that of an opposite-sex relationship, same-sex relationships themselves aren’t as different as they seem. Yes, gay couples do run the risk of increased negativity from family, receive unwanted attention in public, and can’t have children through natural means. But that doesn’t mean that a straight couple won’t experience similar circumstances.
One type of relationship isn’t better than the other, even if each will have different pros and cons. When it comes down to it, a spade’s a spade, a relationship is a relationship and love is love.