I carried the ring, a gaudy thing I had received as a gift for attending a Swarovski luncheon during Oscars season, in my hand luggage from America. I had made up my mind that I was going to propose weeks before – in fact we had joked about marriage, the way platonic friends do, for a couple years already.
So during brunch on my first day back in India, I popped the question. I don’t remember if I even asked so much as presented the ring with a sly grin. She laughed and said yes. I think I’m engaged now. I say think because I am not sure whether either of us realize the other is serious or not.
But I am serious. At twenty-six, after eight years of sleeping with men, pursuing casual affairs with some sixty forgotten names and faces, I feel it is time to settle down – with a woman.
She is one of my closest friends, someone whose presence brings me uncomplicated joy. She is beautiful, funny, charming – a perfect partner. I would be lucky to have her. The fact that we are not sexually attracted to one another matters not. In our marriage, each will have total freedom to pursue whomsoever they desire. This is a bond formed on something deeper than sex – it is based on mutual respect and friendship.
Through many dead-end liaisons with men, I’ve come to realize that someone of the same sex might not be the companion I’m searching for. With women I feel a real partnership is possible – there is something of a yin and yang, a balancing element that leads to harmony.
In the relationships with men I’ve experienced, one half is always trying to dominate the other – sexually, mentally or emotionally. There is some sort of underlying tension. But I wish neither to be the dominator nor the dominated. I desire men physically at times, but emotionally there is no bridge. I can love a man for a night but not a lifetime.
There is something about the natural nurturing element that women possess which makes them the logical partner for a man. Last month while I lived with five other men in a flat during a yoga training, our apartment was consistently a disgusting mess. Every day the maid would come clean, every night the place would return to its slovenly state. At the girls’ apartment, everything was always clean, in order. Tea was always on the pot, snacks were laid out on the table. This is the kind of environment that women create – a home.
In a relationship where two people are together not because they need one another, but because they appreciate freely each other, love is possible. It is the kind of love that comes to be when sex has left the equation – the kind of love that keeps couples together long after desire has faded to a distant memory. Love is the distilled honey which remains.
My marriage is not a political statement. I am happy to have the option to marry whomsoever I wish – it just so happens that I would rather be with a woman than a man. I am not a closeted man; I have worn my flamboyance like a rhinestone-encrusted cape throughout the years. But the freedom to marry means the freedom to choose anyone – whomever you believe you can build a life with, that person whom you want on your side as you traverse the ups and downs, highs and lows. It might not be the person you want to sleep with, but the person you want to wake up with.