“I.S.O: Man is looking for lesbian to get married.” Such classified ads could sound like total nonsense or, at best, like a pornographic fantasy born from movies where women only desire other women until they find a penis to worship. Yet, these kinds of postings are very common and most likely written by gay men. Are you even more confused? Let’s track back.
Many individuals have a hard time declaring their homosexuality to their families due to the constant pressure of expecting them to tie the knot and make babies. The solution that makes everyone happy is a marriage of convenience in which a lesbian and a gay man live happily ever after in the form of a hetero couple, head over heels to the family’s eyes while simultaneously living a relationship with a same sex person of their choice.
Le Monde published an article about French Maghreb youth seeking marriage of convenience. Alex (not his real name) is a 33 years old gay Muslim, and his family wants to find a nice Algerian lesbian to “start a long term relationship that will allow both parties to intertwine with extra marital arrangements”. Similar stories are not uncommon in many other European countries, Italy included.
According to sociologist Salima Amari, author of “Unstable Balances: the building of self and of family relationships within lesbian migrants and descendants of Maghreb in France” it all started with the refusal to come out. The scholar highlights how declaring one’s own homosexuality can damage family ties, spoiling not just emotional bonds but also deteriorating the socio-economic side, which is usually taxing on immigrants who are trying to fit in. It is fair to point out, many people do not think about the negative consequences that could also affect their families, shaming them in the eye of their religious community.
These type of marriages are not always just a means to escape family pressure, they are often motivated by the desire of having children, to raise them according to specific religious teachings.
The Internet is crowded with marriage of convenience sites, and numerous Facebook secret groups. Therefore, those who want to resolve their problems by marrying an opposite-sex homosexual, have an ample pool of places to pick from.
But are these sites really successful? Certainly, there are satisfied couples but In the majority of the cases it is only a big fantasy: marriage is not a fun game, not even when it’s experienced as a performance. It is imperative to trust each other, to get along, to get along with each other families, to please family’s requests which are often tough to meet (e.g.: demanding couples with the same religion and same geographical origin) and to please the “extramarital” partner. There is a lot to juggle, and both parties have to agree on non-trivial issues: is this relationship real at any level? What kind of relationship should be established with the paramour? Can sex chat and sex meet ups be part of it? Should we have kids and how should they be conceived?
These are some of the reasons, people do not get married, yet they find a way to distance themselves from family pressure. Some people get involved in heterosexual marriages, most likely set up by their families, and perhaps without the full disclosure of facts. Often, men have more freedom than women, they go out and meet other men, while women keep silent in fear of being dishonored. In these kind of relationships, women have to face harder situations since usually they are less independent, especially if they have offspring.
We should all be aware, this kind of reality is very much part of our daily world. Groups and marriage of convenience sites are not only made of Maghreb Muslim, there are also Asians, Africans, North and South Americans, and Europeans, there are many different religions, including Christians, illustrating how modern society still has a lot to learn in regards to respect of diversity.
translation by Barbara Burgio
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