"Your brother and his family visited this evening", my grandfather told me over the phone. The family in question was my brother's fiancée, her parents and her brother. This made me think. My brother, his fiancée and I had lived together for almost two years before their engagement. But not even once did my grandfather or anyone else refer to us as a family. When people talked about us it was always 'them and her', her being me. I fear being the auxiliary will be the story of my life. For an asexual person living in a heteronormative society, this is a recurring thought. When one doesn't feel seen in the world, one usually turns to stories. Every now and then, a series or a movie comes along that gets celebrated by the queer community for its representation. But the wholesome portrayal usually comes at the cost of further cementing a hierarchy of relationships. Even while portraying queer love stories, the makers don’t let go of ideas like marriage and sexual fidelity which are the very tools used by society to give only particular relationships legitimacy. Schitt’s Creek is one work of art which deeply saddened me in this regard.
Schitt's Creek and the Roses need no introduction. It made Dan Levy a bonafide queer icon and gave us one of the most adored love stories of our time, that of David and Patrick. But for all the amazing things Levy gave us through Schitt's Creek, including the heartfelt friendship between David and Stevie, he hung on to the institution of marriage and sexual fidelity. Marriage has always valued certain relationships over another, thereby stigmatizing love that does not conform to societal expectations. Shouldn't our fight be to expand the idea of a relationship rather than clamouring for entry into an institution which is the cause of much discrimination? I believe that even a non-heterosexual relationship that adheres to the norms of a heterosexual relationship is a part of heteronormativity. Just like countless other sitcoms (except maybe for Seinfeld), Schitt’s Creek positions marriage as the high point of David and Patrick's relationship. The marriage episode is a sitcom staple, but to see Schitt's Creek going down the same path felt like a close friend failing to understand you.
Things get murkier when it comes to fidelity. What is termed as fidelity or worse, loyalty, is trespassing on another person's bodily and emotional autonomy. Society has hammered into our brains the idea of fidelity so well that we feel like we have the right to control another person's sex life or emotions. In a world where checking on your partner’s phone is looked down upon (rightfully so), interfering with their bodily autonomy is considered normal. Alexis and David talking about setting ground rules before 'letting' Patrick go on another date are intrusive and controlling. But, in the series and almost everywhere else, David's worry and Patrick's coming back, wanting to do nothing with the person he went out with, is considered a touching moment. When this comes from David who knows very well how the pressure to conform to arbitrary rules of society can butcher the individual within, it astounds more. If this is considered somewhat a divine rule, what about people who don't feel romantic or sexual attraction? Can they never have someone to share life with? With the single-minded fervour to marry and control your partner's sexual life, the answers to such questions don’t seem to be pressing.
When you are implicitly or explicitly told that you can never be with someone without following various arbitrary rules, it takes a toll on you. This is bothersome when it comes from within the queer community. As if the only place you thought you would be seen refuses to see you. This is not to say there is no hope. You come across a film like Together Together (2021), which soothes countless instances of hurt by instilling that you don't have to walk down the aisle, be romantically involved or sexually attracted to someone to be there for each other while trying to get through life.