Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee: Why I’d marry a straight man

I sometimes see myself marrying a straight man. My college roommate was the first heterosexual to broach the possibility of matrimony with me, and he had a girlfriend at the time.

After six months of living together and speaking no more than a dozen words to each other, he invited me to smoke weed with him (my first time), and through those clouds emerged two-and-a-half years of brotherhood; of conversations teeming with humor, of the vulnerability of devotion; of trips home together for the holidays; and tears reciprocated over our respective families’ struggles.

There was zero sexual desire between us, and maybe that’s why he once felt comfortable volunteering something along the lines of, “Dude, if being married meant something like this every day for the rest of my life—this fun, this easy—I’d marry you.”

It was a fanciful proposal in 2002, before same-sex marriage was enough of a concept to be outlawed in state constitutions, but the idea feels practical and appealing today. It seems that intimacy becomes more important than (if not an entire replacement for) sex within months of many relationships, while sex is the ruin of countless others—either not having enough, or having too much with other people.

As someone who seeks a loving, solid bond with another person outside of monogamy, my ideal spouse could be someone with whom there is no expectation of sex—a straight, lesbian or trans woman, a gay man who tends to enjoy similar sexual positions. It doesn’t have to be a straight man, but since I have two candidates in mind, let’s play with that.

One of my favorite musical themes is exaggerated crushes, where the most fleeting interactions launch lifelong possibilities: Madonna’s “Beautiful Stranger,” Alicia Keys’s “You Don’t Know My Name,” and “Excuse Me Miss,” by Jay Z. Distant admirer is a role I enjoy playing; it’s harder to find fault in a potential partner the less you know about them.

Two days of delicious banter with a guy at a restaurant filled my stomach with butterflies, to the point that I felt guilty cheating on my MARTA boo, another potential husband who barely knows I exist. My MARTA boo and I ride the same bus most mornings, and it’s positively adorable how we get off “together” before splitting away toward our jobs.

I assume he enjoys our five-second rendezvous as much as I do, otherwise he could get off at a different stop and walk a few extra blocks to work. I respect the heterosexuality of both men and intercourse isn’t the destination of my fantasies, but my mornings are a little heavier when my boo and I aren’t on the same bus, and my stomach growls at the thought of a private meal with my restaurant crush.

All I desire is an intimate, sexless partnership with someone whose company makes the days more enjoyable—which sounds a lot like marriage, except we wouldn’t be jealous of the other people we fuck. I sometimes feel guilty about these amorous feelings I have toward unwitting straight men, until I sit in a barber shop, on a train, at a sporting event or anywhere else two or more men are gathered to violate women’s bodies with their gazes and imaginations.

And then sometimes the object of my crush flatters me by showing appreciation for my naive attraction. I once worked with a straight guy who everyone, following my lead, called my boo, much to his displeasure. One day I walked into work without realizing that my boo had been arguing with another co-worker, who also happened to be a straight dude.

“Hey boo,” I said upon entering.

“Hey buddy,” my co-worker said.

“Um, he wasn’t talking to you,” corrected my boo, as he smiled at me and winked.