As a queer person I often feel excluded from mainstream (cis-het) social scripts*. A big part of this exclusion is tied into the rituals which help construct these scripts. Until fairly recently, a lot of queer people were excluded from marriage (and many relationships, for example polyamorous ones, are still excluded). For so many years this ritual, which sits at the heart of scripts for a life well lived, was denied to us.
And often the rituals which we do take part in are not the same experience they were for cis-het people. My 6th form prom was a mess of insecurity and anxiety, when I look back at the photos I don’t see me. I see a confused kid with a deep sadness in their eyes. So used to hiding and playing a role that they don’t even realise they’re doing it.
An annual example of this is Christmas**, in mainstream social scripts it’s a time for familial love and consumerism. For many queer people it’s a time of loneliness, or a miserable return to the closet. I’m lucky that my main concern when I go back home for Christmas is squabbles over cooking or boardgames.
Rituals and celebrations of milestones are by their nature symbolic. But symbols are powerful things. Instead of saying they don’t matter let’s reclaim these rituals on our own terms. I want to hold a queer prom and take new photos, ones which capture every inch of queer glory. I want to go to christenings for people whose parents made a mistake the first time. I want transgender reveal parties, with cakes layered in blue pink and white.
Lets create our own rituals, and celebrate lives too often pushed to the margins.
*Stories about “this is how life is meant to go” or “this is how the world works”. Closely tied in with perceptions of what success looks like.
** I’m aware that this perspective also makes religious assumptions. I think mainstream social scripts often draw on Christian cultural elements.