As a sacred institution so celebrated in its spirit and through its customs by cultures and across societies the world over, marriages have always been held in reverence of being a manifestation of a genuine connect between two individuals or in fact even their souls, finding expression as a pure emotion stemming out of the most profound of all feelings springing up in the human heart. Love indeed is the common expectation out of all such association in conjugality, and even when the arrangement is one ‘settled’ by families and friends of the couple at least close affiliations of this strong emotion are what invariably begins to do the rounds in most cases than not. The some few assertions where love of any sort or even associated ‘arousals’ whether of emotional or physical nature or either fails indeed to find way or falters in being the thing that matters even when it finds more than ample scope of blooming ends up in separation or divorce, while some still continue in that vein of lovelessness, sometimes even in a no strings attached kind of relationship, at other times persisting across awarenesses of fondness and affection and care and concern tending to but not fully evoking of the ultimate euphoria of love, as marriages that foster still across such myriad range of its exploration attributes pertaining to typical marital terms. Whether that be of children birthed and reared, of duties and responsibilities shared and fulfilled, of lending the strength of emotional support or a comfort of physical presence, holding on to each other through thick and thin in love or even despite it, ‘successful marriages’ anywhere in the world, anytime during their existence cutting across the demarcation of time and age and space in an universe forever believing in the blessed rendition of this life in wholesome togetherness, has been imbuing always the greater world consciousness with the very noble aspects of what it strives to be within the dynamics of human relations.
In such consideration of the greater good that marriage is traditionally understood as being virtuous almost in its associated range of values as essential as love and understanding and compassion and respect and trust, it amounts to an exploration immoral almost to view it in terms of a commitment pledging instead allegiance to compromises and agreements. And yet for all we know, not all marriages happen for love nor come to involve this passionate feel of the emotions for reasons galore. Whether that be of such basis as being betrothed to someone not the one fancied by the heart or having to further a bond one does not really hold much faith upon, marital ties too can be as ‘negotiated’ as they can be built and nourished. And it is across one such premise of dealing that marriages have been made to work out from in fairly recent times that makes for our subject of exploration today, existing as an alternate fore of reality surprisingly dwelt in in rather peace as well despite the starkly divergent essence of it from what traditionally concerns the beauty of avowing oneself to another for life.
As a marriage of convenience very well heterogeneous in keeping up with the typical, traditional understanding of what solemnises as a man- woman union, lavender marriages are what occurs as a legal coming together of such individuals who are homogeneous in their sexual orientation, whether it be an interest pertaining to one partner or to both, exclusively for such reasons that seek to avert the social stigma associated with homosexuality and/ or bisexuality. As something that emerged during the early 20th century as a practice indulged in rather necessarily especially by public figures and celebrities as a means of staving off the disrepute likely availing to them in case of a reveal of their ‘unnatural’ preference and continuing still rather resolutely even a century hence despite such notions of ‘coming out’ being rather favoured and seemingly accepted, a lavender marriage tends to be rather common a course in charting the marriage tradition as a mode of social acceptance, adhering indeed to the dictum of marriages essentially being revered institutions involving strictly two partners of the opposite sex. In furthering this essence though of which marriage is thought to be harbouring, this certain color coded expression across which the seemingly ordinary marriage unfurls much like it has been for close to a hundred years now however might be upturning the very ideals of this sacrosanct institution of reverence in going against its stance of ultimate, full fledged devotion of individuals to each other but somewhat ironically still in that it tends to be still as much rooted in such basis as transparency and trust being generally a mutually agreed upon clause of marital togetherness at least in the apparent nature of it.
The term lavender marriage itself arose sometime during the 1920s and 1930s from the Hollywoodian realm of happenings when societal dictums meant that homosexual people, no matter how distinguished their stature and identity might be, would not be exalted when it came to pursuing their careers in the public eye leading therefore film contracts to essentially be accompanied by a morality clause that needed the lead to commit themselves to a ‘normal’ marriage despite their preferences to the contrary. And a host of reputed actors of that time did indeed submit themselves to this requirement for the sake of their careers and identity, spurring therefore an unwanted trend of sorts of foresaking personal identities over professional ones. One rather interesting aspect of this whole span of events unfolding very prominently during the 1900s, precisely before the World War II, essentially in the American film fraternity though is that the phrase had warranted mention way before in 1895 when it was invoked by the British press as a reference to the color lavender being associated already with homosexuality.
Evolving though over the years to take cognisance of not just many a celebrity marriages out of the need for public acceptance rather than for love has been this concept in entering into wedlock for reasons anything but the pursuance of marital bliss, manifesting today as a fairly common occurrence by the common man and woman as well for reasons that can be varied indeed. Most associated though is still the stigma that continues to deride homosexuality which leads therefore people of same sex preferences to marry outside their interests and of course out of their experience of the love feeling primarily by giving in to family expectations to preserve ‘status and dignity’ in a world frowning still upon such assertions of love beyond what is considered as conventional. And as taboo as love continues to be as a concept even in what should be appealing to traditional ‘allowance’ of this profound realisation of life, particularly in societies of developing countries whether they be stemming of orthodox mindsets or narrow mentalities, it should not be much of a surprise that such concepts of marriages of convenience indeed live up to the convenient assertion of them, allowing families to avoid the sufferings of shame and indignation arising out of what they believe to be not less than any sin. Thus even as lavender marriages became less of an obligation in that part of the world from where they emerged in all oxymoronic public secrecy during the later part of the 20th century owing to greater awareness of homosexuality as well as of sexual preferences outside the ‘norm’ brought upon by concerted efforts of the LGBTQ+ community, they continue to be still a very prominent phenomenon occurring in rather pride as well of effectively avoiding shaming and defaming by society.
Notwithstanding the tremendous mental and emotional burden that those actually involved in the marriage, the non heterosexual partner(s) precisely, despite giving their consent to this act of what would be sacrilege almost for them in all consciousness, necessarily experience both in having to live a lie their entire lives as well as in forfeiting something as enriching as the true feeling of love, lavender marriages still tend to be largely widespread and even celebrated by parents of the seemingly consenting partners as a mode of averting ridicule and of finding validation and acceptance instead in society resilient in its strictly man- woman pursuing of marital privilege. By extension, or deriving rather from such notions of what sums up the acceptable in wedlock and that in the related sphere of love, lavender dating tends also to find as much expression, explored as a seemingly convenient option by gay or lesbian individuals to not falter in the face of intense societal scrutiny. The partner(s) involved in such consensual but unfeeling relationship, whether that be in dating or in marriage is also referred as distinctively as ‘beard’, a slang that has find particular prominence in usage in the 1960s. Interestingly though, or perhaps somewhat appallingly rather, the term beard found early expression instead as a means of concealing infidelity in a monogamous relationship. From such assertions and dragged henceforth into the lavender hued exploration of marriage, this reference of the beard perhaps strives in fact to present this particular case of marriage in convenience as one better shunned instead because convincing the world of a lie one is forced to live sure amounts to cheating, only that this time it perpetuates as even more alarming an assertion of us duping our own personal selves and thereby invalidating the very worth and identity of our existence and essence.