In the courtrooms and in public debate, we hear over and over again that when it comes to sex and relationships, consenting adults should be allowed to their sexuality and relationships. The bigotry against LGBT people has been largely driven off by this simple recognition of basic rights. Unfortunately, there is still much more bigotry and even prosecution against people who love more than one person, or love someone who is their cousin or closer relative.
Real people in loving relationships, people you may see every day, people who pay their taxes and work and don’t hurt anyone, are hurt by these archaic laws and lingering prejudices.
Liz and Ryan are a loving couple, living as husband and wife. They aren’t legally married because they can’t get legally married. In most places in the US, they could be prosecuted for having taken their relationship in a new direction. Why are they denied marriage equality? Because Liz and Ryan are brother and sister.
Some people recoil at that idea. Hopefully, not my regular readers. But people recoil at the idea various legal marriages and other relationships that aren’t criminalized. There have been heterosexual, nonconsanguineous couples where the thought of them being intimate has unsettled my stomach a bit. But I would never try to stop them. Why doesn’t the law support Liz and Ryan’s marriage?
If you recoil at the idea of them being married, as various siblings have been throughout history, please allow yourself to put aside your reaction for a moment and think through this logically. Read Liz’s account of her relationship with Ryan, and ask yourself what logical reason there is to deny these consenting adults their right to love, sex, and marriage. You don’t have to like what they’re doing, just recognize that people should have their rights, even if you don’t like the way they use those rights.
Liz wrote to me about Ryan…
All my life I looked up to him, and he's always been there for me. He's been the best big brother a girl could have, and we became very close. When we’d watch TV, he’d sometimes put his arm around me and I would rest my head on him.
Some siblings are horrible to each other. The world would be a better place if more siblings were like Ryan and Liz.
Ryan developed an attraction to Liz, but agonized over telling her.
He didn't know how to tell me, he didn't want to scare me or hurt our relationship. I could tell something was bothering him and finally one day we talked about it. It was difficult, but he told me how he felt. I was surprised, of course, but I also felt excited. I saw him in a new light, and realized how cute he really was.
During that talk, he kissed me once, on the lips. I felt something, like a spark almost, when he did. It only lasted a couple seconds but it excited me. Our relationship became even closer after that.
Before we took things further we did talk about it. He was very patient, and wanted to make sure I was comfortable with what we were doing. We started to become sexual with each other, but we took things slowly…He was patient and gentle, and eventually we became lovers. It was over a period of months from that first kiss to finally having regular intercourse. He didn’t rush me into it, though I know he was eager to do it. He told me that he never felt truly happy with any of his old girlfriends; it was me that made him happy. He told me just being around me made him feel good. You have no idea how special I felt when he told me that.
It developed like so many other sexual relationships.
It was a natural progression. We started with holding, rubbing and touching with clothes on at first, then later shirts off, and so on. He guided me but we went at my pace. We can usually tell how the other is feeling, so sometimes we didn't need to talk. He made sure to ask if I was okay with bigger steps, like trying oral sex and intercourse.
But there was an added depth to the relationship, too.
When we were touching each other, especially when nude, I knew we were getting into something very special and exciting. Of course I was nervous too, but Ryan got me through it. I never once felt taken advantage of.
My first time with him is something I will never forget. I don't think it could have been any better…We realized we truly belonged together, and promised to always be together.
This is a loving couple. This is not an abusive situation, or one where one person is using another, or a passing event by two people who just needed a release. They are a “typical” loving couple living in what is a marriage in all but law.
Today we live in our own place. Our neighbors think we're a happily married couple. When Ryan comes home from work, we get dinner ready and enjoy it, sit together and talk, watch TV, cuddle, until he has to go to bed to rest up for work tomorrow. He's off on weekends so we have lots of fun then. We might go out, see friends or our parents, or just stay in and enjoy each other. We are more accepting of others into things that aren't mainstream, but we are monogamous and our sex, while enhanced by our bond and love for each other, is otherwise what most people would consider normal sex. I think anyone seeing us in a restaurant or shopping would see a happy couple.
And yet, there are people who, after seeing them as this couple in love and perhaps admiring them, would turn around and deny them that happiness if they knew that they were siblings.
Over time there were these thoughts I had that what we were doing was considered wrong. I mean, that's the whole reason we had to hide it from others, right? Anyway, I didn't let that stop us, but still it bothered me. That's when I started reaching out to find others like us. I read about incest and incest couples online, checked out various forums, and finally started chatting with other people. It was those chats that finally eased my mind. I found others like us, and it turned out there were a lot more than I thought I'd find….I felt good knowing there was so many, I didn't feel like we were alone anymore.
But what about their parents?
It was hard hiding our relationship from others, including our parents, but we managed it. Our parents do know about us now.
We knew we couldn't hide it from our parents forever. We didn't want to hide it, but we were nervous about talking about it with them. However, they figured out something was going on before we told them. Looking back, I'm not surprised. We spent lots of time together and they knew we weren't seeing other people on a serious level. Plus they could just tell there was something between us. When we said we wanted to share a place, saving money was our excuse, but they knew it was time to confront us. So we had a long talk. A lot was said, but luckily they didn't get angry. They finally said we could live the way we wanted if it was that important to us. It took time, but they have come to accept us.
It can be tough for parents to accept the sexuality and relationships of their children, no matter how old and independent their children are. Thankfully, Liz and Ryan’s parents showed acceptance. Nobody should have to hide their love if they aren’t cheating.
I think the fact that they're going to become grandparents helped them to accept us being together as a couple. We're expecting our first child, a daughter, and I couldn't be happier with my life. Having a child was a big decision for us, but I know we'll be great parents.
This is where some people cry foul. But many children have been born to couples like Liz and Ryan and are as healthy as any other child. Liz’s doctor says everything is fine with the baby and hasn’t detected problems.
Marriage seems to have some benefit to children, and it is an injustice that Liz and Ryan do not have the freedom to marry. It would benefit their child.
Of course I would marry my brother if I could. We want to spend our lives together, raise children together. And I know it’s not just us that wishes society would accept this kind of relationship. I've talked to many other people, and I know there are many incest couples that wish they didn't have to hide either. True love should never have to be hidden, it should be celebrated.
Agreed! So Liz has reached out to others because she wants to help them the way she was helped by others.
When I share my story, I always hope it inspires others to be like us, people who love family but haven't yet taken the big step. I would love if people contacted me about it or if they wanted help with their own situations.
So what is her general advice?
I would first tell someone who has such feelings for a sibling to think about it, really think things over. There is a lot to consider when trying to start a sexual relationship with a sibling. First off, your sibling may not share your feelings, and may even be upset by them. This could hurt your existing relationship with him/her. Second, if you and your sibling do start a relationship, the rest of the family may not approve. You will have to think about what to do if that happens. You may end up cut-off from the rest of the family. Third, there is the law to consider. In almost every state you could be punished for being in a sexual relationship with your sibling. Personally I think that is ridiculous, but it is something to be concerned about.
See this map.
If after thinking it over you decide to go through with it anyway, then what you should do is pretty much the same thing you would do when you are interested in anyone else. Try to spend time together, do things together, go out to dinner or the movies, things like that. You will have an advantage since you will already know much about your sibling so you will know what he/she likes and doesn't like. It may be hard to first overcome that feeling that you’re doing something wrong when things become sexual, but just relax and know that its ok. Consensual incest is not wrong, despite what others may say. Once things do become sexual you will find it is an incredible experience.
Sibling couples do have advantages and better relationships, in my opinion. Siblings typically know each other well, and care for each other deeply. They help each other, see each other through rough times, and are always there when needed. When the relationship becomes sexual, this means it is a closer and better relationship. The lovemaking is intense, very intense. There really is nothing like it. When the relationship goes on long enough, a very strong bond forms, linking the siblings together always.
Thank you, Liz, for sharing your story. Best wishes on a long and happy marriage and healthy children.
You can contact Liz Smith at blond_one89 [at] ymail [dot] com
If you want me to tell your story, dear reader, I can do so without using your name or e-mail address. Just write me at fullmarriageequality [at] yahoo [dot] com.
UPDATE March 23, 2011: Baby, Liz, and Ryan are all doing well.