Lavandula (more commonly known as Lavender) is a genus of 47 species of flowering plants. Besides being an aromatic plant, it has notable characteristics which are beneficial to health. But did you know lavender has an exceptional place in the gay community?
The relevant concept is known as “Lavender Marriage”. Lavender marriages are sometimes called by different names: Beard Marriages, White Marriages, Marriage Blanc, etc.
Lavender marriage usually refers to a marriage of functionality between a man and woman of mixed sexual orientation, carried out to conveniently conceal their identities or, more frankly, mislead society and/or their families. To put it simply, if you, being homosexual, marry someone of the opposite sex (who also does not have any interest in members of the opposite sex) just for the sake of social and familial acceptance, then that marriage will be called a “Lavender Marriage”.
Though it might appear to you as something new, this concept is actually a hundred years old. Primarily, before World War II, the situation of homosexual people in western countries was not the same as it is today. It was impossible to pursue a public career after acknowledging oneself as a homosexual, notably in Hollywood, where such marriages took place first. In the 1930s and 1940s, actors and actresses had to sign a “Morality Clause” on their contracts — according to it, if one wanted to be a star, their private lives had to be crystal clear, or at least whitewashed. Due to such contracts, one was not able to be publicly “out” for the sake of their career. As a result, beard marriages took place among popular Hollywood figures.
The term “Lavender Marriage” first came out in the British Press in 1895, when the colour lavender was associated with homosexuality. Eventually, there were Hollywood studios that married off their gay actors to repress their sexualities.
A few popular lavender marriages happened between Rock Hudson & Phyllis Gates (1955), Rudolph Valentino & Natacha Rambova (1923), Danny Kaye & Sylvia Fine (1940), Barbara Stanwyck & Robert Taylor (1939), Janet Gaynor & Adrian (1959), Tyrone Power & Annabella, and Judy Garland & Vincente Minnelli.
Among these actors and actresses, some were gay, some bisexual. The only objective behind such marriages was saving the individual’s Hollywood career. Rock Hudson was gay, and yet he married his personal assistant according to his director’s instruction. In the 1930s, there used to be a “Doom Book”, which fundamentally listed Hollywood actors, actresses, directors, and filmmakers whose private lives were contradictory to said “moral values” — they were to be outcast from Hollywood. The list included 117 names.
This practice reminds us of the current discrimination towards LGBT people in Bangladesh. In 2022, cases of lavender marriages have become common in South Asian countries, especially in China. In China, there are a few very active websites where people search for someone like them for White Marriages. This concept is becoming very popular in Muslim countries as well. And from personal experience, there are many people in Bangladesh who also find it a somewhat “suitable solution” to shut their families up.
Questions about the legislation of such marriages are also not unfamiliar. Just because of the exclusion of commitment, love, and consummation, such marriages do not become fraudulent or against the law. They do not happen forcefully, and under the general law, consummation is not mandatory to make a marriage lawful. As a result, lavender marriages are indeed legal. In respect of the Islamic view, however, a few Islamic scholars do not accredit lavender marriages as they are never consummated which, according to them, is against Sharia law.
There is no specific data about the success rate of lavender marriages or their aftermath. Marriage is not only a contract between two people but also a pathway by which two different families and two different souls come together for a lifetime. Nevertheless, a person cannot expect themselves to cover up their personal life forever. A pseudo partner will never be able to take the place of a real one.
One can easily point out many errors in this concept and possibilities of unavoidable difficulties after marriage. As such, lavender marriages are not a solution — they never were and never will be.
Dates, figures, etc. collected from Google, Wikipedia, Tumblr, etc.
Norepinephrine comes from a family of hormones. Her godfather is Ulf Von Euler, who discovered her in 1947. Fast forward to today, she is living with mortals disguised as a cis-woman who is struggling with both her professional and personal life. Her pronouns are she/they. She is an absolute workaholic, and she loves to think. She best fits the “L” in LGBTQ, and is very determined to irritate you all with her writing.