Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity, edited by Carter Sickels

An incisive and enlightening examination of same-sex marriage within the wider context of LGBTQ needs.


Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships and Identity assembles pieces from diverse contributors, college professors and blue-collar workers, some established writers and some never before published. Edited by Carter Sickels (The Evening Hour), these extremely sharp essays offer a startling array of perspectives on the fight for same-sex marriage in the United States, rendering a deceptively simple concept–that the needs of the LGBTQ community range far beyond marriage–fully and feelingly. Published as the Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments about same-sex marriage on a nationwide level, Untangling the Knot is profoundly eye opening, even for readers well informed on the subject.

Essays cover the reasons why marriage is important to some members of LGBTQ communities, addressing questions of medical decision-making, finances and insurance, child rearing, equality. Others protest what Ben Anderson-Nathe calls a “rhetoric of sameness”: the argument for marriage rights based on the idea that queer families are just like straight ones. Jeanne Cordova illustrates why choosing a single issue is damning for a movement. Joseph Nicholas DeFilippis writes that the continuing assumption that marriage is the highest form of family does a disservice bigger than the queer community, affecting straight people as well. Several contributors argue against legal rights, benefits and protections being tied to marriage at all. Some suggest better uses for organizational resources: homelessness, health care, anti-discrimination, and aid to trans people, the poor and queer people of color.

With Sickels’s synthesizing introduction, these sympathetic, well-informed essays show that the fight for same-sex marriage is deeply complex and only one issue in the fight for inclusiveness and equality.

This review originally ran in the March 3, 2015 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!

Rating: 8 nontraditional arrangements.

3 Responses

  1. […] Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity, collection edited by Carter Sickels – nonfiction (mentioned by other classmates as well; I appreciated how much this one surprised me with its range of opinions) […]

  2. […] or To Disappear,” “Who Cares What Straight People Think?,” and this essay by Carter Sickels. I appreciated hearing from Sickels again (he has also served as guest faculty at Wesleyan, but […]

  3. […] Carter Sickels (ed., Untangling the Knot) has taught at my MFA program in the past and we have some mutual friends. He was not there during […]

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