Gay Marriage, From Different Angles

Sunday’s edition of The New York Times was all sorts of queer. The paper contained not one, but two explicitly bent tales.

The first, and lengthier, came in the form of the magazine’s Young Gay Rites, a look at married, white and privileged twenty-somethings in Boston, where gay marriage is legal.

Now, we don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but the article made us a bit – uneasy. Obviously we’re entirely supportive of gay marriage, but we’re always hesitant to embrace twenty-somethings settling down. And especially when they’re gay.

Could it be that these men are simply reacting against an older gay stereotype? Journo Benoit Denizet-Lewis had the same worry, writing:

When I first learned that some young gay men were marrying in Massachusetts, I wondered if their marriages might be a repudiation of the gay world fashioned by previous generations of men – men who reacted to oppression and homophobia in the ’70s and ’80s by rejecting heterosexual norms and “values,” particularly around sex and relationships. Many older gay men would have scoffed at the idea of marrying and having kids. To many of them, their “family” was their network of close gay friends.

The author goes on to say that all of his subjects – all of them white and educated – insist they’re not rebelling against anything. They simply love one another and wanted to seal the deal, so to speak. One couple even skipping living together and landed straight in the marriage bed. Another, meanwhile, said they thought it “silly” not to get married in the only state that recognizes gay marriage. That’s the “silliest” reason we’ve ever heard!

Surely we wish them all luck, but caution all young ones to pay attention to another couple feature: Aaron and Steve, who divorced at the age of 26. Also, we caution everyone from becoming what one friend called a Stepford Gay, a description we think fits many of the subjects, none of whom we found particularly interesting.

The other queer NY Times story examined trans woman Denise Brunner, who previously lived – and married – as Donald. She married Frances Gottaschalk back in 1980, but decided to become a woman in 2005, fifteen years into their marriage. The story not only gives readers a look into the homes of happy trans-loving couples, but uses them as a platform to explore the nation’s “patchwork” of marriage and its many complications, like dealing with the Internal Revenue Service. The Brunners also highlight a rare, but increasingly public, phenomenon: the straight marriage that becomes same-sex. Regardless of legal complications, they insist they’re just as strong as always. Said Denise:

My kids know what marriage is all about, my community knows what marriage is all about. Nothing has changed. The world hasn’t fallen apart because New Jersey has a same-sex marriage.

Wise words, indeed, and from someone who truly understands marriage. The magazine subjects? Well, let’s hope Denizet-Lewis does a follow-up. And with a new photographer. These snaps give new meaning to “gay face,” one that’s closer to black face than anything else.


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