“Are you brothers?”
We hear this a ton. Two guys, one 30 and one 40, with nearly-matching glasses and an affectionate public demeanor. His family came on the Mayflower and mine fled the shtetls at the dawn of the roaring 20s — we don’t look related. No one’s getting purple nerples at the liquor store. But it’s a question we get.
We got it so many times the day after our wedding. They asked us at Dulles, at IAH and fifteen hours later at the Argentinean customs. Our weekend camping wedding outside of Frederick had been 80% magical and 20% catastrophic – the perfect chemistry for an amazing weekend. But I couldn’t do any more talking.
So he talked for me. Filled out our customs forms, handled our passports, answered the border guards. “Who is this man who speaks for you?” Each one of those individuals now knows that the grinning silver fox in the gleaming new ring isn’t my brother. He’s not my coworker, my bandmate, my legal guardian or a buddy. He’s my husband. We’d gladly tell anyone who asked, and a whole bunch of strangers who didn’t.
Political? Sure. But mostly we just wanted to brag.
A gay marriage, like most facets of a life outside the closet, requires a Janus face. One set of eyes looks to the mundane future — the joy of endless Sunday oatmeal and Monday alarm clocks, 11 pm dog walks and an extra glass of wine on Thursday nights. The other looks back – at pink triangles and Nana Boo Mack, bar raids and “UR So Gay.” The gulf between is deep, and stagnant with the muck of responsibility. My wedding had people of all identities and orientations coming together for a single queer cause, but it was not a rally. I felt I had paid for that luxury with all the past actions attended, with written calls to arms, with the handcuffs on my wrists outside of Nancy Pelosi’s office.
That said, my wedding was not a Macklemore video. If anything, it was more like an Alan Hollinghurst rewrite of The Walking Dead. No zombies (not before the sticky came out), just a lot of different gays with a lot of different value sets, left with their own base natures in the woods. We had ecologists and transit geeks, runners and rock climbers, libertarians and democrats, new lovers and longtime couples, libertines and monogamistsd. In short, gay people.
Four months before, my then-fiance and I were celebrating our sixth anniversary in California when DOMA fell. We’re among the first wave of men to legally wed in this country’s history. But we’re cis men with white skin and fat-enough wallets. For G’s like us marriage equality is one of our last institutional hurdles to equal citizenships. Our country’s fractured identity politics means that many other’s across the LBGT spectrum can’t say that. Terror that my special day meant the end of public goodwill for all those queer folks not terminally liberated sept through the weekend like a cracked lube bottle in a freshly-packed overnight bag.
It’s not like we drank, hugged, laughed, fought or fucked more than normal that weekend. I can’t say we partied in the face of hate or in anticipation of the battles we still had to win. But I can say we were celebrating something greater than ourselves. If a busload of gay men in the Maryland woods at a Catholic/Jewish/Buddhist gay wedding can’t feel free, then I’d hasten to say that true freedom doesn’t exist.
We were married by a Bodhisattva minister who had to pause for all the cheers when she declared us “legally” wed. A great soldier in the fight against DADT sat next to my blithely unaware great-aunt. Our wedding band — DFA-approved living legends Peter Gordon & The Love of Life Orchestra — used to play with Arthur Russell and Laurie Anderson. There’s ghosts there.
My new in-laws read an Old Testament passage about King David and his lover Jonathan that made my tux pants a little tighter. I replaced the traditional seven Jewish blessings with some of my all-time favorite poems and songs. When circumstances made my family of birth unable to do the delivery, our groomsmen stood and blessed us in their place.
I cried behind my sunglasses when my best man read Rudyard Kipling’s “If” as I felt my family double in size from the nuclear to include our beloved boys, then triple with the inclusion of my new in-laws, and grow exponentially to include every man, woman and child that had driven out into the boonies on the first Saturday in October to celebrate the formal, lawful union of two men in love.
But that was my wedding. I’m talking about marriage. Or trying to. After six years of being together, six weeks of matrimonial experience seems paltry. I know that everything seems like it did before, but safer. We can fight without fear of breaking up, share our deepest secrets with confidence they won’t used in malice. If the worst happens, I’ll be lucky enough to visit my husband in the hospital. There’s two parts of that sentence that wouldn’t be possible five years ago.
I’ve actually felt that the most aggressively political thing we could do as married men is not change a damn thing about how we live. If Maggie Gallagher is already shitting her pants at our new life, the spectre of those same couples proving that “perverts” can have marriages should have her growing gills and returning to the ocean.
So that’s why we chose Buenos Aires for our honeymoon. BA is so large and varied that everyone fits in. A shrewd tourists can experience a dozen different versions of everyday life there in less than a week. A married couple eating vegetarian Chinese food on a rainy day. A married couple buying jeans in Palermo. A married couple packed ass to ankles in a sweaty Subte car, holding hands and staring at the bulging Argentinian milanesa that some gym-bound straphanger has dangling three inches from our faces.
Though Bruce Vilanch once said that the grooves dug into Brazilian white sand beaches come from the dragging penises of their attendees, some cursory Grindr research indicated that the Portenos are hardly lacking. To merely call Buenos Aires men “beautiful” is like saying Edward Snowden “on vacation.” The only fear I’ve felt about being married came when these men would walk by our outdoor cafe tables and we’d crane our necks to watch, and sometimes chat about the merchandise over our third or ninth glass of red wine.
I didn’t fear temptation – there are a lot of beautiful boys in this world, but none are Michael. No past or future connection, however its tenor, can shake that. My fear was of betraying the cause. That every time we broke the constraints of “traditional marriage,” a gay marriage policeman will take give me a demerit. Three demerits and I earn another Zack Ford treatment. Six and I’m barred from Netroots Nation. Ten demerits — that’s like three bar makeouts — and the HRC backs a Tea Party candidate.
Time and again, though, I learn that most folks don’t care.
My hubby and I got out of the city for two days to visit the Iguazu Falls. The world wonder contains a mind-boggling amount of water and biological diversity, bestowing immediate peace and tranquility to all visitors that haven’t seen Happy Together. We did all the touristy stuff there — leaned over the edges, took our shirts off for photo op’s in the spray, took a trick shot where I bend over and pretend the falls are my foamy, explosive diarrhea.
The place was overrun by school kids on field trips. One particular co-ed group of 6th graders couldn’t stop staring at us. They’d take turns looking over at us, then whisper and giggle, immediately growing silent if we looked their way. When one finally approached us, I assumed it was to say something snide and adolescent about the two fags traipsing around in the rainforest — I’ve not had good experience with tweens.
We made terse small talk, waiting for the insult to strike, until a second student came up to us, asking where in the states we were from. Then a third joined to ask what we thought of Obama. Then another and another. I spoke little Spanish and they little English, but the crowd kept growing and the questions kept getting cooler, and we all kept talking. We told the class our thoughts on Katy Perry and the Rolling Stones and One Direction and they told us where they were from, what they were studying and how they liked their trip.
We showed them our matching tattoos of our coonhound and they asked about the cats and birds inked into my forearms. The whole class had come up at this point. The questions were coming too fast to keep up with and we finally excused ourselves back to our hotel room after a prolonged round of hug and handshake exchanges with the future teachers, bankers, writers and politicians of Argentina.
Before they left us, one of them fired the question:
“No,” we replied in Chorus. “Los esposos!”
“Cool,” the kid shrugged. Then he smiled at me. “your hat. Your hat. Can I see your hat.”
I handed it to him, a filthy gray and white Stussy I had stress-purchased in between writing deadlines three days before the wedding. He started to walk away with it, his little souveneir of casual american masculinity. I can always admire a fellow sly bastard when I see one, but it wasn’t a generous kind of admiration
There’s not a moment in this world poignant enough to make me give up a favorite cap. I said this article’s about getting married, not canonized.