We here at Queerty are big fans of the United States, the nation that bore us, Celebrity Jeopardy, the hamburger and that whole representative democracy thing. It’s a nation rich in natural resources, can-do attitude and homosexuals, and each week, we’re visiting a new state to find out just what makes it so uniquely fabulous.
Massachusetts has long prided itself as the birthplace of freedom in America. The first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired on Concord Green, Abolitionists made Boston the headquarters of the anti-slavery movement and it was the first state to offer marriage to gays and lesbians. The state is so tolerant that it would elect a Republican Mormon like Mitt Romney governor without batting an eye, though it just got around to electing its first Black Governor, Deval Patrick, in 2006. Between its rich history and funny accents, Massachusetts remains defiantly and proudly iconoclastic.
The Fight For Your Rights
The Bay State is so ahead of the curve from the rest of the U.S. that it’s able to address questions that seem out of reach for the rest of the country. Last week, 15 gay and lesbian couples from Massachusetts launched the first major assault on the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents federal recognition of state marriages. The litigants argue that they’ve been denied basic rights, such as social security benefits, tax benefits for spouses and the ability to use their married partners last name on U.S. passports. While the suit would not overturn DOMA and would apply only to Massachusetts gay couples, if successful, it would represent the first chip in the armor that denies gays and lesbians their equal rights under the decade old law.
Guerrilla Queer Bar
With its history of combining political action with partying (think tea party), it’s no surprise that one of the most popular nights for gays and lesbians in Boston would be built on the idea of subversive action. Guerrilla Queer Bar takes over a new straight bar on a monthly basis to raise visibility, raise money for gay causes and, of course, to drink up in Boston’s many popular pubs and bars.
Roger Bacon is a 31-year-old living in Lowell, Massachusetts, with his boyfriend Bob. (Full disclosure: Roger and your editor went to high school together and when I was still a confused teenager, he came out to the entire school during an assembly, making him, a personal hero and one of the major reasons I decided to come out.)
What’s the best part about living in Massachusetts?
You want just one? Well, you can get married in Massachusetts. The fact that Deval Patrick is the governor and his daughter is a lesbian and knowing that and the state decided you could get married. It’s just a really great place to be gay and live.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing gays and lesbians in Massachusetts?
Maybe jobs. I think people are pretty laid back when it comes to political things. We do have a lot of rights and freedoms, so I guess we take it for granted. The majority of people who did get married when it did get passed are still married, though the couple who did get married when it first was passed got divorced, which is sad, but the majority of people are still married.
Being from the first state to offer gay marriages, how do you feel about all the recent gay rights protests? Is it all old hat?
At least, my friends, we definitely pay attention. The [California Supreme Court hearing on Prop 8], I, myself went online and watched some of it and read a lo of the news articles on it. We’re definitely watching. We want California to have the same rights as us. There’s a court battle going on right now to get the federal government to recognize the state marriages here– and that could be years away, but if that happens, then I think it will help make it pass everywhere else.
Describe your average Massachusetts gay.
I think you’ll find there’s more gay couples in Massachusetts than in other places. There’s a smaller pool of people. The average gay here is hanging out with friends and family and enjoying their life together with their partner. If you’re single, there’s nightlife and a good scene, but I think that the average gay in Massachusetts, at least for me, is coupled. It’s cold here! Winter in March still. For me, growing up and through my gay adulthood, I was single for a good amount of time. But the last 10 years I’ve been in relationships, so I feel detached from the singles scene.
If there’s one thing a gay visitor to Massachusetts should do, what is it?
Visit Boston, absolutely. There’s so much history here. Check out the Museum of Fine Arts. They have a really good variety. They change it up a lot. Wednesday’s are free—not the special exhibits, but they have a really good collection of art and it rotates. There’s a lot of good stuff there. Also, check out the Cape. You know what I was going to say about the best thing about Massachusetts is? Is that it’s the place that you and I grew up. One of the things that makes Massachusetts so special to me is that I grew up here.
What’s one misconception about Massachusetts you’d like to clear up?
Overall, I think people think we’re a bunch of snobs, but we’re really not. Yeah, it take a little while for people to warm up to you, but once they do, it’s pretty solid. We’re a pretty laid back bunch of people.
Four down, forty-six to go. Each week until we’re done, Queerty will be traveling to a new state and meeting the gays. We love featuring our readers, so if you think you’re Model Citizen material, shoot us an email at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.