Let’s talk about gay marriage. It’s a doozie, I know, but bear with me.
I don’t really care what the politicians think — be they Republican or Democrat — mostly because they’re all straight. And of their opinion on this matter, frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. I value much higher the opinion of seasoned single homosexuals.
One of my favorite 60-year-old queens — one with a wicked wit — loathes the idea. He thinks the modern march for gay marriage is the demon brainchild of Condoleezza Rice, or someone else just as powerful, Republican and closeted.
According to this particular queen, the biggest advantage of being gay is not having to get married. Today, being gay, 60 and single is completely acceptable, if not expected.
This newfangled fight is a conspiracy to get gays to conform to straight standards, to become docile, domesticated homosexuals. After all, why should we limit ourselves according to their moldy traditions? The ceremony itself would be a liberal mockery of a conservative tradition, a whole different kind of drag.
When I told him that I planned on getting married, my 60-year-old queen said to me:
“Now see, that’s the problem. The generation for whom everything will be all legalized and legit — your generation — you’re doomed by your expectations. When you all end up 60 and single, everyone will look at you like you’re a character from Chekhov and think, ‘What happened? Why didn’t he ever get married?’ Whereas people look at me and ask, ‘I wonder who he’s dating these days.’ ”
Me: “But I’ll be married at 60.”
Queen: “No, honey, you’re too difficult to get that far. I mean, I love you, but you’re going to be alone forever.”
After I got finished crying (And then bottling that sadness for use on the stage. Clearly.), I decided it might be time to consider his argument. After all, if I’m doomed to be single at 60, then I want everyone else to be single too. Being lonely is no fun if you’re lonely by yourself. Plus, if I’m single, there’d better be plenty of other single ’mos around for me to choose from.
So, maybe we shouldn’t make life commitments; maybe gays shouldn’t marry. I mean why are we all in such a big damn rush to get the cookie cutter house, white picket fence, and two-point-five children?
Hell, we don’t even need to envision the doldrums of married life to know it’s a bad idea; we need look only as far as the actual wedding itself. That ceremony would be a fiasco.
If you’re going to do it at all, you have to do it up right, with the virginal white (ha!), the minister (because priest is still too political) and the flower girl. But what about the bridesmaids? What’s the point of having a wedding if you’re not going to have bridesmaids? Honestly, that’s what marriage is all about: making those girls you hate (but profess to love) wear bank-breaking, god-awful, puffy-cloud-monster dresses that give you a rash and must be burned after one wear.
But if we’re really seeking a socially-sanctioned life commitment, oughtn’t we to follow the boundaries of the breeders all the way to the altar? That means a bevy of ushers and a brace of best men, but no bridesmaids. If we follow through with gay weddings, that means the girl-on-girl weddings get all the bridesmaids, and the lesbians have all the fun. At least until they get each other’s clothes off … because, honestly what are you supposed to do then? No fun at all.
So, strike one against gay marriage: no bride = no bridesmaids.
Strike two follows in kind: no wedding dress. That’s both lines of the procession stuffed full of tuxedos, and nobody needs to see “March of the Penguins” twice.
Strike three, four and five: No Garter Throw, no Bouquet Toss, and no Father-Daughter Dance. Ok, so we can do without the Father-Daughter Dance so long as we don’t have to give up The Twist, especially if it’s in a dry martini.
And the final strike (there are six strikes in baseball, right?): Who takes whose name? The women’s-lib, hippie-happy movement toward the hyphen is becoming a bit passe, and gay men don’t do fads. So how does one decide? It’s like the first question that all the straight people ask: “How do you figure out which one is going to be the girl?” And if you both keep your own names, which of the 2.5 kids gets which initial? As if gay men needed another reason to fight. The divorce rates will rise (probably skyrocket), along with the marriage statistics of inexperienced, impulsive ’mos.
So, on the wedding alone, with the fabulous glory of all its misogynist traditions, the 60-year-old single queens make a strong case against gay men getting married.
Of course, I did debate in high school, so I know there are two sides to every coin, and occasional uses for every cliche.
So: Why get married?
Well, there are the tax benefits, but you get those from Domestic Partnerships. There are the family rights for death-bed visits, but that’s what Civil Unions are for.
But DPs and CUs don’t have a connection with China Patterns. Marriage, by contrast, is excuse to pick out fancy plates. Though I suppose gay men don’t need an excuse to hang out at Macy’s.
Even if we never actually tie the knot and spend our whole lives engaged, picking and re-picking the perfect crystal, shouldn’t we at least have the option to marry? It’s about the possibility, not just the fruition thereof. If my brother can have a fancy wine-country wedding, I should be afforded equal treatment under the law, not to mention equal treatment in my parents’ checkbook.
The traditions are something we can make our own. We’ll keep the china patterns and the gaudy rings, and we’ll graft gay culture onto the dry and dying marriage monster. Hell, we can even wear the gowns if we want. In fact, those puffy-cloud monster bridesmaid messes have a lot in common with the tamer drag dresses I’ve seen. Who cares if we’re mimicking an exclusive, outdated cultural relic? If we’re worried about the hypocrisy, and the expectations, like where we’ll be when we’re 60, there’s nothing gays do better than subvert the norm. We were born to hit a straight lick with a crooked stick.
I can’t imagine a more fabulous ball than the wedding of a Queen.
And though one of us might lose his name, a sacrifice to the gods of equality, we both gain another, perhaps more important label. “Significant Other” tastes like styrofoam, and even “Life Partner” smells of Purell. Husband, however, has a nice romantic ring to it. And our cookie-cutter house with the white-picket fence will be the best decorated on the block.
Gay men may have problems with commitment, but we thrive on drama. After war (and gay men don’t do warfare unless it’s psychological), most dramas are written about romance. And there’s nothing more romantic than a life commitment to you and you alone … even if I’m too difficult to get that far.
Hell, I may in fact be too difficult. I may even want to be single at 60 for my prime years of worldly wisdom. But I don’t want marriage to be an unavailable option. When I’m single at 60, it’ll be because I’m divorced.
Chad Callaghan is getting married in a fluffy white dress to cover the rash.