Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Attention.

Last night I was at an improv performance that J was in. (The show was fun and J was great, but that's not what I'm going to write about.) The setup for the show was that a local demi-celebrity got up on stage and told a personal story, and then the improv performers created scenes inspired by the story. The first storyteller was a local blogger and journalist. She told a story about a visit to the dentist. At some point in the story, she mentioned that she had recently gotten married, and the whole audience erupted in applause. She sort of blushed and said, "thank you." This sort of thing happens all the time, but it still catches me off-guard, and I still have a sort of disgusted reaction every time, like "what's so fucking great about that? Five years from now, they'll be divorced."

But last night, because same-sex marriage is so much on our minds lately, I had a small epiphany when I heard the applause. One of the reasons so many gays and lesbians want to be able to get married must be because they want that particular kind of attention. They want the room to burst into applause when they say they're getting married.

This post from yesterday on Andrew Sullivan's blog is a great little history lesson on how the gay liberation movement went from revolutionary to reactionary in the last 20 years. I have very mixed feelings about Andrew Sullivan's politics, I often disagree with him, but I read him every day because he writes intelligently about things I care about. What's fascinating to me is how in the nineties every gay activist I knew could hardly mention Sullivan's name without spitting. Fifteen years later, the gay movement has completely adopted Sullivan's conservative agenda. He has always said that the way to get mainstream America behind gay rights was to stop talking about sex and demand to participate in the most conservative American institutions: marriage and the military. Maybe it's working, judging by how same-sex marriage has become such a popular cause now among liberal heterosexuals, the so-called "straight allies."

My problem is that what they're asking for the right to be is exactly what I've never wanted to be.

3 comments:

jdjb said...

But didn't you hear me shyly boo from my corner?! It got a laugh...maybe because I'm big ol' gay.

ep said...

I'm neither gay nor married, but I think you are reacting maybe a tad too personally and giving that word too much (so much) weight?

Maybe what the crowd was really applauding was that the person was making a public declaration (albeit in very standard societal norm sort of way) of love. How often do we celebrate love in our culture? Not enough.

Yes, most folks are more comfortable with doing things in the most "normal" way possible, and the institution of marriage is certainly a part of that. But it also evolved in the last century from being something strictly practical and financial to a matter of choice, of the heart.

Yes, the statistics are against any relationship lasting, marriage or otherwise, but we crazy humans still keep falling in love from time to time, and some need to join the big old marriage club. To each his own. And congrats to the new bride and groom.Or bride and bride. Or groom and groom.

Colleen said...
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