Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Homomony



I'll be  honest, I was okay with his chess-playing ways. I trusted that his bald eagle emblazoned plate was pretty dog gone full. I mean, his to do list from the outset was enough to make most people curl up into a ball and take a nap for four years. I didn't need nor expect him to take the pro stance until well into his second term. But President Obama's announcement last week that he is now in support of gay marriage caught in my throat and brought tears to my eyes in a way I could not have anticipated.

A sitting president of the United States has finally supported not only homomony, but also my own personal lifestyle, my marriage, my children and...in a word...me. Boy howdy, I cried like Sherri Shepherd after she was kicked off of Dancing with the Stars.

When I examine it, however, my emotionality may not solely belong to this momentous event. Let's face it, this last week was one for the books when it comes to gay marriage and gay marriage adjacent news. Day after day we were bombarded with juicy items culminating with our president's announcement.

Let me start with the joyous fact that my husband and I just celebrated our eleventh anniversary. Not that it's a legally recognized eleven years, but after the planning, the church ceremony, the one hundred fifty guests, the reception complete with open bar, photo booth and Go Big Daddy Band (only to be followed by a joint mortgage, living wills and two adopted children) I challenge anyone to find a couple more married (in or out of quotation marks) than we are. I love my husband, and I'm proud we made it to our steel wedding anniversary. (Who created the anniversary gift list? What was I supposed to give the man? Lug nuts?)

Seemingly unrelated, Maurice Sendak, the children's author and illustrator who showed us Where the Wild Things Are passed away at 83. Among Sendak's many accomplishments were working with Jim Henson, producing a children's show with Carole King, designing sets for opera and ballet, and winning numerous awards including the Caldecott Medal for children's literature. Sendak was also gay, something he didn't make public until 2008, one year after the passing of his partner of fifty years, Eugene Glynn. Now, I don't pretend to know Mr. Sendak or Mr. Glynn. They were of a different time when being discrete was a way of survival, but I have to wonder had the laws been different, had in their day a sitting president espoused acceptance, would they have publicly come out of the closet, or might they have taken it a step further and chosen homomony? And in examining Mr. Sendak's own words, Let the wild rumpus start, I'd like to think they would have.

Even John Travolta and the many male massage therapists he allegedly fondled, propositioned, and masturbated in front of over the years came to mind. I can't help but speculate if the man who brought to life Vinnie Barbarino, Tony Manero and a Cher-sounding Edna Turnblad was given the freedom to live his true life, if he didn't have to worry about perceptions and innuendo while being a box office success, if he could have married the man of his dreams (still speculating) without fretting about the shadow of Scientology, there might not be a mountain of sexual harassment law suits piling up at a furious rate.

Also, last week, pulpits across North Carolina were abuzz with anti gay marriage rhetoric. Religious leaders encouraged their parishioners to vote for the passing of Amendment One, which would make the state's ban on same sex marriage a constitutional amendment. (Excuse me, Ma'am, but your church and state are commingling.) And no one was louder than Pastor Sean Harris, who gained notoriety when he proselytized, "Dads, the second you see your sons dropping the limp wrists, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch." Sentences made only more horrifying by congregants heard in the background punctuating Harris's words with jovial laughter and heartfelt Amens. Without quite apologizing, Harris has since admitted that he got caught up in the moment and probably shouldn't have used such violent imagery, and actually likened himself Jesus who he says also used hyperbole to get his message across to his flock. I'm feeling generous today, so let's take him at his word. My concern, however, is for those in the congregation who egged him on with relish and fervor, for those who could not define hyperbole let alone spell it. I worry that seeds have been planted, that nagging suspicions will gestate into paranoia, that Junior's effeminate comment or laissez faire hand on hip will tip the scale and what was intended as exaggeration, overstatement, amplification will suddenly be thrust into bone-crushing action, causing nightmarish realities.

Which brings us to Amendment One, which perhaps unsurprisingly passed last Tuesday, not only banning same sex marriage, but civil unions and domestic partnerships as well. What's heartbreaking is that by my calculations only twenty-two percent of the state's population voted on the measure that inevitably denied rights. One of the commercials promoting Amendment One used the following jaw-dropping language... "The Marriage Amendment...protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman just as God designed it." As you take a moment to digest this bitter cocktail of church and state, allow me the following futuristic fantasy. A United States in which both parties have to stoke the God fire in order to win. In fact, at presidential debates, the candidates goal is to out-God each other. Freedom of religion is nonexistent. In fact, if Buddha, Vishnu, Yahweh, Allah or Jughead are mentioned or prayed to the punishment is grizzly, Christian, Inquisition-like torture. And the strongest of those who survive will be placed in a televised competition where they'll hunt each other down until only the strongest of them survives...oh, wait, that's The Hunger Games. Let's be honest, there's nothing in the Bible against homomony. Were North Carolina Republicans honest, the wording of their commercial should have been, "The Marriage Amendment...protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman because, let's face it, homosexuals freak us the fuck out."


Then, as if to counter the results of North Carolina's election and question heavily the over usage of the phase "traditional marriage," prominent historian and Yale professor John Boswell, who died in 1994, started haunting the blogosphere. Boswell was a firebrand who won the National Book Award in 1981 for his book, Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality. (For the title alone I'd give him an award...and a sloppy, wet kiss.) But it was his The Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe (1994) that discussed the acceptance of various homosexual marriages throughout European history. The above image, according to Boswell, is of the marriage of Saints Sergius and Bacchus. And who is the guy in the middle standing in as pronubus or best man? That's right, it's the big cheese, Jesu Christo himself, officiating over the ceremony. Boswell claims to have discovered Christian liturgical documents entitled the "Office of Same-Sex Union" and "Order for Uniting Two Men," making Sergius and Bacchus's marriage as "traditional" as any other...except this bride and groom both had penises.

And all this before President Barack Hussein Obama sat down with Robin Roberts and put to bed (sorry for that choice) any questions any of us had about his personal feelings towards gay marriage. It was an acceptance...no, that doesn't quite define what I felt. Hmmmmmmmm. You know when your badass coach gives you a thumbs up for a well swum race? Or when your hard-as-nails teacher returns a test emblazoned with an A++ ? Or when the sexy stranger at the other side of the bar smiles a devious smile and buys your drink with no strings attached? Well, what I felt was more validating than the three of those combined.

Risking possible political suicide, our president spoke his truth. And I have to believe that because it seems that this action could cause more alienation than political gain.

There will be truckloads of fallout from this interview. But I encourage us all to sift through the chaff (Bristol Palin, go home!) and move forward positively.

The President has spoken.

5 comments:

Leigh Anne said...

Love this post! And if all those self-righteous church folks are so worried about the "sanctity of marriage", may be they should vote for a constitutional amendment outlawing adultery and divorce (...looking at *you*, Newt Gingrich).

Malisa said...

Amen! Obama made me proud. Happy Anniversary!

Malisa

James Sie said...

Amen! Well-put, Mommy.

www.DiatribesAndOvations.com said...

Awesome post. I'm going to share it right away.

Happy Anniversary!

onepaperbagprincess said...

It was such a fantastic moment to hear the announcement of Obama's support for marriage equality. Sadly, the same can not be said for our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard who is still opposed to the proposed changes to the Australian Marriage Act.

This is because she feels that it goes against 'traditional' values despite the fact that she is a) an atheist b) unmarried but living with her boyfriend and c) the first Australian female Prime Mister. Now that doesn't seem particularly traditional to me?

But hey, luckily the majority of Australian's support marriage equality and we'll keep fighting till we get there! : )