Saturday, January 31, 2004
Of course, there's a cure for that, which is to get out more.
Friday, January 30, 2004
Dear Representative _____________,
I urge you to vote AGAINST the Marriage Affirmation and Protection Amendment. Most thinking people agree that this Amendment is directed against a group of people. This goes against the tradition of our legislative process. Laws must protect the rights of all, especially those who are part of minority groups. If overturning discriminatory laws were always left up to the legislative branch of the government or to popular vote, these laws would never be overturned. The Jim Crow laws would never have been overturned without the Supreme Court's ruling in 1954 in Brown vs. The Board of Education. Left to popular election, I'm sure the Jim Crow laws would still be in effect.
Your courageous leadership in voting against the Marriage Affirmation and Protection Amendment will be remembered on election day!
Thursday, January 29, 2004
Local political commentators are beginning to say that Kerry scares the radical Right because he actually WAS a war hero of tremendous mental and physical courage, so they're not going to be able to hang the "WASP upper crust pretty boy" label on him. I really like to think Kerry could unseat Bush whose major military accomplishment was looking good in a flight suit to prematurely declare the Iraq War over. The whole war/terror issue will remain volatile right through to the election but the economy, along with his disastrous foreign policy, is what I think could really tear Bush down. The economy shows signs of reviving at last if you don't look at the job situation too closely. I suspect our foreign policy awaits the next incumbent. Kerry is going to have to play it very shrewdly and I wish him the very best.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
With the Primary over in New Hampshire, Fritz has seen the last of what he came to call the "Deanettes," the volunteers working on the Dean campaign who were put up at Fritz's center at a low rate--Fritz's contribution to the campaign. After Iowa, the number of volunteeers was triple what had been expected; Dean threw everything he had at New Hampshire to try to get back on track and apparently is happy with a second place showing rather far back from Kerry's impressive win.
Off to paint some more and maybe get home by 8PM tonight. If othing else, this is all great aerobic exercise.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Anti-gay marriage activities are cropping up in Connecticut as well as Ohio and elsewhere, including New Hampshire. I don't think the New Hampshire efforts will lead to much as anti-gay legislation has been voted down by safe margins there in the recent past. Connecticut is a different matter, perhaps. I am interested that we seem to be so much a threat; at least we're being taken seriously and the forces of bigotry and exclusion have caught on that there are a lot of us. I think that in some of the more enlightened states, the irrationality of their fury may cause a backlash against THEM. Devoutly to be wished.
So here I am teaching design and designing at one of the great schools of the Western World and when I go home late these nights I love to rot the brain a bit watching the tube while putting laundry away or paying the bills. My secret weakness has always been Hollywood historical costume epics--de Mille, "Spartacus," "Ben-Hur" (Oh, Stephen Boyd, with that dimple in your chin and that smile and . . . ), "The Robe," and the big kahuna, "The Ten Commandments" ("O Moses, Moses!"). So imagine my joy when the History Channel started its "Barbarians" series. Now these are pretty much rampant trash but the design is really good (during the "Attila" episode they got the interior lighting fixtures and other details exactly right), and the men are generally great looking and often stripped to the waist which makes up for the fact that most of them are pretty hopeless as actors. But who cares? Heads roll, evil Roman Empresses connive in the shadows and smile enigmatically as their victims are led off to execution, slave girls cast burning glances and the hero du jour seethes while lusting after just one more victory--or one more slave girl. God, I love it!
Saturday, January 24, 2004
The "colorful suits" line is the real gem. You couldn't parody this--it parodies itself.
"BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A Belgian cardinal was quoted Wednesday as saying only five to 10 percent of lesbians and gays were actually gay and the rest were "sexual perverts."
"I am willing to write in my own blood that of all those who call themselves lesbian or gay, a maximum of five to 10 percent are effectively lesbian or gay," Cardinal Gustaaf Joos, 80, told the Belgian weekly P-Magazine. "All the rest are just sexual perverts," Joos added.
"I demand you write that down," said Joos, who was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul late last year. "I don't care if they all come protesting at my door. I won't open the door."
The country as a whole, whose population of 10 million is predominantly Roman Catholic, legalized gay marriages last year and is now moving closer to granting same-sex couples the right to adopt children.
"Real homosexuals don't wander in the streets in colorful suits. Those are people who have a serious problem and have to live with that. And if they make a mistake they will be forgiven. We have to help these people and not judge them." "The Church...rejects homosexuality, not the homosexual," Joos said.
The Vatican has condemned same-sex unions as deviant and a threat to society at the same time that Europe and North America are moving toward legalizing gay marriage."
Friday, January 23, 2004
Tonight I go to a performance by Intermezzo, The New England Chamber Opera. Menotti's one act opera THE MEDIUM that I know well but have never seen on a stage, and the world premiere of ALL GOLD CANYON, based on a Jack London short story by composer Brian Hulse. I'll be designing a premiere for Intermezzo next August and there is talk of giving me at least one other in the future.
A couple of months ago I had a delightful lunch with the company's director, a handsome, outgoing young baritone with a great sense of humor. We got on famously. I asked at one point what he had in mind in founding Intermezzo and he said that he wanted "a small gay opera company." I replied, "And this would be different from all other opera companies how?" After breaking up together, we went on to all sorts of other topics, including the joys of having non-opera-loving-partners who love you so much that they support and even encourage something they can't get into themselves just for your sake. I think this will be a very nice professional association.
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Meanwhile, gay shows and references continue to pervade prime time TV. The latest I caught was a line on "Law and Order." As Jerry Orbach and Jesse Clark hauled off an old Italian mobster just before the final wrap-up, Orbach looked down at the old guy's clothes and said, "After the arraignment, those five boys from "Queer Eye" are gonna want a long talk with YOU!"
Dan Savage in his current "Savage Love" column asks the question yet again, how would his marrying his long-term lover threaten the sacred institution of heterosexual marriage--like Britney Spears's very solemn and sacred 55 hour one?
Wednesday, January 21, 2004
My patience for the standing ovation every thirty seconds or so when some blatant campaign slogan has been delivered is quickly exhausted and instead of hearing where we really are as a political entity and society,we hear about "what I did" and "what I will do before the next election." All of that said, a couple of interesting things did happen last night. For one, it became obvious that, aside from one or two flubs that might have happened to anyone, GWB has become a far more dynamic and confident speaker than the bumbler who wandered aimlessly through public statements not two years ago. Last night he seemed forcefully in control and his writers had the grammar in hand so we didn't hear things like "drug' as the past tense of "drag." The delivery had ease, shape and force.
The second is what he DIDN'T say. While the reference to the gay marriage drama in Massachusetts was obvious, the words gay and lesbian were not spoken. And while the news media this morning are all reporting that he said he would support a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, he didn't. In a very canny bit of wiggling to avoid openly outraging the 10% or so of us who are voters while also pandering to his religious extremist constituents, he merely said that a Constitutional amendment would be the recourse of The People.
I have no admiration for the man or his policies but I have to say, the night was his. I am a confirmed Democrat which made their lame response all the more disquieting. After GWG's firm and confident delivery, two recessive figures, immoble in chairs and fumbling lines right and left, droned on, seemingly interminably, in deadly fashion. Messers Kerry, Clark, Edwards and Dean take note--he's primed and loaded for bear and he's going to be one tough opponent to beat.
Monday, January 19, 2004
Less than an hour after I got home, a car came down the main street far too fast for the slippery conditions, made the turn onto the side street and whacked my front end hard. Two days I had my Jeep back and now it starts all over again.
Saturday, January 17, 2004
As for reasons why this is so important to do, their statement declares that gay marriage will hurt children. How two men or two women joining in a legal contract to love and support each other can possibly hurt children has never been defined by the Catholic Church. In this state and in many others, however, the Church has given vivid demonstrations precisely how to do so and how to lie to cover it up. The
hypocrisy is truly revolting.
Friday, January 16, 2004
Surprisingly, John Kerry has been gaining in the polls both in Iowa and in New Hampshire. What had looked like an easy walk for Gov. Dean now seems like an actual race. Placing Kerry against Bush might be interesting if only to see the juxtaposition of an actual war veteran versus the action hero figure of the aircraft carrier landing photo op. Our men and women are still being killed in Iraq and no, they don't love us there after all.
In preparation for Fritz's and my wedding, I am reading John Boswell's book on same-sex marriage ceremonies in pre-modern, Christian Europe. By coincidence, Todd (toddo) mentioned Boswell this morning in a fine piece on seeking and sometimes finding nugguts of gay history in our literature. I think a lot more is coming in the next decade. Attitudes are changing; older gay men who have lived through bad times, liberation, the horrific plague and the current acceleration of gay entry into the mainstream and the attendant backlash have a
lot of valuable experience and wisdom to pass on. In the 19th century and beyond, we have a lot more than just Walt Whitman to learn about and be proud of.
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Fritz does have cardinals at his place in southern New Hampshire including one male that comes to feed and then attacks his reflection in the dining room window. This starts at first light--we lie in bed when I am up there listening to the thud of his little body against the glass at roughly ten second intervals for around twenty minutes at a time. He comes back several times a day; this has been going on since the spring. He's an exceptionally handsome, alert and vibrantly colored bird but you'd think he just might have caught on by now that it isn't another male bird invading his territory. Maybe his brains are scrambled after crashing into glass for so long.
I started painting the big winter production yesterday but I'm not into it yet. The big physical moves required in scenic painting are a body-learned thing and I should get back into the groove some time today. When I get going and hit my stride I can paint very fast, even very intricate scenes and landscapes. The first day or so of working on a big project I try to schedule run of the mill stuff to get warmed up.
I am without a Comment function at this time. It seems BlogSpeak is down indefinitely and when I tried to install BlogOut according the the instructions--twice--nothing happened. If anyone wants to be in touch, please use the hotmail address in the header.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Fritz and I have dear friends in Seattle, two guys who relocated there from Boston and we feared we might not see them much or ever again. Truth to tell, we have probably seen them more now than when they lived here. A couple of years ago we spent a week or more in the state of Washington and part of it involved a little rental car, touring around the Olympic Peninsula. We love to go way outside the normal tourist activities and get into the outback wherever we go. We visited Indian reservations, isolated coastal villages, the rain forest, and wonderful little towns like Port Townsend and Sequim (pronounced Squim) where we discovered the Sequim Museum.
This is NOT a major art museum but more a history and culture collection that gives a disjointed but compelling history of the town. It would be easy with an East Coast urban sensibility to poke fun at it but in the end it is both highly informative and actually very moving.
If it happened in Sequim--and a surprising amount did--it is memorialized and lovingly presented.
Actor John Wayne loved the place and gave money for the town marina that now bears his name, because he often sailed his boat up the coast from LA and vacationed there. The display devoted to him is right next to the Mastodon Exhibit, consisting of a good tabletop
diorama of the excavation site of a mastodon found close nearby. The discovery changed the anthropology history books as there was evidence of an extensive hunting, butchering and processing camp connected to the skeleton, some hundreds or even thousands of years earlier than such organized activity had been thought possible in the area. Turn around and you face the 1950s prom dress exhibit, a breathtraking array of pastel satin, chiffon and tulle with crinolines and even some jewelry all in place. The two women who ran the place were delighted to answer questions and when Fritz asked where to get recordings of genuine Indian ritual music for him to use in his teaching, they made phone calls, pulled maps and made sure we got to the right tribal cultural center where CDs had been pulled and set aside awaiting our visit. Throughout the building are items of furniture, tools and equipment, fragments of people's lives sometimes in a context and often not, but by the time you get through the whole thing you have a sense of a time and place now gone that meant something both specific and real--and of people now who connect to that in a major way.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
For some reason the Comment function has been failing for the last two days at intervals. Apologies to anyone this inconveniences, but you can reach me if you like at the email address that appears in the heading above.
I have been expanding the link lists recently to add some new blogs I enjoy and to include links to significant performance groups and, eventually, museums that I frequent and/or feel are highly worthy of attention. I am very interested to make this blog arts- and gay issues-centric. As any of you who are involved in gay life will obviously know, those two threads are frequently very much intertwined.
The green room at the Glimmerglass Opera might just as well be a gay bar (and looked like guys were using it that way when I went backstage last summer). A female stage carpenter at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC brought a job action against the company several years ago claiming that the prevailing taste for gay pin-up porn in backstage areas of the opera house created a hostile and threatening work environment for women. Well, those of us who go back just a little way will remember that getting any work done on your car or visiting any other venue where "real men" worked involved large amounts of pin-up art of bosomy naked women, so I look upon what went on at the MET simply as us getting equal time. And there's a welcome lack of tiresome protests about being demeaned and turned into objects by gay pin-up boys and porn stars. Truth to tell, I think these guys do it because they LIKE it and it gives their work a refreshing quality of enthusiasm and pride.
Monday, January 12, 2004
Bishop to lawyers: Stop gay marriage
By Robin Washington
Monday, January 12, 2004
Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley called on Catholic jurists to mobilize against same-sex marriage yesterday, employing some of his strongest rhetoric to date in denouncing the recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling upholding state-sanctioned gay liaisons.
O'Malley's remarks, in his homily for the annual Red Mass celebrated by the Catholic Lawyers Guild at Cathedral of the Holy Cross, were echoed by controversial one-time Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork at the group's luncheon following the service.
``This point in history requires the diligent commitment of lawyers on behalf of marriage,'' O'Malley said. ``It's not a question of live and let live. It's a question of right and wrong.''
Bork, 76, a recent convert to Catholicism who failed to win confirmation on the high court after his nomination by President Reagan in 1987, said the 4-3 SJC decision upholding gay marriage had no basis in constitutional law. ``When John Adams wrote the Massachusetts Constitution, it seems unlikely that he contemplated any principle which could conceivably create a right to homosexual marriage,'' said Bork, who served as a U.S. Appeals Court judge from 1982 to 1988.
Both O'Malley and Bork - a one-time Solicitor General and President Nixon's acting Attorney General after the resignation of Elliot Richardson - accused the SJC of kowtowing to political correctness rather than the law. Citing a Supreme Court decision striking down a Texas sodomy law, Bork said he expected the high court to follow the Bay State's lead. To combat that, he said, Lawyers Guild members need to understand the issue. ``If they don't, I didn't speak very clearly,'' he said.
Affirming that he understood Bork's point was John Moscardelli, a lawyer and Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board member.
``He has been saying precisely what's on his mind for many years. He is a very courageous guy,'' Moscardelli said. Of O'Malley, he said: ``He is a man of deep conviction and great courage to say what he said and exhort everybody else to do the same.''
But Richard Olario, one of a dozen souls enduring single-digit temperatures outside the cathedral to mark a second year of protest on the clergy sexual abuse scandal, questioned O'Malley's sincerity. ``It's a diversion tactic,'' he said. ``He's trying to re-establish moral authority, which is long lost.''
Here is a slightly fuller account from the Boston Globe:
Catholics urged to fight gay marriage
Bishop, Bork try to mobilize lawyers
By Ralph Ranalli and John McElhenny, Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent, 1/12/2004
A call to fight the legalization of gay marriage was issued by several prominent voices yesterday, including Boston Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley and former US Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork, who strongly urged the state's Catholic lawyers and judges to oppose last year's historic decision by the state Supreme Judicial Court.
O'Malley made his remarks during the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, an event named for the scarlet vestments worn during a service to bless the work of lawyers and judges.
"We cannot afford to be asleep at the switch. We cannot afford to run for cover. Today, at this Red Mass, I call on you, our Catholic lawyers and jurists, to live your baptismal commitment," O'Malley said. "Your baptism and your profession invest you with a great responsibility. Use your wisdom to defend the truth, to defend marriage. Do it with a passion and do what is right."
Later, at a luncheon sponsored by the Catholic Lawyers' Guild, Bork, a former US attorney general, warned that the US Supreme Court appeared to be on track to issue a national decision similar to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's November ruling.
Bork, the author of several books, including "Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline," said that the country has entered a new age of judicial activism that is eroding the government's traditional separation of powers.
He charged that the split 4-to-3 decision to legalize gay marriage in the case of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health would have been "inconceivable" to John Adams, the architect of the Massachusetts constitution, and said the ruling was based on "arguments that did not rise above the quality of a late-night philosophy session in a dormitory."
"The 4-to-3 majority decided that the judicial power is also the power to make public policy," Bork said. "We are no longer a government of laws, but one of four lawyers wearing robes."
Margaret Williams, interim executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said O'Malley's comments were no surprise because the Catholic Church had made clear its opposition to gay marriage.
"Bishop O'Malley has the right to represent the views of the Catholic Church, but this is not about the Catholic Church," she said. "It's about the rights and freedoms under the Massachusetts Constitution. For us, this is not an issue of religious marriage. It's an issue of what is right in the American justice system. The separation of church and state should be very clear."
Later in the day, at a Faneuil Hall assembly sponsored by Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Massachusetts House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran also decried the "judicial tyranny" of the courts.
Finneran, an abortion rights opponent who was the assembly's keynote speaker, said, "It is that unelected branch of government that is far more dangerous than anything the elected branch could do."
O'Malley, who also attended the Citizens for Life assembly, urged the lawyers during the Red Mass to emulate St. Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers, who was executed by King Henry VIII for his support of marriage and his opposition to divorce.
"We live in an age when our hubris has made us blind to the madness around us, where our courts have undermined the value of life itself and now attempt to dilute the meaning of marriage," O'Malley said. "In diluting the meaning of marriage, we risk diminishing our own humanity."
O'Malley also warned that gay marriage would erode the traditional connection between marriage and child rearing.
"The prevalence of divorce and cohabitation in the last decades has done great harm to the institution of marriage, by taking the focus off children. Same-sex marriages will only further the tendency to only see marriage as being for the good of the adult without taking into account the children and their interests."
Retired state Supreme Judicial Court Justice Joseph R. Nolan, the president of the lawyers' guild, said O'Malley's exhortation was well-received by members. "It was good, we need to do something," said Nolan. "I was on that court for 14 years, then I left and then they came up with that abomination."
The crowd included some of the church's most stalwart legal defenders, including Wilson Rogers Jr. and his son, Wilson Rogers III, who for years defended the church against civil complaints of sexual abuse, and Thomas H. Hannigan Jr., the Boston attorney hired by O'Malley to negotiate last year's historic $85 million settlement with more than 500 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse.
The Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the church's lobbying arm, handed out fliers at the luncheon urging lawyers to call their state senators and representatives to support the Marriage Affirmation and Protection Amendment, a constitutional measure that proponents say would reverse the Goodridge decision and define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
At the Citizens for Life assembly at Faneuil Hall, several speakers addressed the topic of gay marriage, including Tom Shields, chairman of The Coalition for Marriage, which is promoting the constitutional amendment.
"Gays and lesbians have the right to live as they choose, but they do not have the right to redefine marriage for our entire society," Shields said.
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.
Sunday, January 11, 2004
Then Fritz and I went to a big bash our costume designer and her husband were throwing at their house for her 50th birthday. They had hired a band for dancing and had wonderful food and wine (she's Italian, he's Jewish, both are in the arts and they live and cook with great style). We all got into a conversation on gay men and sex. It was started by a comment by one of our directors that she had taken note of good advice delivered in the book "Savage Love" by gay sex advice columnist Dan Savage on how to deliver a good hand job. And shortly thereafter she found her husband reading a book on techniques for making love to a woman written by a lesbian couple. There was much hilarity over all this that led to the eventual recognition that gay men probably DO know a great deal more about sex than straight men. Fritz and I just smiled, then went out to dance. Dancing isn't one of my great skills but he makes it easy for me, and being in his arms in any setting at any time is just heaven.
Saturday, January 10, 2004
Security is the reason for all this, of course. A spur of the green line trolleys is being demolished because it is elevated and passes right next to the Fleet Center, site of the Convention. I had thought the huge new convention center in South Boston would be the site as it is surrounded by hotels, but no. I think the green liine elevated is being torn down solely for cosmetic reasons. People will be bussed along its route in future, meaning a change of carrier from underground to surface vehicles and resulting delays.
We are being warned that the portion of the new underground central artery, part of the legendarily over-budget Big Dig, will almost certainly be closed for the duration of the Convention. As the only way to do this is to send people off into the streets of Cambridge and Somerville before they get to the gorgeous new bridge that crosses the mouth of the Charles and plunges into the sunken artery tunnel, there will probably be massive traffic jams and chaos in those communities.
Taxis, we are told, will probably be non-existent as will hotel rooms. Other traffic and transit changes and outages are to be expected.
Blessedly, Fritz and I had already planned to be out of town during July. This year we are driving cross country for our vacation, by one route to the north to get to Colorado Springs, then home by another route, more southerly, coming home. As always we will be visiting friends and family all along the way and seeing things that we have always wanted to visit. We will continue our tour of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings (Falling Water, the Robie House and the complex up in Oak Park north of Chicago, etc,) and get to the little retreat hidden in the woods of Virginia where Thomas Jefferson build a mathematically calculated and planned house.
I think the woods of Virginia and the Rockies of Colorado will be great places to be next July.
Thursday, January 08, 2004
As those of you who have read me from early on or who have gone back in the archives know, I said I would only refer to people in my life by "title," daughter, partner, etc. in respect of their privacy as I was the voluntary blogger, not they. But I am going to change that and speak of my guy by his name from now on, which is Fritz. He has been Fritz since he was about seventeen. His family had a summer house at Saltaire on Fire Island where he had his first taste of gay bars. A somewhat older guy--early 20s--ran a little ferry back and forth across from the Long Island Coast to Saltaire and thought that Frederic or Fred didn't suit a tall, lanky gay boy with a big smile, ready wit, and mischief in his eye. So he dubbed him Fritz, and Fritz really does suit him. He's been all fired up over the wedding the last week or so. We decided to do it in November, but the reality is really sinking in. He had never thought anything remotely like the place where gay men are now would happen in his lifetime. He's all excited and absolutely adorable.
Monday, January 05, 2004
All three men affirm that civil unions will not fulfill the State Supreme Judicial Court's mandate for gay marriage. It's a great pity than none of these men is currently in office. As I have mentioned, the incumbents as Governor and Attorney General will support the concept of civil unions but oppose gay marriage with real determination. We will all watch the coming months with great interest. Anti gay marriage supporters rally at the State House this Wednesday with Pro gay marriage supporters getting the spotlight on Thursday at noon.
My partner and I have set the date for August 14th and we're having the rings made some time in February.
Saturday, January 03, 2004
I found the story of Gus Archilla and Elmer Lokkins deeply moving. I also realized again how treasureable the oldest generation of gay men is--the generation that survived somehow by whatever means they could and that left us a legacy of strength and determination.
After 6 Quiet Decades as 'Friends' and Partners, Gus and Elmer Eloped
December 16, 2003
By ANDREA ELLIOTT
In the language of their generation, Gus and Elmer were friends. They worked together, took cruises together and sang in the
same church choir. They lived together for nearly six decades but never held hands in public.
Then, last month, Gustavo Archilla, 88, and Elmer Lokkins, 84, crossed the Canadian border near Niagara Falls and were married.
"We eloped," Mr. Lokkins said in his Manhattan apartment one recent afternoon, before breaking into song. "To Niagara in a sleeper, there's no honeymoon that's cheaper."
Then he paused, and his tone shifted. "We waited a long, long time."
Mr. Archilla and Mr. Lokkins did not marry for political reasons, financial reasons or legal reasons. Through their 58 years tgether, they mostly stood by as others fought for rights like civil unions or domestic partnerships. Marriage meant more to them. It was something sacred, they said, an institution they cherished even as it shunned them. The couple capture what some in the gay rights movement say is an essential but unappreciated point in the argument for same-sex marriage: it offers something more basic and profound than survivor rights or shared health care. For many gays and lesbians, the power of marriage lies in the sanctity of its tradition, its social legitimacy - the very thing opponents of gay marriage are mobilizing at the highest levels to protect.
For Mr. Arcila and Mr. Lokkins, the need for an official blessing was so basic that until they married, they could not make their relationship public. It was only on the evening of Nov. 12, after they wed, that they embraced in front of others for the first time.
"What we did was finally cap it all up - make it seem complete," said Mr. Archilla, the son of a Puerto Rican Presbyteria minister. "It was about fulfilling this desire people have to dignify what you have done all your life -to qualify it by going through the ceremony so that it has the same seriousness, the same objective that anybody getting married would be entitled to."
For years, each man attended the weddings, funerals and baptisms o his partner's family, but felt he lacked an official link.
"I wanted to marry into his family," Mr. Lokkins said. "I wanted to be an Archilla also."
The lives of Mr. Lokkins and Mr. Archilla have traced an arc in gay history: they came of age at a time when gays and lesbians could be jailed and the medical establishment deemed their sexual orientation a mental illness, treatable by electric shock. They now live in a transformed country, where the word "queer" pops up on daily television listings and gay characters are a staple of Hollywood. They have seen changes they never imagined possible, from the Supreme Court's striking down of sodomy laws this year to the ruling by the highest court of Massachusetts in November to legalize same-sex marriage. Canada had legalized it several months earlier.
"It's been a period of wonderment," Mr. Archilla said.
Although Mr. Lokkins and Mr. Archilla have remained largely at the margins of gay activism, they have been leaders in other realms: Mr. Lokkins was the registrar of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and Mr. Archilla was his assistant. Mr. Archilla was the chairman of the board of their co-op in Morningside Gardens. As eldest siblings, they consider themselves the heads of their
respective families: their annual Christmas letter has 415 recipients.
Being gay, they say, is not a significant part of their identity. They acknowledge it in a quiet way: they donate money to gay rights organizations, but they socialize mostly in heterosexual circles. They are, in part, a product of their time - a time when people hid their sexual orientation as a means of survival. "It was like a secret society," said Terry Kaelber, executive director of SAGE, a gay rights organization for the elderly in Manhattan.
It was dusk on Sept. 16, 1945, when Mr. Lokkins first spotted Mr. Archilla walking through Columbus Circle. Mr. Archilla was on his way home from voice lessons at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Lokkins had just been honorably discharged from the Army and was visiting from Chicago. "I had never seen anything so handsome," Mr. Lokkins said. They chatted and then agreed to meet the next evening to
hear a live performance of the radio show "Town Hall Tonight." After the show, they walked the streets and finally retreated quietly to the hotel room where Mr. Lokkins was staying. There, he boyishly unpacked a bag filled with keepsakes from his wartime military duty.
"What appealed to me was the childlike manner of him," Mr. Archilla said.
Within days, Mr. Archilla took Mr. Lokkins home to meet the family. Mr. Archilla's parents had died, and he was in charge of his eight younger siblings. He introduced Mr. Lokkins as a friend. Neither man ever considered discussing his sexual orientation with family. Mr. Lokkins was engaged at the time to a woman in Chicago; Mr. Archilla had been briefly engaged to a woman in New York. "Living a lie was the hardest part," Mr. Lokkins said.
Mr. Lokkins returned to Chicago, broke off the engagement and, several months later, moved into a vacant bedroom in the Archilla family's Washington Heights apartment. No one suspected anything at first. But soon, Mr. Archilla's siblings began to wonder. "We noticed that he didn't date too much like all my other brothers," said one of Mr. Archilla's three sisters, Idalia Chimelis, 83.
The two men kept their relationship a secret. But as Mr. Archilla's siblings moved out, one by one, and Mr. Lokkins remained, the unspoken truth began to emerge. He and Mr. Archilla stayed there until 1957, when they bought a sunny top-floor apartment in a Morningside Gardens high rise.
With time, they became "Uncle Gus and Uncle Elmer" to members o their families. They rarely missed a family gathering. They doted lovingly on their nieces and nephews. But they never doted, publicly, on each other. "They were never demonstrative," said Mr. Lokkins's sister, Helen Thrun, 81. Their discretion was essential to maintaining good relations with the family, she said.
Still, acceptance was sometimes hard won. For 40 years, Mr. Archilla and Mr. Lokkins remained estranged from one of Mr. Archilla's brothers. This year, when the man fell ill with Alzheimer's, Mr. Archilla called him and they reconciled.
Mr. Lokkins spent half of his childhood in an orphanage in Normal, Ill. He has a hard time talking about the brother who never accepted him, or about a love letter from Mr. Archilla that wound up in the hands of an aunt. "I just wiped those things away," he said. "It was
terrible. I don't remember."
Only once did Mr. Lokkins and Mr. Archilla take an active part in the gay rights struggle: in 1993, they held a banner for SAGE during a march in Washington. "It made me appreciate the big job that other people have done for us," Mr. Archilla said. "It made me feel some
shame that I had not done more." But he and Mr. Lokkins told only a few friends about the march.
Their wedding, 10 years later, was a very different kind of act, they said. "The emotion was different - it was spiritual," Mr. Archilla said.
The idea occurred to them when they heard about Canada's legalization of same-sex marriage. In November, they had planned a trip upstate to Depew, N.Y., to visit some ailing relatives. The night before they left, Mr Lokkins and Mr. Archilla began talking about following through with the marriage. "I couldn't sleep," Mr. Lokkins said.
At 6 a.m., they called Mr. Archilla's nephew, a lawyer who lives in West Seneca, N.Y. He tracked down some phone numbers in Canada and, two days later, the couple were driving with two witnesses - Mr. Archilla's sister-in-law, Buelah Archilla, and her brother - across the border. They got their marriage license at the Niagara Falls City Hall and were married in a 20-minute ceremony at the home of Dr. John R. A. Mayer, the chaplain of a Unitarian church in St. Catherine's, Ontario. They were the oldest couple ever married by Dr. Mayer, who performed only six or eight marriages a year until the new laws were passed. Since July he has performed 50 ceremonies- 40 for same-sex couples.
After the ceremony, Mr. Lokkins and Mr. Archilla and their two witnesses stopped at Denny's for a Grand Slam breakfast. "They were flying high," said Daniel R. Archilla, 40, the lawyer who helped arrange the wedding and saw them at their evening celebration in Depew.
Some of their older relatives were still getting used to the notion of same-sex marriage but seemed ready to put the couple's happiness first. "I'm a Christian," said Buelah Archilla, 75, who was the host for the party. "It wouldn't work for me, of course.
Whatever works for them is good."
As newlyweds, Mr. Lokkins and Mr. Archilla say they feel a novel freedom. "I feel a sense of relief," Mr. Archilla said. "The maximum
is getting married."
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
Friday, January 02, 2004
It has been mostly a great hoot and a wonderful time. The guest list was engineered to include not only our oldest and dearest friends (with a sprinkling of boyfriends and promising newcomers) but also to make sure all the guys would be compatible. There has been a lot of laughter, good activities, a satisfying amount of debauch, excellent fancy dress for the New Year's Eve dinner and great food. Just what you would expect from a gathering of 24 gay men who have the greatest of affection for each other. In all, a superb way to start the year.