The question of whether or not same-sex marriage means "the end of gay" came up again on the comment section on a blog I read regularly. The lead-in subject this time was what to do about last names in a gay marriage. My reply was this:
"I've always said that when gays marry they make the "rules" for themselves and are not bound by heterosexual customs. Most of our friends keep their own names as Fritz and I have done. The husband of a very dear blogger friend of mine changed his last name as his family had treated him so badly he didn't want their name any more. Another couple of blogger friends joined their last names with a hyphen. It's all good, it's whatever they felt comfortable with."
The other question that comes up in relation to gay marriages is monogamy. To me this is a complete red herring. It's based on the fallacy that heterosexual marriage is monogamous, something that's been proven quite decisively to be untrue. To me this is another instance where gay couples decide for themselves the terms of their relationships with no obligation to toe anyone else's line.
It's entirely possible that my take on this issue is due to the fact that I was never a bar guy. That aspect of gay life never appealed to me. There was a great deal of smoking, drinking and outright alcoholism in my family. I saw the consequences. Health was broken, lives shortened. If bar culture is held to be the defining mark of gayness, then I guess I don't qualify.
I look at the new gay leaders, the senators and representatives, the writers, media personalities, the vibrant, creative couples like Dan Savage and Terry Miller and I don't see decline or the end of gay. I see a bright future for everyone, straight and gay, as society becomes richer by our full inclusion.
Gene Robinson, America's and New Hampshire's own first out gay Episcopal Bishop, retired recently and has moved to the nation's capital. He'll be working with the Center for American Progress, a progressive
research and policy organization, on issues of faith and gay rights.
He faced tremendous resistance, rejection by the Anglican Church in England, was slandered in certain parts of the media, and his safety, even his life was threatened. In what amounted to an exit interview with NPR, he had some revealing comments about his experiences and insights as the object of a lot of rejection and protest.
"The death threats were plentiful, almost daily for a couple of years.
And then more recently I prayed the invocation at the opening
inaugural event at President Obama's inauguration in 2009, and it was
about two weeks later I got a call from the Vermont State Police who had
almost accidentally arrested a guy who had been driving through this
small Vermont town and was in such a rage that he shot the windows out
of an empty parked police cruiser. And when they caught up to him, he
had in his passenger's seat, right next to him, MapQuest maps
right to our house. He had pictures of me and Mark, and he had scrawled
across them, 'Save the church. Kill the bishop.' And he had a sawed-off
shotgun and tons of ammunition."
"I think people often come to the synagogue, mosque, the church looking
for God, and what we give them is religion. And I think that is a huge
mistake, and sometimes we let our fussing around with the
institution get in the way of what people came for, which is help in
facilitating their access and relationship with God. On the other
hand, if you go off by yourself, then it can become a kind of
narcissistic enterprise, and you don't have people around you constantly
testing your understanding of God. That's what makes me believe
in the church, in the synagogue, in the mosque, because that's the
community of people that can help us understand better what our
perceived relationship with God is, and test it against all those many
ways in which we can try to shape it out of our own personality."
"Here's the part that most people don't know: When I was about 13
years old, this doctor who had delivered me — he was a pediatrician,
actually, and became my pediatrician -- always said two things when I
went to see him for a shot or a checkup. One was, 'You sure look better
than the first time I saw you,' and the second was, 'I had help from
above when I delivered you.' And when I was 13, he sat me down in his
office and he said, 'I'm going to tell you something that your
parents don't know, no one in the world knows this, but I — I want to
tell you this. He said, 'I looked at you, and you were a little monster.
You were so misshapen and your head was so crushed in that all I could
think about was your 20-year-old mother looking at your monster-like
face in your little coffin, and I just couldn't bear it. And I was so
sure you were going to die that I took your head in my hands and mushed
it back into as round a shape as I could make it so your mother wouldn't
be so horrified.' He said, 'Had I any notion that you were going to
live, I would never have done it, and I just think you ought to know
that, that your life was given to you by something far beyond me.' "
Somehow, he survived and he made a great deal of difference.