April 27, 2008

Hear that? That's the sound of Western civilization crumbling around you.

After all, not only are The Gays getting married - they're getting married young, according to a recent piece in the New York Times Magazine.  "Young Gay Rites" profiles a herd of twenty-something gay men who are either married or soon to be (and two who were married and divorced by age 26, proving that straight people don't have a monopoly on bad choices).  Clearly, straight marriages are being destroyed by the second.

The whole article is worth reading, but there were a few moments that particularly caught my attention:

...more than twice as many lesbians 29 and younger have married in Massachusetts than have gay men of that age...

Dan Savage, in the article, attributes this to Ye Olde Femayle Nestinge Instincte.  The author also quotes a demographer who attributes it to the ticking of the biological clock - after all, they'd best be gettin' married before their eggs shrivel up and die.  

Incidentally, this and a throwaway reference to U-Hauls are pretty much the entirety of the article's references to women.  The author explains (in the end of this very sentence) "...I chose to focus on the latter [i.e. men]."  Oh - wait - that's not an explanation, is it?  It's just a statement of preference - a preference which any attentive reader could have deduced from the fact that the article focuses on men.  But I suppose it's more newsworthy to see promiscuous mansluts settling down than serially monogamous domestic earth-goddesses, is that what you're saying?

“It never ceases to amaze me how many people will say to us, ‘So, who’s the woman, and who’s the man, in your marriage?’ ” says Jason Shumaker, who lives in a Boston suburb with his husband, Paul McLoughlin II, who is an assistant dean at Harvard. They met eight years ago when they were 25, and they legally married at 29 (registering to wed on the first day gay couples could do so in Massachusetts). “I just think that’s the dumbest question ever,” he added. “Yes, we’re married, but we’re also two guys, so neither one of us has to be ‘the woman.’ ”

Yay! Dean McLoughlin shout-out!

“Once, [gay] relationships were only respected if we had remained together for a long, long time,” [Dan] Savage said. “Only longevity earned us some modicum of respect. Straight couples could always rush that validity by getting married. Now I just worry that some gay kids, desperate to have their gay love taken seriously, will wield their new marriage licenses and say: ‘See how real our love is? We’ve only been together five months, but we’re already married. You better respect us now!’

'Cause lord knows, straight couples never do that. And if they do, everyone totally takes their marriage seriously as an automatic consequence of their having signed the right papers.

I'm sorry, why exactly are we expecting people entering same-sex marriages to be, as a group, any smarter than the people who've been entering "traditional" marriages for lo! these many years?

And finally ...

If I was lucky enough to find love, I thought, I’d better hold onto it. And part of me tried, but a bigger part of me wanted to pitch a tent in my favorite gay bar.

Did the New York Times Magazine actually let the phrase "pitch a tent in my favorite gay bar" into print?  Really?  Pitch a tent, guys?  Who let that one slip by?


QueerFemme said...

yeah, lesbians are good as the butt of un-funny overplayed jokes and people of color don't exist.

Couldn't they have asked a queer woman about women's relationships? Why'd they have to ask Dan Savage? Geez.

I'm too lazy to look it up, but I don't think 25 is really all that young by straight standards. I can think of 10 members of my high school class (out of 70) who are married.

Anonymous said...

While it would have been more interesting to see an article that covered more than young, white, gay men, I can't fault the author for only covering that demographic. As he says in the article, that's all he knows.

Trying to extend into cultural issues, race issues, gender issues, etc. that he has not personally grappled with would have changed the point of the article. It also would have been something much more difficult to write about, or could have caught him some "You have no idea what you're talking about" flak.

To be fair, he should have been more explicit about his reasoning why he focused on this one demographic. But I think he did fine in making some of his biases known.

maudite entendante said...

Anon - you're right, it's impossible for one article to cover every imaginable perspective, and I definitely understand that the author has to settle down and pick a relatively narrow and manageable focus. I don't agree that he should automatically have chosen the group he personally belongs to because "that's all he knows" - because sometimes journalism involves actual research - but it's definitely a valid choice.

I just wish he'd explained his choice, like, at all - rather than saying "I chose to focus on young white gay men ... 'cause ... um ... that's what I chose." And once he'd decided to focus on the menfolk because he didn't think he could talk meaningfully or accurately about queer women, maybe it would've been a good idea to stick with that choice rather than toss in a few jokey references to lesbians just to make the coverage "balanced."

Queerfemme - heh. There are quite a few of my HS classmates who are married by now, too (and at least one who's divorced), but given how many of my classmates were pregnant while we were in school, I'm afraid to use people I know as any sort of benchmark for normal sexual/romantic progression. I think my HS was a bit ... precocious.

Ily said...

I saw that article-- I think it's interesting to note that Massachusetts *hasn't* descended into the flames of the apocalypse. In fact, since gay folks were allowed to marry there, absolutely nothing has happened, except for a few more people getting married. I wish that other states would recognize this and go, "oh, ok, this seems to work..."
And agree on everyone's white men comments. Also, I'm 23 and my friends are getting married-- aiiieeee!