Most of the couples interviewed by Denizet-Lewis at least present the signs of excessive affluence (monogrammed slippers, antique furniture from all over the world, catered sushi parties, jobs at law firms, and degrees from MIT) and the one group of young, gay men he interviewed was described as "five working professionals" in their 20's and "two college undergraduates."
For all the talk from those advocating for marriage as a solution to economic disparity between queer and straight people, let's just say that it didn't, um, shine through here.
And queer couples make an average of earn around $7000 less than straight couples, according to the most recent US Census. It's not like they're rolling in it.
This is a standard right-wing attack against same-sex marriage and sexual orientation based job protections, that gays are so rich that they don't need the rights associated with it. And after reading a simple majority of this article, I came away with the same feeling that Tin Man did regarding the wealthiness of it all:
The photos also bother me because they play into the stereotype that all gay men are affluent and privileged and don't really need the economic benefits that marriage would bring or the job protections that an employment nondiscrimination law would bring. They also play into the stereotype that we're all fabulous curiosities instead of real people who don't have equal rights.[...]
Gay people are not all supercool. Enough already.
While I don't really know the financial specifics of the couples involved (even though they're clearly being presented as wealthy), Denizet-Lewis says that they're all white and explains why:
But with no model for how to build a young gay marriage, I was curious about how gay men in their 20s would choose to construct and maintain their unions. What would their marriages look like? And would the expectation of monogamy, a longstanding cornerstone of heterosexual marriage, be a requirement for their marriages as well?
To find out, I spent time over the next few months with a handful of young married and engaged gay couples -- including Joshua and Benjamin. All were college-educated and white. (A 2008 study of gay and lesbian couples in Vermont, California and Massachusetts -- three states that offer some form of legal recognition for gay couples -- found that "couples who choose to legalize their same-sex relationships... are overwhelmingly European American.")
At least he knows his sample is skewed.
I wonder why it is, though, that married/registered gay couples are "overwhelmingly European American." I know that same-sex couples definitely aren't all white, and we can't just say it's the states he chose - California is quite diverse.
It is, possibly, just journalistic laziness on the part of Denizet-Lewis (and since I don't know how overwhelming "overwhelmingly" is, and since it's still no excuse to exclude same-sex couples of color from an 8000-word article, that's probably part of it). I can't find the original statistic, and since he cited the study so specifically with a "2008 study of gay and lesbian couples," that might just be a question for the ages. Logo and the Washington Blade didn't find the original study either.
I suppose this is the "feel free to speculate" part of the post. It might simply be a gap between the people who couple up with someone of the same sex and those who want to register or marry. They aren't the same thing, no matter how much Denizet-Lewis tries to ignore that simple truth, and that space might prove yet another reason why the rights associated with marriage in the US (like access to health care, the right to take leave to take care of a loved one, the ability to make medical and interment decisions for a partner) should be expanded to include non-married couples.
Aside from those two substantive criticisms, what sticks out is how sickeningly sweet the couples in this article are. Sure, I'm probably as close to the stereotype of a bitter queen as someone in his 20's can get, but I'm sure even normal human beings would want to tell these kids to take a step back from the edge.
Most of the couples say that they're going to get married because it's "obvious," "inevitable," and because they know that they're going to stay together forever. I hate to go into full Bitter Queen Mode and point out the fact that almost half of all marriages in the US end in divorce nowadays and that I doubt they're all planning on getting divorced from the start, but it seems pertinent here.
I'm not against marriage. Far from it. But people who go down that path should have a realistic idea of what they're getting into, and I had hopes that queers would be better at relationship realism because of our outsider status with respect to many of the pressures that push straight couples towards marriage-with-unrealistic-expectations.
And the photos. The photos, in that oh-so-tired ironic faux 1950's style, are among the most horrifying images I've ever seen. I thought that's what we were trying to get away from: the whole perfect wife, perfect home, perfect life Norman Rockwell-esque imagery that is often just a facade to shield the unhappiness, desperation, boredom, and sometimes violence of the participants from the world. Weren't we one of the prime examples of how the 50's weren't perfect for everyone, no matter what the Religious Right says?
While I could at least bite my tongue and take them as some sort of hipster statement, the fact that they so closely follow the text and capture the air of the article itself, I think I'm right with being horrified.
That imagery is contrasted with a few descriptions of the horrible, dirty sluts the gays used to be:
WHEN I FIRST LEARNED that some young gay men were marrying in Massachusetts, I wondered if their marriages might be a repudiation of the gay world fashioned by previous generations of men -- men who reacted to oppression and homophobia in the '70s and '80s by rejecting heterosexual norms and "values," particularly around sex and relationships. Many older gay men would have scoffed at the idea of marrying and having kids. To many of them, their "family" was their network of close gay friends.
Silly homos thinking outside the box and pretending that anyone outside the nuclear family can be important to them.
But I could also relate to young gay men yearning for companionship and emotional security. Had gay marriage been an option when I was 23 and recently out of the closet, I might very well have proposed to my first gay love. Like many gay men my age and older, I grew up believing that gay men in a happy long-term relationship was an oxymoron. (I entered high school in 1989, before gay teenagers started taking their boyfriends to the prom.) 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. I wasn't alone. Everywhere I looked, gay men in their 20s -- or, if they hadn't come out until later, their 30s, 40s and 50s -- seemed to be eschewing commitment in favor of the excitement promised by unabashedly sexualized urban gay communities. There was a reason, of course, why so many gay men my age and older seemed intent on living a protracted adolescence: We had been cheated of our actual adolescence.
Those are just two examples. There was more slut-shaming....
Wasn't this supposed to be a queer liberation movement? Weren't we supposed to be moving away from the idea that there's only one appropriate way to have a relationship or to express one's sexuality?
Sheesh. James Dobson couldn't have said it any better himself.
This might be a good representation of young, gay married couples, or it might be remembered as a stark reminder of what happens when a generation of queers grows up bombarded with "pro-marriage" and "pro-family" rhetoric from the Religious Right and an LGBT movement focused on co-opting that language to fashion a plea for sympathy based on "If you think marriage is the best thing ever, then why don't you let us participate? Huh?"
Although, as a man in his 20's in a relationship with another man, I didn't see anything even close to my reality in that article. So maybe it's just lazy journalism.
But I still have a message to the writer: You're not helping!