“A Modest Gay Marriage Proposal” was originally published on November 8, 2009. Since then, fabulous things have happened: the Gay Marriage ban in California was overturned, as was Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (maybe). History continues to be in the making, yet it hasn’t helped me make an honest woman of Kate, my partner of 8 years. Our 3 year old daughter Mabel remains a bastard. I’m still pissed.
Gay marriage was defeated by popular vote in Maine this week, delivering the cause a stunning roundhouse punch right in the Guccis. I, for one, have spent this week marinating in a dark concoction of vinegary frustration and venomous fury to the point that if I were to be tossed onto a grill and parcelled out on paper plates, I have enough taint to inflict at least 20 serious tummy aches at a church picnic. What happened in Maine pisses me off for 2 reasons: 1. matters concerning social justice and the individual rights of members of a minority group should never be subject to the mercy of majority rule, because: 2. majority rule has no mercy. Going with the conventional wisdom that gay people comprise 10% of the population, it’s obvious that as long as our rights are up to everyone else, we’re pretty much guaranteed jack shit nothing. * I know; I did the math, and yes, the calculator really did swear at me.
So obviously, the Gay Marriage Movement is failing to convince the remaining 90% of the population that inequality and injustice is anyone’s problem but our own. If Maine and California are the pace cars of this race to kill gay marriage, then it looks like our rights will be in the hands of people who have strong objections against us at worst, and, at best, have no personal investment in the matter. After all, if you’re not planning on getting a gay marriage yourself, what would motivate you to support it? Clearly, the approach of trying to appeal our fellow Americans’ sense of compassion and fairness isn’t working. Being an upstanding citizen who contributes to society by working hard, paying taxes, and not dressing my daughter like a lumberjack counts for–wait, let me check my calculator–that’s right: jack shit nothing. So the Gay Marriage Movement needs to impel the support of the American voting population by stimulating something more compelling than a sense of good will towards people who happen to be different from themselves; it needs to play to that all-powerful motivating force called self-interest. In short: we need to make our problem, everyone’s problem. How do we do this? We need to ditch the Mr. Nice Gay stuff and go back to what we’re really good at: ruining Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is such a delicate creature. It’s the pedigreed poodle of American holidays: each year a new Thanksgiving is born, the immaculately coiffed and stunted offspring bred of untold generations of family tradition and undiluted dysfunction. And then it is sent hobbling into traffic (i.e. when the guests arrive). So it really isn’t hard for a gay person to ruin Thanksgiving. After all, it’s the celebration of the “normal” traditional family. All a gay person has to do to rattle this pretense and remind everyone that “normal” is just a boring little town in Illinois is, well, show up. Only the drunks surpass our power to ruin the holiday. But thanks to internalized homophobia, many of us are drunks, too!
Ruining Thanksgiving is practically a gay tradition. I remember coming back from college for Thanksgiving break back in 1987, sporting my Dagwood Bumstead-meets-Thompson-Twins haircut, the intensely taciturn way my dad carved the turkey, the worried look on my mom’s face, and the lonesome feeling of being a misunderstood minority within my own family. Such wonderful memories! So it’s in the spirit of ’87 that I propose that unless and until gay marriage is a nationwide reality, we make Thanksgiving as uncomfortable as possible. It may be the only way we can personalize the pain of injustice for those who make the mistake of thinking gay marriage is someone else’s concern.
We’ve been singled out as “others”– outcasts of the mainstream. This is why we’ve been denied the right to marry, so while we’re being marginalized, let’s give ’em what they want until they beg us to stop.
Some handy tips for the ladies:
Don’t bother hiding your tattoos anymore, particularly the nice big, butchy ones on the biceps and deltoids. They carry a message of strength and defiance. They say “I’m an angry feminist!” Unless they happen to be in the image of the face of Stevie Nicks.
If you’re a vegetarian, stop discretely filling your plate with the side dishes and choking back your disgust at the carnage going on right in front of you. That turkey smells like death, dammit! Pipe up and say so!
Don’t let your relatives refer to your female companion (whom you damn well best be bringing to the festivities) as your “friend”. Loudly insist on “lady-love” and nothing less!
And for the gentlemen:
Spare no critique regarding interior design and fashion. Scream if necessary.
Join the menfolk in the living room to watch the “big game”. Ask lots and lots of questions. Refer to all the players as “she” and “her”.
Bring your knitting. Even if you don’t knit, pretend to knit. I have it on good authority that seeing a dude knitting really shakes up the squares.
For supportive straight people who want to be part of the fun:
Don’t forget our mission; don’t let anyone else forget, either. When it’s time to give thanks, some variation on the following will make your point: “I’m thankful that I live in a country where ‘No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’ Oh, wait! No, I don’t! And I guess I won’t until Gay Marriage is a reality. Amen!”
If I can’t inspire you to ruin Thanksgiving in the name of social justice, then let Jeannette Saucier, 71, of Topsham, Maine, inspire you as she did me. When I first read her statement “It’s not that I feel bigoted to gay people. We have gay people in my own family, but I don’t see them having to be married to prove a point,” I knew something had to be done to prove my “point” that Gay Americans are Americans and human beings deserving of their rights as citizens and members of the human race. Until this is recognized, we cannot let go or give up.