My Big Fat Funky Queer Marriage

Forget the rice. (We're on Atkins.) No his-and-his towels. (Nothing matches in our house.) Just give us Viagra—and wish us well

It's rare for the left and the right to agree, especially in the gay community. But on same-sex marriage, they pretty much do. Many radical queers concur with homocons that matrimony is a conservative institution, and that giving gays and lesbians the right to wed will turn them into paragons of normalcy. Of course, the left abhors this prospect while the right can't wait for it to happen. Well, I don't think it will.

I'm convinced that if marriage becomes a legal option, all sorts of queers will exercise it. My guy and I sure will, and it isn't going to make us change our ways. Of course, we're not a lesbian couple, or even a typical gay-male couple. But then, there is no such thing.

Under the matching tuxes and gowns on the same-sex wedding cakes lies a universe of particularities. Queers are as various in our sensibilities as the many words that describe us, and so will our relationships be, even if they're licensed by the state. The media may project an image of us as wholesome folks. I guess that moves the agenda, as activists like to say, but it masks an important truth. That's why I want to write about a real queer marriage—mine.

Our wedding portrait, 1987
photo: Sylvia Plachy
Our wedding portrait, 1987


The 25th Annual Queer Issue

  • Beyond the Stepford Queers
    Welcome to the age of do-it-yourself identity
  • I Ruck, Therefore I Am
    Rugby and the gay male body
    Christopher Stahl
  • Transmale Nation
    Remaking manhood in the genderqueer generation
    by Elizabeth Cline
  • The Great Gay Way
    A brief history of Christopher Street
    by Wayne Hoffman
  • It Was 25 Years Ago Today Selections From the Village Voice's Annual Queer Issue
    compiled by Charles McNulty and Matthew Phillp
  • Elements Of Style: Chasing Rainbows
    Peace tees, platform shoes, and big pussies get ready for Pride day
    by Lynn Yaeger
  • Listings: There She Is, Miss L.E.S.
    She'll Take the Town by Storm
    by Keisha Franklin
  • Pride Events

  • In our wedding portrait, we're walking down a street in D.C., my hand slung over Tony's shoulder. I'm flashing a look of sheer mischief and delight. His head is slightly bowed. It was that kind of day.

    We'd just taken part in the queer version of a Moonie mass wedding. Thousands of same-sex couples stood before the U.S. Treasury building while a New Age minister told us to imagine ourselves bathed in blue light. To complete the disco effect, a sound truck blared the anthem from La Cage Aux Folles. As a late-Beethoven kind of guy, I never thought I would marry to the strains of "I Am What I Am." But when the wed-person asked us to make the usual promises, couples all around us hugged tightly, and we cried.

    It was 1987. AIDS was ravaging the gay community, Reagan had yet to utter the word, and we'd gone to Washington for a march that turned into an angry protest. We were traveling with a dear friend who had come from suctioning the saliva from his lover of many years so he could die more peacefully. Such horror stories abounded, and we knew they might someday apply to us. So we put up with the cosmic kitsch, and while our friend was off lobbying the shuttered Congress, we promised to take care of each other no matter what. That was our wedding vow.

    As it turned out, we were among the first-born sons the epidemic passed over. But the promise we made to care for each other, body and soul, remains the basis of our bond. Now it has a more ordinary meaning, as we deal with the usual intimations of mortality: illnesses that take too long to spring back from, unexpected weakness in the joints, and the deaths of our mothers. If that sounds like the typical geezer scenario, it is. We're approaching our leather anniversary (I'm told hets prefer the word silver). But we don't date this occasion from our de facto D.C. wedding. Our anniversary marks the night we first fucked—that is, the night we met.

    Tony was a real whore back then (we once reckoned that his partners could practically fill the Radio City Music Hall), and I was a conflicted romantic with a jealous streak. I remember lying in his bed during those passion-fruity days and gazing at the books we were reading: a French novel called Tricks for him, Edmund White's A Boy's Own Story for me. This difference sparked a lot of heat between us, and a lot of stress. We've come close to the edge on several occasions. But we've been seasoned by our crises, and we've managed to endure because at the core of our relationship is the vow.

    And love, yes: a passionate congruity, an exchange of emotional DNA. In the inner zone where reality and memory meet, we are each other's father and son. He's the lava in my light, the trick that keeps on ticking, the one who calms me when I cling to him at night. I may call him my partner for purposes of formality, but in my heart he will always be my boyfriend.

    As you can probably tell, we're liberation babies. I know that times have changed. Gay couples that promise to love and honor, if not obey, may see things differently. A generation raised to fear promiscuity and honor respectability will place a higher value on monogamy. And couples with kids are likely to have a distinct perspective. Children refocus the libido, at least when they're young. But I suspect that, as these gay swains age, the marriages that last will be those that respect each partner's deepest sexual proclivities, whatever they may be.

    Of course, you can incorporate your fetishes into a relationship, though it takes some fancy dancing in the long run. We've come up with a range of bedroom games: swooping eagle and bunny rabbit, Dutch tulip maiden and Latvian herring salesman, and my favorite, because it's so National Enquirer: Confessions of a Praetorian Guardsman! I French-Kissed Jesus on the Cross!! (Note to readers: One of us was raised Catholic.) If heresy is what it takes to keep the funky faith, I say go for it. But I'm aware that these charades are a sign of something more profound.

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