Do you believe in miracles?
To those who suffered arrests and continue to suffer discrimination, the vote in NY State to legalize gay marriage may feel like a miracle. Like most miracles, its outcome has roots in rational causes and effects. In a recent New Yorker article, David Remnick cited one of those roots as the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence vs. Texas in which the court “extended privacy rights to gay men and lesbians.” Opponents, including Justice Antonin Scalia who wrote the dissenting opinion, saw this decision as a slippery slope that would lead to more outrage such as gay marriage. I say, let me put my fanny to a snowboard on this slippery slope, and I’ll shout wheee all the way home.
I’ve always been in favor of gay marriage, in fact, I was part of one. In 1987, I proposed to my best male friend and next door neighbor, Robert Maxwell Lock, a gay man. The newspaper headlines called it “A Most Unusual Marriage: Porn Star Marries Gay Man with A.I.D.S.” Our marriage was the action we took to cope with Robert’s illness. It was long before the chemical cocktails that would add years to so many lives. At the time, survival rate after diagnosis averaged about two years. If Robert was going to die, I wanted him to know he was truly loved. Our wedding took place in the courtyard of our apartment building in Chelsea. Robert lived in 3C and I, in 3B. The apartments shared a balcony and we had often run across, to enter through the back doors, sometimes even interrupting each other during sex. When we married the adjoining apartments became our family home. When Robert died, I assumed I would lose Robert’s apartment and thus half of our home. But friends suggested I contact an attorney. “You were married – you have rights to that apartment,” they said. And the lawyer agreed. But I questioned the lawyer. “Ours was a special marriage. “ I told him. “ We were husband and wife, but not sex partners.”
“What makes you think all married couples have sex,” asked the lawyer. People get married for all kinds of reasons. You got married for the best reason, love.”
Logically, I knew he was right. Few would be more privy to the inner workings of marriage than an attorney. So why did I think that my marriage was any less real? It was because, like so many of us, I was indoctrinated to believe that the purpose of marriage was to give birth to children and raise a family. I just had not realized how deep those early teachings had dominated my psyche.
Those who object to homosexual marriage share those same beliefs that I was taught. Hence, only marriage between a woman and a man could hope to achieve those goals.
But let’s look at what marriage has really been about. Long before people got married for love, they got married for property. Arranged marriages were created to expand the wealth of the tribe or the state either through real estate or sheer numbers of population. Holy Matrimony like so many rituals and ceremonies was created for very practical purposes. It was a prayer to bless this union: be fruitful and multiply…Let our lands, and our money be passed down smoothly through our family – to our spouse and our children. If couples happened to be in love when they married, or learned to love each other later, all the better. But love was not the original impetus.
If gays and lesbians with money, property and hence influence, had not also come Out and, been activists, marriage between homosexuals would not be legalized. Now that it is, it will be interesting to “follow the money.” Where will homosexual couples, families and their supporters invest their influence? There is a definite shift. Will those who have achieved more personal power look to hold on to their own, or will we push for more tolerance, more love, more openness in the rights of all individuals to marry, love, identify as they choose?
What does acceptance of gay marriage in NY State means for the rest of us, straights, as well as the B and the T in GLBT. To all, it means hope. We don’t live in a vacuum. In his article Remnick rightly compared the Gay Right’s movement to the Civil Rights movement. Tolerance breeds tolerance. When one groups achieves its rights and, contrary to fear, the world does not end, we can choose to be more brave and more bold. There is an old saying used within many movements, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” To foster a society that is tolerant and more liberal in the ways we form unions, we must respect and accept individual choice, starting with ourselves. Practice self-acceptance… yes, it does take practice. And it’s worth it.
On Pride Sunday in NYC, I met a gay couple from Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is not one of the states in the United States that has legalized homosexual marriage. Six states, plus the District of Columbia, do. A few other states recognize domestic unions. http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=16430
I told these gentlemen how amazing if felt to wake up on the morning after New York’s vote. I awoke in a better state, in every way. I wished the same for them. Wishing is the start, action must follow.
In 1992, when I created Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls, the world’s first crossdressing academy our first location was the apartment which I had, thanks to that good attorney, inherited from my husband Robert. The school remained there for ten years. Blessed by our union and, I believe, Robert’s spirit, we were fruitful and multiplied lots of men in dresses embracing their inner femmes, and thus, themselves. At the time of our founding, the word transgender was just beginning to be in more common use to describe a burgeoning movement. Within the community served by my academy, there are those who crossdress but might not identify with the term “transgender.” Yet, all of us within this community can celebrate this new law with hope, and with this hope comes responsibility. Whether you are a closet case or open about what is termed your alternative lifestyle, you must show tolerance and support this wonderful change. Support with your vote and if you have money, support with your money. Money talks and in times when many don’t have money, those who do can talk louder. Support candidates and causes that will help create the world of your dreams. Demand that respect and support for yourself. Today, two men get married in tuxedoes, two women in dresses, two men in gowns, two women in tuxes. Then two humans get married and what we choose to wear, and who we choose to wed is up to up because freedom of expression is our fashion statement. And that statement is the law of the land. Do you believe in miracles? I do.