Thursday, August 12, 2010

Something Old, Something New.


With Prop 8 back in the news, The Kids Are All Right garnering Oscar buzz and making an indie-sized killing at the box office, and the GOP trying to get in on the action this time around with an event called "Homocon," it seems same-sex unions are once again in the spotlight.

Now, I won't condemn the Republicans for what is, I think, a rather pandering name for their convention - it's not like gays don't name their own events in equally tacky ways. Sometimes they'll go for the fairly discreet "Out," a la Outfest, which is fairly dated given the closet metaphor, which I've never really understood. If a guy is spending all of his time in a closet, isn't the fact that he's gay already obvious? Or sometimes they opt for the "Pride" affiliation, but once the booze starts flowing, any meaning that word ever had goes right out the window. So that leaves "Gay" (so obvious) and "Homo," which is not a term I'm comfortable with unless it's followed by "Sapien." Homocon? It sounds like a gay Transformer - you know, the one that turns into a Mini Cooper and prefers snappy comebacks to brute force in the fight against the Deceptacons. Nice try, Republicans - but let's not mince words. If you really want to get our attention, just call the event "Fagatron" and get Megan Fox to appear.

As J has pointed out, this seems less like an honest attempt at getting with the times than it does a desperate move at bewildering gay conservatives and their slightly sympathetic friends who feel the tiniest twinge of guilt when voting down their marriage rights. Now, I'm not overtly political, even when it comes to gay marriage. Personally, I have bigger fish to fry, and I know that if I'm broke, unemployed, and stuck in bed with a disease that'd be easily treatable if only I had health insurance, no man or woman is going to want to marry me, anyway. But I did live in Los Angeles on the eve of Obama's election, which also happened to be the epicenter of the Proposition 8 opposition. So, you know, I get it.

My sister's wedding was a few days ago. It was a beautiful ceremony with plenty of the traditional tropes. And it was fun, in a special way that can only happen when you mix family and an open bar. Marriage is either a huge rite of passage, something you're willing to do to get your foreign friend a green card, or a tequila-induced mistake in Vegas you'll laugh about later. This was the first of those things, and it got me thinking about my own nuptials. They're a long way off - if ever. There are a few things I need to try before taking the big plunge, including moving in with someone, putting my partner ahead of my own selfish pursuits, and going on a second date.

Thankfully, I only got only one "Are you next??" with a wink and a poke in the ribs, from an old family friend I hardly know. I had been introducing my female companion Tiffany around as my best friend since first grade, when we saw The Little Mermaid together and she had to leave because the eels frightened her. That we're still friends makes it a cute story; but if we've been dating since then, it's a little creepy. So no, I'm not "next."

Still, I had to wonder what my own wedding would be like. It's hard to imagine it being anything like my sister's. So much of the wedding iconography is tied to gender, distinctly "boys" or "girls": the white dress, the bouquet, the dance with the father (awkward!). Honestly, it's hard to imagine the same crowd gathering for my wedding. So it's safe to say that, even if I do get married, the ceremony will be anything but traditional. I don't want flowers. I certainly don't want "Here Comes The Bride." And I'd prefer creme brulee to the standard wedding cake. (Not to mention the extra expense of having paramedics standing by to revive those older family members who go into shock at seeing two men kiss in public.)

For an example of how a by-the-numbers wedding with a homosexual twist can go horribly awry, you must look no further than the multiplexes this summer and the box-office bomb to which gays and straights alike said, "I don't." Like many other moviegoers, my jaw dropped in horror when I saw Sex & the City 2, and this was long before Samantha's "Lawrence of my labia" pun. Nay - the biggest atrocity for me was the gay wedding.

Ahem. Excuse me. I understated that. I am referring to the gay, GAY, GAAAAAAAAAAAAYYY, GAYGAY! GAYGAY! GAYGAYGAYGAY! GAYGAYGAYGAY! GAY! GAY! GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY. wedding that took place at the beginning of the film. Remember?

There were only two significant gay characters on the TV show, so of course they had to be paired off - even though they are not at all compatible and hated each other. (Hey, guys, remember the episode that made fun of that logic, when Stanford and Anthony were paired up and it went awry? No? Okay.) This is about as believable as any romantic comedy in which the same is true for the heterosexual stars who have been destined to meet and fall in love since their agents negotiated a seven-figure salary and a sweet back-end deal, but I decided to just get on board with it. It's Sex & the City, not Brokeback Mountain.

But no amount of open-mindedness could have prepared me for homosexual spectacle that was Anthony and Standford's wedding. A gay choir singing showtunes. Stanford in bridal white from head to toe. Liza Minelli doing the honors and serenading us with "Single Ladies." And me, vomiting into my popcorn. If I've missed anything, it's because at some point, I actually had to look away from the screen for fear that this was a deceptively-marketed sequel to The Ring.

Of all the bad aspects of Sex & the City 2 - and yes, I do recall those Chanel burkas - I have to say, that gay wedding was the worst. I sat through it cringing and squirming in my seat the way I would if I was actually attending this wedding - but at least then I could frequent the bar and make sarcastic quips to other guests. Flaskless in a darkened movie theater, there was no solace. As Carrie herself might say: I had to wonder...if they legalize gay marriage, does that mean this level of torture is legal, too?

But it does beg the question: what exactly is a gay wedding...if not the hot tranny travesty attended by Carrie & Co.? So many of the traditions common in heterosexual unions just aren't applicable when it's two men or two women saying "I do." And if you ask me, wedging homosexuality into that framework just results in a big, awkward, gender-confusing mess. (Putting one of the guys in white clearly signals that he is "the girl" in the relationship. What kind of message does that send?) If gay marriage is really to become commonplace, as even the GOP of all people seems to be acknowledging, then straying from traditional norms might be the only way for such unions to truly be taken seriously.

Besides, it's not as if there aren't plenty of different-sex couples also bucking tradition at their ceremonies. The religious affiliation is now usually downplayed or outright ignored - church weddings are so two centuries ago. Brides and grooms can be wed underwater, while skydiving, or dancing down the aisle with the express purpose of ending up on YouTube. Because that isn't a mockery of marriage. And who wants rice thrown at them nowadays? Too many carbs.

So sure, plenty of women (and gay men) still hold that old Disney Princess fantasy of the elegant white wedding and all the tropes that come with it. I'll admit, I felt a twinge of sadness when I realized how much of that traditional "wedding stuff" will be simply impossible for me.

But that frees gay couples to start their own customs and approach their nuptials with fresh minds: to do stuff they actually like, rather than what is deemed conventional.

And speaking of conventions...sorry, Ann Coulter, but I won't be making it to "Homocon" this year. If you're the "right wing Judy Garland," then the "left wing Ann Coulter" must be Timothy McVeigh.

But any chance I could get you to perform at my wedding? I bet you'd do a killer rendition of "Single Ladies." That's tradition now, right?

I do,


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