The Queer Issue
I've been watching movies of the legally endorsed gay marriages in California, and for the first time in a very long while, I'm feeling hopeful about the future of this country. An America that embraces marriage equality is an America that, for example, would think twice before torturing as a standard procedure. But more selfishly, I'm hoping that the gays, by setting a good example, will save the breeders from themselves.
You see, in the last 40 years, heterosexuals have systematically ruined everything that makes weddings worthwhile.
It all started when some anonymous jerk decided he wanted to get married wearing a Star Trek outfit. That anonymous jerk's wife, perhaps tired of fighting against Kirk posters and Spock dolls and all other things Vulcan and Romulan and Tribble, wearily nodded: Yes, she said, she would dress up like Uhura for a bridal outfit.
Since that day, when the most solemn bond that two human beings can forge was decorated in the style and language of a silly science- fiction television show, heteros have been merrily fucking up weddings in bigger, gaudier, and tackier fashions with each passing year. People are married on roller coasters, while scuba diving, and at Elvis-themed chapels. Brides and grooms have been dressed as superheroes, Hobbits, and Star Wars characters. Childhood dreams of being a princess are dragged out and put on display, embarrassingly, for everyone to see. For four decades, and with increasing avarice, we breeders have done everything we could to make the sacrament of marriage something cheap, like a casino attraction.
Like everyone else with a working human heart, I've been profoundly touched by the exultant stories of gay marriage that have been told in the last few years, in Massachusetts and now in California. Couples that have passionately and patiently loved each other, some for more than half a century, are finally having their love officially recognized as more than a freakish sex bond between second-class citizens. History will show, and possibly sooner than we think, that these citizens of the United States are right to want to publicly declare their love, and those who have opposed same-sex marriage were fighting for a monstrous, antihuman cause. But on a more personal level, I believed that gays would bring class back to marriage—surely, those who have fought so hard for so long would have some respect for the mythic power and dignity of the ceremony?
Then, last year, Disney announced that it was hosting commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples in the same places—Cinderella's castle, if you're wealthy enough—as straight couples. A call to Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton confirms that they will happily host gay commitment ceremonies on the bridge of the USS Enterprise (with your choice of Federation, Klingon, Andorian, Borg, or Vulcan attendants, and with an optional catered dinner featuring appetizers like "Moogie's Famous Ferengi Flat Bread" or "the Holy Rings of Betazed," which is a tower of onion rings), and my hopes for the sanctity of the ceremony being restored by gay couples evaporated.
One of the first signs that gay marriage has passed the threshold of popular acceptance came last year, when GLAAD announced that every single state in the union has newspapers that run same-sex union announcements. Three-quarters of all U.S. newspaper readers regularly read a paper that carries gay-wedding announcements. But as anyone who's read the New York Times wedding announcement section understands, unwise couples frequently turn these blurbs into the dead-tree-and-ink equivalent of making out with someone while in line at an all-you-can-eat buffet. These announcements have become windows into how quickly gay couples have adopted the sheer geeky disrespect for marriage that it's taken straight nerds decades to develop.
The wedding announcements in Bay Windows, a Boston-based gay alternative weekly, are just as embarrassing as the straight counterparts: A couple boasts of meeting for the first time at a Fuddruckers restaurant in Natick, and their first dance was to Celine Dion's "At Last." Another pair of men were married in matching Utilikilts. "He's turned me into a raving Trekkie," one man exclaims in his public announcement of eternal devotion to his husband, "And every night we watch Voyager or Deep Space Nine or something like that. And that's our little quality time together, the only thing we're really both rabid about."
One lesbian couple in England proudly sent photos of their wedding cake, which was fashioned to look like the Death Star in the Star Wars films, to local news outlets, and the cake made the internet rounds. The bakery initially refused to fashion a wedding cake in the image of a fictional device that killed billions of people until one of the brides huffed, "Look, it's my big gay wedding and we want a Death Star!"
It doesn't have to be this way, gays. I was relying on you, and it's still not too late for you to save the wedding as a meaningful, important cultural institution.
Listen: I am not a religious man. Never once, from the day of my birth until today, have I even entertained the concept that there was anything remotely resembling a God or an afterlife. You might wonder why I should care about how people get married, a ceremony that has primarily been a religious rite for six millennia. But I do care; I get weepy at good weddings faster than many of the matronly ladies in the shiny peach dresses.
It's the ceremony that really does it for me. There are so few meaningful ceremonies in modern life (eighth-grade graduations and other manufactured feel-good achievement-fests don't count), and this one meaningful chance for you to celebrate an actual, bona fide rite of passage is too good, and too important, to mess up. Calling all your friends and family into one place to ritualistically announce that you're going to make this person you love a member of your family, and love and care for that person until the day you die, is some serious shit. Entire bloodlines are forever bound together; strangers are made into kin. For one day—one day in your entire life!—you can put away the Barbie cake toppers and napkins with Garfield printed on them and act like a goddamned adult.
It's still early in this historic hour; millions of gay couples around the country and the world will one day marry. As has always been the case, as with fashion and slang and dance music, heteros will look to the gay community for their cues. For heaven's sake, gay people: Set a better example for us than we have set for you. You are declaring your love to the world. Show a little self-respect: Leave the pointy ears and laser guns at home, in private, where they belong.