The absolute coolest part of this story isn’t the surprise smooch that ESPN’s legion of straight male viewers were treated to, but the honest manner in which commentators described Norton and Craig Woodward’s relationship. Woodward was repeatedly referred to as Norton’s husband or spouse. There was no skirting the issue or editing the tender moment out of the broadcast. This was a win by a gay man with his husband there to help celebrate, and viewers – well, the viewers who watch televised bowling – were trusted to deal with it.
From an essay I wrote in the Queer Issue twelve years ago:
Once gays and lesbians began coming out to our families en masse, many of us quickly discovered that being out to mom and dad wasn't enough. We wanted to be out at work and at play, too, but that wasn't always possible. No matter how much we wanted to go bowling or write for newspapers or get involved in politics, most bowling leagues and newspapers and Democratic clubs didn't want us. So we started our own bowling leagues, and newspapers, and Democratic clubs.
In effect, we created a parallel gay universe, with our own sports teams, churches, and chambers of commerce.... We convinced ourselves that by creating a gay thing for every straight thing, if we kept expanding our parallel gay universe, we wouldn't feel limited. The bigger the gay universe, the freer and more liberated we would feel.
But the impulse to create the infrastructure of all the stuff that comes to mind when we think of "the gay community"—all those bars, businesses, choruses, and clubs owned by or catering to gays and lesbians—was, at bottom, a reaction to oppression. Now that you can be gay and out just about anywhere, gays and lesbians are suddenly realizing that the gay parallel universe will never be as big as the straight universe. So what's to become of all those gay bowling leagues once gay bowlers realize they can bowl in bigger, better leagues? What's going to happen to gay papers now that gay writers can find work at papers that offer a living wage? What happens to the gay Democratic club when the membership of the regular county organization will elect an openly gay chair?
What happens when gay bowlers realize they don't have to bowl only on gay teams? They become champions, that's what happens. And stories are written about the history-making victories. What a great day for an historically oppressed minority group.