Homo Names Have Been Changed
posted by December 26 at 11:41 AMon
The January 2007 issue of Seattle Magazine—by far the better of our two list-addicted glossies (“155 Top Lawyers”)—has an essay by Nicholas Sesnak about the difficulties gay couples face when they attempt to create the rights and responsibilities of marriage with private contracts. First, there’s the expense; you’ll spend up to $5000 on legal fees compared to a straight couple’s $50 marriage license. And then there are the limitations; even after you’ve spent your $5000, you still won’t have all the protections or rights of marriage—oh, and a bigoted family can contest your $5000 worth of legal agreements if they feel like it.
But here’s why caught my eye about the piece…
When Daniel Robertson* and Scott Keane* got married three years ago, the wedding was in Vancouver, B.C., for a somewhat obvious reason: They’re both men, and same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in Washington state.
What’s with the asterisks? You have to jump to the end of the story to find out…
Names have been changed.
Names have been changed? There’s a blast from the distant past. And profiling closeted gay men? That’s very retro, Seattle Magazine, very old school.
Back in the dark ages—when gay men and lesbians could be fired, kicked out of apartments, jailed, lobotomized, etc.—no gay person could take the risk of having his name appear in print. When a magazine wanted to profile an invert or write something heartbreaking/titillating our tragic twilight existences, they would place an asterisk after a proper name and a discrete “name has been changed” at the end of the story. Only that offer of anonymity, only the shield of an asterisk, could convince a gay person to open up to a reporter.
But today? Uh… the country is teeming with out gays and lesbians willing to see names in print. Some of us have even gotten married in Vancouver. I’m not saying that Seattle Magazine should have profiled me and my boyfriend (my boyfriend would never agree to it—and he’s one of Seattle’s top lawyers), but it would not have been difficult to find a local gay couple that had been married in Vancouver and was willing to see their names in print. It would probably have been easier to find that couple. Then Sesnak could have written a story about the future of gay relationships—and marriage equality—without employing rhetorical cliches that hearken back to the bad old days of the closet.
And a word for “Daniel” and “Scott”: A marriage, which you entered into in Canada and complain about not being able to enter into in the United States, is a public act. Yes, “most heterosexual citizens take [the legal protections of marriage] for granted.” They take the public nature of marriage for granted, too. If you’re not comfortable enough with your homosexuality to be open about it in the pages of Seattle Magazine, guys, then you’re not ready for marriage.
We can’t demand public recognition for our relationships and hold on the closet too. It has to be one or the other, guys, one or the other.