Oh. My. God. I’m sitting here writing a silly little blog post about General Peter Pace when I get an email from a friend telling to go read Garrison Keillor’s piece on marriage and family over at Salon.
Keillor, concerned about the emotional well-being of children, comes to praise heterosexual marriage, monogamy, and life-long commitment:
I grew up the child of a mixed-gender marriage that lasted until death parted them…. Back in the day, that was the standard arrangement. Everyone had a yard, a garage, a female mom, a male dad, and a refrigerator with leftover boiled potatoes in plastic dishes with snap-on lids….
Under the old monogamous system, we didn’t have the problem of apportioning Thanksgiving and Christmas among your mother and stepdad, your dad and his third wife, your mother-in-law and her boyfriend Hal, and your father-in-law and his boyfriend Chuck. Today, serial monogamy has stretched the extended family to the breaking point. A child can now grow up with eight or nine or 10 grandparents—Gampa, Gammy, Goopa, Gumby, Papa, Poopsy, Goofy, Gaga and Chuck—and need a program to keep track of the actors.
Keillor has been married THREE TIMES. He has children from two of his marriages, children who presumably need a computer program to keep track of their step-siblings, half-siblings, and sprawling extended families, children that have to be “apportioned out on Thanksgiving and Christmas.” Okay, fine, whatever. Keillor can recognize marriage, life-long commitment, and less complicated family structures as the ideal, even if he himself has failed—failed spectacularly—to live up to that ideal himself. It might have been nice, however, if the withered old hypocrite had admitted to Salon readers that he has failed to live up to the ideals he’s espousing. How about a little full disclosure, Garrison?
From Keillor’s wiki entry:
Keillor has been married three times:
To Mary Guntzel, from 1965 to 1976. The couple has one son, Jason, born in 1969.
To Ulla Skaerved (a former exchange student from Denmark whom he famously re-encountered at a high school reunion), from 1985 to 1990. Keillor is mildly notorious for having dumped his long-time lover and PHC producer Margaret Moos to marry Ulla. The marriage failed when Keillor had an affair with his Danish language teacher.
His current wife, violinist Jenny Lind Nilsson (b. 1958), from his hometown of Anoka,whom he married in 1995. They have one daughter, Maia, born in 1998.
Oh, tell me more about the old monogamous system, Uncle Garrison, you old serial adulterer you. (Note to Salon’s editors: I know the Internets can be confusing, but surely you had access to this information. It didn’t occur to you to make Keillor admit that he hasn’t exactly lived up to his own standards?)
But Keillor really didn’t come to praise heterosexual marriage and monogamy. He came to bury gay couples—particularly gay couples with children.
And now gay marriage will produce a whole new string of hyphenated relatives. In addition to the ex-stepson and ex-in-laws and your wife’s first husband’s second wife, there now will be Bruce and Kevin’s in-laws and Bruce’s ex, Mark, and Mark’s current partner, and I suppose we’ll get used to it.
The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men—sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control. Parents are supposed to stand in back and not wear chartreuse pants and black polka-dot shirts. That’s for the kids. It’s their show.
Oh. My. God.
Where to start? How about that one sentence that somehow manages to pack in six flaming stereotypes about gay men—fussy hair, small dogs, over-decorated apartments, and on and on. Yes, Garrison, all of us gay men—particularly us gay parents!—are decadent, flamboyant creatures. Sure, having kids means puke on your chartreuse trousers and candy ground into your expensive sofa—but, hey, those are small prices to pay if it means getting to show off your chartreuse pants at PTA meetings!
What an asshole. Asshole, asshole, asshole. What Keillor wrote today on Salon is every bit as offensive as Ann Coulter’s “faggot” joke about John Edwards and relies on the same set of cultural prejudices.
I know a lot of gay couples with children—some of which, as I type these words, are losing their health insurance in Michigan because of an anti-gay marriage amendment passed in that state by hateful motherfuckers who, like Keillor, hate, fear and know nothing about gay couples. None of the gay couples with kids I know go in for chartreuse pants and polka-dot shirts or striped (?) sofas.
Most of the gay male parents I know adopted children that men and women in “opposite-sex marriages” weren’t interested in—children with HIV, older children, mixed-race children, children with developmental disabilities, children abused, neglected and abandoned by their heterosexual parents. Every year I go to Michigan for Gay Family Week in Saugatuck and I’m staggered by the love, patience, and compassion demonstrated by these men. These couples deserve our gratitude and support. What they don’t deserve is a rich, old hypocrite insinuating that they’re more interested in their fussy hairdos and over-decorated apartments than they are in raising their kids.
And Garrison? Ultimately gay parents aren’t interested in being “accepted as couples and daddies” by withered old adulterers. We exist irrespective of your “acceptance.” And if I seem angry, you fucking motherfucker, it’s because I am. Angered and shocked. I’m used to being attacked by right-wingers obsessed with gay sex and fixated on anti-gay stereotypes. It’s a new and different sensation to be attacked so crudely by a man of the left—particularly when that man’s fat ass squats in a large glass house.
Oh, and in the spirit of full disclosure/self-obsession…
Last week the This American Life tour stopped in Minneapolis and Keillor attended the performance. I read a piece about… being a gay parent and having a “small weird dog.” I used, in jest, the phrase “opposite-sex parents” to describe a straight couple with kids, which sounds a lot like “mixed-gender marriage.” David Rakoff, also on the tour, read a piece that touched on his homosexuality and mentioned, in passing, his love for All About Eve, which could be interpreted, I suppose, as Rakoff “worship[ing] campy performers.” Is there some sort of connection, Garrison?
Oh, and what was i wearing when I read in front of Keillor? Chartreuse pants and a black polka-dot shirt? No. Try blue jeans, a t-shirt, and a green hoodie.
UPDATE: And what if some gay parents are flamboyant? Flamers, even? So what? What if some gay parents have striped sofas and over-decorated apartments and wear chartreuse pants and make their kids write book reports on All About Eve? The idea that effeminate gay men can’t or shouldn’t be parents is bullshit, just another iteration of the same old anti-gay double standard the right trots out.
People opposed to same-sex marriage are just fucking addicted to double standards. Marriage is about children—unless you’re straight, in which case you can get married without having children. Marriage is about monogamy—unless you’re straight, in which case you can get married and swing and cheat or have threeways. Marriage is about a life-long commitment—unless you’re straight, in which case you can marry multiple times, like Keillor.
Now marriage is about gender-appropriate behavior. So you shouldn’t get married and have kids if you’re not a manly man and a womanly woman—unless, of course, you’re straight. Straight female tomboys marry and have kids without attracting Keillor’s ire, as do effeminate straight men. (How many NPR listeners have over-decorated apartments, I wonder?) And straights can obsess about their hair (they’re not selling all that RoGain to gay men) and wear appalling clothes (they’re not selling all those low-rise jeans to lesbians)—it’s only when gay men have children that it becomes a problem.
Also, Keillor’s piece rests on the assumption that gay marriage is leading to the creation of gay families. It’s not. Same-sex couples are having children in all 50 states, not just the one state where it’s legal. One of the reasons the need for same-sex marriage is so pressing is because there are real children out there being raised by same-sex couples and our kids need the rights and protections that marriage provides for children. To see friends losing their health insurance—including a couple whose son has leukemia!—characterized as selfish attention-seekers by an attention-seeking star… it makes my freaking blood boil.
I mean obviously, right?