Wedding Bell Blues

 

As I write my column on this infrequent and truly final day of February, the initial euphoria has died down, but the achievement is still notorious and remarkable. Thousands of same-sex couples have now been officially married in San Francisco, in obedience to the moral law of the Constitution and in defiance of the immoral law of our cowardly play-it-safe-by-poll-numbers federal government. Among those couples are several dozen I know personally, some of whom I know quite well.

I'm happy for them. In fact, I find myself bending over backwards to be gushingly publicly approving of them; after all, they are all lawbreakers now, thought criminals, sex criminals, and damn proud of it. I want to support them in whatever way I can, including here in BENT. And yet. And yet........

I am conflicted, deeply conflicted. In some ways, I know my reaction is petty jealousy. I wish it could have been me in that days-long line at City Hall, and I worry that it never will be. The bar on queer social stability has been permanently raised. As if it wasn't hard enough to find someone to date even briefly, now everyone will be getting married. Don't I feel single and lonely enough as it is? Thanks a lot, Mayor Male Model.

Now that spouse-catching is officially out of the closet, guys like me have even more opportunities to strike fear into the hearts of men who want relationships but don't know quite how they're going to get them. If I call a guy back the day after a great date, his vision of my neediness doesn't have to stop with my phone-stalking; now, he can see himself fused to me with a ball and chain, in a long line of zombies stretching down UN Plaza.

Some in our community think we should say no, and refuse to be bought off with an outmoded bourgeois ceremony. According to them, we're queer, we're different, we're in permanent opposition to society, and we should act like it. This rhetoric appeals to the closet rebel inside me, but my feeling of identification rarely lasts. Polyamory, new social models, and Radical Faerie ideology are superficially tempting, but it's hard for me to buy the concept of recapturing a queer essence that existed in idyllic community before cities and before capitalism.

I'm hopelessly guiltily middle-class. I hate what capitalism does at its worst, but I'm not a revolutionary. I like cities. I like electric wheelchairs, curb cuts, elevators, roll-in showers, adjustable desks, speech recognition software, and broadband Internet connections. I can't see myself in some enclave in the woods, far from lift-equipped vans and mass transit. Maybe that makes me a sellout; perhaps in my own way I am as materialistic as Carrie Bradshaw, with shelves of books rather than Blahniks.

Both same-sex marriage and life with a disability hinge on the acknowledgment and implementation of equal access. I need accommodations to get around; without them, the man of my dreams could be across the country or across the Bay, and we might never meet. Like my Cousin Barbara said, we are just as concerned with finding love as with getting on the bus, but we need to do both.

Several months ago, I signed up for a speed dating event, one of those extravaganzas where you meet hordes of people in three-minute bursts. I didn't end up going to one until this week; earlier monthly events were either canceled, or they took place at an inaccessible venue. I went, and had a marvelous time. On one level, I was thankful to find the SF speed dating that didn't involve actual crystal meth, but it was also great to feel the adrenaline rush of immediacy, to know that nervousness and terror would be temporary, rather than spread out over the interminable days and weeks of intricate online social negotiations.

This week was a milestone for me in other ways too. The day after the dating event, I participated in a demonstration at the State Building in San Francisco, protesting the plans of Governor Arnold AKA Die Gropenfuhrer [™ Doonesbury] to cut funding for home care for disabled people. There were about 150 of us, and it was very empowering to be there, despite the rain. Yet the whole experience had an odd coda for me. We all rolled down the street to stretch out our ranks and parade around in front of City Hall. There were several news trucks parked nearby, and we saw them drive away as we began our display of numbers.

Someone in the group got frustrated and decided to start the group in a chant. Soon it rang out: WE ARE THE REAL STORY!! WE ARE THE REAL STORY!! I joined in because I felt the media hasn't given the cuts nearly enough coverage, but I felt uncomfortable; I knew the chant was an explicit put-down of those who were monopolizing City Hall with their newly-minted marriages. Later on, I found out the real reason for the news trucks: Rosie O'Donnell had married her partner that day, mere yards from the site of our protest. I was happy for her, and even pleased at her smacking Dubya around a bit, but I couldn't help thinking: Could she have done more good at our protest than at hers? I know people who will be far more harmed by these cuts than my friends are harmed by not having their marriages recognized, but that doesn't mean one struggle needs to take a permanent back seat to the other.

Yesterday, I celebrated a birthday, Number 39 to be precise. I started referring to it as my Jack Benny Birthday, until I realized how few people understood the reference. More evidence of my chrono-cultural displacement, I guess. In any case, I start this new year with hope, with work, and with validation. I may not be in line to get married right now, but I could be, and will be. If I find the right guy to be in line next to me. Whether he stands or parks. A dream, perhaps. But tell that to the February Pioneers of San Francisco.

©2004 Danny Kodmur

 

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Danny Kodmur lives, writes, and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can reach him with comments, birthday wishes, and proposed invitation designs at dkodmur@comcast.net.

 

More by Danny Kodmur

A Soul Clothed in Shining Armor~5/00
How Much Does it Matter? Wrestling with the Metaphysics of Disability ~11/00
On Being (Un)Representative ~1/02
Testing My Faith in Romance ~3/02
No Need to Kick My Tires ~5/02
Balcony Scenes with a Twist ~7/02
Productive Confusion ~7/02
The Music and the Mirror ~9/02
The Music and the Mirror:II ~11/02
Life Under the Spotlight: Disability and Depression ~1/03
On Getting Stuck ~3/03
Of Cities and Closets ~5/03
So How Old Are You, Anyway? ~7/03
Socializing and Sobriety ~9/03
Walking in L.A. ~11/03

 

BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/March 2004