Remembering The Day Love Won

Several hours after it happened, I was in the town’s only gay club, tossing back whiskey-gingers. A drag queen sauntered up and kissed me on the cheek.

I was tired. There was a celebration rally that afternoon, a dance party after that, and now, after all the hugs and tears, I was staring at the dark, empty dance floor where I had met so many men, so many passing people. Most of them I’d never see again — visitors rolling through town, vacationers going to nearby Jacksonville or Tybee Island, and military guys briefly stationed here — but some were lovers and longtime friends.

The documentaries and insider memoirs of the ones who did it, the couples who successfully fought for us, will come later. At the moment, I wanted to look back on the day as one I really lived — the day the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

What scares me is that so many people out there do not see it as a victory. The Supreme Court’s decision was close: 5 to 4. This tells me that many people fought hard to keep us from enjoying the freedom that they themselves enjoy. We threaten them that much. I’m amazed people can be so selfish and hateful — cruel enough to deny the relationships of others.

We’ve seen these people before. From the same horrible states crawled the same people who fought against the rights of black Americans fifty years ago. They never die off. They just reproduce themselves in new crops of eager, zealous Christian kids — the ones who, at fourteen, lift their hands during worship songs at Bible camp. To them, I am a bogeyman, a monster.

With the Religious Right so set against us, let’s be clear what this day was. It was a victory for our side of a raging culture war. There will be a backlash. From this point, the two sides will be even more polarized and embittered. They will try to attack us in other ways. They will feel threatened — we’ve kicked the wasp nest of their sacred institution. Get ready to fight some more.

I want them to be outsiders looking in. I dream of a country in which the faithful, knocked from their pedestals, suddenly know what the fringe feels like. I want them to be outliers in a country that has left them behind. I want to grind them into the trash of history and let them stay there, obsolete and politically lame, without an upper hand.

LGBT Rights has been an uphill battle — Queers versus Conservatives — with the social and political climate overwhelmingly in their favor since the movement began. I’d say it still bends in their favor, even with this victory, even with this president. We cannot let ourselves feel too comfortable. After this win, they will scramble to mount counterattacks in the form of RFRA bills, which we’ll undoubtedly see as the new rallying cry for GOP hopefuls and our next sociopolitical battleground. But that’s another story and another blog post, and we’ll face it when it comes. “Religious freedom” bills should not be underestimated. If you don’t think church-goers feel wounded after this, think again.

After she kissed me, we started talking about the longstanding tradition of gay men giving each other blowjobs in the bathroom. “I’m still surprised there’s not a backroom here,” I said.

“Baby, there was one, once upon a time.”

She panned a jeweled finger across the empty dance floor to the far wall. “This entrance to the bathroom is new. Years ago, when I first starting coming here, you went into a door on that side of the room, and you took this long, dark hallway all the way around to the bathrooms here. Down that hallway was one red light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Use your imagination.” The club, I learned, was redesigned in its attempts to become more “community-friendly” — safer for bachelorette parties and conservative tourists.

It’s not the only one. Powerhouse in San Francisco converted its backroom to a “smoking lounge” sometime after Folsom last year. The notorious backroom, where I’ve gotten fucked by strangers, now features a sign saying all sexual acts on the premises are prohibited. It is remarkable how times change, and that change is intrinsically tied to this win. The gay scene is changing. Fewer people are in the closet, which means there is less need for gay sanctuaries, places where guys on the DL can go fuck. Like so many gay men, I’ve never personally hungered for the right to marry — I see it as a hetero, Christian institution that never applied to me, and that I never needed to validate my relationships — but all the same, I know this needed to happen, and I would be furious if it hadn’t. That said, I lament this shift, this cleaning up of my culture, and in the midst of this joyous occasion, I feel it appropriate to lament the loss of the past. Maybe that’s privilege or naivety, but I’m sure I’m not the only gay man feeling this way.

It’s easy to overlook the suffering when you didn’t live through it — the entrapment, the fear, and the innumerable AIDS deaths. After all that, it’s a shock that culture is bent with us now. We won the public. I don’t know how — smarter people will analyze that in years to come — but we did. Thanks in no small part to out actors, out singers, out influencers, and out activists generating discussion. Thanks, Obama. Seriously — thank you.

Conservatives, if you’re reading this, I want you to know how my day ended. I went to bed with the man I love, a man from Venezuela in the U.S. on a student visa. Together, he and I represent everything you hate, everything you fear. We will replace you. We are young. We will rise up to meet your counterattacks and we will defeat you again and again. On that glorious night, we fucked on our creaky old bed, having mastered the trick of cumming together at the same time, undivided, with liberty and justice for all.

Beastly

2 Comments

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