The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, June 19
June 19th, 2013
Exodus Freedom Conference: Irvine CA, MN. Exodus International kicks off it annual Exodus Freedom Conference today on the campus of Concordia University in Irvine, California. This is their annual four-day gathering of ex-gay people (“strugglers” in the parlance of the in-crowd), consisting of worship services, workshops and plenary sessions. This used to be a kind of a summer camp for people who are trying to avoid the “camp,” you might say, but things at Exodus have been changing quite a bit lately. With this year’s theme being “True Story,” I suspect that this conference will be like no other. We’ve been documenting several changes to Exodus’s messaging over the past year, and I will be at this year’s conference to hear their latest story. If you are attending the conference, give me a shout via Twitter (@jfburroway) and say hi. If you’re not attending the conference, give me a shout anyway. The conferences begins tonight and continues through Saturday.
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Augusta, GA; Berlin, Germany; Biarritz, France; Chicago, IL; Columbia, SC (Black Pride); Columbus, OH; Durango, CO; Essex, UK; Fribourg, Switzerland; Gloucester, UK; Houston, TX; Knoxville, TN; Napa, CA; New Orleans, LA; Olympia, WA; Palermo, Italy; Regina, SK; Salisbury, NC; Santa Fe, NM; Skopje, Macedonia; Sofia, Bulgaria; Wausau, WI; Wilton Manors, FL.
AIDS Walks This Weekend: Oakland, CA.
Other Events This Weekend: Frameline Film Festival, San Francisco, CA.
THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
50 YEARS AGO: A Push for “Homophile Marriage”: 1963. While we’re on pins and needles waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to issue its ruling on the challenge to California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (rulings which may come down tomorrow or next week), I thought it might be a good time to review an article addressing “homophile marriage” that appeared exactly fifty years ago this month in ONE magazine. Randy Lloyd, the article’s author, didn’t really touch on the legal or religious elements of same-sex marriage. Instead, he was writing about just the idea of two people forming a relationship and calling it marriage. That idea, limited as it was, was quite radical in the gay community. In fact, there was a very large contingent of gay men and women who considered it one of the only advantages of being gay, that you aren’t expected to settle down and get married. Bur Lloyd saw it differently:
There are many homophiles who, like me, find the homophile married life so much more preferable, ethically superior, enjoyable, exciting, less responsibility-ridden (contrary to a lot of propaganda from the single set), and just plain more fun — well, there’s no sense beating around the bush — the truth is, many of us married homophiles regard our way of life as much, much superior and as a consequence, mainly stick to ourselves and look down our noses at the trouble-causing, time-wasting, money-scattering, frantically promiscuous, bar-cruising, tearoom-peeping, street crotch-watching, bathhouse towel-witching, and moviehouse-nervous knee single set.
Now, before you scream “Snob!” I want to say that there are plenty of the single set who just as strongly and volubly look down on us. And it seems to me that lately in the pages of ONE their viewpoint has been way out of line in preponderance. And, frankly, I’m sick of it.
As you can see, Lloyd’s problem wasn’t so much in convincing straight people that gays should be allowed to marry. He had to begin first in convincing gay people that other gay people might have legitimate reasons to want to marry. Lloyd contended that part of the problem was that settled-down gay men and women just weren’tthat visible in the gay community. But he also pointed out the larger problem of the heightened visibility form straight people that would befall couples decided to set up house together:
I realize that much of the lack of publicity on the homophile married set, and the extent of it, is our own fault, or, if you prefer (depending on your point of view), the fault of circumstances. Marriage, it has been said, is a private affair. A homophile marriage is a very private affair.
In the first place. usually we’ve got more to lose — a house, two good jobs (often in the professions), and a happy personal relationship that has been tempered hy the years. To find a married couple so endowed that would take their chances on, for instance, appearing as such in a TV show would be tremendously difficult. Not only jobs and material things are at stake but also personal relations with one’s relatives and in-laws. Instead of just one set of heterosexual parents and relatives, in a homophile marriage there are two sets. I have only siblings, all of whom accept my circumstances. But my lover has three aunts, very religious, who raised him through sacrifices, and he would not dream of causing them embarrassment and grief. It would be a very rare homophile marriage that did not have on one side or the other some good reason for shunning publicity.
Lloyd explored the various aspects of gay marriage: including marriage-like relationships in history as well as the practical problems which made those relationships so difficult in 1963 — the difficulty in meeting others in an environment that forced everyone underground, finding someone who isn’t more damaged by the social pressures than yourself, and the lack of role models. To address that last concern, Lloyd provided several tips on how to navigate the difficult emotional and practical problems, things that straight people naturally absorb from their parents and peers. Some of the life is common sense (“Cultivate the homophile married life,” “Expect to adjust,” If you hanker for a house, don’t ‘wait for marriage’ to buy one.”) and other advice that seems, well, dated (“If you don’t cook, look for somebody who can.”). And he closed by calling for the start of a new marriage movement:
There are many homosexuals, who neither desire nor are suited for homophile
marriage, that ridicule what they call the “heterosexual” institution of marriage. This is only a clever twisting. Marriage is no more a strictly heterosexual social custom than are the social customs of birthday celebrations, funerals, house-warmings, or, for that matter, sleeping, eating, and the like. I participate in those, not because they are heterosexual or homosexual things, but because I am a human being. Being homosexual does not put one out of the human race. I am a human being, male and married to another male; not because Tam aping heterosexuals, but because I have discovered that that is by far the most enjoyable way of life to me. And I think that’s also the reason heterosexual men and woman marry, though some people twist things around to make it appear they are merely following convention.
After all, there must be something to marriage, else what is the reason lor its great popularity? Marriage is not anybody’s. “convention”. It is a way of living and is equally good for homosexuals and heterosexuals.
I think it is high time the modern homophile movement started paying more attention to homophile marriage. … Homophile marriage is not only a strictly modern idea that proves our movement today is something new in history, it is the most stable, sensible, and ethical way to live for homophiles. Our homophile movement is going to have to face, sooner or later, the problem of adopting a standard of ethics. We have got to start laying the groundwork. I can’t think of a better way to begin than by pushing homophile marriage.
The subject of gay marriage would come up again and again through the years. In 1970, Jack Baker and James McConnell tried to get married in Minneapolis (see May 18) and sued in state and federal court when their request for a license was denied. That ended with the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Most gay rights groups at that time were caught up in the broader sexual revolution rhetoric, and had little interest in pushing for something as conventional as marriage. That attitude remained through the 1970s and the 1980s. But when AIDS hit the gay community in the 1980s and partners found themselves blocked by law and relatives from caring for and properly burying their partners and remaining in the homes that they shared together, it finally dawned on a lot of people that they really were married, regardless of whether they had thought of themselves and each other that way or not.
And so here we are, exactly fifty years later, and marriage is now at the forefront of the gay rights movement. And in the next few days, we may see it expand in ways that Randy Lloyd probably never could begin to imagine.
[Source: Randy Lloyd. “Let’s Push Homophile Marriage.” ONE 9, no. 6 (June 1963): 5-10.]
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?