An Immodest Proposal: The Erotics of Gay Divorce

It’s been a while. But I’m back…..and yes, I actually did meet Newt Gingrich so the story below is real.

In light of recent violent, and disgusting political douchebaggery (here’s lookin at you Akin) I’ve decided to post this piece I wrote a year ago on gay marriage. It’s meant to be satirical, but it saddens me that the people I’m actually conversing with here—my merry men like Newt Gingrich, Fred Phelps, and a host of “experts” on traditional marriage who have lined their pockets at queer expenses—are still considered authorities in their respective fields.

Hope you like it!

In his bizarre article “Eight Ways to Divorce Proof You Marriage,” relationship coach and author of the critically acclaimed Treat Your Man Like a V.I.P: Topless Tactics You Were Never Taught Xxavier T outlines what he argues are necessary tips for any wife who is trying to save her marriage from collapse. T warns women of the world that their female “manipulation[s]” (such as “withholding sex,” “fake[ing] an orgasm,” or “compet[ing] with the people/things that [her husband] loves”) will simply ruin her marriage. She, instead, should do what her man wants and shut up about it. Dan Savage anyone?

Similarly, in her treatise Grading on a Curve: The Marriageability Factor, Tiffany Green offers three compelling steps that both women and men can use to ensure their happy marriage. And how is this done? Green delivers a recipe for surefire success:

1.  Love interests must “write down twenty things that [they] strongly believe [in].” These “things” can vary from the pairs’ religious beliefs to the sorts of diarrhea medications they would strongly recommend in a pinch.

2.  Next, couples need to scroll through their top ten “pet peeves,” (such as the picking of one’s “teeth in public”) and mark off the really peevey ones.

3.  Lastly, and finally, Green instructs the couple to return to their two previous lists crossing out the areas that each are willing to “compromise” on such as the important issue of “the hiring of a maid.”

And who says romance is dead in North America.

Both of these authors write for the website marriagepartner.com, a page dedicated to helping lovers find one another and avoid the pitfalls of divorce, the plague that the site claims is overtaking American marriage. While the site provides these earth shatteringly helpful tips on how to avoid the demise of heterosexual marriages, the sources omit any trace of advice for queers. Shocker.

When I looked for similar sites that would help me procure and secure my future gay marriage, I was left bumbling my way through Christian Fundamentalist and political pages. These websites bombarded me with images—usually put to song—of flashy crosses, catchy homophobic-slang, and asinine tips on where I could go for a fancy gay-exorcism. Or they sent me to links that recommended I talk to my local politician about gay marriage debates. Ummm, has anyone met Rob Ford or Stephen Harper? Canada’s next couple.

Aside from some sites about the pros and cons of monogamy and more than a few pages on raunchy lesbian sex (never type the terms ‘farmer’s daughter’ into your web-browser), my search for an informative and compelling website on how-to-do-gay-marriage-properly came up empty.

I promise this is not simply another essay on gay marriage. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for it and I hope my fellow gays get to enjoy the fruitful rights to the unions they so much deserve. I, however, am not interested; I’m tired of arguing for the authenticities of gay marriage because, in my modest opinion, the western legalization of gay marriage is at some point inevitable. Instead, I want to slosh around in muddier waters. So, I’m courting here a rarely discussed pillar of the gay marriage debate, a controversially licentious angle that has been ignored by queers, activists, lefties and right-wingers alike for far too long, gay marriage’s bereft and silenced lover, gay divorce.

The delicious benefits of divorce have been long understood by the hetero-public who has perfected it graciously and veraciously—some might even say unabashedly. With a divorce rate up over 52%, North American heterosexuals are the championed leaders of doing marriage badly. Not surprisingly, politicians, activists and eccentrics who are against giving someone else a shot at marriage refuse to be deterred by mere facts. Continuing to suggest that, God as their witness, the definition of marriage must, and can only, remain a union between a man and a woman, the fight to preserve the definition of traditional marriage is becoming so angrified it is even being called the issue that will decide America’s next President. Again.

Let’s be honest though people. If our current cultural interpretation of traditional marriage tells us anything at all about how we North Americans understand sanctimonious unions, then one thing is for sure: our conceptualization of traditional marriage is certainly intriguing. With marriage shows such as Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, Jerry Seinfeld’s The Marriage Ref, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, no one could dare question that traditional marriage is important in North America. Important and costly. Marriage has become such an expensive adventure that The New York Times recently estimated that an average heterosexual union in 2010 cost at least $28,000, without rings. The same was true of Canadian weddings.

Coupled with the shining examples of matrimonial bliss we have witnessed between such celebrities as Renee Zellweger and Kenney Chesney (whose marriage lasted a whopping 124 days), Eddie Murphy and Tracy Edmonds (which lasted two weeks), and Britney Spears and Jason Alexander (which lasted an entire eight hours) it has certainly been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that getting married in the West remains a seriously sacrosanct business.

Given this evidence, I think it’s safe to say at this point that we can surmise the following about traditional marriage: it is indicative of a special bond between a man and a woman that has been grown and nurtured over time (except when it hasn’t been); that it is only recognizable by the eyes of God (except when it is being filmed in an NBC studio by a camera man named Bob); and that such unions are always already flawlessly forever (except when they fail in eight hours). Makes perfect sense to me. So, while I do agree with the famous philosopher Chris Rock, who in a typical moment of astute philosophizing, states:

People always say we can’t have gay marriage ’cause marriage is a scared institution, it happens in the church, it’s sacred. No it’s not; marriage aint sacred. Not in America [. . . ] Shit, gay people have got a right to be as miserable as everybody else,

I am prepared to close my left eye, accept the facts and the logical conclusion that traditional marriage should be handed straight over to the heterosexual community, which has done such a bang up job with it so far.

What confuses me much more than the angst keeping queers from marrying is that no one, especially the right, has explored the brooding potential in gay divorce. So instead of asking what can be done for queers who want to redefine marriage, I wonder if homosexuals can’t somehow benefit from this particular Chris Rock-ean misery that seems endemic to marriage? My argument begins with the premise that North Americans are misunderstanding, or misunderestimating, if you’d like, the strategic benefits that gay divorces can afford us all.

By breaking our selves free from torrid kisses of the marriage debates, we will see that it’s not the right to marry that we need; rather, it’s the right to birth, condition, and raise divorce up as our very own. I hope to convince all pessimists that, in 2012, a time rife with economic insecurity, military pursuits, religious upheaval and violence, debates about Pro-Life and Pro-Choice, and racist fears of terrorisms of all sorts, we need to get as serious about money, politics, and honor as the right is and push for the legalization of gay divorce. I propose a new bill that I am calling Prop -8, or, its vernacular “operation stomp-on-ring,” and my hope is that soon those who have fought and won the right to marry their same-sex love, their paramour of similitude and deliciously mimicked genitalia, will join Team Lonely Gay and strap divorce onto their agendas.

I will spend the rest of this essay packing and then unpacking my faulty argument.

History

In June, 2004 lesbian wives who are known only as M.M and J. H were granted the very first same-sex divorce in the world. This first-ever divorce happened in Canada. The two married on June 18, 2003, only one week after same-sex marriage was legalized by the Ontario Court of Appeal; after ten blissful years together these women separated five days after the ceremony. What happened to the relationship that had stayed gloriously afloat for a decade? Who knows, but The Toronto Star eagerly declared: “the honeymoons’ over and the era of same-sex divorce in Canada has begun.”And yet, to date, in Canada our same-sex divorce rate is pathetic, while worldwide the stats aren’t much more promising.

Reliable statistics on same-sex divorce rates are practically nil. We do know that in the Netherlands (the first country to legalize gay marriage in 2001) a mere 1-percent of gay couples have divorced.  More troubling, a recent report suggests that heterosexual divorce rates have been steadily on the decline in the US since 2003 except in those states that continue to ban same-sex marriages. In fact, according to Nate Silver of The New York Times, in states that “actively prohibit gay marriage, the divorce rate is up” by an average of “8 percent,” with Alaska leading the pack. Props to Sarah Palin.

What this obviously shows with scientific expertise is that undeniably gay marriage is to blame for our lack of gay divorce. Not only are the gays who are getting married too happy to leave one another, selfishly so, but, in the arenas where gay marriage is prohibited, heteros have still managed to lead the way in divorce. Come on gays! We need to sort this through. How is it that we can proudly sport mullets, fake eye-lashes, acid-wash jeans and over-sized onesies but we can’t make gay divorce fashionable? What is a lonely gay to do?

I have come up with my own plan of attack and think the best place to start is with gay marriage. The facts are a bit superfluous, but please bear with me. In Canada, you can now marry if you’re gay, and divorce too, though, as aforementioned, our successful divorce rates are very few, so we’re crucially failing there. But, with much to be done in the way of progress here in the Great White North, we cannot forget our gay-American friends. Gay marriage is by no means spread eagle in the Land of the Free.  If you don’t live in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, or Vermont, you can’t get married. You can come to Canada and marry here—we love a good wedding—but here’s where it gets sticky. When the honeymooning is over and the tanning bed gets cold, American gays will find themselves stuck in what Barbara Findley has called a “divorce-catch 22.”

Since in most parts of the US, homosexual and lesbian marriages are not recognized, their unions are not accepted by their own state. This means these couples need to travel back to Canada, the birthplace of their marriage, for their actual separation to be legal. But, the catch is you can’t get a divorce in any province until you have lived there for at least one year. In other words, you need to be knocking back Tim Horton’s coffees and calling beer ‘beers’ for one full year before any divorce will be granted. Currently, there is no gay exception; that just wouldn’t be nice.

It is also important to note that since the US is all over the bed with their gay marriage laws, gay divorce is barely on their radar. When gay divorce is mentioned, it is often being fought against on the basis that the couple in question should never have been able to wed at all. For instance, while one might think Texas—known for its bedazzling opposition to same-sex unions—to be a “haven for gay divorce,” this is not so. In a recent ruling in January 2011, Texas Attorney General, Gregg Abbott, tried to appeal a lesbian couple’s divorce in Georgia on the grounds that in his eyes they were never married in the first place. Just to keep this all straight I will also mention here that in New York, although gays and lesbians cannot get married, they can get divorced.  This is also the case in California—depending on the day and the weather. So, if the information out there is correct than there have only been a very few successful divorces, mostly by lesbians, since 2004. Meaning, other than pointing out our clear lack of ambition, we in the West have no idea about the untapped potential gay divorce harbors in its britches.

The rest of this essay outlines the reasons why gay divorce, better than any military intervention, scientific discovery, financial upswing, or sale at Holt Renfrew can save the West from itself.

The Death of the Family

In a letter to her brother Newt Gingrich, Candace Gingrich politely asks that he and those associated with the Republican right open their conservative eyes and see the eventuality of gay marriage. She writes:

Dear Newt,

I recently had the displeasure of watching you bash the protestors of the Prop 8 marriage ban to Bill O’Reilly on FOX News. I must say, after years of watching you build your career by stirring up the fears and prejudices of the far right, I feel compelled to use the words of your idol, Ronald Reagan, “There you go, again.” [. . . ] Welcome to the 21st century, big bro.

Calling attention to the problematic ways the right co-opts sexuality for its own conservative advancement, Candace continues taking her brother to task for being a bully and for attacking the rights of cute, furry gay and plaid-wearing lesbian couples who simply want to tie the knot. She states:

What really worries me is that you are always willing to use LGBT Americans as political weapons to further your ambitions. That’s really so ’90s, Newt. In this day and age, it’s embarrassing to watch you talk like that. You should be more afraid of the new political climate in America, because, there is no place for you in it. 

While fighting for gay marriage with a man who was quoted saying, “there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment [. . . ] [and is] prepared to use the government if it can get control of it” is important work, I wonder if Candace’s voice would be better heard if she was to go in the opposite direction. Would her brother listen more objectively if she abandoned her predictable quest for marriage and turned her attention towards making gay divorce, its aspirations and consequences, the real queer success story? I wonder what a world where gays could finally separate ourselves from the politics of exclusion, discrimination, and homophobia that the Right is so decidedly married to would look like. We’ll take our rights elsewhere and carve out spaces for health care and necessary benefits in other ways. I’m seeing a queer geography with a lot of homoerotic fountains, Birkenstock clogs, and globular light shows.

We also have to bear in mind that our homosexual success at marrying is practically flawless; frankly, being this good at something feels unfair. So, let’s let the heteros have their marriages and their ties that bind, while we feast upon the lucrative underling, gay divorce, embracing all of the negativity and stereotyping that comes with it—that is, of course, until the hetero-right decides it too is sacrosanct. But, who’s to say? Gay divorcees might become the heroines and heroes of mutinous disruption, the advocates in tight short-shorts that work to split our frustration with conservative policy in two. Than we too will refuse to be told bedtime stories about true, real ways to love. We will abandon Valentine’s Day cards and wedding anniversaries for days that celebrate break-ups, separations, one-offs, and rebounds, saying “no, I don’t” instead of “yes, I do.” To be sure, if Candace Gingrich wants the right to be able to decide whom she would like to marry, then she should also have the right to decide whom she would like to divorce; she might actually divorce her brother if things really get going.

Having met Newt Gingrich myself in 1997, drunk at a bar in Ireland, I have decided that in light of his recent bid to run for the 2012 Presidency, I would also write him a letter.

Dear Newt,

Do you remember me? I met you at the Guinness Factory in Dublin, Ireland in 1997 while traveling with my lady-pal. Yes, she was very attractive, thank you. You were surrounded by bodyguards and were attempting to strengthen US and Irish relations through PR agendas that left you smiling—kinda—while slinging pints. You had just battled your way through some controversy because you’d been quoted bashing homosexual lifestyles just minutes before your sister, Candace, came out as a leader amongst gay activists. How were you to know she was going to become one of the forefront women of the lesbian movement? I do feel your pain. And so, when I, drunk, was yelling, “Hey Newt!” amongst a crowd of onlookers who couldn’t get near you, and your PR man, seeing me (a young lady with her young lady-pal) pointed me out for a photo op with you, I understood. You needed to show the world you weren’t such a bad guy after all. You might even like us lesbians, if we weren’t so degenerate.

So what if you didn’t attend your own sister’s wedding to her girlfriend Rebecca Gingrich-Jones? And really, does it even matter that at your debate in February 2011, when asked about your stance on the Defense of Marriage Act, you argued that gay marriage was an attack on the freedom of religion and the sanctity of marriage.  I mean, having been married three times, Newt, you’d know just how pure and irreplaceable this bond is. It’s a free country; we’re all friends here. You have a right to your say. Just as Charlie Sommers has the right to his opinion when he says:

Most newts can be safely handled, provided that the toxins they produce are not ingested or allowed to come in contact with mucous membranes or breaks in the skin. After handling, proper hand-washing techniques should be followed due to the risk from the toxins they produce and bacteria they carry, such as salmonella.

While I wholeheartedly believe homophobia is the fear of an inherent possibility and also believe that your haircut puts any butch’s best coif to the test, my actual fear for you is this: all of your masculine energies are being drained fighting against gay marriage when you are overlooking the incredible staying power of gay divorce. What if, for example, the gays you rally against marrying might actually be as horrible at marriage as you? Aside from that hope, think about the cash! You should know all too well that there is serious money to be made off of other people’s misery.

What I am trying to say is that the only real suggestion that makes sense here, rational, fiscal, economic sense, is legalizing gay divorce. Let’s be clear here, a lot of gays have money.  I do not, but a lot do. And I will hopefully marry one who does. (Maybe even during your swearing in.) You could reproduce an entire industry. The political, socio-economic possibilities for gay divorce are endless. For instance, new gay-divorcee associations would crop up that would confuse everyone with their acronyms, but would offer sustainable incomes to the unemployed you so often forget about. There could be the OGDA (the Ontario Gay Divorcees Association who is, by the way, seeking new membership because it is currently only comprised of the few lesbians to get a divorce in Canada and they’re not talking to one another right now), or the NJAAAGD4LGBTTIQQ2SA (New Jersey Association of Attorneys Advocating Gay Divorce for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgendered, Insecures, Queer, Questioning, Two-Spirited, Allies. Say that once without drinking.) What with marriage counselors, gay-divorce attorneys, mediators, therapists, psychics, feel-better shopping extravaganzas, body waxings, mani/pedicures, martinis, gym memberships, personal trainers, trips to the Greek Islands, Armani suits, Doc Martin’s revivals, wow! New custody battles over dogs and cats and collections of phallic art could create months of haggling and lawyer fees, all to the taxpayer’s benefit. An entire hotbed of new gay-divorce slang terms could arise and new, expensive parades and festivals could spawn, creating jobs and tourism for the towns brave enough to say, “I don’t.” Calendars could celebrate pinko-commy-homo-divorcee day, or banana-split-dyke week. I’m seeing T-shirts, bumper stickers, license plates, greeting cards, not to mention the media possibilities for new reality shows. Gay divorce alone could fund a revolution.

Think about cross border-commerce, my friend, and your fears of the domino effect of homosexuality— that gay-sex leads to gay marriage, which leads to marrying of all kinds (the marrying of people to animals, siblings to each other, sons to daughters, bees to flowers), which leads to AIDS, which leads to perpetual hell—will topple over as quickly as your marriages have. You could even buy that nice country you’ve had your eye on. If gay marriage is an abomination to the church and if it threatens the depravity of the US nation, and if you’re positive of this, than prove it. How? Gay divorce is your ticket to ride, Newt. You’re not afraid of a little stiff competition, are you?

Sincerely,

the lonely gay

And What About The Children

When debates about gay marriage surface, the phrase “what about the children?” usually follows. For example, Susan Brinkman’s enticing article “Gay Marriage: Who’s Minding the Children” argues that the only problem with gay marriage is the “effect” it will have on the wee ones. Quoting Jeffery Satinover, M.D., Brinkman asserts that because the child invariably lacks either a “mother or a father” within a gay marriage the effects of these unions can only be negative. This, she says, is “sound science” because everyone knows “exposures to both sexes” helps the child “form their sexuality” healthily while enabling the child to understand the pinnacle differences between men and women, such as their “different verbal styles.” Right. This all sounds completely on the level. Though, if the anxiety is that children are going to suffer from “the instability of the relationships” because of a lack of “sexual complimentarity” among lesbian and gay couples, what do we say to the little darlings when they figure out that no one currently does relational instability better than complimenting heterosexuals?

Presumptions about gender norms aside, I wonder if the real fear here is not the age-old adlib that gay parents will raise and recruit gay children. Let’s explore this for a moment. Pro-abortion lobbyists and Christian Fundamentalists have been the most stalwart protesters against gay marriage and gay divorce. The Traditional Values Coalition (which publishes informative and decorative pamphlets online) fears that lesbians and gays are both recruiting and teaching children how to be gay. Where are we doing this? In the classroom, around the dinner table, in the playground, at the bank, anywhere is fair game. Accusing homosexuals of pedophilia and child-adult sexual relationships, this friendly coalition warns that all homosexuals are, or will become “pederasts,” seducing children to their sexual whims, robbing children of their innocence.

Following suit is Peter Sprigg, a spokesperson for anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage. He argues that the effect gay marriage will have on children in the education system is overwhelmingly terrifying because schools will start teaching that homosexuals are identical to heterosexuals. In his estimation, this lesson will lead to the introduction of sex and sex toys to the classroom, therein leading to confusions surrounding what sex is, and how it is properly performed.  Advocating abstinence only campaigns, refusing condoms and birth-control education, and scaring the bejeesus out of children with tales about vagina dentata and smitings for kissing and touching, Sprigg and his colleagues are opposed to any sex-ed curriculum that would suggest respecting homosexuality—or actually talking about sex.

However, while there is a plethora of similarly compelling arguments insisting upon the negative effect homosexuality has on children, one stands out like no other—that of pastor Fred W. Phelps. Opposed to what he calls “dyke liberty” and “the filthy fag agenda,” Pastor Phelps has a way with words so poetic that during a sermon in his church, he preached the following:

Same-sex marriage, by any name, civil union or otherwise, is the ultimate smashed-mouth in-your-face insult to God almighty, and you think he’s going to let England and America and the rest of this evil world get by with it? God almighty has not joined fags in holy wedlock. God no longer keeps America safe, America is doomed. We’re getting the pants beat off of us, in Iraq, in Afghanistan. God is now America’s terrorist. God duped you into starting a war, so he could punish you [. . . ] You’re going to eat your babies! God himself duped Bush into a no-win war, and he did that by the technique of putting a lying spirit in the mouth of all his trusted advisors, to punish America. 

Okay. Now, what Fred W. Phelps is most concerned about here is seemingly:

1) God abhors gay marriage and anyone who supports it.

2) God is a terrorist.

3) As homosexuals, we eat our own babies.

On a basic level, if God truly does hate gays and gay marriage, than gay divorce should be right up God’s alley. What better way to get rid of gay marriages than through gay divorce (and the occasional wrath, plague, locusts)? To Phelps’ second point, if he is accusing God of being a terrorist than this is creepily meta-Biblical. Think of the US as a big airport where God is the stranger being held up again and again by discriminating luggage and body searches, profiling and accusations that charge God with being just a bit too Holy. Betrayed by her/his own followers, persecuted for simply being, God’s message completely tarnished, God would be left abandoned in the airport security office forever by the very ones who purported to worship she/he. Sound familiar? Hey, Fred W. Phelps, Judas called and wants his role back.

To Phelps’s third point, another brilliant satirist argued this very gustatory solution to the Irish famine back in the 18th century. Jonathon Swift claimed that instead of everyone in Ireland suffering from hunger and degradation, the Irish should eat their young. Of course, what Swift was actually trying to do was show the British how ridiculous and unethical it was to complain about the Irish and their poverty when it was indeed the British who had taken all of the Irish land and left them destitute. I am not suggesting here that Phelps is a political philosopher, satirist, or that he is even British, but his impassioned suggestion that we, in a time of economic duress, should eat our babies seems to be something his friends the Pro-Lifers should take up at their next meeting, no?

For me it all boils down to this: who wants to live in a world where we hate each other? What we have learned during the theatre of war we’ve been living through is that the best way to forgo ethics and lose sight of compassion is to become married to our own opinions surrounding what constitutes justice and freedom, right and wrong, evil and good, progress and stagnancy. Gays have seen and lived the effects of such dualistic thinking for much too long already. It must also be remembered by queers everywhere that our ability to disturb, to be misfits, to choose the unchoose-able is what keeps us strong and ready to stand up in opposition to oppressions of all sorts. Our queerness, coupled with our refusal to stop loving one another because of it, is what is so scary to those who seek to police and condemn. It’s not our desire to marry that freaks out the freaky, it’s our desire to love each other that keeps them up at night. As Michael Foucault suggests:

To imagine a sexual act that doesn’t conform to law or nature is not what disturbs people. But that individuals are beginning to love one another—there’s the problem [. . . ] Institutional codes can’t validate these relations with multiple intensities, variable colors, imperceptible movements and changing forms. These relations short-circuit [these institutions] and introduce love where there’s supposed to be only law, rule, or habit. 

So, in the name of queer love, let’s do it! Let’s everyone get queer divorces and take control over the entire industry of misery. Sign up, throw down, whatever, until we have enabled as many people to get divorced from this entire system that seeks to silence us. Look out Newt and Freddy! We’re here and we’re queer and we’re cruising past marriage and ravishing the “state of divorce limbo” until you both, at least, stop getting married.

 

About newdaynewmood

A Lonely lesbian trying to write about everyday life and everyday ways to negotiate the tough political issues therein.
This entry was posted in activism, humour, lesbianism, queer politics, queerness, social politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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