19/06/08

So many ways to be gay

Further to yesterday’s post, I find myself in California at a happy time. Same-sex marriages are a huge step forward in undermining the absurd qualms that our society still has about who has sex with whom. I notice that the qualms are still reflected, though, in reports of the happy day. My New York Times “gay alert” service served me up these two stories in one e-mail. I felt like I was playing one of those 1970s women’s magazine games where you have to spot seven differences in two near-identical pictures. Here are the two headers:
Version 1:
Same-Sex Marriages Begin in California
By JESSE McKINLEY
SAN FRANCISCO — With a series of simple “I dos,” gay couples across California inaugurated the state’s court-approved and potentially short-lived legalization of same-sex marriage on Monday, the first of what is expected to be a crush of such unions in coming weeks.

Version 2:
Gay Marriages Begin in California
By JESSE McKINLEY
SAN FRANCISCO — With a series of simple “I dos,” gay and lesbian couples across California inaugurated the state’s court-sanctioned and potentially short-lived experiment with same-sex marriage on Monday, the first of what are expected to be a crush of such unions in coming weeks.

I’m interested to know what readers think of these differences in nuance. As we know, getting our tongues around gay behaviour has always been fraught. The difficulties gave me one of my favourite footnotes in The Wisdom of Whores. (For those who haven’t read it yet — don’t skip the footnotes. Some of the best laughs are there). A taster:

“I leave those who think I am exaggerating to make sense of this footnote from a recent UNAIDS document entitled Men Who have Sex With Men, “While we use the term ‘men who have sex with men’ here it is within the context of understanding that the word ‘man’/’men’ is socially constructed. Nor does its use imply that it is an identity term referring to an identifiable community that can be segregated and so labeled. Within the framework of male-to-male sex, there are a range of masculinities, along with diverse sexual and gender identities, communities, networks, and collectives, as well as just behaviours without any sense of affiliation to an identity or community.”

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This post was published on 19/06/08 in Ideology and HIV, Men, women and others.

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  1. Comment by David Hackney, 19/06/08, 02:38:

    Version two is the correct use. I take my cue from Human Rights Watch, an advocacy organization on LGBT issues. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever heard any of my lesbian friends refer to themselves as gay. Massachusetts also makes a distinction in keeping statistics. The state recently reported that 70 percent of the same-sex marriages performed there are with lesbians. It will be interesting to see if the same holds true for California, or will the fact that California allows out-of-state couples to marry change the dynamic.

  2. Comment by secondlastwish, 21/06/08, 04:50:

    well, gay marriages are experimental (version 2) while same sex marriages are legalized (version 1).

    maybe it’s a subconscious reference to the belief among some people that being gay is a choice and some people are just experimenting with a lifestyle.

    i know many lesbians who refer to themselves as gay.

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