I’ve opened with this conniption fit over Lawrence vs. Texas by Capo di Tutti Conservo-Capi Fat Tony Scalia
(he’s the one with his hand raised. Steve is seated at the extreme left)
because it underscores what’s truly at stake in what happened yesterday
and what will continue to happen as Marriage Equality becomes The Law of The Land. For as Scalia demonstrates “Sodomy” laws were put in place to expressly prevent same-sex marriage from happening.
This declaration struck me as quite odd at the time, but history bears it out. And not just recent history.
Speaking as someone who has been part of the Gay Rights Movement since Stonewall I can say without fear of contradiction that marriage wasn’t on anyone’s mind back then. The Stonewall Riot (I much prefer Riot to “Uprising”) was an altercation instituted by street people — “marginals” being the most polite term for the same-sex oriented denizens of the West Village. Some were hustlers, some were drag queens, a precious few were Morty Manford. And among them some joined Morty and the others who formed the gay rights organizations that were fighting against police harassment and for legal rights. Maybe among them a scattered few harbored marraige as a pipe drem. Others if asked would have been actively opposed to it — intent as they were on creating a new kind of society with no links to the “bourgeois” status quo. Our biggest fight was with our own kind. For what we knew was the only way any of us were going to be able to get anything we wanted was for all of us to come out. And back in that day that was very avant-garde.
Indeed the only “out and proud” anyone could point to were avant-gardists like Frank O’hara or artists like David Hockney. “Bohemians” such as they weren’t worreid about “what the neighbors would say” or “what my parents will think.”
And even ther, there was a struggle. As Meryle Secrest shows in her Sondheim biography — and God Himself in many passages in Finishing the Hat and Look I Made A Hat, coming to terms with it was no Sunday in the Park with George . But anyhoo, Steve not only survived — he florished. And thus made it possible for the world to welcome —
They’re “engaged” now you see. And so when all the legal hoo-hah is finally cleared away they’ll be married — a spectacle there’s no doubt their twins will enjoy.
But so much for happiness. Now we must turn to the sadness that is Maggie Srivastav
about whom Mark Oppenheimer has written a remarkably informative profile for Salon which goes all the way back to her college days when she became pregnant by a fellow Conservative.
“Today, they have different memories of the relationship — how long they had been dating, how close they were — but on one fact they agree: 30 years ago this spring, months before she was supposed to graduate, Gallagher discovered she was pregnant. Then, as now, Yale students did not get pregnant — or if they did, no baby came of it. But Gallagher knew she would have this baby. At first, she planned to give the baby up for adoption, but she soon changed her mind. The father, however, was not interested in being a father. Or so she says.
On a mild November day, Gallagher and I are upstairs at City Bakery, near Union Square in Manhattan, where after months of requests she has agreed to meet me. As Gallagher tells it, she and the baby’s father were close; they had been together “on the order of one year,” she says, so he might have been expected to stand by her. “My son’s father was my boyfriend at Yale,” is how she describes their relationship. But when she told him she was pregnant, right before spring break in 1982, he vanished on her. “I was in his room and he had to go do something, and I was going to fly out in a couple of hours, had to get to the airport. And the last thing he said to me was, ‘I’ll be back in 30 minutes.’ And then he wasn’t.”
He just left her sitting in his room. And that was the end of them. When summer came, Gallagher moved home to Oregon and took some classes to finish her degree. In the fall, she gave birth to a baby boy, Patrick.”
Already one can feel a vague pang of sympathy for Maggie. “None of us is perfect,” and “young people make mistakes” spring to mind, especially in a University setting — and even when said young people are right-wing idealists.
“The next year, Gallagher says, she and the father reconciled and moved in together. He was still in school, and they shared a house by the Connecticut shore with some other undergraduates. “It was one of those things that you have to be pretty young and stupid to think is going to work, because it was a very collegiate environment and, you know, basically my parents were supporting me. And so, you know, we, we broke up. I moved into a separate apartment, and he came by occasionally.” He graduated, and soon they were living near one another — she was commuting from Jersey City to Manhattan, to work at National Review, the conservative magazine, and he was in Harlem. He occasionally baby-sat for Patrick, until one day, after staying with his son while she attended a conference, he decided he wanted out. “He called me up the next day, or the next, and said that he couldn’t do it anymore, and that he didn’t really want to have anything to do with either of us,” Gallagher says. “And that was it.”
The father remembers it differently. When I ask if he and the woman he got pregnant in college were indeed a couple, he thinks for a moment, then says, “Sort of.”
He is not pleased to have been found after all these years. To get him to speak, I have promised to keep his identity secret. He became a doctor, as planned. He lives in a small town on the East Coast with his wife and family. He has not spoken to his son or to his son’s mother since that final break in the mid-1980s. He knows who she has become — she is in the newspaper and on television — but he does not pay much attention to her writings. “I don’t read them extensively, because I don’t agree with them, and I find it personally painful to do so, as you might imagine.”
The soup thickens. Again one’s sympathies move toward Maggie in the face of this obvious cad — remindful of Robert Evans in The Best of Everything.
Yes it’s a “female jungle” out there. And Maggie has seen the Heart of its Darkness.
“His memories are vague, and rather self-serving. It seems that he did not work very hard to stay in his son’s life, but after thinking on it he apportions some of the blame to the boy’s mother. “To the best that I can recall,” he says, “initially she did want both of us to be involved in parental responsibilities, but from the beginning it was always on her terms. It’s hard to describe. It seemed to me at the time that she had an idea of how she wanted things to go, and it was not particularly important whether I had an idea of how things would go or not.” I ask if he might have done more, 30 years ago, to make the three of them into a family. “There’s a million things I wish I’d done differently back then,” but, he adds, “it would have required me to be a different person.”
That was not really his fault, Gallagher says. Neither of them thought they should get married. Nobody did. “There was literally no one — not his mother, not my parents, not the counselor I talked to, none of my friends, nobody in that world,” she says, who suggested they get married. “And in fact I would say the concern was that we not get married” — that they avoid the mistake of marrying too young.
“But I think, looking back, that if he had said, ‘You know, Maggie, I love you, I love you, let’s get married,’ I would’ve been thrilled. You know, he was my boyfriend.”
Happily she got a new one — another Conservative named Raman Srivastav who married her. Yet Maggie doesn’t use her married name — and I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering why. Sadly the otherwise tack-sharp Oppenheimer doesn’t ask of that which Maggie won’t tell.
As for the issue of her collegiate catastrophe —
“Patrick, now 31, a New York University graduate and aspiring musical-theater librettist, would not be interviewed.”
ENTER THE ANTI-CHRIST!
“The great trauma of Gallagher’s youth, her unplanned pregnancy and subsequent alienation from the father of her child, was rooted in failing to understand that sex and procreation are connected. It is understandable that, having grasped the truth, she is intent on emphasizing its importance. So it follows that gay marriage and, above all, gay parenthood, more than gay people themselves, presents a real challenge to her belief system. Same-sex marriage advocates offend her hard-won wisdom in two ways. First, they imply that sex and love can in fact be separate from procreation, and no less valid for it. Second, and perhaps more troubling for Gallagher, the increasingly visible column of attentive, loving gay parents — gay male parents in particular — mocks her own romantic choices. It mocks her own son’s good-for-nothing father. There must be something wrong with these gay dads, something contrary to the natural order, such that even when they appear to be splendid dads themselves, their agenda is the cause of poor parenting in others.”
And what do you know — like so many of her kind Maggie has “gay friends.”
It’s true. Here’s one now!
“The political writer Jonathan Rauch, the author of “Gay Marriage” and a prominent supporter of same-sex marriage, was a classmate of Gallagher’s at Yale, although he did not know her there. I ask him what he thinks motivates Gallagher. “I don’t believe she’s a homophobic bigot who hates gay people,” Rauch tells me. “She often says she didn’t want to get involved in the gay marriage debate. She says it found her. She is not like the Family Research Council or the American Family Association or Focus on the Family — she wasn’t involved in antigay stuff. She says she had been working to improve, strengthen marriage, and just as she was getting somewhere, this comes along. I have no reason to disbelieve her. She has always been good to me and my husband, Michael. She doesn’t say we’re sick, or ‘Which one of you is the woman?’ or that other stuff on talk radio.
“On the other hand, her arguments aren’t that good, and she is a very smart person. She thinks we won’t survive this last fatal blow to the family and its values, and that makes no sense to me. I wonder if it’s some type of panic. But I do not know the answer to your question.”
The psychopathology of gay KAPOS is indeed fascinating. Because Rauch is a Conservative and therefore “shares [some of] her values” Maggie tolerates him. He in turn translates such tolerance into “I don’t believe she’s a homophobic bigot who hates gay people” because she doesn’t hate him.
Of course when speaking of someone like Maggie Srivastav the notion of any “white hot” emotion seems odd. She has yet to exhibit anything like the passion of arch phobes such as NOM leader Brian Brown, or Matt Barber or Peter LaBarbera or Bill O’Loufa.
As Oppenheimer notes —
“Gallagher’s opposition to gay marriage seems to have very little to do with gay people, indeed with people at all. What really excites her is a depersonalized idea of Marriage: its essence, its purity, its supposedly immutable definition. If properly supported by the right laws and the right customs, Gallagher’s heroic Marriage is good for women, children and society. For Gallagher, gay people are the enemy only insofar as their desire to marry is yet another attack on Marriage: Like no-fault divorce, the welfare state and the normalization of single parenting, same-sex marriage challenges the idea that every child should be with its biological mother and father.”
Uh no. We’re the enemy.
And now one of us – the lovely Gavin Creel — will Sondheim us out.
Without pronoun alteration.