Last week, during an interview with Mazel-granter Andy Cohen, Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel joked that the gay clamor for marriage is a red herring. "Marriage is the Hotel California," Frankel asserted, where "you can check out anytime, but you can never leave." I laughed, and then I cringed, agreeing with Ms. Frankel in theory, but fearing she missed the point in practice. "The gays are dying to get in that hotel, OK?" she demanded from Cohen.
Yes, we are still waiting for our turn.
Upstate from the Hotel California, San Francisco's HBO Looking characters are making reservations via Snapchat (Is that how it works?) in order to avoid the crowds. On the same day that the Watch What Happens Live episode aired on Bravo, an editorial in The New Yorker on "the New Gay Sadness" appeared. Writer Daniel Wenger linked the blasé, solipsistic experience of millennial urban gays to the inadequacy they feel as they approach marital seriousness. The article suggested that for this (my) generation, "The question is no longer whether" gay men "are allowed to love but whether they will find the love they seek."
Click, and ye shall find.
The insistence on the boredom of normalcy in both instances is refreshing, but there remains a paradox informing these and related perceptions, the latest iterations of same sex marriage politics in American culture. "All the gays want is marriage," Bethenny argued. "You want mine? You can have it!"
These two links do indicate a radical shift has occurred, reframing marriage from exclusive to undesirable, from envied to alienated. But, such apathy at the heart of the issue, is both the exception and the rule in the United States. Marriage, in all its passé glory, is still not national. The right to marry (or, for that matter, divorce) remains steeped in a state-federal mess. Women who marry women, and men who marry men remain decidedly avant-garde, at the frontlines of the war on love and sex. We still want rooms in the Hotel, but it is booked for the foreseeable future.
Since my husband, Scott Cronick, and I were married by Conan O'Brien in the first televised same-sex wedding on late night TV, the entire conversation about "gay marriage" has shifted at a rapid pace. Skilled lawyers and judges, savvy courts, and brave private citizens have made legal progress that was unimaginable in the past. Cultural perceptions have overwhelmingly advanced with grace and sophistication.
It is a privilege for me and Scott to live through such watersheds in the history of LGBT rights. History can be felt as lived experience, not only read as abstract valuations of what happened somewhere, sometime. Instead, LGBT history here has felt like what has happened to me and Scott - or, better yet, what has happened around us since November 2011.
Years ago, in a post on HuffPo Gay Voices, I lamented the championing of gay marriage fatigue as part and parcel of the mobilization of "same sex marriage." While we are all exhausted, there is still no rest for the weary. As the Eagles sang, "We are all just prisoners here of our own device."