Jeez, what a sucktastic Saturday. I spent much of it traveling to, attending and returning from a funeral. The husband of my former editor at Bridge (the one I still speak to and like) died suddenly, of an apparent heart attack. At 37. Everyone was in shock, and the funeral home was filled to capacity with very sad people.
Derek still seemed flattened, and I expect he will be for some time. The two of them made one of those unlikely pairs that somehow works perfectly — the curmudgeon and the happy sprite, with Derek, the journalist, playing the curmudgeon role. The good news is, he has lots of people holding him up, many of whom wore bow ties to the service, in tribute to the deceased, Jesse, who wore them often.
Anyway, it got me thinking.
I found this Twitter thread last week. Someone dug up Ross Douthat’s college writings and found, whaddaya know, he hasn’t really changed since 1998. He was a smug little shit then, and remains one today. I was taken by the one headlined, “The Cross and the Triangle,” sniffing over the appointment of a lesbian to an associate-minister position at Memorial Church, which I gather is an important one at Harvard. Young Ross was “opposed to homosexual conduct,” like his church and, he points out, many others. Damn liberals.
It was a reminder that roughly 20 years ago was an utterly different era in how we think about gay people in this country. One of the last funerals for a gay person I attended was during the AIDS era, when it was common for health-care professionals and even morticians to refuse their business. My friend Paul had to find a new dentist. I expect some of the funeral directors would have preferred ditch burials, maybe preceded by an open burn, like for zombies.
But of course AIDS was, paradoxically, also one of the things that started to change our thinking. I once asked one of my gay male friends, who came of age in the ’70s, how many sex partners he’d had in his lifetime. First we had to determine what constituted sex, and settled on any activity where one or both parties reached orgasm, since body fluids were what was causing the plague. He had to estimate. It was a big number. A big, big number, and fairly common for that era, at least for men. A few years later, he was the one in the casket, having been lovingly cared for through a horrible illness by a partner he considered a husband. It was common at the time to consider gay men infantile pleasure-seekers, incapable of true romantic connection with another human being. (This, even though every city and town, large and small, had its Fred and Howard or Bob and Steve, two “roommates” who’ve shared a house for decades and always decorate it so nicely at the holidays and invite all the auxiliary ladies to use it for their fundraisers. I knew one of these guys back in Columbus; they had a custom drape to hang over the mural of semi-nude Roman centurions lounging around in leather harnesses, etc., when the auxiliaries came through.) Seeing how they mourned their dead put that one to rest.
Anyway, back to the funeral. The woman who led the service was a lesbian, and her partner/wife was one of the eulogists, speaking of their “gayborhood,” and their “framily.” I’m so happy that people don’t have to live lies anymore, to be “confirmed bachelors” but actual husbands to other husbands, wives to wives. Life goes better when you have someone you love sleeping next to you every night, drinking coffee with you in the morning, and you don’t have to hide it.
I expect I’m now at the age when the funerals will come more often. We had a “celebration of life” last summer. Saturday was a celebration of life, too, only no one was feeling particularly celebratory.
Otherwise? I’ve got a big day of writing ahead, so I should wrap. A little bloggage:
Thanks to LAMary for this, a collection of social-media shots from the White House staff holiday party. Folks, I’m worried about Tiffany. Very, very worried. She doesn’t look well.
If you aren’t one of those who caught this charming story about an unlikely friendship between Charles Barkley and Lin Wang, enjoy it now. Who is Lin Wang? That’s what makes the friendship unlikely.
On to my friend’s arts-grant application. Happy start-of-the-week, all.