Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Love in the Era of Obama - and O Canada!

It's July 1, a big day in my life. It marks the 142nd anniversary of Canada's semi-independence. It is the 16th anniversary of the death of my first lover and not-coincidentally the 16th anniversary of when my now sainted ex and I decided to yoke our fates as one.

So love of country, love of my lost beloved, and love of my extant but now only sainted beloved ... this one is for love.

If gay people have anything to teach, it is that the conquering power of love ennobles and enables. Love makes no sense, but there is no sense in not loving. The loathing of the loathers is our lot ... and there is certainly some satisfaction in the present era when at long last the plurality if not yet the majority understand that we are about loving.

In that sense, I think the liberal glee at the fall of Mark Sanford, fundamentalist governor of South Carolina caught in a mad and unlikely love affair with an Argentine, is rather unseemly. What we ought to be saying is not that he is a hypocrite ... hypocrisy in love, dear friends, is as old as prostitution, that oldest of "vices". No, we ought to be pointing out that inconvenient love is as ancient as humanity. So his wife of 20 years is left in the dust ... you know what, this too is an old story. The man fell in love, and it was all so wrong. But love conquers all.

If only he were not a religious bigot who looks to Bathsheba and David to justify his more unseemly grip on power, then perhaps he might just stand up and say, I understand that love is not something that state or religion should seek to control or undermine. What I found on a dance floor in Argentina is just the same as what two awkward dudes found in each other one night in an old Chevy.

But, alas, he is a religious bigot. And, alas, the liberal bloviators love to hold religious bigots to the hypocrisy of their religious bigotry. I say "no" ... tell him that love is its own justice. Tell him to give unto others the respect for love that he asks be given to him. Ask him to learn from his lesson in love.

We might also ask Obama to learn a little. His speech to the quickly assembled gay Appropriati (think Illuminati who have been handed a little badge of appropriateness) was nothing less than nauseating. In his audience, in the White House, was an officer with 18 years of service who is soon to face an administrative proceeding that will inevitably turf him out of the military to which he has dedicated his life. Because he is gay. And to add insult to injury, he was ordered not to wear his uniform, notwithstanding that he is currently an active officer in good standing, lest someone think it political. Obama's message: trust me and wait. Sure ... should the 266 men and women thrown out of the military under Obama's watch wait. What are they waiting for? Someone needs to tell this s.o.b. that he is the Commander-in-Chief. What is he afraid of?

But this is about love. It is obvious that the love affair between Barack and Michelle has been transformative ... more so, obviously, for Barack than Michelle, it seems to me. I always wonder how it can be that someone who encounters a transformative experience fails to translate that into understanding the impact of transformation on others. In other words, when someone is in love, how can they not acknowledge the love of others. I do not think Barack Obama is President without the influence of Michelle. One iota of that realization should be enough for him to realize that he should acknowledge the love that others feel.

It is harder to imagine a man like Sanford projecting his experience in inconvenient love to others. But we should not eschew him for loving.

So back to July 1. In 1993, my first lover, then my first ex, died on Canada Day in Vancouver of the plague. I spent 10 days with him as he lay dying. Bad Subjects published a reminiscence on his death that I wrote in 1993. He was unconscious when I left and died a few days later. Richard moved in to my apartment on July 1. We called ourselves sidekicks, but that night we got drunk in grief and we decided to be lovers, and that lasted for a decade. So July 1 is the death of my first lover and the anniversary of my third.

My love life does not fit into the convenience of gay marriage. It is not the narrative that goes on billboards. But it is mine and it still fills me with emotion and thrill. The truth is that many love lives do not fit the billboard model. Sanford's doesn't. Obama's does.

The job of the state is to stay out of the bedroom. The job of the state is to facilitate the civil nature of human relationships. Canadians of my generation will remember Justice Minister, later Prime Minister, Trudeau announcing that the state had no business in the bedrooms of the nation. That declaration was part of what led to Trudeaumania and his election as Prime Minister. But here, on Canada Day, it is a lesson that Obama, in love with his wife, still does not grok.

So Happy Birthday Canada. I still love you, Gaetano, and think of you every day. And I still love you, Richard, even though I know how much better we are for being friends and not mates.

Photos by Arod from Gay Day in San Francisco, 2009. All my photos from Gay Day are on Flickr.

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