Edmund White Comes Out in Support of Marriage

Legendary author and anti-assimilationist Edmund White talks of his new support for marriage equality and his plans to marry his partner of 17 years.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

May 12 2012 11:36 AM ET

The man considered one of our greatest living gay authors, and a leading proponent of liberation, not assimilation for LGBT folks, says he's had a change of heart about same-sex marriage. "Just like Barack Obama, my views on gay marriage have evolved," he wrote in the British newspaper The Guardian."And now I am a reluctant groom."

White says that Obama's decision is historic but not isolated, and as Americans have increasingly come out in support of marriage equality the pioneering author has "evolved" in his affirmation of same-sex marriage.

"Originally I was opposed to gay assimilation and targeted gay marriage as just another effort on the part of gays to resemble their straight neighbours," he wrote. "When the president 'came out' he was careful about mentioning the many gay couples he knew, even some in government, who had loving, 'committed' relationships and who were parenting children. All pretty suburban, in my opinion. Must we be among the 'good gays' in order to win our civil rights? If we're too sexual, if we're wearing drag or leather, if we have multiple partners, if we're seropositive, will we be thrust beyond the pale? What if we don't want to live with the same partner for many years or adopt a Korean daughter and join the parent-teacher association?"

But White says he became pro-marriage equality once he realized "how opposed to it the Christian right is in our country. Europeans forget that one-third of the American people have had a personal conversation with Jesus Christ and that the born-again are not just little old ladies in black but also CEOs and provosts of universities and candidates for office. The Republicans are the party of the rich, of the top 1% of the population. If they are going to command majorities, they must invent phony 'moral' issues that will appeal to their middle-class constituents. The assault against women's reproductive rights is one such issue; a similar struggle against gay marriage is the other leading issue in the culture wars."

White says that he's lived 17 years with his partner in "an extremely open, non-possessive relationship" and now the men are getting married, legally, in New York, for a variety of reasons. "I've started looking at him in a different way," he wrote in The Guardian, "knowing that we'll soon be legally joined together; marriage is such a powerful symbol, it's bound to affect even such reluctant grooms as us."

Read his full essay at The Guardian.

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