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Desperate house

Desperate house


"Talk about desperate housewives. These women got the children off to school, hung out by the pool, paired off, and were back before the kids came home."

Now that the election is over--oh, my God, more on that another time--I can get back to thinking about marriage in New Jersey. The New Jersey supreme court left us hanging. No reason to deny us legal unions, they ruled. But what should our unions be called? The New Jersey legislature gets to fight that out.

Well, I'm nothing if not civic, so I decided to consult my inner pollster. What word would get our positives up and our negatives down? I wanted a word for marriage that was values-neutral. Perhaps something from a food group--Cinnabon? Everyone loves Cinnabon! I needed something that represented our conflicting feelings on marriage--those who can, care less; those who can't, care more.

Here's what I realized. Our enemies are right: There is no other word for marriage. So let's keep the word but put it in quotes to represent all our ambivalences. From now on, I think it should be mandatory to do those double-pumped bunny ears with your fingers in the air every time you say the m word or any of its variants. We got "married." She asked me to "marry" her.

Whatever you call it, Oprah won't do it. After she established her "just friends" cred with Gayle for the tedious nth time, Oprah felt confident enough to do a show on lesbians coming out of "marriage" to men. Apparently, these women were so pretty, people complained that they could not have been lesbians--one of my favorite lesbophobic tropes.

Despite Oprah's breathless ratings-driven attention to this phenomenon, it's really quite old and ordinary. Like me. In the early 1980s I was performing in Ohio and staying in community housing. Unlike other more marginal, earnest, crunchy-granola billeting, this was a solid, upper-middle-class suburban house in a very straight neighborhood far from the homo-heights section of town. One of the women had been "married" to a man and had gotten the house in the divorce. After a few glasses of wine, she regaled us with stories of the neighborhood.

Imagine the voice-over lady for Wisteria Lane as a very randy, mischievous lesbian. Talk about desperate housewives. The women got the children off to school, hung out at one of their pools, paired off, and were back before the kids came home. Things were especially busy on warm summer nights--they had an elaborate system of lights to indicate when someone was available. This was years before Melissa Etheridge sang, "Come to My Window." My new friend said that on a family trip to the Magic Kingdom, one of her neighbors had sneaked off and shagged the girl in the Peter Pan costume.

When you realize that even regular old "marriage" is really a secret gateway to lesbianism, you begin to see the source of the Right's paranoia. No wonder they call Ohio a battleground state.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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