Monday, December 15, 2008

his husband

Mr. Buckley, who majored in psychology in college and lives with his husband and four dogs in Connecticut, films his show from home.

From YouTube Videos Pull in Real Money in the 10 December 2008 issue of the New York Times, referring to full time YouTuber Michael Buckley.

I found this easy reference to gay marriage remarkable because the subject matter of this NYT's piece wasn't gay marriage or gay men. There was nothing awkward or finger pointing about it; it wasn't mentioned to draw attention to itself. It simply established biographical context and moved on.

The New York Times started running paid same-sex engagement announcements some time back, but I couldn't recall a reference like this before, inline in an article. So I ran a quick search[1] of the NYT's archives to see how many times "his+husband" occurred in context, and this is what I found:
Two book reviews that refer to gay relationships: A 2 July 2000 review of Edmund White’s An Ideal Husband and a 22 March 1992 review of Patrick White: A Life by Andrew Sullivan.

Two articles that are concerned with same-sex marriage:
  • 15 June 2008 Gay Couples Find Marriage is a Mixed Bag by Pam Belluck -- “his husband” appears in the photo caption.

  • 22 May 2007 in Legal Status Brings Security to Some Same-Sex Marriages

  • An obituary for Gerry Studds, the first openly gay congressman, on 15 October 2007.

    On 15 July 2007 in a reference to Chistopher Walken being cast as John Travolta’s husband in the movie production of Hairspray.

    And a 6 May 2007 Modern Love column by Cindy Chupack in which she writes:
    At a Hollywood party, I told my story to a cute guy I thought was flirting with me only to learn that he already was married. To a man. He explained that he had never even dated men until he met his husband while traveling abroad. Then I told that story to my friend who was the host of the party, and he confessed that he was bisexual, which he said was often difficult for potential partners to comprehend. For example, he asked, how would I feel about dating him?

    All of these previous mentions are pre-occupied with the sexual orientation of the individuals they refer to. The YouTube article is not.

    Why, as a supporter of same-sex marriage, do I care about about this, possibly first, casual reference to a man’s husband in one of America’s leading national newspapers? Because we speak and write casually about things we find normal; about things we find self-evident.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Marriage falling under the latter.

    Although it’s worth mentioning that my Uncle Stan was fond of saying: “I didn’t know what happiness was until I got married: and then it was too late.”

    We’ll see.

    [1] Far from comprehensive -- reviewed the first few pages of results only and tossed out all the early 1900 and late 1800 clippings that required wading through PDFs.

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