Thursday, July 21, 2011


When Dan Savage married Terry Miller, his partner of ten years, the wedding was a rush job. Sometimes in my reading I come across people describing things that happened to them that happened to me pretty much the same way. I will title posts about such instances “Notes Toward an Autobiography by Others” (see where I’m from in the tags). I’m not giving this post that title. But there are some parallels. The wedding Kent and I put together was a rush job. Although, if you believe Dan’s account in his book, The Commitment the rush of theirs makes ours look slow and deliberate. Actually, Dan and Terry had a reception carefully planned – with help from professionals – that they’d intended only as an anniversary party, celebrating their ten years together. Yet shortly before the party they decided they had to tie the knot legally. (Read the book to get the whole story on that.) Living in Washington state the closest place they could get a legal ceremony was Canada.

The Canadian official who agreed to perform the ceremony on short notice told them to meet her at such and such a time with their rings. Terry knew a shop in Chinatown where they could get rings with no waiting. To help their young son get in the spirit of the thing Dan told him he could pick out the rings. DJ looked in the display case and pointed at two silver rings that featured skulls. Dan’s protests were quelled when DJ offered his reasoning:

”You’re going to promise to stay with Terry until you die. So when you look at your ring, you’ll see a skull and you’ll remember that you and Dad will be together until you’re both dead and you’re both skeletons and both your skulls are showing.”

After a day of various hilarious mishaps (only funny to those of us reading about it later), the newlyweds collapse in their hotel bed, their son snoozing between them. Dan, like me, a sometime insomniac, stares awhile at the ceiling.

I was about to roll over when I noticed that Terry was awake, propped on an elbow, watching me turn my wedding ring round and round on my finger. Terry made a fist with his left hand and held it out, above our sleeping son, his silver skull glinting in the dark. I made a fist with my left hand and we knocked our knuckles together, our silver skulls clacking as they smacked into each other.

“Powers of gay marriage activate,” Terry said, smiling sleepily.

Kent and I, we tap our rings together, too. And some sort of secret powers active.

source: The Commitment: love, sex, marriage, and my family by Dan Savage

Saturday, July 02, 2011

straight-washing the emperor

Although copious evidence exists to confirm the homosexuality of Puyi, final ruler of the Qing, the creative heterosexual love scenes in the acclaimed film The Last Emperor have created a lasting impression in both Asia and the West that Puyi zestfully took advantage of his female concubines.

What? Hollywood rewrote history to conform to popular tastes?

You know, I bet so many “real” figures have been straight-washed for their filmic treatments that if every biopic for the next ten years included a prominent gay affair (at the very least) the result would be more true to life than the last hundred years of gay-free moving pictures. (I should note that Hollywood will make the occasional exception from its landscape of hets for the villain whose sexuality is merely more proof of his depravity.)

source: Passions of the Cut Sleeve: the male homosexual tradition in China by Bret Hinsch

Friday, July 01, 2011

The Half-Eaten Peach

Bret Hinsch traces a tradition of male loving through 3000 years of Chinese history in his Passions of the Cut Sleeve. As time went on those who would speak of gay love could use a sort of shorthand – referring to a “cut sleeve” would conjure a story (an emperor was so enamored of his male lover that the emperor cut the sleeve on which the lover had fallen asleep in order not to disturb him), a story of gay love, which the highly educated literate elite would recognize and understand. The names of famous gay “favorites” of ancient emperors would provide similar service in conversation or poetry.

Another bit of shorthand was “the half-eaten peach”:

[One] day Mizi Xia was strolling with the ruler in an orchard and, biting into a peach and finding it sweet, he stopped eating and gave the remaining half to the ruler to enjoy. ‘How sincere is your love for me!’ exclaimed the ruler. ‘You forgot your own appetite and think only of giving me good things to eat!’

I like this one. Back in those days I imagine the product of the peach tree was less uniform. Pick two peaches and the chances of them both being delicious is not great. If you luck out and get a yummy one there’s that much more incentive for polishing it off. And you are that much more generous for sharing the treat.

I don’t like the “half-eaten” part of the phrase, though. “The saved peach”? Maybe … “The selfless peach”? … Neh … I’ll have to think on it.

source: Passions of the Cut Sleeve: the male homosexual tradition in China by Bret Hinsch