Derfner, Joel. “Lawfully Wedded Husband: How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family” (Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiography), The University of Wisconsin Press, 2013.
A Personal (and Fun) Look at Gay Marriage
I became a fan of Joel Derfner with his first book “Gay Haiku”. Then he wrote the delightful and wonderful “Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever” which holds a prominent place in my personal library. Now with “Lawfully Wedded Husband”, I am a proud Joel Derfner groupie. He manages to make the very serious issue of gay marriage a witty and very funny experience as he moves from history to reality on an issue that many of us never thought we would see.
Derfner’s boyfriend, Mike proposed to him but at that time there was nowhere in America that they could legally marry. That fact changed much more quickly than anyone could have anticipated and the two were able to marry and enter a life of connubial bliss. However, Derfner and hubby-to-be had to ideas how many problems they would face before walking down the aisle together. They had never considered that they would face the same issues that many other couples face as they prepare to start married life—what kind of ceremony, what to wear, who to invite, etc., etc. Aside from those they also had to consider the definition of the word marriage.
Then there was the issue of the reality show. “Girls Who Like Boys who Like Boys” that they were appearing on and the seemingly non-ending trail of documents that had to be signed and then notarized. And of course, there are the families. When one marries, he does not just get a spouse but usually a family as well. Both men has fabulous families and family members–“adulterers, arms smugglers, and poisoners; and discussions of civil rights, Sophocles, racism, grammar, and homemade Ouija boards”. (I had to quote my friend Phil Gambone who wrote this as a blurb and it is just perfect—winking at Phil).
This is not just the story of a gay marriage but it is also a look at “what it means to be human”. It really bolsters what I have always said about our community—we are just like everyone else except in bed. By reading this we can learn how to be happy, how to stay happy, how not to lose our wits and how to be honest in every situation.
We get an extra little gift with the book, something that in Louisiana is called “Lagniappe”. Appended to the text is “A Brief and Highly Biased Legislative History of American Marriage Equality with Respect to Sexuality” which is a tongue-in-cheek look at how far we have come.
While this is Derfner’s personal story it is also a look at the historical and political aspects of gay marriage and the realities of two people coming together. It is good to be able to laugh at ourselves once in a while and when we can do so with the wit of Joel Derfner, we are all better off.