Gay Life in The Wake of Marriage Equality

Sam Huber at Bookforum:

Though resisted by many queer activists, by 2015 marriage equality had become central to gay and lesbian public life. The post-Obergefell hangover was widespread: If the victory was as total as promised, what work could possibly follow it or be left to do in its wake? Walt Odets’s Out of the Shadows: Reimagining Gay Men’s Lives steps into this confusion with welcome insight and a shift in emphasis. “For gay lives,” Odets writes, “the granting of legal rights and authentic acceptance are two different issues in a society steeped in phobic aversion to real diversity.” To pro-marriage polemicists like Sullivan, gay particularity was attributable to our formal exclusion from mainstream institutions. When gays were no longer treated differently by law, he and others reasoned, we would cease to be different, compelling straights to finally welcome us into the social fold. Odets, a clinical psychologist with thirty years of private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area, airs what may look like dirty laundry to those who harbored such hopes. The overriding emphasis on marriage equality has pressured gays and lesbians to adopt a scrupulous regimen of self-love, turning any lingering shame into its own shameful secret. (One of Odets’s patients, Amado, confesses to having preempted a man’s rejection by telling him, “The more you get to know about me, the less you’ll probably want to know.”) Even among those of his patients—older, financially secure, monogamously partnered gay men—who might appear best positioned to reap its benefits, Obergefell has been no panacea for Sullivan’s “marginalization and pathology.”

more here.