I can not tell you how much I am loving Los Angeles. Sure, there are down sides – the tremendous amounts of driving. But, there is also an upside to the driving that I had not anticipated and it is…RADIO. I can not tell you how much I’ve missed quality radio. Sure, I listened to it in my Manhattan apartment from time to time, but when you’ve got an hour to kill in the car almost everyday – the radio becomes less of a past-time and more of a saving grace. And oh how technology has helped with the radio. For example, as most of us know, the U.S. has become a factory of corporate radio where every station is a pre-canned, pre-recorded, corporate, nationwide DJ voice, completely funded by the Clear Channel. The only hold out is NPR, which I listen to with a loyal consistency. Meaning, thank the technology gods there are apps. Now, you can download a lot of specific radio shows FOR FREE. It’s great and -specifically- I find myself listening to A LOT of Marc Maron’s WTF podcasts. I’ll talk about a specific episode of WTF in a later post. It’s probably the BEST podcast on American comedy that there is.
So, let’s get to the point of this post. Yesterday, I’m sitting in the car on the way home from my current writing gig and I hear the following news headline on NPR, “The Abbey Bans Bachelorette Parties Until Gay Marriage is Legal.”
Let’s stop for a moment, here, and talk about the Abbey. The Abbey is amazing. It is one of the best gay bars I’ve ever been to – the world over. The reason – it’s pretty welcoming to EVERYONE. Now, being a die hard New Yorker, I’d like to say the best American gay bar is in New York, but I firmly believe it is not. It is in Los Angeles and it is the Abbey.
The Abbey is half indoors and half outdoors and it is extravagant and luscious at the same time. The dance floor is always hopping and the food is even decent – something you don’t always expect from a joint that has a clubby atmosphere. And the interesting thing about the Abbey is that everyone goes there – straight men, straight women, gay women, gay men. Sure, the biggest money spenders are the gay men, but everyone goes. I don’t think I have to tell you that a mixed clientele is a rarity at a gay bar, pretty much anywhere.
Now, most of us know that straight women LOVE going to gay bars. Mainly, because they can let it all hangout without getting hit on. They can let loose and have a gay ‘ole time (pun intended) while still feeling safe. So, bachelorette parties love the Abbey.
Let’s put that aside for a moment and talk about my personal, gay marriage evolution before we get back to the Abbey.
The me of 7 years ago might have said, “Wow, they’re not letting straight women, bachelorette parties (hen nights for my euros) into the Abbey? That’s too restrictive and a big money loss for them. Why would they do that?” I might have said that 7 years ago. At around the same time I would’ve thought, “Why can’t we, gays, just be happy with civil unions and leave the marriage to the breeders?” I have evolved on this point. Here’s why. Initially, I thought to myself, my marriage to Wifesy is NOT the same as a straight marriage and I like the differences. So, why should we just lump ourselves right into an institution that has a super high rate of failure anyway? I also felt, I didn’t get with Wifesy to be more of society’s version of normal. I am with her because it allows me to be more completely ME. That was my thought process about 7 years ago. Until…we started dating and actually got married. We got married in Massachusetts where it is legal. Yet, here in California, it means little to nothing.
Let’s get real simple. Here’s what happens when you’re considered “not married” in your state:
For a short period, Wifesy footed the bills so I could work on my book. Through our accountant she tried to deduct me on her taxes. The only amount you can take for a “non-related” / “non-married” individual on your taxes is $500. $500 measly feckin’ dollars. A married STRAIGHT couple where one is supporting the other can often take a deduction closer to $12,000.
Second item. Insurance. For a while, Wifesy worked for a Christian vet clinic. They were “Christian” in the very best sense of the word (not in the hating gays sense of the word, which – unfortunately – can happen with a lot of religious people) and they covered us BOTH. They covered us both because they cover their doctors AND the doctors’ spouses. So, it was FAIR and the right thing to do in regards to covering me. Currently, I’m working freelance, so there’s still no health insurance with my gig. Wifesy works for a bigger animal hospital in a big city. You would think, “No problem, the gays are going to be covered there, right?” WRONG. Married, STRAIGHT, couples are covered through the company. Us gays have to pay for both of our plans at a discounted rate. Why? Because it saves the company money. Until this type of discrimination is banned FEDERALLY this will continue to happen.
Tell me, how this is fair? It is simple math. There’s no way to look at the above and see fairness. Now, in my current state of thought-evolution on the gay marriage issue, I am convinced that until the word marriage is used – conservative and hate-mongering groups in this country will find a way to make the laws completely unequal for gay people when looked at side by side our straight counterparts. That is just reality.
Okay, let’s put that aside and just talk about last night for a moment before I wrap this all up in a somewhat neat bow. I have been working long and hard all week, as has Wifesy, so last night we decided to kick back and go to our favorite Mexican place to chill out, have some margs and – of course – flan for Wifesy. The joint was packed. At least an hour wait. As we were sitting there, enjoying some margs and waiting for a table, a man in his 70s with another man and a woman started talking to me. He asked where I was from, I said, “New York.” He said, “I know.” I said, “How did you know?” And he said, “your accent.” We both laughed and talked about Manhattan and the restaurant, you know, small talk.
I liked the guy right away. He was lovely. Just a total treat of a human being. The other male started joking around too and the woman in-between them was all giggles and seemingly having the time of her life. Very quickly, I realized the men were gay and together. One gay man told bad jokes, like your elderly uncle would at a family party. In fact, it struck me just how similar he was to some of my straight uncles or older cousins telling corny jokes at a family function. (It’s amazing how people can be so different and yet, completely the same.) The other white-haired, lovely, gay, grandpa started asking me questions about me and Wifesy. I told him that Wifesy and I were together and through the course of conversation we mentioned that we were married. The older gay men were married too. The conversation went like this…
Gay grandpa: “Oh, you two are married. That’s so nice. Where?”
Grandpa: “Oh, that’s lovely. It’s legal there, yes?”
Grandpa: “We were married in Vermont, where it’s also legal.”
Me: “Oh, that’s wonderful. That’s great.”
Eventually, our table was called and the gay grandpas went with their lady friends in one direction and we went in the other. And I had this thought, Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say we were married and that was it? Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to have that whole “which state” caveat at the end of that statement? Wouldn’t that be nice?
So, I understand the Abbey. I understand why they’ve banned bachelorette parties until American gays can get married. It is time. It’s also time that our open minded, STRAIGHT, friends and family members stand up and get vocal. It is time that the STRAIGHTS tell the rest of the world (including the other straights) that this “unequal” thing is not okay.
We can NOT do it without you and – unfortunately – if we have to gently shake you awake by telling you to take your bridesmaids party and your penis hats elsewhere, then, so be it. Sometimes a friend has to make another friend STOP and take notice. Sometimes a third party has to step in and unconditionally stop the fight.
In the end, that’s how equality is achieved.
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