About Gay Housewife

by Hank Donat on 10/12/2009

Heart of the Household: When I began planning an online column, Heart of the City, in 2000, few had heard of anything called a blog. However, it seemed obvious to me, after a career in journalism and advertising that had survived both the Loma Prieta Earthquake and the Dot Com Bomb, that what the Internet did best was deliver words and pictures. As a journalist looking to produce three-dot style coverage of life in San Francisco, I found the Internet a ready outlet. Perhaps best of all, as it was a logical extension of my work and everything I enjoy doing – published or not published – I really didn’t have anything to prove. I was grateful to the readers who made MisterSF.com a hit in relatively short order. Online publishing would soon be a norm among media. But, a few years later, there was one enduring question from Mister SF’s new friends all around the world: What do you do when you’re not doing that?

I’m a gay housewife. I take care of my husband and my home. That’s how much things have changed since the start of the 21st Century – today we’ve got Skype and gay housewives. Before 2004, when few dreamed that legal gay marriage was possible in California, I really had to put the apron on and tolerate intolerance wherever I may have found it. No problem. Been out, done that. With my head held high, I embraced the housewife moniker before their were desperate ones or real ones on TV. The irony that our gay marriage is a traditional one wasn’t lost on younger members of our circle of friends and family. They support gay marriage and find ours a loving and supportive home. What makes it a “traditional marriage” is not our gender, but the fact that we live our lives in service to each other. That, plus a cuppa and something warm on the table – sweet or savory – keeps our house a home.

When Jeff and I learned that we had the first appointment to be wed in the City of San Francisco after gay rights pioneers Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, we were honored in every way. We arranged to be married as you would be married – with dignity and in private, except for a few important witnesses. We were proud to present this image in front of the flags of California and the United States, in the people’s room, the chamber of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, with the people’s leader, the board’s President, Supervisor Aaron Peskin. (We appreciated journalists from the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, National Public Radio, LA Times, and KCBS who reported from the chamber with respect, away from the circus environment outside.)

(Photo by Digital Railroad)

Earlier, as Jeff and I stood at the counter for our marriage license on the morning of June 17, 2008, a reporter asked why I thought fate had selected ours as the first appointment in the system. I felt then that we had endured the worst sterotypes that were possible about gay people and from that moment forward I would carry the banner proudly for all people who care for and love another and who work inside the home. I had planned to create a new web site celebrating this valuable work and the contribution it brings to marriages, families, and communities. But then I was interrupted…

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America)

Later the same year, the voters of California successfully used the Constitutional Amendment process to end the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry, a right that the state’s Supreme Court had said was fundamental and inalienable. And, even though the initiative was carried mostly on religious grounds by means of an indefensibly vile campaign that centered on the outdated scare tactic that gays are out to recruit your kids, the same court later ruled on the process only and said it was valid. No further gay and lesbian weddings would be performed in California other than those held under the old Constitution from June to November, 2008. However, since you can’t have a retroactive Constitutional Amendment, the Court also ruled that gay weddings entered into under the old Constitution would remain as legal, as valid and as recognized as all others in the state.

The campaign to burnish discrimination against gays into California’s Constitution came at a great cost to many. Both the follies of the gay political establishment and the craven tactics of those in favor of discrimination generated equal and constant frustration. However, the story that remains unreported is the toll on friendships and families when frail tolerance could not withstand the confrontation that was forced upon us all: choose your God or help your brother anyway. While we made many new allies, in other cases the anti-intolerance and pro-liberty values we believed we shared with individuals in our lives didn’t always translate into votes or support for our lawful marriage. And though that’s sad, life and the fight for equal marriage rights for gay couples goes on. We still believe in justice and in hope when justice is delayed or denied. We still believe that marriage creates families and that it creates opportunities for reconciliation within families.

(Photo by Daniel Nicoletta)

As gay marriage continues to be legalized in American states, gay couples in California know it’s not their last day. A Gay Housewife is accustomed to having to work a little harder. Everyone on all sides, inside and outside of anything resembling a rights movement, will go back to living their lives and taking care of their families. Following the California Supreme Court’s May, 2009 ruling, UC Berkeley law professor Joan Hollinger told the LA Times, “One role that the 18,000 couples will play, whether they want to play it or not, is exemplars of how the world won’t come to an end, that simply living their lives and protecting their families and interacting with others in California will demonstrate that no damage is done to the marriages of opposite sex couples.” I agree with professor Hollinger. And yet, just like when I started my first web site, I feel I have nothing to prove. Our justice was always in the life we lead together, and there isn’t anyone – foe, friend, or faux friend – who can tell me Jeff and I are not married.

GayHousewife.com is one man’s recipe for a happy spouse and a loving, nurturing home. The site is not an appeal for understanding, nor is it a campaign, nor a plea to anybody. As all believers in freedom continue the hard work toward full federal equal marriage rights, I will use my new online publication GayHousewife.com to continue my own celebration of domestic arts and married life as seen through the eyes of a Gay Housewife.

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