For decades, we’ve been hearing a mantra from those who seek the church’s blessing of same-sex relationships. “They’re loving, committed, life-long, and monogamous, just like good heterosexual relationships, so we should bless the former just as we bless the latter.” For decades, those who know better have been saying that this is a fraud, that what gay rights advocates were talking about was a fundamentally different kind of relationship. When we did so, we were called bigots, homophobes, haters—you know the drill.
So behold as Noah Michelson pulls back the curtain in this piece at the Huffington Post:
Over the weekend several photos of Anderson Cooper’s boyfriend, Ben Maisani, kissing an unidentified man in a New York City park surfaced in the tabloids. Almost immediately my Facebook feed was filled with comments gushing sympathy for Cooper, who, it was assumed, must be locked away in his multimillion-dollar bedroom, alternately sobbing and stuffing his face with thousands of woe-is-me calories in an attempt to dull the pain of this awesome betrayal.
Most believed the CNN anchor was the victim of an incredibly public and callous infidelity—and just weeks after he had so bravely ventured out of the closet (and just weeks before he and Maisani were supposedly going to get hitched). Cooper deserves better than this, they asserted. And what was wrong with Maisani? If your boyfriend is Anderson Cooper, what more could you be looking for in a man?
But I wasn’t thinking about any of that. I was having fantasies about what a radical moment this could be for America. Just days after Mary Gonzalez came out as the United States’ first openly pansexual politician (and in Texas, no less!), we were suddenly being gifted with another chance to challenge how we think about sex, love, relationships, and what it means to be queer in this country.
Because, aside from the fact that we don’t know when these photos of Maisani were taken (or if they’re even real), we don’t have the faintest clue about the terms of his relationship with Cooper. There’s a very good chance that for Maisani, like many gay men in long-term, healthy, committed relationships, a make-out session in the park is not only acceptable but just another typical Saturday-afternoon activity.
It can be hard for some people—both straight and queer—to fathom that a non-monogamous relationship could not only function satisfactorily but be an ideal arrangement. But in the queer community, which has fewer hangups and restrictions on sex and less rigid parameters on with whom and how we love and lust, open relationships have long provided the stability of partnership with the excitement of being able to meet and sleep with other people.
Read it all, and thank Michelson for his honesty in confirming what we’ve said all along.
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