April 1895. One month prior to his imprisonment on charges of gross indecency; when challenged on the ethics of his 'perverted novel' A Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde remarked that, incapable of being moral or immoral, art is only finely or feebly made.
The same could be said of law, specifically the federal defence of marriage act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8, which stated, "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
Wilde went on to argue that only "brutes and illiterates", would consider his art "perverted" and now - in what is being fêted by many as the best year ever for the gay civil rights movement - the US Supreme Court has emblematically agreed with Wilde, reinforcing the declaration of independence that all men are created equal, refusing to reinstate DOMA and restricting Prop 8, meaning that gay couples in the USA now have the constitutional right to marry.
History has shown us that gay men have two preferred hiding places: the closet and the convenient marriage. In the conflict between man's love and man's law, from the 'unmanly manhood' of Oscar Wilde to Constance Lloyd in 1884 and Elton John to Renate Blauel in 1984, gay men have always been allowed to marry (women), as such, perhaps the most prolific part of the Supreme Court ruling is that "the love that dare not speak its name" has finally been heard amidst the rising cries of "shame".
Before many of us lost carefulness and came upon some candour we lived lives of foreboding caution. We met invisible men without names; homo hologram men; men we loved and lusted for in secret; men who eventually left us to return to their girlfriends (who soon became their wives). We sealed our encounters with silence the way our Christian persecutors were sure to seal their prayers against our perversion with an a-Men.
The greatest threat to the gay community has always been secrecy. Fuelled by the suggestion of sin, criminality, abomination and an 'intolerable sense of disgrace,' in the mid-nineties - when my desire to sexually dominate men begun to emerge - cottages, saunas and after-dark parks were the only to-go-areas. (Not so good for one with an aversion to the dark). Murky, sparse and mostly empty, for a while I chose the life I thought I deserved - the secret life. The remnant of our previous instalment as perverts.
Today, we who have been conditioned to believe that God lives in holy buildings and not in unholy men are edging closer to worldwide reform on same-sex marriage and the stealth is gradually loosening its grip as more and more men not only walk from the closet into consciousness, but now also hope to walk into the church and down the cruciform aisle into matrimony.
The bullet that assassinated Harvey Milk; the ligature that loosed us of Justin Fashanu; the odium that obliterated Matthew Shepard; the rising gay teen suicide rate that claimed Clementi and Rodemeyer and thousands more throughout schools across the globe, and now DOMA and Prop8, are things that should have broken us and yet they have saved us by forcing us hidden homos into an ostensible openness.
We have come from sex without love; sex without the lights on; sex without names and sex without condoms to now living without (rather than dying in) the shame that stunned Wilde. We rejoice in "the love that dare not speak its name"; the same love you love and "it is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it... the world does not understand. The world mocks at it but it is love all the same.
If our history has shoulders then they have been weakened by our avoidance; our corruption and the anonymity that snarls at the love that is now legal in 13 states across America. We're not a secret anymore and that is crucial, because the secrecy was destroying us. It stopped us from visiting our physicians in the 80s and early 90s and had us dying of AIDS on doting friend's couches. It stopped us walking into police stations and reporting male rape. It made our gay children choose suicide over the shame of our straight parents knowing we had been molested and being blamed for bringing it on ourselves. It stopped us from speaking up for fear of being shut up.
You do not have to be sexed and stifle your satisfaction. You do not have to use a pseudonym. You do not have to decapitate yourself on Grindr, Dudesnude, Manhunt, Gaydar or any of the many other networking sites for gay men and you do not have to be ashamed or worse - a straight man's secret.
This is not a march against maltreatment. This is a not flag for our freedom. This is reason rather than excuses. This is an upright love instead of a down low lover. This is solid. This is more solid than any of our previous erections. This erection comes with legal protection in 13 states and for anyone who gives a fuck, this erection means those who opposed us are as hard as our luck once was.
We may not be right but we have our rights. We stand on the shoulders of a higher law. The law of the Levite may call us an abomination, but the law of the land calls us - of "the love that dare not speak its name" fame - #Equal.