On a Reader Comment about This Week’s Gay Modern Love

23Mar08

In which The Gay Recluse makes a clarification.

Reader Gary Budlong (apparently new to The Gay Recluse) wrote the following comment in response to our most recent “mash-up” of the Modern Love column in The Times.

dear pete, thank you. i’m 61, disabled, retired and gay. my partner has died 5 years ago. knew i was different [gay] at an early age. my family situation was totally screwed up. your writing as you did struck accord with me and wished to express my appreciation. happy easter, happy spring…

Gary, thanks for the comment. Though brief, we found it moving in a way that many of the actual Modern Love columns (which is to say, those in The New York Times) are not.

Your comment also exposes some confusion about what’s actually going on with our “gay” version of the Modern Love column, so we wanted to clarify a few things, both for your benefit and that of other new readers:

  1. The operating rule of the Modern Love column (i.e., the one in The Times) is that it must always be written by those who — whatever their sexual orientation — are not openly gay (or if they are, must not describe a romantic relationship). We have done an informal quantitative analysis of the issue, which can be found here. This week’s Modern Love column in The Times, by Pete MacDonald, is not an exception to that rule. That said, we encourage everyone to read MacDonald’s piece, which nicely exposes a process of grief and acceptance that so often seems to arrive with any true acknowledgment of the (inevitable, and sometimes extreme) failures of our parents.
  2. All of the “gay” content in our version of the Modern Love has nothing to do with Pete MacDonald but was added by us in an attempt to highlight the psychological dissonance we have often noted is integral to the “coming out” process and so again frames our ability to understand/forgive/forget our parents.
  3. Although the overall intent of the Gay Modern Love column is to satirize The Times by highlighting their obvious discomfort with “the gays,” we mean no disrespect to Pete MacDonald and are happy to see that the gay version of the work is resonating in exactly the way we think the real column ought to do every once in a while. As we have said before, our stories are here within us, we shouldn’t have to beg to have them recognized, or apologize to have them told.

As Gary so appropriately put it: happy easter, happy spring…

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