Back in 1989, Andrew Sullivan looked at an issue not unlike the ones decided upon by the Supreme Court today: the right of a gay man to remain in his deceased partner’s apartment. This led to his then-radical assessment of “unconventional relationships in conventional society”: The way to tackle these relationships was “the legalization of gay marriage.” The argument for gay marriage, Sullivan wrote, was a “socially conservative one”: Gay marriage “avoids the mess of domestic partnership; it is humane; it is conservative in the best sense of the word. It’s also practical.” A decade and a half later, Sullivan wrote about the changing face of Provincetown on Cape Cod—once but no longer “a place where a separate identity essentially defines a separate place.” By 2005, Sullivan wrote, Provincetown offered a microcosm of what was happening across America: the “inexorable evolution toward the end of a distinctive gay culture.” That distinct culture was a cage—a dignified and gilded one—but still a cage. “Those bars are now slowly but inexorably being pried apart.” A few more bars are gone today.
Also see: “Gay Life, Gay Death: The Siege of a Subculture” (December 17, 1990)
Chloe Schama is a story editor at The New Republic.