JONATHAN RAUCH: I believe there’s an element of patriotism about this, and I saw in you someone who is willing to say being right is not as important to me as making a pact with my fellow Americans on the other side so that we can share this country. I don’t know that there’s a macro solution right now because I don’t quite know where it comes from. And I don’t know why that is, but I know I’m different. “Instead of fighting gay marriage, I’d like to help build new coalitions bringing together gays who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who want to do the same.” Their friendship is, I think, a model of that coalition, so let’s explore it. And imagine how much more barren your life is, and that’s what that was like. However, some new products being sold as poppers are actually more dangerous “huffing” solvents that pose serious health risks.
I know he felt so cared for and safe and I will never forget Ella, Jemima, Gemma, Mandz, Clare, Trish, Irish Helen, Scottish Helen, Andrea and so many, many more for whom it was clear it was not just a job. I kinda felt good that i made him feel good but also like i was just raped because he didn’t stop when he should of. MR. BLANKENHORN: It’s a good point. If you’ve never used poppers before, it’s likely you have lots of questions about them. MS. TIPPETT: And then you’ve also talked about being formed by your work as a VISTA volunteer a little bit later on in early adulthood. MS. TIPPETT: “The Future of Marriage.” I’m Krista Tippett, and this is On Being. It’s that it’s 1985, and being gay means I’m condemned to a world, I think, of anonymous sex and late-night bars and poppers and AIDS and early death. I love that question, and it’s a guiding question I’d like to stay close to in the discussion we’re about to have. Don’t put the bottle too close to your nose because the liquid and fumes can burn your skin, and don’t get the liquid in your eyes or other body parts for the same reason.
Jonathan Rauch is a lifelong journalist and also a gay man who believes that marriage equality for gays and lesbians can strengthen the value of institutional marriage for everyone. And I want to start with you, Jonathan. I’m thinking to myself, “I don’t want to be gay, I don’t want to be gay, I don’t want to be gay.” And the reason for that is not that I am homophobic or anti-gay. MR. BLANKENHORN: Yeah. I was coming out of the South and thinking a lot about the Civil Rights Movement as a kind of a model for me. MR. BLANKENHORN: I was born in 1955, so the big thing for me was the Civil Rights Movement growing up in the South. MS. TIPPETT: So, David, you were born in Jackson, Mississippi. MS. TIPPETT: OK. So I wonder if you would tell a story that you write about of this vivid memory that stays with you from childhood when you had, as you describe it, this realization that the institution of marriage was not there for you.
Here we have new recruits to this institution. It’s a question both Jonathan Rauch and David Blankenhorn have pursued even when they’ve disagreed across the years and as they’ve each evolved their own positions, their public voices, and their roles in their communities. It’s always something trivial, isn’t it? And that was a moment, I think, where you started to think about families, right? But right now, my bragging is still necessary. These amendments still make it difficult for LGBTQI people to comfortably obtain poppers from their GP or pharmacist. MR. RAUCH: I still remember. MR. RAUCH: I think we should understand and say this is a matter of patriotic duty to our country. MR. RAUCH: Yeah, yeah. There was hysterical talk from some politicians about isolating Aids patients in leper-style colonies. When I talk about this, I try to always start there with the moral imagination of asking people – most of you people here, you’re straight. Together, in 2015, Jonathan Rauch and David Blankenhorn have launched a joint initiative, The Marriage Opportunity Council, crossing liberal and conservative, gay and straight boundaries.