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marriage! what a strange word to be applied to two men!

Two men seated, vintage gay love
… Little by little the largeness of what has happened sweeps over me. I thought I realized it all that last night together; but first the intellect sees, and then when it has created its imaginative symbolism it gives the whole man something to live by. I saw very clearly that night and called it a marriage. The imagination has since been working, and I live body and soul in this new relationship.

Marriage is a mere term; only as a dynamic vivid thing does it dominate life. That is: you can visualize marriage or you can live it. Now I am living it.

Marriage! What a strange word to be applied to two men! Can’t you hear the hell-hounds of society baying full pursuit behind us? But that’s just the point. We are beyond society. We’ve said thank you very much, and stepped outside and closed the door. In the eyes of the unknowing world we are a talented artist of wealth and position and a promising young graduate student. In the eyes of the knowing world we would be pariahs, outlaws, degenerates. This is indeed the price we pay for the unforgivable sin of being born different from the great run of mankind.

And so we have a marriage that was never seen on land or sea and surely not in Tennyson’s poet’s dreams! It is a marriage that demands nothing and gives everything. It does not limit the affections of the two parties, it gives their scope greater radiance and depth. Oh it is strange enough. It has no ring, and no vows, and no wedding presents from your friends, and no children. And so of course it has none of the coldness of passion, but merely the serene joy of companionship. It has no three hundred and sixty-five breakfasts opposite each other at the same table; and yet it desires frequent companionship, devotion and laughter. Its bonds indeed form the service that is perfect freedom…


Text: Russell Cheney writing to F.O. Matthiessen
23 Sept. 1924, London;
source –  My Dear Boy, edited by Rictor Norton
Image: Photographer, sitters, unknown
– via Miss Magnolia Thunderpussy

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4 Comments

  1. stephen

    Well, after a dispiriting morning looking around at some of the gay and news and gay news blogs what a pleasure to come upon this. We are going to celebrate our 41st anniversary in January and just spent the past week in New York working on a new piece of mine for its first presentation. I’m not sure why our marriage has lasted in the face of all the obstacles put in our way, but it has. And I feel myself to be fortunate indeed because of it.

    Posted December 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Permalink
  2. This is a beautiful image, well complimented by the text. I’ll have to read up on Matthiessen and Cheney. I wonder if there is any relation to some other gay Cheneys in the public realm?

    Posted December 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Permalink
  3. DOMITILO ESPARZA

    excuse my english, i don’t dominate it; just want to say that i like very much this website, i’m not gay but i feel a deep respect about all the different manifestations of beauty, i think it is just a cuestion of empathy and a little click in all your points of view: the human right of every one to be what they want to be; congratulations…

    Posted May 21, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Permalink
  4. J

    I’m glad I found your site tonight. I wish you would make a book out of it.

    Posted October 7, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink

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