On the day the Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage, Tanner Bradac doesn’t even have a boyfriend, so you can imagine his surprise when he and his buddy Clark get carried away by the celebratory spirit of the day and wind up lawfully wedded husbands. The wedding may have been a light-hearted lark, but Tanner and Clark are willing to give marriage a go. After all, how hard can it be?
“And it’s no wonder we use the rainbow flag to signify this community, [Tanner] thought as he and Clark dipped into the flow with people of every stripe. Yuppie couples in khakis, hippie families in bare feet; young men in glittery tutus sporting fairy wings flittered around leather-jacket lesbians, hopeful faces of every age and nation laughing with friends, hugging strangers, and throwing confetti. Probably there were protesters, too—there was always somebody with an axe to grind when the pursuit of happiness was center stage—but Tanner didn’t see any. They certainly didn’t register. This was not a parade that was going to be called on account of any amount of rain, not today, and unless the One Man, One Woman crowd was going to start whacking people with their protest signs, notice would not be paid.”
The idea to give Tanner and Clark a not-so-gentle shove down the road to lawfully wedded what-have-we-done? came to me on the day the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Straight people have been legally leaping before they look at least since Nevada became a state, and I figure the Obergfell ruling leveled the playing field where rash relationship decisions are concerned. I knew I wanted this second book to focus on Tanner and Clark, but I also wanted to keep it around 20,000 words, and when I took my first crack at their story in April, they were still just friends by 19,500. I tried to sex-scene them into falling in love, and the ensuing night in a divey 50’s diner-themed hotel room was even kinda hot, but it felt tacked on—my loyal beta readers never agree on anything, but they all agreed on this. When SCOTUS handed Tanner and Clark the chance to get married, my problem was solved—at last, an opportunity to plunk them down in the middle of a relationship, whether they were in love or not.
I wrote this story before The Kentucky County Clerk Who Shall Not Be Named, lest it prolong her fifteen minutes, was the only person in the world Facebook seemed able to share posts about. This story’s not really about social acceptance of or opposition to same-sex marriage, but rather about how two young people try to tape the map together when the roads they’ve been traveling along merge without warning into one. And as the Kentucky debacle devolves into another Westboro photo op in the race—exceptionally competitive this year, or is it just me?—to be crowned the Most Appalling American of 2015, it occurs to me that that’s rather the point of this story, like so many queer romances before it: no matter how “firmly held” someone you’ve never heard of’s opposition to it may be, love barrels along. Some days it marches, head held high, other days it straggles resentfully; it clatters and clangs to the top of the really steep hills, then zooms along the straightaways, top down, scarf a-flutter. Love doesn’t even ask permission of the people it’s messing with—it can hardly be bothered to scoff in the general direction of any busybody third party with the temerity to think she gets a say. Let people be opposed; let people picket; let people (pointlessly, in this instance, as it’s been legal there for 10 years) move to Canada—Tanner and Clark will still have to figure their shit out. Marriage isn’t about what reactionary elements of society approve or disapprove, and neither is this story—it’s about two dudes jumping off a bridge just to see if love will catch them. Which may well make them seem crazier than a Kentucky county clerk, but hopefully more fun to read about.
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Long Haul is available today from JMS Books.