How marrying a woman made an honest gay man of me (draft), Part 2

16 Dec

Note: This is the second in an occasional series of excerpts from a draft of an as-yet-unpublished essay that I originally intended for the Houston Chronicle, my former employer. It turned out to be too long to fit anywhere in the print edition, but my editors were willing to consider posting it on 29-95.com, the Chronicle’s entertainment website, with changes I was unwilling to make. The fact that I was unwilling to make those changes, however, does not mean I don’t think the essay could use some improvement, so I welcome feedback from readers. Part 1 is here. — Devon Britt-Darby

Notwithstanding my love of museums and appreciation of nonprofit spaces and galleries’ roles in how art gets to them, I’ve always made my own artwork for a small public dominated by people who rarely, if ever, set foot in those places. The fact that my “non-art” friends have gotten it and been willing to participate in it has usually been enough.

Reliable Narratives, Keepsake (c. 2004), 2010. Iron-on inkjet video-still transfers and acrylic matte medium on unprimed linen.

But to my consternation, many of them wanted no part of this piece. Here I was trying to bring art into one of the last places you’d expect to find it, and one friend after another was ignoring or declining my wedding invitation, taking my gesture as a mockery of an institution that, even though it excludes them, matters to them. I begged them to come to the wedding and state their objections publicly, but even that felt too much like supporting something they couldn’t.

What if this wasn’t art?

(Note: Notice that it wasn’t the reaction, or in some cases lack thereof, of art-scene fixtures that made me question the validity of what I was doing, but that of my “non-art” friends. As this road trip continues, I’m frequently finding the same to be true in reverse; that is, having “non-art” people catch on to what I’m doing is what keeps me going more often than not when self-doubt creeps in, as it routinely does. — DB-D)

All this plus a laundry list of grievances — why was the project being ignored by so many art-world opinion leaders and gay bloggers? Why wasn’t the Menil, where I once was a volunteer, sending anyone to observe? — swirled around my head in the hours leading up to our wedding as I seesawed between staunch resolve and near-paralyzing fear.

That’s the trouble with ego. It makes you too sure and too unsure of yourself at the worst possible moments.

Part 3 is here.

One Response to “How marrying a woman made an honest gay man of me (draft), Part 2”

  1. Brandon December 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    Gad damn ego always getting in the way again. Hope the road is treating you better than the place you left.

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