Homo Domesticus: Notes from a Same-Sex Marriage

homo domesticus

written by David Valdes Greenwood
Perseus Books, 2007; $22.

by Randy Beach, Professor of English, Southwestern College

Columnist, playwright and Tufts University lecturer David Valdes Greenwood’s book “Homo Domesticus: Notes from a Same-Sex Marriage” invites the reader into a relationship, which happens to be between two very normal guys, with honesty and a true sense of empathy for those who have lived through or are living through the kinds of emotional transformations a long-term relationship can impose on the people involved. That change can be painful for any couple seems to be at the heart of Valdes Greenwood’s memoir; it’s what you do with that change and that pain that gives his work the power to inspire others (gay, straight, tri-sexual, whatever).

Valdes Greenwood waggishly accounts his first 10 years with husband Jason, neurotic dog Zoe, charismatic bunny Poo, and a host of in-laws and eccentrics; some are okay, but others not okay with “the gay thing”. The story culminates in the adoption of daughter Lily. The author explores those marital and near-marital mood swings with a witty sense of humor and little of the self-consciousness he could feel being a role model for a generation of gay men trying to reconcile the philosophy of low expectations that stalks them in relationships and as parents.

The author skillfully explicates the good, the bad, and the less-than-fabulous sides of commitment for his built-in gay audience without pandering to it with gay clichés (no Nathan Lane in “The Bird Cage” here) or drag-queen drama making his work accessible and touching for the legally married and terminally-committed alike. In fact, many episodes Valdes Greenwood describes can apply to the heterosexually challenged: from his mother’s rejection of his choice to marry; the Herculean task of finding, agreeing on, and buying a home; the debilitating seven-year-itch estrangement that he and Jason endure; all the way down to the frustrations of adopting and learning to live with a baby. The book speaks to universal truths of coupledom while Greenwood remains loyal to his gay identity giving his gay audience a comforting sense of legitimacy to bolster its self-assurances that the kids really are alright and can thrive in a heterosexual world.

Married, partnered, committed, whatever you want to call yourself, being in a long-term, intimate relationship with another human is unpredictable, at times terrifying, at other times enrapturing. David Valdes Greenwood sends us a love story from the front lines of the gay marriage/gay parenting debates that conjoins Tuck & Patty, diapers, grandparents, leather, Oscar Wilde, a plethora of therapists, and a candelabra Harlequin couldn’t make up in a clever, compassionate gospel testifying to the power of love.

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