New Boston marriages
In 2006, Mariane Valverde announced the birth of what she called, “a new type in the history of sexuality” (155), the Respectable Same-Sex Couple. This work analyzes newspaper coverage of same-sex couples during the Massachusetts campaign for marriage equality to explore the content of and contours around that new socio-sexual category. The processes involved in the incorporation of lesbians and gay men into the governing relations of American society are used to explain the development of this type, and its replacement of the pathological Homosexual. The manufacture of respectability by movement activists is explored via the selection of “public face couples” as a framing strategy that links the lives of these couples to marriage itself and the hardships they suffer due to their inability to marry. The respectability of these couples and their incorporation as economic citizens is also linked to representations of professional status, upward mobility, economic success, and the creation of identity-based markets through entrepreneurial and consumptive practices. Boundaries around this respectability are evident in stories of failure, either to remain together as couples or to act in accordance with marital normative standards, while the boundaries between Heterosexuality and Homosexuality, and among and between same-sex and different-sex couples, are also being re-drawn as marriage becomes available. The broader historical transformation of lesbian and gay life is discusses in the development of new life-scripts becoming available. While these transformations have led to greater possibilities for the living of gay and lesbian lives, the absorption of these lives into governing relations also erases and expels other queer life practices and reinforces other forms of social inequality and injustice.