Andrew Solomon and John Habich1

Is anyone else out there an Andrew Solomon fan? Ever since reading “Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression,” I have read and watched everything I can by him on depression. Some of us on The Collab have already talked about his two talks on “The Moth” (radio). In a separate topic, I’ll share/review links to some of his contributions on depression.

Now there is another reason to admire Andrew Solomon.

Someone just gave me a brilliant article by Andrew Solomon in Newsweek called “Meet My Real Modern Family.” As soon as I read it, I went online and found an electronic version which you can read here.

Here is a brief description: “As a gay man, the author never expected to have children. Now he and his husband have four between them. How science, friendship, and love created an unconventional clan.” The brief article provides a portrait (in text and photos) of John & Andrew’s  beautiful (and complex) family. It’s short and stunning…

And here is how the article begins:

Children used to make me sad. With the happy children in my adult life, I felt guilty, even mean, about being sad. The origin of that sadness was opaque, but I think it came most from how the absence of children in the lives of gay people had been repeatedly held up as my tragedy. When I came out, the prevailing view was that I was shortsightedly choosing sexual fantasies over producing a family. I was encouraged by my parents and the world to marry a woman and procreate. I spent years drifting between relationships with men and with women; I was mildly bisexual in a fluid era, but if children hadn’t been part of the equation, I wouldn’t have bothered with the other half. Even though I was in love with some of the women I dated, I felt mildly fraudulent in those intimacies. While I was becoming true to myself, the world changed. What I couldn’t know then was whether I truly wanted children, or whether I just wanted to prove wrong everyone who had pitied me.
Shortly after I met John, who is now my husband…..

And here is how the article ends:

Even the most liberal courts note, apparently in approval, that gay people do not make their children gay. If one suggests that black people should be able to reproduce so long as the kids are white, one sees how much prejudice is enmeshed in even ostensibly pro-gay arguments about family. It’s disorienting to recognize that the more conventional our choices are, the more radical we are, that my days of party hopping and sexual adventuring were tolerable, but that our arguing about how much to babyproof, thinking about preschools, buying a swing set, and joining a church constitute an assault on family values. There’s a bizarre and hateful inversion in this. American modernity is built on our liberation from a pernicious 1950s model of the nuclear family that was never true in the first place, and those who attempt to preserve that model are not conservatives, but regressives.
The change has already happened; it’s only the law that lags. The road less traveled, as it turns out, leads to pretty much the same place.

Andrew wrote a book on extraordinary families “Far from the Tree” that was  published in 2012. This is another topic!

P.S. After reading this article, you might understand why I am so drawn to Andrew Solomon. In case you are interested, here is more about his wedding to John that apparently got lots of media attention at the time (where was I?). The website includes a video of the ceremony!  Andrew and John publicly wed (“civil partnership” at first in England…later wedding in CT) at an English country house at the Spencer family estate in Northampton, England. Here is the write up in the New York Times calling their union, “an act of the imagination.” Mr. Gomes continued: “Let your imaginations run wild. Think the unthinkable — because, 30 years ago, that is what this would have been.”