Ryk and I took a gay cruise a number of years ago, and during the large mainstage show that first night, the emcee took a poll of the audience asking how long the couples on the trip had been together. Several rounds passed before finally one last couple had their hands up. They’d been together over fifty years. The emcee called them onstage and did a short interview, asking them what the secret was for being together for that long. One man leaned down to the microphone and said, “Two words: yes, dear.” The advice for longevity in Tim Clausen’s Love Together isn’t that succinct or that easy, but the flavor is there.
Clausen has gathered twenty-two interviews from couples who have been together from twelve to sixty years. Among others, he’s interviewed a Christian pop-singing duo, a Canadian couple who write and illustrate their own gay erotic comics, two Paris-trained chefs, a Buddhist couple, a Catholic theologian, and the first military couple in America to get married. And he does not shy away from questions concerning sex, intimacy, money, and whether or not the relationship has been or is open.
Clausen’s role as interviewer is to ask questions, and get out of the way as his couples respond. And respond they do, with deep thoughts, blithe assumptions, and heartfelt honesty. Clausen gives these men their forum and stands back as they deliver no holds barred answers to some thoughtful and insightful questions. Clausen does not interpret, roll-up, or summarize their responses which, depending on your viewpoint, is either the book’s chief asset or its biggest flaw.
By giving you the interview alone, Clausen removes himself from the equation and allows each couple to bring themselves to you without that extra added layer of participation, making for some very honest and unvarnished portraiture of exactly what makes these relationships tick and why. To me, this is invaluable because it allows the voice of each couple to come through loud and clear so that when Byron Roberts (of Byron and Dennis) talks about throwing one of his fits, I can hear him doing it, or when Eric Marcoux (of Eric and Eugene) talks about losing a partner of sixty years, I can feel his heart breaking. That’s the writer in me, for nothing interests me more than characters.
That said, I would have enjoyed a postscript from Clausen summarizing what assumptions he has made from interviewing these terribly forthright and brave gentlemen. We get some of that in the introduction, but the clinician in me wanted more at the end.
However, that’s absolutely minor carping from a reviewer. What you need to do is simply dig in and experience these forty-four lives and how they have come together and stayed together for amazing amounts of time. The similarities will become apparent, as will the differences. Make no mistake, this is an important book if for no other reason than the lack of others like it on the market. And it is even more important as it’s largely in the words of the men who live these lives. Highly recommended.
© 2015 Jerry L. Wheeler