The University of Wisconsin Press | Fall 2013 - page 9

“If, as Marshall McLuhan once taught us, the medium
is the message, then Derfner's medium—this lovely,
discursive amalgamation of wit and smarts—is indeed
his message about how to stay happy, sane, and honest
in whatever situation one finds oneself in.”
—Philip Gambone, author of
Travels in a Gay Nation: Portraits
of LGBTQ Americans
When Joel Derfner’s boyfriend proposed to him, there
was nowhere in America the two could legally marry. That
changed quickly, however, and before long the two were on what they expected to
be a rollicking journey to married bliss. What they didn’t realize was that, along
the way, they would confront not just the dilemmas every couple faces on the way
to the altar—what kind of ceremony would they have? what would they wear? did
they have to invite Great Aunt Sophie?—but also questions about what a relation-
ship can and can’t do, the definition of marriage, and, ultimately, what makes
a family.
Add to the mix a reality show whose director forces them to keep signing and
notarizing applications for a wedding license until the cameraman gets a shot she
likes; a family marriage history that includes adulterers, arms smugglers, and poi-
soners; and discussions of civil rights, Sophocles, racism, grammar, and home-
made Ouija boards—coupled with Derfner’s gift for getting in his own way—and
what results is a story not just of gay marriage and the American family but of
what it means to be human.
Joel Derfner
(above, right) is or has been an aerobics instructor, knitter, go-go
boy, math teacher, cheerleader, and the author of
Gay Haiku
Swish: My Quest
to Become the Gayest Person Ever and What Happened Instead
. Musicals for which
he has composed the score have played in London, New York, and several cities
in between (going the long route). He is from Charleston, South Carolina, and
now lives in New York City with his husband.
 LC: 2013015044 PS
248 PP. 5 ½ × 8 ¼
E-BOOK $19.95 T ISBN 978-0-299-29493-9
Living Out: Gay and Lesbian
David Bergman, Joan Larkin, and
Raphael Kadushin, Series Editors
“Moving seamlessly from the personal
to the historical to the political, Joel
Derfner meditates with wit, insight,
and even-handedness on the realities
of marriage—his and everyone’s.
His story is not only deftly placed
in the context of the broader fight
for marriage equality, but is also a
powerful tool in that fight. Mainly
because it’s so funny.”
—David Javerbaum, former head
writer for
The Daily Show
Of re l at ed int e re s t
Michael Lowenthal
“So many different relationships are put to
the test in Michael Lowenthal’s thought-
provoking novel—not only the bond at
the heart of the book between two gay
men and the Brazilian woman acting as
their surrogate mother, but also the bond
between husbands and wives, between
siblings, between aging parents and their
adult children.”—Tom Perrotta, author of
Little Children
Finalist, General Fiction, Lambda
Literary Awards
LC: 2012009962 PS 284 PP. 5 ½ × 8 ¼
E-BOOK $16.95 T ISBN 978-0-299-29003-0
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