Gay Pride at Big Blue Marble

Gay marriage is legal In PA! Come celebrate it and gay pride month in Mt. Airy on June 5th!



Don’t fear PA’s gay marriages

Today The Philadelphia Inquirer published my essay on the gay marriage ruling in Pennsylvania. Read it here at

People hold up signs and cheer at City Hall on Tuesday to celebrate the overturning of Pennsylvania’s gay-marriage ban. MATT SLOCUM / AP (courtesy of The Philadelphia Inquirer)


Update, Dec. 24, 2014: For some reason, the link to The Inquirer no longer seems to be working.  Here is the article’s text. The following appeared as “Wedded Bliss and After” in the May 25 2014 edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer.


Thanks. updated draft.

Kelly McQuain
is an associate professor of English at the Community College of Philadelphia

My partner John and I were strolling the French Market in New Orleans on Tuesday when the good news arrived courtesy of a barrage of Facebook updates:

Judge strikes down PA law banning same-sex marriage!

The hurrahs and woo-hoos that flooded our news feed were accompanied by snapshots of the LOVE statue and pictures of highway signs bearing the motto “Pennsylvania Welcomes You.”


To say John and I were taken by surprise is an understatement. Although we have been a gay couple in Philadelphia for nearly two decades, we assumed it would be years before the conservative areas of the state conceded this issue to the more progressive, larger-population areas. More than once in recent years John and I had considered moving across state lines to gay-friendly Collingswood, “the San Francisco of Southern Jersey” as my partner likes to refer to it, so we could reap the legal benefits of marriage there.

Now we don’t have to.

In his landmark ruling in Whitewood v. Wolf, U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones declared that state laws banning same-sex marriage violate the due-process and equal-protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. His court joins 12 other federal district courts which, according to Jones, “have concluded that all couples deserve equal dignity in the realm of civil marriage.” Despite declaring it violates his personal beliefs, Gov. Corbett has wisely decided not to waste tax dollars fighting Jones’ decision.

By the time our plane touched down in Philadelphia Wednesday afternoon, friends were posting photos of the marriage licenses they had obtained at City Hall, where the register of wills had immediately began issuing them. The rush was on!

While this decision opens new opportunities, it also raises new questions.

For gay people, those questions range from which partner gets down on bended knee to whether or not the ideological conventions of marriage should be embraced at all. For those open to the idea, gay marriage streamlines legal matters ranging from property rights to deathbed decisions.

In practical terms, the judge’s ruling strengthens the family my coworker Frank and his husband Mark have created with their adopted son. It offers potential stability for my friend Tim and his Colombian boyfriend, Daniel. As my longtime friend Center City-resident Laurie Fitzpatrick put it, “Yesterday Gloria and I were ‘partnered’ — a cold and corporate-sounding term — because those were the lengths we had to go to in order to get the same financial assurances of our heterosexual married friends. In two days we will be legally ‘married,’ which carries a connotations of lifelong devotion to each other, and the financial benefits we — as Americans — have a right to receive.”

For conservatives, I imagine some unease, perhaps even a sense of panic rising: The world they knew last week is not the same as today. I’m from a small town myself. What would I say to someone worried about this change? I’d say, forget sexuality for a moment and you’ll find we’re all pretty much alike. We have the same hopes, the same worries. (Can we afford our mortgage? How best can we care for our aging parents or our kids?)

I could add that Massachusetts, which legalized gay marriage a decade ago, has not seen divorce rates skyrocket. I could enumerate marriage equality’s positive impact on everything from state economics to adoption.

I’d mention how we gay people, the same as our straight counterparts, look to marriage because we want to protect the ones we love. We want to feel safe, to know someone is beside us during good and bad — because those bad times are surely coming for us all.

I’d say too that, for many gay people, exercising this new right doesn’t come without risks. Our state still has no law barring discrimination against people simply because they are gay. Over half of Pennsylvanians live in areas where local governments allow discrimination based on sexual orientation, which means some gay couples could get fired from their jobs or evicted from their homes if they make their marriages public. Imagine how you’d feel putting in a vacation request for your honeymoon only to lose your job!

Most of all, I’d remind people of the slogan AIDS activists used as a clarion call in the most dire of the plague years: Silence = Death. It’s corollary, Ignorance = Fear, still rings true. I’d tell them that if they get to know their gay neighbors and relatives, they will see their fear of change diminish. It’s happened in my own family. By embracing my partner John, my relatives have managed to take baby steps toward embracing gay marriage.

“In future generations, the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage,” Judge Jones wrote.

It is important to remember that gays and lesbian will love and fight and make up or move on the same as they have always done. If there is gay marriage, we can expect there will be gay divorce. No single group can lay claim to wisdom or foolishness any more than they can lay claim to love. This full range of options means greater fairness.

Such changes are not for worse. They’re for better.

–Kelly McQuain

Gay Pride Month is in BLOOM at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore – June 5, 2014 – 7:00 p.m.


Join writers from BLOOM Literary Journal as they celebrate June as Gay Pride Month. Readers include fiction writer Viet Dinh and poets Joan Larkin, Brian Teare and Kelly McQuain. Big Blue Marble Bookstore, 551 Carpenter lane, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119. (Mt. Airy neighborhood)






June 5, 2014. Thursday, 7:00 pm. Join writers from BLOOM Literary Journal as they celebrate June as Gay Pride Month. Readers include fiction writer Viet Dinh and poets Joan Larkin, Brian Teare and Kelly McQuain. Big Blue Marble Bookstore, 551 Carpenter lane, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119. (Mt. Airy neighborhood)


JOAN LARKIN’s new poetry collection, Blue Hanuman, is just out from Hanging Loose Press. Among her previous books, My Body: New and Selected Poems received the Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award. She is the current poet in residence at Smith College.


VIET DINH was born in Dalat, Vietnam, and teaches at the University of Delaware. He has received a Fiction Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and his work appears in the 2009 PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories and numerous literary journals.


KELLY MCQUAIN’s poetry collection, Velvet Rodeo, recently won the Bloom chapbook prize, judged by poet C. Dale Young. His poems and prose have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Assaracus, Kestrel, Painted Bride Quarterly, Between: New Gay Poetry, The Pinch, The Harrington Gay Men’s Fiction Quarterly, and more.


BRIAN TEARE is the author of four full-length books, The Room Where I Was Born, Sight Map, the Lambda-Award-winning Pleasure, and Companion Grasses, one of Slate’s best poetry books of 2013. After over a decade of teaching and writing in the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s now an Assistant Professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he makes books by hand for his micropress, Albion Books.

The Velvet Rodeo Book Tour Takes on New Orleans!

#neworleanspoetry  #SaintsAndSinners #sasfest2014 #bloodjetpoetry

20140506-145534.jpgDear New Orleans friends:

I’ll be in your city May 14-21 and would enjoy seeing you. I’ll be reading from my new book of poems, Velvet Rodeo, at the Blood Jet Poetry Series and at the Saints and Sinners conference. Velvet Rodeo won a contest prize, and I look forward to sharing it, especially since many of the poems are inspired by adventures I had during my time in the UNO MFA program. –Kelly

BLOOD JET POETRY SERIES. May 14, 2014. B.J.’s Lounge, 4301 Burgundy St., New Orleans, Louisiana 70117. 8 pm. Join me at this on-going series of prose and poetry writers.

EVENTS AT SASFEST: Saints and Sinners Literary Festival. Right in the heart of the French Quarter! This is the nation’s liveliest GLBTQ and friends literary event. There are literary parties, panels and readings, with Violet Quill writers Andrew Holleran, Edmund White and Felice Picano serving as three of the esteemed guests this year. The conference starts on Thursday and lasts throughout the weekend.

  • Saturday, May 17. 2:30 PM. SLIPPING INTO COSTUME: TELLING OTHER PEOPLE’S STORIES THROUGH POETRY. Whether from newspaper headlines, media coverage, or something witnessed personally, other people’s stories can provoke as strong a desire to respond creatively as can the details of our own lives. However, writing another’s story also raises questions of responsibility, appropriation, and strategy. This panel will consider questions of voice, persona, research, accuracy, and the challenges and great freedoms to be found in writing outside the self. Panelists: Sally Bellerose, Jeff Mann, Brad Richard, and Kay Murphy. Moderator: Kelly McQuain. Hotel Monteleone, Royal Salon B
  • Saturday, May 17, 4 PM. SAINTS AND SINNERS READING SERIES: WRITERS READ. Festival authors debut their latest works in our annual reading series. Expect to be entertained, engaged and thrilled by the written word read out loud by authors Dale Chase, Mary Griggs, William Holden, David Holly, Thomas Keith, Kelly McQuain, and Jerry Rabushka. Sponsored by The John Burton Harter Charitable Trust.Hotel Monteleone, Cabildo Room
  • Sunday, May 18. 2:30 PM. WRITING ALONE, GROWING TOGETHER, CREATING YOUR OWN WRITING COMMUNITY. Facing and filling the blank page (or Word document) can be the loneliest of pursuits. Writers, editors, and readers are your allies in the solitary pursuit that is the writer’s life. Writing communities, such as our Festival’s gathering, as well as writers groups, offer benefits that include encouragement, critique, networking opportunities, and perhaps most crucially, a resource to help maintain sanity in good and bad times! Join Jameson Currier, who has shaped a unique community as a writer and as publisher of Chelsea Station, for a conversation on how to find your compatriots, create online and offline literary groups, and maintain mutually beneficial connections. He is joined by contributors to the recent anthologies With: New Gay Fiction and Between: New Gay Poetry. Panelists: Jeff Mann, Kelly McQuain, David Pratt, Shawn Syms, and William Sterling Walker. Moderator: Jameson Currier. Hotel Monteleone, Royal Salon C,D



VELVET RODEO is the recent winner of the Bloom Chapbook Prize, judged by poet C. Dale Young, who wrote of it: “‘The tongue I try to master / is a sticky one, forked and full of tricks,’ is the opening of a poem in Velvet Rodeo, and it becomes a point of return for the collection. These poems understand that to tell the truth, one must lie, play tricks, and even dare to say the unbelievable. Careful and exacting, these poems exact a price from a reader. They linger with you long after you have finished reading them.” Order for only $8 at:

If you’d like a sneak peak at one of the poems in the collection, here’s one that appeared in Bloom: