Platonic, Until Death Do Us Part | With John Cameron Mitchell
Modern love the podcast supported by xfinity. Some things are hard to control. Other things are easy. Like you're in home wifi with xfinity, X fi, you can set a wifi curfew change your password, and create user profiles all with the x fi app. Another reason why xfinity is simple easy. Awesome go online. Call one eight hundred xfinity or visit a store to learn more restrictions apply. Need to unwind a bit kind world is here? Termi- job at all. That's good with a world with stories about transformative acts of kindness. Tune into new episodes, every Tuesday to add some positivity to your life. Subscribe now on podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Produced by the island at you are Boston. From the New York Times, and WBU are Boston. This is modern law. Stories of love loss and redemption. I'm your host. Meghna chakrabarti. last week. Our team brought a live performance of the modern love podcast to the province town film festival in province town, Massachusetts. John. Cameron Mitchell joined us for the performance, he created directed and starred in Hedwig and the angry inch his new musical podcast is called anthem. Hunky Lous here. He is reading EFI stempler's essay platonic until death do us part. Recently. I stumbled across an article about Stephen all jury the man behind the hours and Billy Elliot, who's openly gay and married. His longtime friend, a woman and a director in her own right? Names, Lucy Sexton. Now, Stephen now fifty five married, Lucy of forty one because he wanted to have an raise a child and have health insurance. According to him, their relationship is not, and never was romantic. It's a marriage rooted in practicality. How fiddler on the roof? I thought. And my next thought, how sad another gay, man who can't fully accept himself. I recall the Hollywood films. I've seen about these men and their surrogate partners in how in the end the guy gets the guy the girl learns her lesson and the credits roll to some terrible Motown remake. I also thought about my gay friends with their husbands of twenty plus years. And the unsolicited advice they often give to me about my own relationship future. Don't get too comfortable with her. They're talking about Maria. We've been best friends for almost seventeen years, having met at a party in New York City when we were twenty four I was supposed to see if she was interested in my less courageous straight friend, a guy I had idolized in high school. Instead, I ended up bogeying with her and sparring wits for hours or minutes. I'll never know she gave me your number on a napkin closed. My hand around look to me in the eyes and said used this number. I'm serious. Don't throw this away. A week later. We bought tickets to Hawaii. For y two k. A few months after that we became roommates, the roommate thing, only lasted about a year since Marissa, unlike me, had no problem finding men today long-term and eventually move in with. She ended up having two sons with different dads, even married one. But none of our relationships would last more than a handful of years. Maybe because no one else in the world could understand us entertain us and inspire us as much as we could. Eventually, I began to wonder if the strength of our friendship was the thing, undermining our romantic relationships. Countless self-help books on our respective. Nightstands counseled us to break free from our toxic patterns if we wanted to find lasting love. But what if our toxic pattern was how well we got along, and how much we loved each other Marissa's rejected. Mytalk -sity hypothesis insisting that we both had other friends in passions lives that were enhanced not dominated by how close, we were I tried to believe her, but it became harder and harder to accept as the years passed. I was still the guy alone of the holiday parties and alone in my bed, or the random beds of others. I'd met online, or in bars ever, the analyst, I grew concerned that we were dictated to the sugar that was our dynamic in order to avoid the protein of true intimacy. During Christmas with their family. I would flee to where her baby was sleeping, and pummel, myself with questions was was I with Marissa because I was too lazy scared to put enough effort into finding a partner. Where we using each other as place. Holders was I- frayed to grow up and love myself as a gay man, was, I just broken too many questions to answer in front of a baby monitor. At thirty seven I decided to leave New York and Marissa the two things that seem to keep me stuck in boyhood and left my job as a high school teacher, moved to Thailand to teach ESL, live cheaply, and get the space I needed to figure myself out and meditated with monks, and cried on motorbikes began to see that. I was more stuck than I had every even thought. I had no idea who I was without my old, crutches Maria. My various dating apps, and my romantic delusions. It was a lonely time every friendship, I made was a faint shadow of the magnificent supernova. That was my relationship with Marissa the dudes I met were increasingly increasingly older and hearted after their own years of romantic frustration after more than a year abroad, I followed some gluten free breadcrumbs to San Francisco when I told him Orissa where I was headed. She surprised me by saying she had been planning to move to the bay area as well. I was slightly worried about my being in the same city as her again. But it seemed to me that it's the sixteen months away from each other had renewed our mutual appreciation and made our friendship healthier. I was relieved to hear. She was moving to Oakland across the bay from me in San Francisco, seemed like a good compromise to have her in my everyday life again. But not every day. For a while. I felt encouraged I'd made it to the gay mecca nothing would stop me from finding my bearded other half now but if you wanna make God laugh make an okay. Cupid profile. I went on dates with meditators sex dates with poly-amorous friends dates that turned into sex dates with married. Men and myriad, unremarkable dates with both nice guys and jerks. None of them lead anywhere. Melissa had no luck either. Turns out your problems follow. You go figure then I turned forty and I find myself in a state of crisis since being told at eighteen that was clinically depressed. I faced many dark moments in my adulthood, a handful of which made me crash land for months or even years with one relative or another. Suddenly found myself again saying this was not part of the plan conveniently forgetting that I was never really in a plan to begin with. I couldn't move back in with my parents or siblings. At this point. So ask Marisa, if I could stay with her for a while. It was yet another humbling moment in my life sleeping on her. So a while her two little boys, tried to get to the candy in uncalled Efi's, prescription bottles. I felt Laden with shame trying to figure out how it become that low functioning middle aged clown. You see on sitcoms the hairy interloping barnacle with an affinity for couches the big you Asli gay on call or gun CLE with a perpetual, five o'clock shadow, an inappropriate joke, who led the gunk allowed, I would sing to Marissa's two year old who would just stare at me. Blankly. Thanks to GlaxoSmithKline. I recovered quickly. After three months, I was ready to launch again. And then a funny thing happened Maria found a house in Berkeley with a yard, a tree house, and a two room unit in the back, she told me that her she and her boyfriend at the time were parting ways she hoped I would consider being her long-term, flatmate, gung coal in the attic, I hissed no way for once in my life. I need to be an independent gay man. She rolled her eyes relaxed. Donna mills can be an independent game with people who love you stop seeing yourself as the sad gunk, and you won't be the set gunk Cole. I could argue at that. So I said, yes, of course, I plotted my next escape at the very hint of a challenge. But after a while I began to do something that never done before something that ran against every fiber of my angsty angsty mystery I allowed myself to be comfortable. My relationship with the murders. Have reached yet another level of love and respect. After sixteen years as best friends and occasional roommates, we have become something else, something that doesn't seem to have a name, we joked that we are each other's PL p's platonic life partners. And recall the promise, we made in our twenties, if neither of us finds a husband by forty let's get married. If only for the registry. We're now both forty the same age as Stephen Daldry when he married his best friend. And we're both wondering what if he had it, right? After all the couples that I consider the happiest mostly gay men who opened up their relationships decades ago are not lovers as much as best friends. They know who should do the cooking, and the dishwashing talk about their latest flings and support each other's biggest dreams, they get over fights fast, give each other prodigious amounts of space. They've been John, Katy Perry when no one else's looking. They shared a static and a language history that gives them strength to go on I have all that, with my best friend, and maybe the closest approximation of real love either of us will ever experience. And if the biggest concession is having separate beds will find I snore. Georgia revenge. And he read EFI stempler's essay platonic until death do us part. So what was it about this piece that you especially liked will I in my podcast musical anthem actually, I went back to my high school reunion? For the first time in thirty five years, and to a very small school. There were just six people who came for the reunion and to them were my girlfriend's from, from junior, high school, one was a lesbian, you know, and happily married with a kid and the other had child as well. And she'd gone through the navy and. Her name was Yvonne. And I wrote a character based on her called the vet who. Mike character has a brain tumor and he's doing a telethon to raise money to get it out on his phone to an app based telephone as we will all be doing. And you know. His life has flashing before his eyes and his ex girlfriend calls in, and we have a long conversation, and we remember the song we used to dance to which we wrote for the piece, which is called the lyrics go love me little, but love me long. I'm noncommittal, but what's so wrong with that? And it's about the old fashioned gay marriage. You know. Fag and fag, hag the marriage that lasts. Nc becomes uncomfortable. With me saying, let's get married. You can I can get on your healthcare. You know. It's a painful scene, but it's also very real one and. You know it can happen in any incarnation. You know, the, the gay woman, the straight guy the, the gay guy, the gay woman, not necessarily the, the sexual partners. But in every other way, perhaps of a more stable relationship, John Cameron Mitchell. Thank you. Thanks a lot. Thanks again, to John Cameron Mitchell for his performance will catch up with EFI Stempler and Marija after the break. Modern love supported by xfinity. Some things are hard to control like over caffeinated co workers other things are easy to control. Like you're in home wifi with xfinity, X fi, set wifi curfew, change your password, and create user profiles over the x fi app. Another reason why xfinity is simple easy. Awesome go online. Call one eight hundred xfinity or visit a store to learn more. Restrictions apply. FU stempler's essay was published in two thousand sixteen. Not long after he left the bay area, and moved to Los Angeles to get his MFA in screenwriting at the American Film Institute and just this month. He graduated Maria came to the graduation, and we asked her to join EFI in studio. Efi says that in some ways their decision to live in different cities, was about growing up, writing the essay was a way of me holding on to something that was disappearing. Very quickly and not to say the love, I don't think the love was disappearing but the shape of our friendship was changing, and I was holding onto the old shape of it. This really kind of pop the bubble of, frankly, allusion that I had about men Marissa's mercy. Didn't have that she never wanted to marry me, and I never wanted to marry her really, it was more like I was living with her. It was this very dreamy existence. She found this amazing place in Berkeley, and I just wanted it to be like that forever. When this came out, I realized somewhat painfully that we would always be friends, of course, but that she would eventually find the partner that she was always dreaming about. I and I would have to continue working on my own dreams. Which I didn't realize that the time involved writing and involve moving to Los Angeles and involve putting a lot on the line. Since this essay was published Melissa has found the strong relationship she was looking for and EFI is pursuing a new career. I wanted a real career didn't want to dream of things in shitty jobs. I wanted a real family. Even if it was just me and some plants. I wanted it to be mind, though. I didn't wanna feel like I was attaching myself to somebody else's dream, and I actually do want a life partner. I'm open if anyone's out there, still available and Marissa thinks her relationship with EFI is even stronger now. I think we've really struck balance this beautiful. This beautiful ability to be there for each other, and also understanding that at the end of the day were, we're on these solo journeys no one can do it for you. Not even your best friend, twenty years, although their lives have gone in different directions. Efi. And Marissa have matching tattoos that EFI designed to honor their platonic life partnership. So looks like a a soft pretzel missing one of its legs on the bottom. I just looked at it. And we saw that he had figured out how to get a P and L in a p into this heart twisty, little heart shape, and it was just so perfect that we knew, so that's it. We're getting it tomorrow, tomorrow morning. And they're still thinking about how to commemorate recent milestone, the twentieth anniversary of their friendship. Now we're in. We're in talks. Talk taking suggestions for tropical getaways. We'd like to go away for a few days and really, I think it would be really meaningful and important for us to commemorate where we've been and where we are today. And in a way, I see us, especially f e graduating and both of us in barking on new chapters personally that we are entering a new phase. It'd be really nice to kind of metaphorically hold hands and walk into the sunset together. That's EFI Stempler and. Marissa's Belcher, Efi's recently written, a film, that's based in part on his essay, it's called gunk more after the break. Hey, it's been an Ameri, and we're the hosts of endless thread, the show, featuring stories found on the website, read it but you don't have to be a Reddit or to enjoy the kinds of stories. We tell like a couple experimenting with non monogamy or boredom that may have predicted the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Subscribe to endless threat on apple podcasts or wherever you listen. Here's Daniel Jones editor of the modern love column for the New York Times. I'm most curious about people trying to figure out how to live their life, according to expectations and, and in every case, you know, he struggles over and over in romantic relationships. But he's got this incredibly strong platonic relationship, and yet it feels like it's something you can't yield to, you know, it feels like giving into it is giving up on what kind of relationship you're meant to have. And then at the end of this essay anyway, he does yield to it, you know, they decide to become roommates and still pursue other relationships. I just think it's an interesting essay in looking at expectations for life. And when is that point where you decide those experts Asians are not what my life has meant to be? I thought that's what my life was meant to be. But maybe my life is meant to be something else, sort of yielding to that. And. Accepting the sort of blessings that you do have in your life. Next week, Zachary Quinto the dog must have sensed my vacation because suddenly at a moment when I wasn't holding her leash properly. What did I know about holding the leash? She ran from us down a winding road that led to the Long Island expressway, it was horrifying. How did those stubby legs carry her so fast? Ira chased her running in the middle of the road faster than I've ever seen him run. Hello appealed. I need help get the car. Modern love is a production of the New York Times and WB. You are Boston's NPR station. It's produced directed and edited by Caitlyn kief original scoring and sound design by Matt read, thanks to Lisa viola and the whole team at the province town film festival and to musicians Roxanne Layton, and Peter Tuzi, the idea for the modern love podcast was conceived by Lisa Tobin iris Adler is our executive producer. Daniel Jones is the editor of modern love for the New York Times and buys her to the show. Additional thanks to Julia Simon on your strength and meal Lee at the New York Times additional music, courtesy of APM, I'm Meghna Chakrabarti. See you next week. Modern love if the ported by xfinity some things are hard to control, like over caffeinated workers other things are easy to control. Like you're in home wifi with xfinity, X fi, set wifi curfew, change your password, and create user profiles over the x fi at another reason, why xfinity is simple easy. Awesome go online. Call one eight hundred xfinity or visit a store to learn more. Restrictions apply.