Broughton’s love life is the epitome of several lovely things. The first and foremost is, “It’s never too late for love.” Here are five interesting facts about Broughton that may lead to your own fancies about love.
1. He was married to a woman once. He sought out marriage as a union, almost as a therapy (though he did love his wife Suzanna Hart), thinking Jungian style that it might cure him from having too strong a feminine inside himself as well. Here is the film, Nuptiae, that documents their marriage.
2. His marriage ended twelve years later when he and Joel Singer got together. You can read some of James’ journals from that time period here. They evoke both the strong soul and erotic desire of this time as well as the difficulty that this union incited in terms of having to choose between his marriage and Joel.
3. When James and Joel got together, James was 61 and Joel was 26. The two were 35 years apart in age.
Here is an excerpt from the 24-stanza poem James wrote about the experience, called, “Wondrous the Merge.”
Then on a cold seminar Monday
in walked an unannounced redeemer
disguised as a taciturn student
Brisk and resolute in scruffy mufti
he set down his backpack shook his hair
and offered me unequivocal devotion
He dismissed my rebuffs and ultimatums
He scoffed at suggestions of disaster
He insisted he had been given authority
to provide my future happiness
Was it possible he had been sent
from some utopian headquarters?
I went to his flat to find out
After recounting the story in full detail, “Wondrous the Merge” ends with:
Wondrous Wondrous the merge
Wondrous the merge of soulmates
the surprises of recognition
Wondrous the flowerings of renewal
Wondrous the wings of the air
clapping their happy approval
I severed my respectabilities
and bought a yellow mobile home
in an unlikely neighborhood
He moved in his toaster his camera
and his eagerness to become
my courier seed-carrier and consort
Above all he brought the flying carpet
that upholsters his boundless embrace
Year after year he takes me soaring
out to the ecstasies of the cosmos
that await all beings in love
One day we shall not bother to return
4. James and Joel were married long before that was even a thing. Their first official ceremony happened in Canada, where they knew of a priest willing to marry two men. They had two subsequent ceremonies in the States with friends and loved ones present. (One of them took place on Alan Watts’ Sausalito houseboat.) James wrote “Behold the Bridegrooms,” which is the last section of James’ book Ecstasies and was the text for their wedding.
5. James and Joel’s love lasted the rest of James’s life. (26 years) Their friends often commented on what role models their love was for one another.
Author Armistad Maupin said, “I certainly was inspired by James in a number of ways. First of all, he and Joel had the most beautiful relationship I’d ever seen.”
And from filmmaker Sally Dixon, “After he met Joel he seemed at peace. He seemed ecstatic. Well, he could seem ecstatic before that at certain times. But with Joel, it was like he was basking in peacefulness. He was home. His heart was at home.”