How I used to roll my eyes when people would say that love comes at unexpected times and when you are not looking for it; for a single person there is no way to understand what that means nor believe it to be true until you find yourself repeating the same adage. And, while I like to think myself cliché free, I have found myself repeating that adage in one form or another. I should note, however, that I think that adage is more in line with the “a watched pot never boils” philosophy rather than some magical happenstance. At any rate, I found love on an otherwise routine Saturday evening.
When people ask us how we met, we always say, “There are two stories”
Dave’s story is as follows: “Michael and I met at Fugazi, (a gay bar in Buffalo). He of course came over to me, since he was mesmerized by my pretty face, as most people are (Dave is given to hyperbolics). We exchanged information and chatted online for a little bit and then went on our first date at Butterwood Bakery.”
And like a well oiled comedic duo, me playing the straight man, I would say “We met on Gay.com”
My version is the correct one. And henceforth is the truth of our “Two stories, one heart.”
(I should note here the title of this blog is a play on something Dave coined when our “Lesbians”, Jackie and Sue, got married. In their card he wrote “Two Vaginas, one heart” Funny, truthful, and as poignant as Dave gets. )
When I first met Dave I was struck by his stature, his is, well, tiny. About 5’5’ and all of 110 pounds, I on the other hand, well, am bigger than that. I can’t say that it was love at first site, for sure I was attracted to him and we got on fine, but I think it took a little bit for things to blossom between us, but once it did, it grew strong. We started to live together right before our one year anniversary. I had just finished graduate school and needed to move off campus. It all seemed natural, the progression of our relationship and love.
So, 3 years post, I started to think about spending my life with David. The only litmus test I knew as appropriate for this was whether I could imagine my life without him, and simply, I couldn’t. In a country that at present does not recognize, broadly, marriage between same-sex couples, it is hard to understand ourselves in the broader context of married people. I get asked often, by well-meaning people, why have a ceremony, if it is not legal? I understand what they mean, from a pragmatic perspective. Oft times love is a public thing, be it the work desk photo, holding hands in a park or filling out a healthcare proxy form. To that point, marriage is also public; it is about loving someone out in the open and who would not want that. So to the question, the answer is why not? Love, for any of us, is about creature comfort. It is about understanding our own skin, wanting to live within it, and seeking someone to touch it and remind us of the beauty of life. Marriage as the public affirmation of the former seemed like the appropriate next step for us.
I could assert, and have, that same-sex couples know a stronger kind of love, love got meeting adversity face-forward. But that is an immature thing to think, assuming that couples of the opposite sex don’t ever face adversity; be it interracial, inter-religious, etc. So to refine it, I’d say that any love, which thrives amongst adversity, is fundamentally a strong love. How a couple actualizes that love is their bag, but at its core, it is strong. This is all to say that I love Dave and am confident in our love and thus want to do what others have done and make it known to our world.
But first, of course, I would need to make it known to Dave. So, I set out on the journey to propose to Dave. With the help of my friend Ivey, I went to the mall and searched for the perfect ring. Of course, it caused me to have to navigate through the process of cocked heads when I said I need a man’s ring. But all said it was a fairly straight forward process.
I wish I could report that when I asked Dave to marry me it was in some fantastical romantic way. Me on bended knee, surrounded by the glow on candle light, and Dave, teary eyed and awe struck. That the acceptance of this token of my love and commitment was clear and he received this love without interruption. But, as we have a want to be, it was not romantic-al in the least, but it was us…which I imagine is what it should have been.
We were supposed to go to Butterwood, where we had our first date and I planned on asking him there, but due to a snow storm we did not go. In my impatient way, I could not wait any longer. I had the ring for almost 2 weeks…and it was burning a hole in pocket. So, me in my robe on that Sunday evening, said “Dave can you come into the kitchen” He did, and I gave him the ring and said “With expectations for the future” (don’t worry, he nor I know what that meant either). Then he turned and said to me “So are we engaged?” and I nodded. That is the long, short and in-between of it.
The wedding planning did not happen thereafter in earnest. Although we did receive a wealth of congrats cards…a couple were the same, which made me wonder about the dearth of same-sex or gender neutral engagement cards. But we strode forward, talking about it here and there, while starting our new life in Syracuse.
Our parents have always been okay with our sexuality. We have never known the feeling of disapproval. But I would be lying or glossing over the truth, if I say that we did not have apprehensions about getting married. We thought that it might be a road too far for some in our family members to go. It is one thing to accept people and another thing to go beyond your point of comfort. Dave and I are both the only openly gay people in our respective families to get married, so for all it would be a new experience and this gave us pause. We may not have categorized it that way, but in retrospect, I think it was more pronounced than at first glance. But soon we learned that people were happy for us, not matter our categorization of their conservatism.
This reminds me of a funny story. My brother Matthew (I am the youngest of 5 boys, he is the 3rd oldest), called me after my mom told him that I engaged to Dave. He just did not know what to say, but said the following, which is about as sweet as any other sentiment he could have given “Hey Michael it is your brother Matt. I wanted to call and say congrats, ahhh Ma told me, ah, you gave Dave, um ah, a promise ring.” Given that is was not 1952 I am fairly positive I would not call it that, but it made me feel good, and loved, that he, and the rest of my family, were genuinely happy for us.
Also, as part of my own process of thinking about a wedding, I come back to my own issues of struggling with how I do gay. I worry that I am not out enough or if I am too out. It is such a hard thing to think about one’s sexuality as public consumption, whereas with straight couples it is just the way it is and is not necessarily sexualized. So the thought of getting married at first just seemed like an unnecessary thing, as if I was trying to conform to something the world says people should be or do. Then, I got off my anti- heteronormative thing, reminded myself I was not in college anymore, and I needn’t have to dissect everything. I should be free to live and realize my life as best suites me. And while there are many people who question the point of two men getting married, either disapproval based on prejudice or disapproval based on conformity, for Dave and me it is purely about wanting to be the center of attention! Also to, (insert Sarah Palin affect) we want to share our joy and love with the people most important to us, while being the center of attention!
So after tepid efforts to set a date, we finally decided that it would happen in September or October of 2011 and in early summer of 2010 we began looking for a venue.
So, here I am, blogging for So You’re EnGAYged, and am very excited about it. You are catching us in the middle of our wedding planning, so over the next couple posts I am going to talk about various vendor searches, and other things about the wedding planning process.