Ready For Our Close-Up
“What the hell?” I asked the Manly Fireplug. “Are we the only homosexuals in the whole state going to New York to get married?”
I joked to friends about feeling overexposed. That even I was tired of us. Media whores, a couple of friends called us on Facebook, with what felt like an even mixture of humor and bitterness.
I grew increasingly uncomfortable, due in no small part to my upbringing in Minnesota, where the greatest sin is calling too much attention to yourself. But there were other reasons, too.
After the first article appeared, I received two emails, spaced five days apart, from someone I began to refer to as my “Secret Internet Admirer,” someone who used an anonymizing email program to cloak his real address. I’ll spare you the admirer’s particular vitriol, a confusing mixture of jealousy and homophobia that indicated less than full mental health.
I can’t be certain that my admirer was the same troll with whom I’d recently exchanged a volley of ridiculous emails, but the timing seemed suspect. He (I thought of the admirer as a he, though I couldn’t be certain) looked harshly upon the particular nature of my relationship with the Fireplug. Those who know us would never accuse us of being poster boys for traditional marriage, and so the admirer’s opaque argument fell flat with me.
What concerned me was how he ended both emails, two sentences in all caps: DO NOT GET MARRIED! CANCEL THE WEDDING!
I didn’t want to get melodramatic about a troll (and legally this post right here could be construed as encouraging him), but my admirer was talking about the event that would gather together my husband, our families, and our closest friends. So when the rental hall sent over our contract, I paid close attention to the security guard clause.
The Fireplug encouraged me to shake it off, as I spent the next few days scanning friends’ and acquaintances’ Facebook posts for anything vaguely suspicious, and examining anyone in public who looked at me a half-second longer than necessary. As the days passed without another email from my admirer, my paranoia faded. Mostly.
I told the Fireplug the interviews were starting to feel weird. Like we were putting this deeply personal event up for public dissection. So when Channel 11 called, the Fireplug told them we weren’t available.
Immediately I felt regret. Like we were passing up the chance to do some kind of greater good. Bring attention to the cause of same-sex blah blah blah. A lofty sentiment, sure, but maybe I really wanted the attention. So we did a couple more interviews.
And nothing happened. The articles and stories were little more than sound bites, hardly noteworthy, even to me. For the story they told – a couple of guys going to New York to get married – seemed like distractions from the story forming inside my own head.
I dutifully answered the reporters’ questions about why New York, and why now. After the third interview I stumbled upon my own sound bite, which I worked into subsequent interviews: at some point you just have to live your life, and not wait for California’s stamp of approval.
But all the while my conscience nagged at me, asking me a question that, with my handful of part-time jobs, book-writing, volunteering, etc., I hadn’t had the space or perspective to answer.
And that question wasn’t, “Why New York?”
It was: “Why marriage?”
A question I wasn’t sure I could answer. Which, let’s face it, is a tad disconcerting. For I was about to make the most important promise of my life. To a man making the same promise to me.
The reporters’ calls stopped, and the media moved on.
I’ve had a little more time to reflect on that enormous question. And I’m still not sure that I can articulate a worthy response. As the wedding edges closer, what strikes me most is that the promise I’m about to make doesn’t fill me with fear or doubt.
I had one of those unstable childhoods that left me hungry for affection and afraid of abandonment. Common stuff, I know, but they formed me. And though there are no guarantees in life, especially in love, the Fireplug was about to offer me the closest thing.
All I know is that as the big day nears, those long-held fears are diminished not by the prospect of his promise to me, but by my promise to him. I forget myself for a few seconds when I think of what I’m about to pledge: that even in the toughest times I will be his companion. That I won’t give up on him.
It was disingenuous of me to call our wedding a “deeply personal event.” We’re inviting our family and friends. It’s not personal, it’s communal. Others will have opinions on our mutual suitability and future prospects.
Hell, there’s that tense moment in every movie wedding when the minister asks, “If anyone has any reason why these two people should not marry…” (And if any of you are planning on dragging my Fireplug onto a city bus like Dustin Hoffman, I will hunt you down.)
What comforts me aren’t big answers for that big question. Rather, it’s just a feeling inside me when I picture our big day, an intuition, a sort of quiet space in the eye of the storm, impervious to trolls and judgments and Channel 4, a space big enough for me and one other man.