I have brought a romantic date to exactly none of them. This is logical when you consider that many of these weddings happened to fall during my most single years, in which I never dated anyone seriously enough to warrant such an invitation.
But if I'm being honest, there's an element of relief the both of us feel every time we learn we won't have to attend a wedding as the gay couple that we are.
It feels good to be excused from what I imagine would be a series of awkward moments — along with an unavoidable negotiation with feelings of shame and pride that come with being gay in such a heavily gendered environment. Getty Images Coming face-to-face with generational divides: A main source of anxiety around this topic is old people. Yes, even some of the most elderly of elders have come to enthusiastically embrace their gay family members.
Where are the hearts and minds of Americans? The issue with weddings is that you never know what kinds of people might be in the room. Most weddings are likely to involve a mix of all types, an army of older strangers whose comfort levels you know absolutely nothing about. While some gay people may typically have no fucks to give about making strangers uncomfortable with outward displays of gayness, straight weddings can complicate the impulse. They're not exactly the best place to make " we're here, we're queer, get used to it!
And it's a pretty safe bet that getting their homophobic Uncle Herb all wound up over a gay kiss during cocktail hour wouldn't qualify as "great," even if your personal opinion is that their Uncle Herb is a backwards asshole. So gay couples who choose to attend these weddings are left with two options. They could dance and be merry and gay, not caring about inadvertently making a big gay scene — a choice one might expect of more enlightened, proud, self-loving gays.
Knowing that some older members of the bride's family were a bit old-fashioned, they decided to try and meet somewhere in the middle of blatant and discreet. We didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable. There was certainly no PDA, but we posed for many photos as any couple would. Another wedding was for my good friends from [college], one of whom came from a rather strict family and had a number of older Southern family members in attendance.
They all seemed cool. Kyle's story makes me think that my hesitation to attend a straight wedding as part of a gay couple has just as much to do with my own discomfort as with the discomfort of any potential guests. Weddings, like so many other ubiquitous life cycle traditions, are so overtly gendered — from bridesmaids to groomsmen to the bouquet to the garter — that attending as a gay couple means being hyper-aware of one's gayness, to the degree that it's hard not to imagine standing out.
Maybe most guests wouldn't actually think twice about sharing the floor with gays during a slow dance. Or if they did have an issue, maybe they'd keep it to themselves for the same reason the gay wedding guests may feel compelled to opt out of the slow dance in the first place — out of consideration for the couple. But the internal calculations that go into that guessing game are an indicator of how deeply ingrained homophobia and plain ol' hetero norms are in society.
While legislation and representation do wonders for the rights of LGBT people, they don't always change minds and hearts, particularly of older generations, so quickly — nor do they change the pervasiveness of traditional marriage customs. But hopefully, maybe in a generation or two, two people who love each other will be able to dance at a wedding without having to think twice about whether or not they made the right decision.
Until then, navigating these events is likely to be a little more complicated than it ought to for gay couples. Like the bride and groom at the altar, they're forced to make a choice.