It was anticlimactic, really. We were in San Francisco, having fun at Folsom and celebrating three years since we’d first met. As often happens at these things, we’d committed ourselves to too many events and by Saturday afternoon were feeling a bit burnt out. We even started getting irritated with each other, squabbling about which events we should go to and which we would have to skip. Things were going downhill quickly, so we decided to give ourselves a time out; we retreated to our friends’ house in Duboce Triangle where we were staying, and took a nap.
When I woke up, I felt really relaxed. Taking a break had been the right thing to do. As we lay there in each others’ arms, an unplanned thought crossed my mind. This place was important (we’d met in San Francisco), this time was important (it was our third anniversary)… and truth be told, I’m a pretty sentimental guy. Now would be as good a time as any. We’d been talking in hypotheticals for the past two years — “If I were to ever ask you to marry me, would you?” (the answer always being yes) — so without thinking about it too much, I blurted it out (in retrospect, it felt very similar to the way I blurted out my invitation for him to join me in Houston almost three years earlier, which kicked off our relationship):
“Uh, we’ve been talking about it long enough, so I might as well ask. Will you marry me?”
“Well, yuh! We pretty much already are, ya know.”
And just like that, we were engaged. I have to confess that, for me, it actually didn’t seem like a big deal. It was such a natural progression that it felt like a tiny step instead of a huge, daunting, terrifying one. Dirk was right: we were pretty much already married. We were just adding another layer — civil marriage — to our already fruitful union.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I’d been downplaying the importance of civil marriage, especially in a modern context. We’d been referring to each other as “hubby” for a couple of years already, in agreement with our belief in the concept of “traditional” marriage that I laid out in my Huffington Post article. Maybe that’s why our engagement didn’t seem like such a big deal to me at the time. As far as we were concerned, we were already married. We’d merged our lives, and I’d already become a member of Dirk’s family, as Dirk had become a member of mine. By getting legally married, sure, we’ll be afforded the rights that are extended to all married couples. But the outpouring of congratulations and support we’ve received since announcing our engagement has convinced me that our society values civil marriage as much as the traditional arrangement, and I believe it’s fitting to honor these new traditions alongside the old.
Dirk and I got engaged to be legally married on September 20, 2014. We knew we were a long way from setting a wedding date, but there was one order of business we could address immediately: engagement rings. (Yay, shopping!) Dirk had long ago floated an idea for our wedding rings, one that I love. Each ring would be an ouroboros, an ancient symbol of a snake eating its own tail, representing infinity. Dirk’s idea has a bit of a twist, literally and figuratively: instead of a single snake eating its own tail, both of our rings would be comprised of two intertwined snakes eating each others’ tails. We’ve already talked to our friends at Tribal Son about creating these custom rings, but in the meantime we wanted something in the same vein for our engagement bands. So we found rings with two snakes on them, heading towards each other… soon to be intertwined.
Dirk and I bought the rings at the end of September, but we didn’t exchange them right away. We wanted to find some meaningful place or time to do it. And then on October 6 the Supreme Court declined to rule on any federal gay marriage cases, making gay marriage the de facto law of the land in 30 states (that number now stands at 35). That evening, we were engaged in our nightly ritual of watching The Rachel Maddow Show. During her coverage of the Supreme Court decision, Dirk and I were discussing what a momentous day it was. And to celebrate — again, rather impulsively — we exchanged rings right there on our living room sofa.
We didn’t tell many people right away; we wanted to wait until we got a chance to tell our families. So we played a little game… we’d start wearing our rings and see who noticed. Interestingly, and I’m not sure what to make of this, but most of the people who noticed were women. A few of our gay friends noticed too, but most people, if they did notice, didn’t say anything. I think a lot of people assumed we were already married… and in many ways, we were. (I also have to apologize to a few of my fans on the Facebook page. From time to time, someone would point out the rings in a picture I’d posted, and ask something like “Does that mean what I think it means?” I’d always deflect the questions with responses like “not necessarily” or “If it was something that important, don’t you think I’d mention it on Facebook?” Sorry, guys!)
The first opportunity we got to tell our families was on Christmas, and their reactions were pretty great. I’ll tell you all about them shortly in a follow-up blog post. For now, though, I’ll just say that they’re as happy as we are… and that my mom’s response included a lot of repetition.
More soon …