Justin and I had only been dating a year when same-sex marriage was legalized in NY. And from that point on, we’d be spending a fair amount of time wrapping our heads around the fact that legal gay marriage had gone from barely imaginable to reality.
Waiting for It
Three years (and many important conversations) later, I felt like we were finally ready to get engaged. But we weren’t sure who should do the asking or how. In the course of trying to make that decision, I got so worked up that one night — fueled by emotion, adrenaline, and maybe a little gin — I informed Justin that if we were to get married, I would need him to do the proposing.
Thus began a period I think of as: waiting for it. I waited for him to propose in the lovely, quiet hours between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (He did not.) I waited for him to pop the question on New Year’s Eve. (No such luck.) I waited for him to ask when we were in Salzburg visiting the actual gazebo where Captain von Trapp proposed to Fraülein Maria in The Sound of Music. (Nope.) After a while, I started to feel a little silly: Why couldn’t I stop focusing on what our relationship might be next and enjoy what it already was? So I tried to stop waiting so very hard.
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We were preparing to spend some time at the beach with a group of close friends. And I started having premonitions of him proposing there. I confided to my friend Jen, saying: “I’m only telling you this, so that I can get it out of my head. But I’ve thought he was going to do it a million times and have been wrong every single time so far.” She gamely offered to see if she could figure out if he had any secret plans. Paranoid, I decided that – if there were secret plans – she was probably in on them and therefore would not be reliable source of information. So I would just need to wait and see.
The night before we were to leave was my birthday. I’d assumed we wouldn’t make it a big deal and celebrate at the beach instead. But Justin announced that he’d made reservations. When we arrived at the restaurant, we were led down a set of stairs to a private dining room. Red roses were on the table and music was playing. Justin said it was a mix he had made of great love songs from the 1930s and ‘40s. I approved heartily, and we spent some time playing, “Guess that diva!”
About halfway through the meal, Justin produced another surprise: a photo book he had created full of beautiful pictures of us and a list of reasons he loved me. When I looked up from it (with tears in my eyes), he was on one knee holding a ring. He asked me to be his husband, and I told him: “Yes!” and “I love you!” and “You did such a good job!”
What Comes Next?
My friend Sarah later commented that, “You did such a good job!” sounded more like something a coach says to a player. But to me, it felt right. A good relationship is often like being on a team, and Justin had scored. He had surprised me and created a fantastic memory we’d always treasure. Perhaps most important of all, he erased the problem of when and how to propose and replaced it with complete delight.
After waiting so long to be engaged, I was surprisingly unprepared for the questions that followed: When’s the wedding? Where will you have it? What will you wear?
I realized very quickly that I hadn’t wanted to be engaged because I wanted a wedding. What I’d wanted was for Justin and I to be able to show the world how much we cared about each other — that we were ready to promise to love for the rest of our lives.
I hoped that – as we tried to plan a wedding that would be a fitting celebration of that love – I’d keep on smiling about the fact that the making of that promise has already started. “Good job” barely begins to describe how well it began.
Did Justin and Paul have a happy ending? Find out in “What It’s Like to Feel Insane on the Way to Your Big Gay Wedding”.
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Last modified: July 8, 2019