“What—no ring?” How’s that for a greeting from your great-aunt? It was directed at my twin sister a few years back at a family gathering, and while we’re obviously the same age, all I got was a polite hello and requisite cheek-pinch. I chalked it up to the idea of bachelordom seeming more socially acceptable than spinsterhood to a widowed octogenarian, but it got me thinking: Will this ever happen to me?
My curiosity had layers, as this was in the era of “commitment-ceremony Nevada.” But after the Silver State began granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples last October and June’s Supreme Court decision made marriage equality the law of the land, I’m wondering if I’ll hear echoes of my great-aunt next month at my 10-year high school reunion. So I polled gay and lesbian friends to see if they’re getting the question, and if they feel pressure to answer a certain way.
“We just spent the [Labor Day] holiday in San Diego with my family, and quite a few of them were talking about marriage equality with me and asking, ‘You guys have been together six years, have you thought about getting married?’” Ross “R.J.” Rolewicz says of the experience for him and his boyfriend. “It’s something we’ve talked about over the years, but obviously for the longest time we knew it was going to be more of a struggle, as it wasn’t legal in all 50 states.”
Rolewicz doesn’t mind the marriage question. In fact, he sees it as a show of support for his relationship. But gay or straight, if a couple isn’t on the same page or chooses to be more private, it can be pretty awkward.
“It’s great to show support, but you shouldn’t ask couples, because you don’t know if that’s where they’re at yet,” says a lesbian coworker who has toyed with walking down the aisle in an AstroTurf tuxedo after facing the question a few times. She doesn’t like the idea of putting people on the spot to define their relationship, to the point of finding it offensive.
“I think any pressure in that sense has much more to do with age than it does with marriage equality,” suggests Ryan Foley, adding that his interaction with friends, family and coworkers about his legal right to tie the knot is more about being seen as equal in the eyes of the law.
Foley says that a coworker called the day the Supreme Court decision was released, leaving a voicemail expressing her happiness and how it was a “great day” for America. “For me, that’s kind of what the personal impact of it was. It was just to see my mom happy that I’m now considered a full, equal citizen.”
I’d have to agree. But being a single gay man approaching his 30th birthday, I also agree with the text message my senior prom date (my straight, female senior prom date) sent that same historic day: Now let’s find you a hottie husband!!!