My left hand

My left hand is making a lot more noise these days.

When I pick up a coffee cup – tink! When I grab the phone – tik! When I clean crumbs off the kitchen countertop – clsssk sssk sk!

Most of the regular readers of this site already know the source of these new sounds.


My wife Jen and I have been married for slightly over five weeks. I have yet to remove my ring for any reason. It’s with me everywhere, through the good, the distasteful, and the ethically questionable. I pet the cat; it’s there. I clean up the cat’s barf; it’s there. I wave hello to my neighbors; it’s there. The next time I flip someone off on the freeway, it’ll be there.

All these quotidian actions are now punctuated by a flash of gold light that constantly reminds me and declares to the world that I am married.

I’d never worn a ring for longer than a few hours before, so it’s a new physical sensation, appropriately accompanying the new experiences of marriage. Strangely, my hand feels lighter. Sometimes I can almost feel the hand lifting up and floating away, led by the ring as it rises up. It feels like I’ve put my finger through a tiny hoop that leads to the infinite, something beyond me, beyond Jen, beyond the beyond.

Putting on the Ring

Many of the differences I’ve felt in getting married started when Jen and I got engaged and began telling people, so I had about ten months to get used to them. By the time we actually said our vows and put the rings on each other, I had already felt married for quite some time.

When you tell people (especially married people) that you’re getting married, you get a vibe like none other. You feel from them an outpouring of a special, different kind of love. Even from utter strangers, even from people who have been married and divorced. It feels like a very deep, old, serious love, a love that is communal in a primal way.

This love changes you and changes your relationship to each other, solidifying and buoying you and your fiancé(e) in a way that you never expected or could have predicted.

In this way, some of the difference between being engaged and going steady or living together comes from other people’s projections onto you as an engaged couple. They see you differently, and therefore you become different, just as someone who is thought to be powerful is powerful. This love intricately and tightly weaves you into a social fabric you didn’t fully understand even existed before.

Walking Down the Aisle

I wouldn’t argue, though, that there is no internal change that comes with marriage. But for me a great deal of this change came about as Jen and I were deciding to get married – a mutual joy at having found each other at just the right time, a realization that we really wanted to share the rest of our lives and that we could make it happen.

I’d been in long-term relationships before and lived with girlfriends, but getting married really does change everything in the way you relate to your beloved. When you plan a wedding together, no matter how large or small the ceremony and celebration, you begin to work together in a different way. You have one chance to create an event that will signal a great shift in your life together as a couple.

You will need to wrestle with your own (perhaps heretofore unrealized) wishes for such an event and reconcile them with your betrothed’s desires. The demands of family will come into play. Social expectations and traditions will come up, and you will have to accept, reject, or adapt them. You will have ideas that you cannot afford. You will realize that you’re going to spend much more money than you previously thought. Throughout it all, you will be forced to cooperate and to compromise, which you will come to realize are the substance of marriage.


The process of putting together our wedding made me understand why marriage ceremonies exist in all known cultures and have survived for thousands of years. The ritual throws a couple into a social crucible, fusing them together more surely than simply loving each other and sharing living quarters does.

Furthermore, having a community of family and friends come together around you to help create and participate in the ceremony joins you to them forever. You come to know that your existence and happiness are bound up with the existence and happiness of many, many others.


As much as the guests at a wedding may think that it’s all about the couple, the couple knows that in fact it’s all about the guests.


Steph, Scott, etc.

Now, take all these abstractions, all that care and planning, all that work, all that love, all that joy, imagine that it has been made tangible in a few ounces of gold that have been melted down and forged into a circle. Imagine that circle is on the fourth finger of your left hand.

Now you know why my hand feels like it’s going to float away.

93 responses to “My left hand”

  1. Lisa Parrish says:

    “communal in a primal way… intricately and tightly weaves you into a social fabric you didn’t fully understand even existed before… throws a couple into a social crucible…” Tim, you make it sound like you’ve just been initiated into a giant secret society. Which, I suppose you have. Congratulations! You’re obvioiusly ecstatically happy.

    But let’s not forget that your secret society is closed to a certain percentage of the population, and an even larger percentage of Great Whatsit contributors. It’s wonderful that heterosexual couples can get that “vibe like none other” from their fellow couples. It’s wonderful that you automatically get recognition from the government, from your families, from everyone who loves seeing a happy straight couple take a public vow. Obviously that recognition means a lot to you.

    On the other hand, my partner and I have spent seven long years and untold thousands of dollars trying to help her obtain a green card because the US – alone among Western industrialized nations! – won’t allow sponsorship of same-sex partners. So, forgive me if, while congratulating you on your marriage, I ask for a token acknowledgement that you’re celebrating entry into a closed-membership club.

  2. Scott Godfrey says:

    Wow Lisa, I couldn’t agree with you more. This is exactly why Steph and I agonized for some time before actually saying the nuptials. Maybe it’s why Farrell and “Trixie” aren’t “official.”

    Steph and I even met with several same-sex marriage activists for advice and talked with countless friends. In fact, we wound up getting married by one of the activists. Anyway, each person we talked to said the same thing: you not getting married will not help us to get married. Steph took a little longer than I, but we finally decided to do it. However, this isn’t so say that we don’t still feel incredibly conflicted about the whole thing. I know that Steph still secretly feels like a traitor.

    Knowing Tim and Jen the way I do, however, I wonder if your comment is correctly aimed. They are incredibly open and inclusive people, and I don’t think it’s necessary to lessen the joy that they feel over their experience. Surely there is injustice and inequality in every aspect of our society. We all write about things that others may not have access to.

    Obviously, marriage is a social, as well as political, economical, and lawful contract. Of course it is incredibly unjust that such a large swath of the population is excluded. There is no question to these things, but I don’t think that should prevent someone from feeling joy about their personal experiences. Do we not enjoy a fancy meal from time to time even though as we gorge ourselves there are millions in the world starving? Do we not enjoy the freedom of writing these long-winded comments while millions have never had access to education?

    I understand this particular injustice to be personal to you and many members of the Whatsit community, but all injustices are personal to someone somewhere.

  3. bryan says:

    I wanted to interrupt this discussion — which I hope continues — with a couple observations about the photos. First, is it just me, or does Tim have to be at least somewhat tongue in cheek about all this walking on sunshine when you consider the third photo above, in which he gazes dreamily skyward and looks like he would literally float away if jen didn’t have his arm? Is this a sign that he’s aware how dreamy he must sound, even if it’s truly how he feels?

    Second, I wanted to point out to the east coasters who haven’t met most of the west coasters that the lower photos of the guests include our own Jeremy, Scott, and Stephanie. You can guess which ones they are.

    Finally I wanted to say congrats to the happy couple, even though as a 14-year veteran of this most holy and heterosexist institution I have to smile slightly when a 5-week greenhorn theorizes about the effects of the vows on the relationship …

    Just kidding. I’m happy that you’re happy. And jealous that you got to get married as adults — when the event was more about you and your friends than it was about the expectations of the culture you were accidentally born into.

    Nice post.

  4. bryan says:

    p.s. jen — you look absolutely gorgeous in that dress. in picture #2 the look on your face is priceless.

  5. Lisa Parrish says:

    Scott – Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I hope my comment didn’t come across as wanting to lessen Tim’s joy! I just felt like, given the fact that so many of this site’s writers are unfairly precluded from experiencing what he’s writing about, it deserved mention. Clearly I’m very sensitive to this issue because of the anxiety and cost of what we’ve gone through. I celebrate Tim and Jen’s happiness and commitment; it’s the institution of marriage itself, which is off-limits to people who want and need it, that I take issue with.

    Tim, I really am very happy for you and Jen! Please don’t misunderstand my comments.

  6. Tim Wager says:

    Hi Lisa,

    I agree with you that it’s an awful, terrible thing that legal marriage is not open to many of my very good friends. In planning this post I decided not to raise the topic, which was perhaps a mistake. I felt that if I were to bring it up it would take me away from the substance of what I wanted to say.

    I decided, instead, to focus on the social aspects of marriage and weddings and how those aspects have affected me, not at all on the legal ones. I have yet to experience the legal benefits or lack therof, and can’t really speak to them. (In fact, Jen and I have yet to seal the deal and send in our marriage license.) Of course, that I’m not even thinking of them is testimony to my privileged position in the matter, but nonetheless I focused on what I have felt since Jen and I decided to get married – an overwhelming sense of good will and well-being.

    While it may not fully pardon me for not even mentioning the viciousness and cruelty of denying same-sex partners the opportunity to get married legally, I would like to point out that nothing of what I describe here is unavailable to anyone. It’s all about the love.

  7. Tim Wager says:

    p.s. Nikki’s also in one of the photos.

  8. Yes. And since she’s much better looking than Jeremy (who does have a nice suit on, though, as do Scott and Tim — will you guys take me shopping?) anyway, since she’s better looking than Jeremy I should have pointed it out that she was there too. Sorry, Nikki.

    Did I miss anyone else?

  9. Can I insert something into Lisa and Tim’s exchange, at least in part so I don’t come off looking like I’m trying to deflect attention from the more serious discussion?

    What if Tim’s post were about a great country club he had just joined, and the only thing wrong with it is that it doesn’t admit Jews, and a good number of TGWers were Jewish?

    Or, alternately, what if we read Tim’s post in much the same spirit as Robbins and G-Lock announced their engagement? My sense is that Tim would see his feeling as identical to Robbins and G-Lock’s, though that doesn’t negate Lisa’s point about the legal privilege straight people have in state recognition of their marriages.

    This is an interesting discussion — to me at least. I hope you guys carry on.

  10. Tim — you can consider all these comments a wedding gift, but I had to add one more. It strikes me that #3 could be read the wrong way. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that I am unhappy that I married when I did (and certainly not *who* I did!!) — I was just a little jealous at how much control you had over the whole affair. Mine, by contrast, seemed planned for me by the culture I grew up in. I was envious of creative control more than anything else.

    FWIW, Stephanie and I have talked about doing it again when we hit our 20 year mark, which believe it or not is only 6 years away. At that point we’ll be very happy to renew vows/commitments, where we want, with those we want to be there. We’ll eat what we want, drink what we want, wear what we want. We’ll be in charge of it this time. It will probably be on a boat. I can’t wait.

  11. Tim Wager says:

    In fact, when Farrell announced to us the engagement of G-Lock and Cedric (that would be Cedric, Bryan), I genuinely felt that overwhelming sense of love that I felt from other people when I told them about our engagement. I feel very differently now when I hear of anyone’s engagement (straight or gay) than I did before our engagement and wedding. It’s like a weird endorphin rush.

    I meant for the post to be about the sense of euphoria that marriage brought about for me, but I should know better than most that intention often blinds a writer to unstated meanings that are there. I guess I hoped to show inclusion without exclusion, but the idealist in me should have known that for every inside there is always an outside.

  12. Rachel says:

    I’m glad that I waited to respond, since my knee-jerk reaction was to point out that comparing committed gay lovers to famine victims isn’t a particularly persuasive line of reasoning.

    Obviously the main point here is to celebrate Tim and Jen’s union. Congratulations, you two!

    I look forward to the day when marriage is a viable option for those who want it, this conversation about injustice is entirely moot, and we can get back to doing what we do best: lovingly teasing displays of sincere emotion.

  13. oops. i meant cedric. and i had to try so hard not to type brian’s name.

  14. Scott says:

    Lisa- thank you so much for your response. I was really worried when I posted my comment that it would anger you. I certainly understand (as best a straight white male can) the frustration you feel. To exclude responsible, in-love people the legal bond that is afforded idiots who get married on a whim in Vegas, is not only unjust, it’s also bad public policy. Anyway, the dead horse has been beaten…

    Tim- it was an awesome party, as Steph and I (who I think were the last to leave) assured you. The love did ooze.

    I hope your next post is chock full ‘o’ dance advice from you, the master.

  15. Tim Wager says:

    It’s just a jump to the left . . .

  16. Scott says:

    C’mon now Timmy, don’t insult me; he who threw down the gauntlet and was taken to task for all to see.

    For the rest of you whatsitsers who weren’t there. Blood was indeed on the floor, and it was mine.

  17. WW says:

    love love love that this discussion comes on the heels of the break-up post.

  18. Stephanie Wells says:

    It’s true. I stood agog. It was just like Britney and Justin’s dance-off, only not heinous. Scott put forth a valiant effort, shook it and pouted hard, but it’s just hard to outboogie Tim “Jiggy” Wager, especially when he was ridin’ as high as he was that magical night. There were no survivors, yet it just didn’t feel like a slink-inducing defeat either–more like everybody won. (Especially Jen and me!)

  19. Tim Wager says:

    Well, the step to the right, the hands on your hips, and the knees in tight have something to do with it, but it’s the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane!

  20. Lisa Parrish says:

    Scott – No, your comment didn’t make me angry, though I too take issue with the “starving people” part. “Do we not enjoy a fancy meal from time to time even though as we gorge ourselves there are millions in the world starving?” Yes, we do. The difference is, we don’t then post a review of that delicious meal on a website where 1/3 of the fellow writers are those selfsame starving people, without at least some nod to their situation.

    I feel like I’m coming across as a harridan, which is not my intent. But this is a very real issue, affecting your fellow GW’ers in profound ways, and having no acknowledgement of that in Tim’s post felt like an omission.

  21. Stephanie Wells says:

    Um, that’s “insay-yay-yayyyane.” I THOUGHT you were jiggy.

  22. Lisa Parrish says:

    Oops, I wrote that fast and it sounds like I’m trying to pick a fight. I ain’t. Just thought I’d take another whack at the argument, to, um, make everyone appreciate the fun of the dancing comments even more!

  23. Scott Godfrey says:

    Lisa – you make an exceedingly good point. Tim is guilty of, perhaps, not “knowing his audience” as well as he might have. But his point, that he was much more interested in conveying the love aspect of the event, is what he chose to zero in on. And certainly love is universal, even among Whatsitsers.

    That said, when I read the post this morning, I did feel the same-sex marriage, 800lb. gorilla in the room, even before I read your first comment.

  24. Scott Godfrey says:

    Lisa – by the way, this is such a great conversation to be having. Thank you for taking the time to post such good comments.

  25. Lisa Parrish says:

    Love is universal, especially among whatsiters. Like, I love you all, man. In fact, I want to marry you all.

    Oh, hell.

  26. Stephanie Wells says:

    Just so everyone knows, the reason my comments here are so “lite” thus far is not that I don’t care about the marriage issue, but that I have so many feelings about it that I can hardly articulate them. As Scott brought up early on, I absolutely agonized over our decision, and at one point was completely set on having a civil union ceremony instead of a legal marriage. I had friends who were appalled that I would consider getting legally married and friends who were appalled that I would consider not doing it for these reasons. I still struggle with whether we made the right decision and yes, I do feel like a traitor to a cause that I feel more strongly about than almost any other. The number of gay activists (including, for what it’s worth or despite him, The Ethicist Randy Cohen) who reasoned that the way to protest it is not to deny ourselves fruitlessly, but to work towards the cause, may have simply helped me to rationalize our choice, and I’ll never know for sure. I do know, though, that I feel like Tim does about it: euphoric, as I think I would whether or not it were blessed by a state and a church who have both betrayed me with their hypocrisy and immorality. They’re beside the point and not part of my commitment; the point is the choice we made to celebrate our relationship in the company of the people who were most important to us, and to tell them all publicly (and rather specifically, I’m afraid) why we feel the way we do, and to invite and include them in our lives and our relationship.

    Oh yeah, and to shake our asses all night long on San Francisco Bay.

  27. Tim Wager says:

    Pushing the dancing to the side for a minute —

    Lisa, I’m glad that you raised the topic of exclusion, and you shouldn’t feel like a harridan for having done it or for following up and trying to refine the terms of the discussion.

    Usually I’m acutely attuned to the sociopolitical ramifications of my actions and words. However, the love drug I’ve been on is incredibly powerful (as evidenced by the one photo that Bryan pointed out in which I look like I’m literally going to float away), and I think that hindered me from seeing the obvious. I regret having made no acknowlegement whatsoever in my post to the very real and continued pain that the ban on legal same-sex marriage has incurred on my friends and fellow GWers. For me, it was all about the love, not the law or the state, but the love I’ve been mainlining is made all the more powerful because it’s legal and state-sanctioned. Not giving at least a nod to that was at best an oversight that I’m happy was pointed out.

    As to the analogy, would voting rights be more apt? When Brad Pitt announced a few weeks ago that he and Angelina Jolie would not marry until same-sex marriage was legal in this country, a friend said to me, “Great, now commitment-phobes will have the perfect excuse: ‘I’m with Brad!'” It think he was well-intentioned, but it also seems to me like a hollow gesture, like saying, “I’m not going to vote until all the Floridians unjustly excluded from the voting rolls by Jeb Bush in 2000 have their rights restored.”

  28. Tim Wager says:

    How do you people write so fast and articulately? I start a comment, and by the time I’ve added it, there are 3 more!

  29. Lisa Parrish says:

    Actually, I’d be interested to hear from others what they thought about the Brad-Angelina thing. My feeling is, it could be a publicity stunt, a convenient excuse not to marry, or who knows — possibly even a genuine sentiment. But whatever the case, and however silly the whole celebrity-worship culture is, I will tell you this: I really, really loved the fact that they made this announcement.

    I don’t think you can overstate the impact that kind of statement has on middle-America straight people who wouldn’t ordinarily ever consider the issue. Having two mainstream movie stars say, “This isn’t fair, and we’re going to abstain because people we care about aren’t being treated fairly” is hugely powerful.

    As for its being a “hollow gesture,” here’s an analogy: It’s like shaving your head in solidarity with a friend who’s lost his hair to cancer. Will doing so bring your friend’s hair back? Of course not. But it’s a beautiful, generous gesture of support to that person.

    To clarify: I’m not saying straight people should never marry. But I will say that I personally find it moving when someone makes a decision not to marry — or even wrestles seriously with the question, like Scott and Stephanie — in solidarity with their friends.

    Finally, re: the voting rights analogy. Tim, you just wrote a really beautiful post about how marrying Jen has completely changed your life. How does voting compare to that?

  30. Lisa Tremain says:

    I am so (as usual) impressed by the thoughtful exchange of comments here. I loved the post, Tim, particularly because John and I are recently engaged to be married, right around the same time that Cedric and G-Lock made their announcement.

    I’ve been driving for the last two hours or so, running errands, thinking about the post and some of the initial comments from Lisa P. and Scott. John and I, too, discussed protesting our hetero-union until we all could come, politically and legally, to recognize all unions…but basically we just wanna be married. Is that selfish?

    So, I do wonder, Lisa P., Scott, Steph, et al– can marriage really feel, as Tim says,all the more powerful because it’s legal and state-sanctioned? I am hoping that I don’t come off as ignorant and priveleged because I’m straight, but I’d like to think that Cedric + G-Lock are just like Lisa + John and that both couples will have weddings/marriages that, as Steph put it, celebrate our relationship in the company of the people who (are) most important to us, and to tell them all publicly (and rather specifically, I’m afraid) why we feel the way we do, and to invite and include them in our lives and our relationship.

    I guess I’m asking, is the “argument” here rooted in institutional ideas or spiritual ones? I get and seriously oppose the inequality that exists between straight and gay married couples: tax breaks, health benefits, and a host of other paperwork issues, but I guess I want to know if that really keeps any couple from marriage…? I’d like to think that if I were a guy and John were gay (go ahead and picture it, Steph), we’d be planning exactly as we’re planning now.

    Hugs and kisses to you all, especially the “greenhorns.”

  31. Lisa Parrish says:

    By the way, to reiterate the main point: CONGRATULATIONS, TIM! I’m enjoying the discussion, but don’t want to cloud the real issue, which is that you wrote a really lovely post about a wonderful event in your lives!

  32. Jeremy says:

    Wow, that’s what I get for waking up at noon! (I’m not lazy (this time), just sick…) I become comment #32, and don’t know where to begin in this discussion. Except, I suppose, to say: I’m so grateful I got to be there (at that glorious wedding, of course, but also from the beginning, too, when Tim told the best first-date story ever, culminating in that famous end-of-date ass slap…)

  33. Lisa Tremain says:

    Now I feel bad, Jeremy, for taking a (loving, of course) dig at you in Lisa P.’s post yesterday about break ups. Are you alright?

    Just promise that we’ll never ever break up again. You need some soup?

  34. Lisa Parrish says:

    Jeremy – Good morning!

    Lisa T – In our case, the issues are mostly institutional, because not being able to marry has meant we have to jump through multiple expensive hoops to keep Stella in the country. Putting aside the institutional issues, though, gay couples can of course choose to have commitment ceremonies or travel to Canada to wed, and dance the night away (badly) just like straight couples. You’re absolutely right about that.

    As an aside, however, I will point out that gay couples almost never enjoy the same kind of overwhelming societal support that straight couples do. For example, it’s only the extremely rare, lucky gay couple whose relatives on both sides of the family will happily come to their “wedding” and treat it just like any other wedding.Of course, some relatives refuse to come to straight marriages too, but because of specific family issues, not a blanket condemnation of a lifestyle.

    Any other gay people out there want to chime in? I’m acting like the official spokesperson here or something, and for all I know no one agrees with me. Please check your Gay Agenda and respond accordingly.

  35. Tim Wager says:

    Well, I do get a buzz when I vote, but that doesn’t apply for everyone. The analogy works if we solely focus on marriage as a legal institution. The legal focus seems primary to your own situation – the outstanding issue you mention is citizenship rights for your partner – and so it seems (from someone who has never met you, but who has read what you have written here) a fair analogy in your case. This legal right is denied same-sex couples.

    The analogy breaks down immediately when we venture into thinking of marriage as something different – a deep, binding social commitment to another person whom you love in a romantic way, a commitment which has been declared publicly in a ritual ceremony of some sort. That aspect of marriage is, despite societal resistance, available to same-sex couples; call it a commitment ceremony, call it a wedding, call it a kick-ass party, call it what you will, that *is* available to same-sex couples. (Gaze freely at the listings in the NYT every Sunday.)

    Before I decided to get married I never thought I’d get married because I didn’t think it would or could change anything in a long-term, committed relationship. I didn’t think it would because before I decided to get married, I thought of marriage as primarily a legal thing. “We don’t need no piece of paper from the City Hall, keepin’ us tight and true,” as Joni Mitchell sings it. Who needs that piece of paper, right?

    Well, all that changed when Jen and I got engaged, and it totally blind-sided me. Everything does change when you decide to get married, and it didn’t change because we got a piece of paper from the City Hall. I wouldn’t say it makes our relationship better, or more committed, or guarantees that it will last all trials, but it’s very different in a way that I value profoundly. I tried to convey those differences in my post, focusing on the psychological, emotional, social aspects of the change.

    Neglecting to mention that all of that is undergirded by legal sanctioning that is unavailable to many people in this country and who read this site was insufficiently critical of me. But all the same I would venture to guess that same-sex couples who get married or have a commitment ceremony or whatever you’d like to call it, would tell you that they went through a profound transformation in deciding to do it and planning it and going through with it.

  36. Tim Wager says:

    Again, my slow writing skills have put me behind the curve with my last post.

  37. Lisa Parrish says:

    Tim – Very true, on all points. Also, fair enough on the institutional rights / voting metaphor, if you’re just looking at that one aspect of marriage. I wasn’t thinking of it in that way, but it makes sense.

  38. Stephanie Wells says:

    How can you get a buzz from voting? All I get is an overwhelming sense of despair and futility. No, don’t start another line of conversation by responding–i just had to say it.

  39. Tim Wager says:

    Still harping on the ass slap, Jeremy?

    It’s pretty funny, I must say, that all the East Coast GWers whom I’ve never met probably think of me as a hairy het-monkey or something. He writes about sports! He writes about peeing! He tries to pick fights! He writes about his het-fest love-in! He slapped his now-wife on the ass on their second date! (It was the second, Jeremy.)

    Perhaps one day we’ll meet and you’ll get to know the real me, the highly educated, cultured, sensitive, hairy het-monkey.

  40. Stephanie Wells says:

    yeah–in his defense, his new wife calls him “the gayest straight guy in the world,” which is why I love him so much (i just can’t love’em if they’re too straight! but I believe that’s been established.)

  41. Tim Wager says:

    No offense meant to hirsute primates, btw.

    And, um, I think the technical term is Big Straight Fag, okay, Stephanie?

  42. Jeremy Zitter says:

    “harping” on the ass-slap? more like paying homage, tim…

  43. G-Lock says:


    I am so not entering the gay marriage debate here. Until we get the perspective of time on our side, society at large will not be able to comprehend how utterly dispiriting chipping away gays’ rights has become for us. We are the “new blacks,” as one of my good (straight) friends so eloquently and succinctly put it. That being said, I don’t begrudge straight couples all the trappings of marriage and all that goes with it (over 1,100 federal rights!) and plan to go forward with my marriage to my beloved Cedric with the force of the shrillest, straightest bridezilla ever, religious zealots be damned.

    As for Bryan W.: “oops. i meant cedric. and i had to try so hard not to type brian’s name.” I don’t know who this “Brian” of whom you speak is. But I heard he’s hot and criminally cool.

  44. Lisa Tremain says:

    Cedric, when’s your wedding date? We should have a bridezilla contest…but I have a feeling you’d win.

  45. Lisa Tremain says:

    oops! I meant to say G-Lock and I should have the bridezilla contest. And I predicted that I’ll lose, without really knowing you, specifically becase I’m like Steph: I don’t like ’em “too straight.”

    This goes for my feelings about myself as well. An engaged straight girl (me) being a bridezilla is simply too straight for me to even attempt.

  46. Ruben Mancillas says:

    Steph-your marriage to Scott was an act of treason…to Rick Fox

    Bryan-when you renew your vows what will you wear/eat/drink and may we please come?

    Scott-that 800 lb. same-sex gorilla in the front room? It’s Gene Wilder.

    I liked Bryan’s analogy about the country club and reminded me of Groucho’s/Woody’s/someone else’s line about not wanting to be a member of any club that will have you.

    This is of course from the “it’s easy for him to say” school as Adriean and I passed that magical five week mark a several years back but I do hope that our, or any marriage, remains a primarily personal rather than political act. This is of course until I realized that we had about 1,000 more federal rights than I had ever thought-and all this despite our minister being our gay best friend with a ULC certificate.

    I guess I am being a bit cynical but I question the true nature of solidarity or impact on Middle America when a pair of movie stars, who apparently rented an entire country in Africa, complete with approval over journalists entry visas, in order that they might produce their miracle child (and don’t get me started on issues of fairness or equity regarding childrearing and/or bearing), want to feel noble by proclaiming why they are choosing not to marry.

    I get Lisa’s identification with and approval of their announcement in principle but I will note that I work with some far right types for whom this type of thing is just another example of liberals=Hollywood=gay rights=apocalypse. If anything I see the readers of People mangling the logic to read that “the darn gays are keeping Brad and Angie apart honey.” Now if Brad would go ahead and marry Scott Godrey-that is if he can get over only being #4 on his list-that would start the national conversation headed in the proper direction.

    And might this mean that, shudder, Russell/Hawn or really making a statement by not getting married?

    My cousin and his partner had a commitment ceremony in a church in Long Beach a few years ago and split up not long afterward. I do remember thinking “after all you guys went through?” but it was just another example to me that relationships and the bonds they form are truly a matter known, and perhaps best defined, only by those involved.

    I will end by duly noting that Tim is in fact a hairy het-monkey and that the pictures of he and Jen’s ceremony were a lot of fun. Congrats to both of you and I hope that the desserts were appropriately discrete/discreet. Now send in that certificate already!

  47. Stephanie Wells says:

    Gays are the new blacks, yes, but remember that blacks were once the new women. Social change is slow but it does happen–just never fast enough.

  48. literacy at the dog races says:

    I’m uncomfortable with the gay/black black/women bit. White women have almost always had an easier time than black men or women and white gay men have a lot better chance of making lots of money than most people of color. White women had major civil rights advances way before most black men did in this country. All this competitive identity politics bullshit is making me feel like I’m trapped in The Big Lebowski.

  49. Stella says:

    So, I just want to say that to gay people, the Brad and Angelina thing is huge. Very, very few straight people will choose to deny themselves the legal and societal privileges available to them. And sure, Brad and Angelina have plenty of other privileges to comfort themselves with, but I think it stands out as an act of personal, political commitment that one rarely sees.

    And it’s fine to be happy, it’s good to be happy, be happy and love your spouses without guilt. No one need feel guilty about love…just make sure you’re doing something to help us realize that freedom too.

  50. PB says:

    I am late to this conversation and certainly can add nothing as eloquent and heartfelt as has been spoken already. I am so happy for Tim and Jen, I don’t know either of you, but i love love and your pictures are wonderful. I wish you many floating days.

    But I have to say as an old married lady, almost 20 years into the institution, for all the love and ya yas, the legality means something. It impacts how your family and society treats you, it is a ritual that is woven tight in what is considered the “normal” in this culture. And it remains exclusive by definition right now whether the right wing loonies pass a law or not. The point I am making is love is not enough, love does not get you the legal sanctions that a marriage will allow you. And the fact that a whole group of Americans, who have tons of love and committment, cannot share in this legal binding is wrong. What it boils down to is that some people have choice and some don’t. There may be other human rights metaphors to compare it with, but I think Tim’s lovely post is even more reason to get off our duffs and do something. Everyone should have the right to this level of love, this level of celebration, and this level of power to merge their lives as they see fit. I cannot imagine standing at such a window, peering in, but the door is locked. It breaks my heart.

  51. Stephanie Wells says:

    Re. Brad and Angelina: I agree with Stella on this one, even though Ruben is probably right that people see it as just crazy Hollywood liberalism used for publicity that could potentially make the gay cause less legit to some crackpots: The point is, they’re standing up for it. Just like them donating money to Africa. I know everyone thinks it’s just their crazy publicity stunt, but the point is, WHO CARES? they’re still doing it and it’s still good in the end.

  52. Tim Wager says:

    Well, gee, I guess I got what I was after last week with this post – friction!

    Thanks, everyone, for the congratulations and well wishes!

    And thanks, everyone, for the great, thoughtful comments.

    Is anyone keeping track? Are we getting near the record with this one? I think we’ll need about 12 more.

  53. Lisa Tremain says:

    PB’s comment schooled me (thank you) with the simplicity of standing at window/ peering in/ door is locked. Heart break is right. G-Lock and Cedric will marry, of course, but we can all move toward getting the feds to validate their love as much as we do.

    I did some research tonight:
    a) in CA, Angelides says he’ll sign the same-sex marriage bill into law, so vote.
    b) donate:
    c) history:

    The above is very west-coasty, but that’s where I live, so.

    love to all.

  54. lilly says:

    oh marriage… as a straight woman in her mid thirties i find marriage annoying. it is a constant question…”why aren’t you married” sometimes i wish i could say because i am gay but unfortunately i like the challenge that exists between the sexes. i sometimes do not understand the need for gay people to want the trappings of mainstream society. they are real trappings for this girl. constant questioning with raised eyebrows. i have never felt the urge to marry and although i have had relationships that have past the 5 year mark i still have been reticent because although my parents met when they were 13 yrs. old and married @ 18 and showed only examples of true love til one died i still have not found my match. i wonder about the ability of people these days to commit for an extended period of time. i want to believe. i want true love but i haven’t felt it/ found it. Though I have had my proposals don’t get me wrong….it’s not like i wasn’t asked. But it has never felt natural. Yeah there are tax breaks but how many gay people would actually marry if they were given the chance from day one?

  55. PB says:

    I think a lot would. The same way some hetero couples “I do” or “don’t.”
    I know a lesbian couple who met as teens and have been together romantically since college. They also have a child and are still a match many many years later. But recognized trappings are not even an option.

    it is also interesting to me that even 100-150 years ago, marriage wasn’t even about love, it was all about the financial, legal, even genetic arrangement of two families/ people. Many people in this country are actively seeking to “restore” or “preserve’ the original meaning of marriage. I wonder if they realize the implication would be to go back to daughters as chattel, saving up for dowries.

    On this point, Lilly, I agree, better we clearly define and update our notion of modern marriage for all–with legal rights, a bit of true love and choices for all.

  56. Scott Godfrey says:

    I love that the most (seemingly) politically neutral post of all time has created such a charge. To me it shows that we Whatsiters live in a wonderful alternative universe.

    literacy at the dog races- I’m sorry, but it’s kind of fucked up to use the pseudonym when every one else is openly speaking their minds, regardless of whether or not it upsets another Whatsitser. I mean unless you’re new and are just going to use the pseudonym from here on out. If that’s the case, welcome. If not, you’re a little cowardly.

  57. Lisa Parrish says:

    And the most (seemingly) politically neutral comment turns out to be the most inflammatory, how funny! “Alternative universe”? The point, dear Scott, is that it’s not at all! It’s the real world for a large number of us. And as surprising as it may seem to you that people have the reaction I did to Tim’s post, it’s equally suprising to me that anyone could possibly find it surprising.

  58. Scott Godfrey says:

    Lisa- what I mean is that if Tim presented his post at a town hall meeting in the mid-west, and then showed them the comments, the people might be surprised at our reactions. This is what I mean by alternative universe. I think I’ve made it incredibly, painfully clear that I get where you’re coming from. I started my first comment with “Wow Lisa, I couldn’t agree with you more.” What else do I have to say?

  59. Rachel says:

    As someone who actually goes to town-hall meetings in the midwest, I think you might be surprised at the complete lack of surprise these comments would elicit. This fall my home state is voting on a gay marriage ban referendum, and it’s all anyone can talk about. We are all living in the same universe, and in it, marriage is never politically neutral–a point I think we are all agreed on, no?

  60. Scott Godfrey says:

    Well color me wrong. It’s not the first time…

  61. ssw says:

    i know i’m probably preaching to the choir for the most part, but, surprisingly, it may be worth repeating that the bottom line is that what’s missing in our culture is equality–if you’re gay, in most places you don’t get the right to choose to put your hat in the ring of the marriage contract. I think this was said already, but it’s easy to suggest that marriage is “not that big of a deal” if you’re someone who has the right to marry.

    There is certainly a cultural question worth having about what is marriage right now anyway? It’s a weird entity. A lot of people don’t seem to want to get married, even if they live in committed relationships, and tons of people break-up even after they do marry. Oh lord, I have to get to work! carry on carry on.

  62. Scott Godfrey says:

    Rachel- I’m sorry, I just re-read my comment and I sound extremely curt. I apologize for that. Yes, marriage is a political and politicized institution throughout our nation. My original point was I guess somewhat understated. I should’ve highlighted the “seemingly” part of the politically neutral comment.

    I assumed that by my previous comments you would’ve understood that I understand how political marriage is.


  63. Tim Wager says:

    People, people. Let’s all take a breath. . . . That’s better.

    What I find really interesting here is that when I wrote that post, I did it in the spirit of a kind of conversational letter to friends, to people who know me and with whom I have had conversations about same-sex marriage, people who know my politics and who would not need me to come out and make an explicit statement about the issue. People who trust me implicitly. I wanted to write something that encapsulated all the weird, wonderful changes I went through, the peculiar things I noticed, how surprised by joy I have been.

    GW has been at times a kind of community board for a group of friends to reminisce about meeting each other, the changes they’ve gone through, etc., and I guess I wrote my post in that sort of spirit. I wanted to include the GWers who weren’t there by showing them some photos and saying a few things about how strangely different I have felt in getting married.

    If I were telling the story of my wedding and showing photos to my friends, I most likely wouldn’t stop and say to my lesbian and gay friends, “Sorry that this isn’t available to you. I really wish it were.” They know already how I feel. I think that stopping to do that would sorta be shitty, in unnecessarily singling them out to remind them of what they already know.

    However, my error was to assume that that was how everyone who read it would take it. I should have known better, but I’m actually glad that I wrote it the way that I did because it has spurred this discussion.

    One of the best things I’ve found about GW is that you never know what you’re going to get from day to day. It occupies a constantly shifting territory in the discourse of the web – sometimes political rants, sometimes serious economic or cultural scholarship, sometimes goofy group hugs, sometimes “what-I-did-over-the-weekend,” sometimes solid advice about what to do about that goiter, etc.

    My conversational post about “what-I-feel-about-getting-married” was also taken as a political statement about marriage, which of course it also is, but it only partially covered what I think and feel.

    Once you put something down in pixels and send it out into the ether, it’s going to get read by many people who may not know you, perhaps people whom none of the regular GWers know. I should have known that not all my readers know me and not all would automatically understand the spirit of my post or understand that it’s not everything I have to say about marriage.

    Now, I’m going to add this comment and have to read all the comments that have been posted while I’ve been writing it and drinking my first cup of coffee, which btw has now gone cold. Damn.

  64. ssw says:

    oh, by the way, i vote pb becomes a gay rights activist.

  65. Rachel says:


    I don’t know you and hope that someday I will. The image of you floating up into the sky with that ring glinting on your finger is a vividly happy one, and I wish you all the joy there is.

    The abstract political idea of marriage is huge, separate, and distinct from the personal feelings you related in your post, but it’s hard to discuss one without the other. I think your words struck a chord with me because of the way you twined them together:

    “It feels like a very deep, old, serious love, a love that is communal in a primal way….

    “Furthermore, having a community of family and friends come together around you to help create and participate in the ceremony joins you to them forever. You come to know that your existence and happiness are bound up with the existence and happiness of many, many others.”

    Part of me doesn’t give a damn about marriage and really doesn’t care whether or not society blesses my relationship. I know my love is real, and the commitment is solid, and that’s enough. Another part of me recognizes how important the marriage debate is as an element of a larger civil rights movement, and spurs me to activism. Very seldom do I let the two parts of me meet. It hurts too much.

    But Tim, your post made me wistful for the ideal of communal love and acceptance, which requires creating a change in people’s hearts as well as in the law. I don’t know when that will happen, or what it will look like, but I hope it looks something like the wonder in your face in photo #3.

  66. Lisa Parrish says:

    Tim – A few quick comments to yours, and then I too must get back to work!

    I find it interesting that you wrote the post with the idea that you’re writing for people who “trust me implicitly,” when most people reading this blog have never met you. It’s been interesting to me to see how some GW writers have chosen to write as if we, ourselves, are the only readers, while others write in a way that’s instantly accessible to all. Apart from my post last week recounting how I know everyone, I tend more toward the latter.

    “If I were telling the story of my wedding and showing photos to my friends, I most likely wouldn’t stop and say to my lesbian and gay friends, ‘Sorry that this isn’t available to you. I really wish it were.’ They know already how I feel. I think that stopping to do that would sorta be shitty, in unnecessarily singling them out to remind them of what they already know.” Speaking just for myself, I wouldn’t think it was shitty at all. I would welcome the acknowledgement.

    Finally, I want to reiterate what it was about your post that caused me to want to comment in the first place. I read it several times to be sure of what I thought it was saying before I posted, and waited an extra half-hour to make sure I’d thought it through.

    Your post was about two things: Your happiness and feelings for Jen, and your surprise at feeling so tied-in to a larger societal thread .There was a lot about what the institution of marriage has given your relationship. If you’d written an entire post just about how making a public commitment to Jen made you feel that much closer to her, it would have been different – a purely personal post that had no political feeling at all. But if you go back and re-read it, it’s very much about the institution, why it’s survived thousands of years, the vibe you get from other married couples, etc. That’s why I felt compelled to comment.

  67. Lisa Parrish says:

    Yeah, what Rachel said. She said it better than me.

  68. Tim Wager says:

    Thank you, Rachel, for the beautiful comment.

    And same back atcha on the chance to meet someday.

  69. Tim Wager says:

    Yes, Lisa, you’re very right about the politics of the post as it is written and about the fact that many people here have never met me (it’s not a majority, though, technically speaking).

    And, yes, projecting feelings onto my audience (whether in writing or conversation) can lead to many errors, both of omission and commission. Predicting what people will feel when you say or don’t say something is very tricky indeed.

  70. Lisa Parrish says:

    I meant a majority of the readers, not the contributors — we do have a couple hundred hits each day that aren’t affiliated with the site…

    And with apologies to those readers for this insider comment: I echo Rachel’s comment on hoping we all meet soon. Hope you all can make it to Philly.

  71. Lisa Parrish says:

    On a related note, Tim, I think you now hold the record for most comments! Congratulations!

  72. Tim Wager says:

    Well, sometimes things can feel very cozy here in GW land, and I think I lulled myself into thinking I wasn’t publishing something for all to see and by which my audience would judge me without having any real personal knowledge of me. Again, I note my serious error.

    I truly hope to make it to the GW New Year’s shindig chez Fawcett-Honeycups. Lisa, I’ll buy you a drink. Hell, I’ll buy you two, three.

  73. Tim Wager says:

    “On a related note, Tim, I think you now hold the record for most comments! Congratulations!”

    Thank you, Lisa!

    And I didn’t even need steroids to do it. I promise.

  74. Lisa Parrish says:

    As a steroid user, I find that offensive.

    Ha! Kidding.

    Man, I really need to get back to work.

  75. Tim Wager says:

    Work!?? You’re telling me! Holy crap.

  76. Missy says:

    I know I’m jumping in really late on the discussion here. When I read the post, it left me feeling both a little pangy and a little irritated, for the reasons so well-articulated in the comments, and for a reason I’ll describe below. I’m glad I came back and read this really important discussion in the comments. I’m definitely guilty of having been cynical about gay marriage, of recognizing the importance of allowing it in terms of legal rights and privileges, but mostly falling back on the Michael Warner-esque why-be-normal-when-we’re-queers line. This has a lot to do with being incredibly suspicious of the institution of marriage, because, like Bryan (but without the happy results), my brief legal marriage felt culturally mandated. And really, those words don’t even come close to describing how awful and embarassing and disappointing and spiritually devastating the whole rushed fiasco that was my wedding day felt to me.

    At any marriage I’ve attended since, my overwhelming feeling has been one of gratitude–glad it’s not me, glad I don’t have to smile at all those people, glad I don’t have to make peace with warring relatives, glad I don’t have to write all those thank you notes.

    But this weekend I went to a gay wedding in Massachussetts. Not only was this the first legal gay wedding I’ve ever been too, it was the first wedding that ever made sense to me, that made me cry as I watched two people legally join their lives in front of their families and their friends. THEY LEGALLY JOINED THEIR LIVES TOGETHER. HOLY SHIT. And they did it in front of the people who love them most in the world. Call me a bitter divorcee, call me the emotionally stunted child of divorced parents, but I never really, viscerally, understood that about marriage before.

    The woman who officiated, a cousin of one of the brides, was understandly moved to be marrying a beloved relative. But as she explained later (though it was obvious as it was happening) what made it even more mind-blowing was that, as a philosophy professor who specializes in language acts and has spent her life studying performatives (words that do what they describe, like “I apologize”), the real, raw, physical power of those words–“by the power invested in me by the commonwealth of Massachussetts I join you in marriage”–being formed in and coming out of her mouth was almost more than she could bear, and you could hardly hear the words over her sobbing.

    Marriage is some crazy, powerful shit. It’s not a little thing we’re denied.

  77. bryan says:

    I call comment inflation. At several points above Tim’s comments were broken into separate numbers where one comment would have sufficed.

    When I got back into my office this afternoon and saw how much had gone on in my absence I was worried you all would be hurling insults back and forth — the coastal food fight Ruben had been itching for. I’m so glad to find all this peace love and understanding. Now we can go back to passing out hearts from Trixie’s basket.

  78. bryan says:

    wow, missy. thanks for that story.

  79. Ruben Mancillas says:

    “No please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who…we are here to witness the union of two young people in the joyful bond of holy wedlock. Unfortunately, one of them, my son Herbert, has just fallen to his death…But I don’t want to think I’ve lost a son, so much as…gained a daughter! For since the tragic death of her father…I want his only daughter to look upon me as her own dad…in a very real and legally binding sense.”

    PB’s comment about what marriage used to be was a very good one-I think we need to not only expand whatever we want marriage to be so that all who wish to can enter into it may do so but also examine what we want it to mean lest it suffer too greatly from its various Britney in Vegas degradations/incarnations.

    I do admit to laughing out loud though when we just saw the Simpsons epidsode where Homer’s Vegas Wife passes away.

    As for ssw’s comment about people not being able to choose-you are absolutely right that is the last word…and that is what concerns be a bit.

    As a married straight (sorry Steph) male I can see where it may be “too easy” to speak about what is denied to so many that I care about but the final implications of that are that I cannot speak at all. If I implied that marriage is not that big a deal (my point is that it is for some and not for others-see above) I also feel strongly that everyone should be afforded the opportunity to share in that not so big a deal. I don’t want anyone else to be put on the other side of the window looking in. If the fact of me being married does that in and of itself that sucks and I apologize. If I end up getting stuck outside of that window even though I am trying to open it for others then that sucks too.

    Now here is a bit of prickly contrarian/devil’s advocate stuff to consider:

    Marriage is a heterosexist charade-who really wants in anyway?

    Finally, I take it all back about Brad and Angelina, but do I have to take his interest in architecture seriously now too?

    And again, why no love for Kurt and Goldie?

  80. bryan says:

    The real question, Ruben, is why no love for Cedric and his patients?

  81. ssw says:

    I think Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon represent a more great-whats-it-worthy unmarried couple and at least Susan if not both of them, represent a very conscious rejection of traditional values. I’m sure it was probably politically motivated for gay rights too but I don’t know for sure? anyone?
    I don’t think that marriage is a charade at all! I think the idea of committing personally and publicly to someone you love is very special and should be an option for anyone who wants to give it a go. Damn, this set of posts today is hot! Great ideas–I can’t stay away…

  82. bryan says:

    THIS is the current post on unfogged. I thought it was apropos to our discussion, though the author seems to be more irked about being left out as a single person rather than the other obvious issue at stake: the fact that the insurance company expects grownups to be straight.

  83. farrell says:

    goddamnit it took forever to read through these comments. could you people be a little more concise? jesus christ! (who never married) my thoughts on this post go something like this: jeremy, i was so sick just like you until two days ago. and it lasted two weeks! i hope yours clears up sooner. this cold going around is a doosy.

    and conratulations tim. for the wedding. not the comment record. this will only be settled with a dance off in philly, mr. ass slapper. prepare yourself.

    now back to studying. adieu.

  84. Tim Wager says:

    Missy, thank you for the amazing story. Wow. Despite crying multiple times at Scott and Stephanie’s wedding, I must say that I never really saw the ceremony itself as something very powerful until I experienced it on the receiving end. It sounds like that was a love drug speedball you experienced last weekend. Wow.

    Time is short for me right now, so I can’t spend long on this, but all of this has made me realize all the more just how much work we have to do. I’ve learned a great deal over the last couple of days. Thanks to everyone for all the comments and stories. And the patience. Sometimes even liberal hets need them some learnin’, and I’m not ashamed to say I needed it myself.

    And, btw, comment inflation, Bryan? Have you *looked* at the comments on Farrell’s “Six Degrees” post? People commented just to put up a number. C’mon, that’s at *least* evened out for my couple of innocuous apologies for falling behind.

  85. Lisa Tremain says:

    Hi Tim. 85.

  86. Tim Wager says:

    Lisa T! No! We want to keep the frivolous comments down! Sssshh!

    Wait, crap. Pretend this is an email.

  87. ssw says:

    I will never participate in comment inflation. that is just OTT

  88. MF says:

    Hey Tim– Is it possible you were in Larchmont this afternoon? I think I might have seen you across the street. How amazing would that be to meet you by chance across the country? I only knew if was you because of the photos you posted here.
    Hope we can meet for real someday (soon)!

  89. Tim Wager says:

    ‘Twas I indeed! Bizarre. Introduce yourself by all means the next time you see me strolling around somewhere. Or contact me through my GW email the next time you’ll be in LA.

  90. Ruben Mancillas says:

    Here’s a nasty little tidbit, maybe they really did see the light all of a sudden, but at least it does get the comment total to a nice even ninety.

    Brad has been been married once before while Angie has been married twice.

  91. […] Literacy H. Dogfight, “Strip maul” Lane Twitchell, “Various cults” Tim Wager, “My left hand” […]

  92. Beth W says:

    I’m only seven months late to this discussion but I was instructed to read this post and can’t leave without a comment. (Maybe you’ll make it to 100!) I met Tim and Jen a few weeks ago (they are delightful) so maybe it’s better I only read the post now.

    The post reminded me of a disagreement I had with a close friend about a year ago. We were talking about weddings probably because I find myself attending a lot of weddings. She told me about a wedding where the couple asked all of the guests who had been married to wear a wedding dress to the ceremony. Yes, men included.

    She thought it was a great idea. I imagined my single-self sitting there, in a sea of white satin and hairy legs, feeling bad about being excluded. I opposed the idea of the “special club” of married people, that it implied those people were better than the singles when in fact the act of not getting married may have been the smartest thing a person ever did.

    All the same, congratulations (belated) to Tim and Jen and a hearty vote for the world wide legalization of same-sex marriage! (It was great to meet Lisa P too! Is there anyone on the West coast I haven’t met yet?)

  93. […] Ring and – in some ju-ju bad karma way, I’m sure, I had been wearing The Divorce Ring on my left hand, where you’re supposed to wear your wedding ring. Yeech. Maybe it’s good I lost […]