Friday, September 23, 2011

The Right to a Happily Ever After

We fudged the date just a bit, but it made us
so happy to get all the congrats in the parks!
The last weekend in June was the Gay Pride celebration in NYC. I admit that I haven't been to the parade in a few years. It was amazing in 2003 when I first arrived in the city to see the thousands of gays and lesbians gathered every year, but now, almost ten years later, things feel different. I look less to a culture or community to form my identity and more to my family- the one I was born into and the one I have chosen. I don't drink or go out as much as I used to. I get panicky when I'm in large crowds. I am becoming an old fuddy duddy who likes to spend quiet nights at home and now I am also engaged to another semi-recluse who would rather spend quality time on the couch than in up in da club.

Thank you, Governor Cuomo.
This year's Pride celebration was different. There was something to be proud of. Usually the parade feels like a daisy chain of advertisements barely broken up by things that matter. It all seemed little more than an excuse to get drunk, take your shirt off, and flirt with strangers. But two days before the Sunday parade, on Friday, June 24th, 2011, the great state of New York passed marriage equality, meaning the proposal I made to my fiance in the stretching room of the Haunted Mansion no longer has to be in legal quotation marks.

That fact made all the difference. There was a sense of joy and relief. All of the signs that used to say "Together for __ years. Let us get married!" changed to "Together for __ years and finally engaged!" It was a pretty spectacular sight and it made me proud to be an American, a New Yorker, and a gay man. It felt good to be part of a hopeful community on that day. After a nice afternoon at the parade with a friend and a lovely evening at an outdoor restaurant with three margaritas and Tom, I went home and watched True Blood while Tom played L.A. Noire. I went to bed thinking about how lucky I am.

Dream wedding, please and thank you...
Now, here I am three months later and the big day has arrived. Tom and I are getting married today! If you were to ask me what my dream wedding would be, I would have a few major musts. No bridezilla would I be. The biggest of them all is that that it would be on Disney property. Tom and I have some of our most special memories in the parks. We are both huge Disney freaks and nothing would make me happier than to proclaim my love for him in front of friends and family in that setting. (Another must would be that the ceremony involve a gospel choir singing the title song from the musical version of The Color Purple, but that's not terribly relevant to this blog.)

...and dream reception thank you and please.
This may be my favorite room in the parks.
I also must say that I feel like my time in NYC is winding down. It's been over eight years and I am tired of being trapped in a tin can every morning, forced to be butt-up against people who smell strongly of pot and/or feet and/or body excretions and then repeating that scenario eight hours later. I'm tired of treading water, working in a job that not only brings me no joy, but sucks half of the joy from the rest of my life outside work. I'm tired of the persistently aspirational pulse of the city that either drives you to greater things or drives you insane. I'm sure you can guess which of those categories I fall into. I'm tired of the freezing cold winters and the stiflingly hot summers. Overall, I'm just tired. This city will run you ragged and I'm ready to move on. Of course, this means that Tom and I will be moving either to southern California, where he has friends and family, or to Florida, where I do. It is no small coincidence that both are close to Disney parks. I envision a lovely little life for myself working for the Mouse, or at least having a annual pass, and enjoying time with my husband and the family that we will no doubt start.

That's far too much white for my liking.
Here's where we get into a bit of a sticky wicket. Tom and I will be legally married in the state of New York. When we move, we will be legally married, but that marriage will not be recognized in Florida (and only heaven knows when that will happen with the backwards state government there) and, after a long googling session, I am still rather unclear as to whether it will be recognized in California after all that shameful Prop 8 nonsense. As far as the Federal Government, we will not be legally married in the eyes of the US as a whole. You get all that? Make sense to you? Because if you ask me, it's a big ole' clusterbump. Not to get all political with you folks, but all I want to do is be given the same rights as practically any straight couple is afforded, and all too often takes for granted, in any state, automatically.

Disneyland Paris may have my favorite
castle. Stunning. Just stunning.
In the grand scheme of things, not too much will change in our lives as we wait for full marriage equality wherever we move to. Sure, the taxes will be a headache and we'll get screwed out of the breaks that we should be getting. Sure, we will have to grapple with scary issues such as hospital visitation and wills. Sure, adoption will have an additional hurdle to jump over if that's the route to parenthood we choose. Sure, we will have to forgo a dream wedding and honeymoon and have a quickie ceremony at City Hall in NYC, followed by a re-commitment ceremony at one of the parks and a honeymoon (cruise on the Disney Fantasy or a trip to Disneyland Paris, pretty pretty please!) sometime in the future.

Overall, our relationship will be just as strong, our love will be just as powerful, our nights will be just as couch-and-television filled, and our days will be just as normal as they always have been. We are a typical, slightly dorky (maybe more than slightly), happy, loving couple. It burns my hide that we have to jump through all of these hoops and play a waiting game because of who we love, but I am patient. I waited thirty years to find the man of my dreams. I can wait a few more for our love to be justly recognized by the government that I pay taxes to, that is supposed to protect me, and that I trust will do what's right by its citizens in the end.

Underappreciated Disney wedding.
Simple but elegant.
I couldn't help but wonder (thank you Carrie Bradshaw), how deeply has Disney shaped my idea of happily ever after on the most basic level? There has long been a complaint about relationships in Disney movies setting an impossibly high bar for those in real life. We all know that very seldom does Prince Charming really swoop in to save the maiden fair. Things are rarely that simple. In real life, the unexpected happens. There are complications. We are humans, not cartoons. I have always understood that. My relationships have never easily fit into the boy/girl template that was reflected onscreen, so my loins were girded for the existence of variation. As a gay person, you learn to project your own reality onto the story in celluloid. It's necessary for survival since the two often do not align.

This is always the pin at the center
bottom of my lanyard.
I have come to terms with the fact that my life will not necessarily fit into the Disney fairy tale mold. Part of the fun of this blog, and my Disney geekdom in general, has been really digging for the coded ways that Disney speaks to a gay audience. By finding them, and finding others who have found them, you become part of a subsection of a subsection. You, hopefully, find a community. (Do we have a name yet? If not can we call ourselves the Mousekequeers?) Disney films give me something that I can attempt to attain and subvert concurrently. They remind me of the innocence of childhood. They are over the top, colorful, steeped in mythology and history, emotionally rich, and a hundred other things that speak to my cultural experience. Some gays have Madonna. I have Tiana. Some gays have club-hopping. I have park-hopping. Some gays have Tom Ford. I have Tom Morrow. (You know you're a severe Disney nerd if you get that last one.) I love everything that Disney has encouraged me to explore about my own life lately and I hope that the discoveries are just beginning.

You know that the Girls would
totally support marriage equality!
My story won't end with a lovely ceremony in the shadow of a beautiful castle. (Yet.) But I'm not a character in a Disney animated classic. (Yet.) For now, my happily ever after will begin in downtown New York City, in City Hall, marrying my own Prince Charming while surrounded by a few of the people that I love most. As for after that, who knows? There are so many places that this new journey might take me, and at this point in my life I am excited about any and/or all of them.  Plus, I am glad to have a new crop of folks to share it with. Thank you for being a friend. Travelled down the road and...sorry. Just had a sudden Golden Girls moment.

Please ignore the Hannah Montana pin.
I have no good explanation.
Above everything else, I want to take a second to give a huge thank you to Tom, who has really championed this blog. I couldn't have done it without his support and love through the self-imposed deadlines, the constant soul-searching, the hours of Disney-watching and -going, and the rollercoaster ride of emotions that I can be. Today you will make me the happiest guy in the (Magic) Kingdom. I love you.

And we all lived happily ever after.


  1. Congrats! :) Hope the rain in the city today doesn't dampen your day! Not sure if I've commented before on here but I've been reading for awhile. My bff and I were talking about how Disney has totally tainted our view of a perfect relationship and Disney relationships are hardly ever attainable. Sounds like you're well on your way though to your own happily ever after :)

  2. I know I'm a little late posting but I loved this. I almost starting crying at work (and not because I have 13 horrid minutes left). I'm wishing you a belated congrats but so happy that you and I can share wedding anniversaries in the year 2011. :) I think Disney may have messed me up for awhile when it came to relationships but I think I really figured it out when I met my hubby who is nothing like I thought my price charming would be - HE'S BETTER. Wishing you two all the love in the world. I am loving the blog. :) Can't wait to meet you in person in a few weeks! xo - Stelle

  3. I’m tearing up at work reading this. Congrats on your wedding! I was SO happy when this bill passed because I know so many wonderful guys who deserve their happy endings just as much as anyone. I totally get the frustration with NY too btw. I’m sure wherever you two end up, it’ll be the perfect place to start your family. And I cannot wait to hear about it!!-Chelle