A DECENT PROPOSAL
AS THE DATE APPROACHES WHEN GAY MARRIAGE FINALLY BECOMES LEGAL, MATT NEWBURY EXPLORES THE PROMISES AND PITFALLS OF POPPING THE QUESTION
Perfect – and not so perfect – places to pop the question
There’s only one thing worse than having your wedding proposal rejected and that’s being publically humiliated in devastating fashion at the same time. And it doesn’t get much worse than being turned down in front of all your closest friends at the bottom of the Grand Canyon…
One ambitious romantic came up with an elaborate and expensive plan to propose at the bottom of this magnificent canyon - one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. He’d arranged for the friends to already be down there and then organised a Grand Canyon helicopter flight for him and his unsuspecting boyfriend as part of a Las Vegas holiday.
When the helicopter landed in the valley, he got down on one knee in front of his startled partner and the well-wishers got ready to jump out from behind the nearest cactus and shout “surprise!” However, instead of his partner accepting the offer and declaring everlasting love as the tears rolled down his face, he just looked completely mortified and flatly declined the offer of marriage.
So upset was the guy who had planned the detailed scenario, he jumped back in the helicopter and left his devastated boyfriend and the rest of the party stranded in one of the largest holes on earth. Once back in Vegas he had the heart-breaking task of cancelling the wedding arrangements he had made for that evening as well. If you were looking for a definition of “epic fail” then this very well could be it.
There are several valuable lessons that can be taken away from this wretched tale, especially if you are toying with the idea of proposing to your boyfriend or girlfriend anytime in the near future. The most obvious thing to be sure about before you ask someone to marry you is that they are likely to say “yes”. Surely marriage should have been something you have talked about if you are in a committed and balanced same-sex relationship, so, while a proposal might be a surprise, it shouldn’t come completely out of the blue.
A perfect example is the very first couple to get engaged under the Government’s new gay marriage act minutes after the legislation had been approved. The couple were taking part in a vigil outside Parliament when the good news reached them and Ed Fordham spontaneously dropped down on one knee in front of Russell Eagling, his partner of 15 years. Ed said the proposal wasn’t planned as a stunt, but the nearby choir singing an Erasure track couldn’t have been better planned.
Although Russell says the proposal was a complete surprise, it wasn’t as if the couple wouldn’t have talked about the prospect of marriage – they were after all taking part in a vigil campaigning for its legalisation. Still by saying “yes” the couple now have a place in history, even having their good news mentioned in the House of Commons and a congratulations tweeted by Nick Clegg to his 120,000 Twitter followers.
While there was nothing wrong with the location of the Grand Canyon proposal (millions of people have got engaged in iconic places like the top of the Eiffel Tower or on a gondola in Venice or in Las Vegas), the next questionable decision he made was the very public nature of his proposal. Why did all the friends need to be there? The only small mercy is that he didn’t decide to fly their parents out as well. That said, some gay people thrive on showmanship and want to incorporate this into their proposals and subsequent weddings.
While some people would prefer to pop the question in an intimate and romantic setting – perhaps a beach, or a restaurant or the location of their first date - other people would happily do it on the main stage at a Pride event with a drag queen leading a rousing chorus of Beyoncé’s Put A Ring On It. Some people are even happy to ask the question on national TV… well, QVC actually.
Presenter Will Gowing’s boyfriend proposed to him live on UK TV last December. Will was dressed in an elf hat for a Christmas edition of Alison Young’s beauty show when he read out what he believed to be a customer message:
“Hi, Ali and Will. I found my hero product at QVC over nine years ago, since then I’ve used it every day and the results keep getting better and better. It’s added enormously to my life, changed my outlook of the world and I now can’t imagine my life without it. The product I was lucky enough to find almost ten years ago was the love I share with you, Will Gowing. Will you marry me?”
Although an extremely high risk strategy, we are pleased to say that Will said “yes”. Of course, some gay people like to document their lives on video, from secretly filming themselves coming out to their parents to elaborate flash mob proposals – well, at least you can monitor their success by the number of hits the clips receive
and you might even pull in some additional advertising revenue.
Such are the popularity of these sorts of proposals now, there are even companies in the States like BookAFlashMob.com to provide perfectly choreographed dance routines before you ask the question. While it is easy to be cynical about these sorts of American-style public displays of affection, it would take a hard hearted indeed not to watch something like Carl Marucci’s Marriage Proposal in front of the Angels in America Fountain in Central Park on You Tube (tinyurl.com/n6bf8yw ) without being even a teensyweensy bit moved.
Even the Glee cast got in on the action when Blaine proposed to Kurt on the staircase where they first met, uniting enemy choirs New Directions, The Warblers, The Haverbrook School for the Deaf and Vocal Adrenaline for the first time in a rousing rendition of All You Need is Love. Cheesy yes, but important for the young audience demographics that enjoy the show.
Interestingly if you Google “gay marriage proposal” the most popular viral video ever features 13 children reacting to a series of same-sex proposals. It’s definitely worth watching “Kids React to Gay Marriage”, as it will give you a lot of hope for the next generation.
If all of this planning and organisation to make your proposal extra special makes you break out in a nervous sweat and you’ve got a bit of a budget, you could always call on a company like The Proposers (theproposers.co.uk). Yes, there really are companies who will arrange everything from a treasure hunt with clues leading to you down on one knee, to a boat trip down the Thames with people spelling out “Will You Marry Me?” in rainbow umbrellas from a bridge you’re passing under. For every person who wants to write their proposal on a billboard, in a newspaper advert or across the sky, there’s another person who believes in the romance and intimacy of popping the question. The final question the failed Grand Canyon proposal raises is who the proposal was for – because it should be for the person you are asking to marry you and not for yourself or your guests or for millions of people you will never meet.
Unless you have joined a religion that accepts polygamy (and most of them don’t seem to be very gay-friendly) a marriage is between two people and is about their love and commitment to each other. One of the most endearing proposal stories we have heard recently features a lesbian couple talking a romantic walk along a beach in Bournemouth. They were passing some beach huts and
“Some gay people thrive on showmanship and want to incorporate this into their proposals and subsequent weddings”
discussing how nice it would be to one day own one of the colourful bathing huts.
“Let’s try the door of one and see what they look like inside” suggested one of the women. She then proceeded to try one of the doors as her partner protested. When the door opened, inside vintage bunting had been hung that spelt out “Will You Marry Me?” There was also a full picnic, a bottle of champagne and two glasses. The couple were planning to move to the seaside town, so the proposal couldn’t have been any more personal or appropriate.
Of course marriage isn’t for everyone and many gay people would wince at the thought of ever entering into a committed and monogamous relationship. But it’s important to recognise that we finally could, should an arrow from Cupid’s bow ever take us unexpectedly.
Good luck if you’re thinking of getting down on one knee anytime soon and we do hope you don’t end up stranded down the Grand Canyon.
Although apparently it’s lovely at this time of year.
THE GRAND CANYON, A SPECTACULAR PLACE TO PROPOSE - BUT NOT FOR EVERYONE
POPPING THE QUESTION AT THE EIFFEL TOWER