Scratching some names from the guest list

I really like the New York Times.  Really, I do.  It’s generally the second or third site I visit when I sit down for breakfast every morning (after my own wee blog and the LoOG main page, natch), and it’s an invaluable source of high-quality news and opinions.  Not for nothing is it the paper of record.

But, man.  They sure do manage to publish some dreck, too.

To wit, this insufferable piece about insufferable people saying insufferable things:

MARK SHIELDS wholeheartedly supports same-sex weddings — so much so that he spent six years working at the Human Rights Campaign, where marriage equality is front and center. But please, pretty please, don’t invite him to another one.

“The equality people will have a fit about this, but I’ll say it anyway: I have gay-wedding burnout,” Mr. Shields, 35, said one day this spring. “I spent my 20s going to weddings, being in weddings, shopping for weddings, helping to plan weddings. In my early 30s they finally started tapering off, and I was like, ‘Oh, thank God, we’re over the hump.’ ”

He paused for dramatic effect. “Nope. Here come the Gays.”

Oh, you poor, poor thing.  Here, let me pull up the fainting couch in case you get the vapors.  Tell us how you’ve suffered.  All those people whose right to get married you apparently thought was important enough to work for?  They’re having the temerity to actually go out and get married as soon as they can after lengthy periods of being made to wait and hope?  And those bastards are inviting you to attend and share in their happy occasion?  Oh, no!  Let me pour you a fortifying drink while you sit there and weep quietly for the tragedy of it all.

Be careful what you wish for? The legalization of same-sex marriage in a few states and the District of Columbia — and now at its one-year mark in New York — has resulted in a gay wedding boom, the natural outcome of decades of pent-up demand. And even hardhearted gay men (like me) are thrilled that the happy couples finally have their chance to say “I do.” Finally!

I have bolded that little sentence because I need proof that it exists.  Otherwise, I would be unable to believe that someone could possibly write something so inane.  “Be careful what you wish for”???!?  *smacks self firmly on forehead with palm of hand*  Crap!  It never even occurred to me that, by striving for equality under the law, I might be slightly inconveniencing and mildly annoying people by forcing them to check the “regrets” box on the RSVP card.  If only I had thought things through, I would never have tried to secure legal protections for my husband and child, because God forbid some irritating fellow homosexual might sigh with exasperation at being forced to attend my wedding.

But some unexpected emotions are also bubbling up as the invitations roll in: puzzlement (I don’t know you that well), concern (can I afford another cross-country trip?), dread (not another one, please). At the same time, there is a lack of surprise. Watching straight friends from high school or college marry as they stagger into adulthood (two or three couples a year, some in their 20s and some in their 30s or older) is thrilling in a way that a near-simultaneous stampede of same-sex couples to the altar is not.

Here’s a suggestion, Einstein — don’t know the couple that well?  DON’T GO!  Don’t find the prospect of celebrating the joy of your friends all that “thrilling”?  Spare them your presence.  If you’re as much of a pill in real life as you seem in this piece, I can’t imagine they’d call it a loss.

“I completely support gay marriage and understand the value and beauty of it, but like anything else there’s a saturation point,” said Scott Cooke, a principal at GCK Partners, a New York marketing firm. “A little goes a long way, and most gay men don’t have any interest in little. They feel a need to make a big show — ta-dah! — and you get burned out on that really quickly, or at least I do.”

Kids!  Come quick!  Shhhhhhhhh.  Don’t startle it, but if you look closely you can see it there, nestled in the verbiage.  It’s a real, live stereotype in the wild.  If you’re quiet, maybe you’ll hear its call — “gays are flamboyant! gays are vulgar! skrraaaak!!”  Now, you may have read that stereotypes are poisonous creatures, justly hunted to near extinction.  But this one is protected, as it’s being uttered by a gay person, which makes it totally OK.

The article continues in that vein, right up until this conclusion.

Mike Vollman, a movie marketing consultant, laughed when I complained about the wed-a-thon happening among my friends. Enjoy it while you can, he said, because weddings are a breeze compared with what comes next.

“Oh, just wait,” he said. “We’re now on the other side of the gay-wedding bubble with our friends. You know what’s there? I call it death by gay baby shower.”

Let’s see… where’s the list for our Gay Baby Shower?  Ah.  Here it is: Mike Vollman.  Muuuuuch better.

I suppose it’s no big surprise that an awful person knows a lot of other awful people to supply him awful quotes for his awful article.  But really, if your primary reaction to being invited to so many people’s happy events is to piss and moan about it, I marvel that you’re willing to broadcast that unsavory fact to the world.  Me, I’d be a little embarrassed about it, and try to pretend that I’m actually a nice person.

I can’t get legally married in the state where I live now, though I’m ardently supporting the upcoming referendum to get same-sex marriage re-legalized come fall.  (I’m cautiously optimistic about its chances.)  But if the Better Half and I have the chance to make it legal, I really hope the people we choose to invite to whatever celebration we might have would respond with a bit more grace than the author of this pinched, unpleasant and useless article.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. Gay weddings are now so normal that people can be their real, thoughtless, shallow selves about them. I’d call that a win.

  2. If you’re dropping Mike Vollman off the list, my family and I are available if you have spots to fill. We can reasonably endure your party without bitching in the New York Times about it, mostly because we’re normal human beings who aren’t complete douchebags.

  3. At some point in the distant future all those gay frineds will be having gay funerals…do you know how inconvienant it is to have to actually go to a gay funeral. All the dancing and orgies and people grieving flamboyanlty .

    Also the two people who had their profession listed were in Marketing so serious douchbaggery is pretty march par for the course.

  4. Russell, here’s hoping you can get married real soon. Because this $20 coupon to “Bed Bath and Beyond” is going to expire someday.

  5. the ny times arts and cultural coverage exists only to make you angry that the ny times covers culture and the arts.

  6. To be a bit serious, I think the article has to be read in the context of the 500-guest conspicuous-consumption-fest that is the Times’ Style section’s idea of a wedding. If you’re seeing you brother, or your uncle, or a close friend get married, of course it’s a joyous and unforgettable occasion. If Harry from accounting (“Is he really? I thought gay people were interesting.”) invites the whole office and you’re going because you don’t want your expense reports to be greeted with a new level of scrutiny, you’ll feel more like Mr. Shields.

    • In that case, I suppose this article is a small glimmer of hope for a more understanding world — (Awful) Gay People… They’re just like (Awful) Straight People. Sha-na-na-naaaaaah!

    • My assumption was that the window for “we have to have even better catering than straight weddings!” had closed.

      • Though, if the most charitable reading is that awful people are awful, maybe I can still enjoy rolling my eyes at them when I glance over my NYT style section on Sunday mornings.

        • Yeah, I was wondering if “They’re all idiots” counts as most charitable.

    • Do the gay ones not have open bars?

      Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!


      You a funny guy.

      • Gay people are far too aware of their social responsibilities to have a dry wedding. It’s only heterosexuals who are so gauche.

  7. Russell-

    If invited, I promise to hate gay weddings no more and no less than I hate regular weddings.

    However, YOU have to promise to hate straight sports no more and no less than you hate gay sports.

  8. Meh, weddings.

    My first wedding should never have happened. There were enough omens to make even the Pope sit back and go, “Er… this might not be smart.”

    My second marriage; that was wonderful.

    “Do you?” “Yes”
    “Do you?” “Yes”
    “Good, you’re married. Let’s eat.”

    We were off to celebrate on Bourbon Street not long after.

    • Since the Better Half and I have already had a religious ceremony, when (please let it be “when”) same-sex marriage is legalized in our state we’ll probably have a pretty low-key shindig. Your second marriage sounds like just the ticket.

  9. Oh it was. My cousin was our JOP and I said I wanted it stupid simple. Just the close family and that was it. I didn’t want to deal with a dress, bridesmaid dresses, etc.

    Basically I had the antithesis of my first wedding – and was so much happier for it. The first time around was a huge clusterfuck of epic proportions. I could write a screenplay about it and sell it to Hollywood it was so bad.

  10. I’m not familiar with the style of articles that Brooks Barnes writes (and I didn’t most of the article you linked to….I’m lazy), but it seems to me like he’s trying to go for the breezy tone in what might be an effort to celebrate marriage equality by being equal in the complaints about marriage that he cites. (In part, I’m riffing off Mike Schilling’s comment.)

    I’m a pretty big fan of Mark Shields (if it’s the same Shields who writes columns and comments on the NewsHour). And I’m willing to believe–without evidence–that perhaps he was trying to be funny, by engaging in the type of griping some people engage in when they have the good fortune to be invited to a lot of special events (like weddings).

    In short, perhaps the author intended this piece to be a tongue-in-cheek “joke” that came off very poorly.

      • I agree, especially with his frequent recourse to “gays do this” and “gays do that” kind of overgeneralized speaking. (I’ve read more of the article since I wrote my comment.)

    • The Mark Shields in the article is only 35, so he’s not the one I was picturing.

      • Thanks for pointing that out (and demonstrating that I didn’t read very closely:)). Thing is, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Mark Shields we were thinking of had worked in support of marriage equality, although I’m not sure I know all his views on the subject.

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