1. Rick says

    I really wish we could create our own traditions instead of just mimicking heteros.

    Getting down on one knee to propose? Really? Between two men?

    Are we that un-original?

    The idea should be to create a totally new male culture that makes love between two men compatible with masculinity, not to super-impose the rituals of male-female relationships onto our own…..

  2. Yupp says

    Rick : Although I don’t mind what these two guys did, I appreciate what you’re saying. Or even if we can’t come up with a new one, maybe there was some ritual in ancient times… with the Sacred Band of Thebes or something?

  3. says

    I’m going to take my husband to task on this. 😉 He could have at least taken me to the (then) Mayor’s Office (Gavin Newsom with whom he is business friends) to propose but no….. he slipped into my shower and asked me there. I said yes because I did love him, my family loved and my Dad was already treating him like another son. It was a surprise because we had never discussed marriage other then his remark a few days earlier that “Gavin is going to allow same-sex marriage.” He said it more in passing conversation and I don’t remember responding.

    Bush was President then so I’m not so sure I would have even gone to the White House if we had the chance. Congratulations to Matt and Ben. May your marriage be the happiest of all your endeavors.

  4. Kyle says

    David Burtka first proposed to Neil Patrick Harris; then, Neil proposed to David a year later. That seems to have been their approach to upholding the obsessive egalitarianism of their relationship.

  5. Yupp says

    OS2 : Maybe naked at the White House woulda been REALLY cool . (LOL. But..congrats to you. A shower proposal sounds good to me! ).

  6. Blake says

    “The idea should be to create a totally new male culture that makes love between two men compatible with masculinity, not to super-impose the rituals of male-female relationships onto our own….”

    What’s ‘incompatible’ with masculinity about marriage proposals on bended knee? I usually agree with your commentary here a lot more often than other readers, but you’re clearly overreaching here. There’s nothing effeminate about the custom at all. It’s merely a sign of respect and noble servility. Were knights being “faggy” when they got down on bended knee in front of a king to receive honors of the crown?

  7. kay says

    So getting on your knee is now a no-no in the gay community because it is too heteronormative? Wow, some people will never be satisfied. I consider marriage pretty heteronormative, so why do gay people want it. I suggest that gays do what they’ve been doing for decades: screwing everything in sight while tweeking out and remaining the most std laden demographic in the country! Stick to the bath houses and parks…it’s been a great blessing to your community.

  8. Rick says

    “What’s ‘incompatible’ with masculinity about marriage proposals on bended knee? I usually agree with your commentary here a lot more often than other readers, but you’re clearly overreaching here. There’s nothing effeminate about the custom at all. It’s merely a sign of respect and noble servility. Were knights being “faggy” when they got down on bended knee in front of a king to receive honors of the crown?”

    A man proposing to a woman on bended knee is rooted in the culture of chivalry–which defines the parameters of male-female relationships, romantic and otherwise, which are quite different in all kinds of respects from same-sex relationships….and the bended knee symbolizes putting a woman (and women in general) on a pedestal, a ridiculous concept when two men are involved, who should be presumed to be equal.

    The analogy with being knighted by a king (or a queen) does not work–in that instance, the bended knee is a recognition of the authority of the bestower of knighthood….again incompatible with the idea of two men being in a presumably equal relationship….

  9. David in NYC says

    The most remarkable thing about this photo are the super casual shoes with that suit at the white house.

    Maybe it’s a generational thing but I can’t believe this sorta thing makes news.

  10. anon says

    I agree that gay marriages (the ceremony) should be “gay”, but it’s their party, not mine. I have noticed a tendency for planned gay marriages to be outdorsy and informal. Perhaps TR readers can comment on their idea of an ideal ceremony.

  11. says

    @KAY: Rick is the resident troll and he no more speaks for the gay community than you speak for the hetero… you might not want to use the same WIDE brush on the millions of LGBT people in this world.

  12. kay says

    To Rick: So essentially gay men believe women to be lesser than men…Is that why the word “c*nt” flies so easily from the mouths of gay men? Because you despise and look down on women?

  13. Lucas says

    I’m sitting at home, in Massachusetts reading all your comments and just shaking my head,laughing. My boyfriend recently proposed to me in front of my whole family on my birthday, which was 2 days after Thanksgivng. He did get down on one knee, and I cried my eyes out. Does that make him effeminate? Or am I suppose to be the effeminate one? Or does that mean our relationship isn’t a relationship of equals? I’ll leave these questions to you: the wise commentators of Towleroad.

  14. gerry says

    You know what? It’s HIS proposal and if that’s the way he wants to do it, then so be it.

    He doesn’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations except his own.

  15. Anon says

    I must admit, I haven’t asked them. But, my sense is that most of the hetero couples I know did not do the proposal on bended knee.

    To me, it’s really anachronistic regardless of whether it’s gay or hetero, but I certainly respect the concept of “to each his/her own.”

  16. Caliban says

    Here’s the thing. You don’t get to tell other people what cultural traditions should or shouldn’t have meaning for THEM! Like all us really, they’re making it up as they go along, keeping what is good and meaningful to US and discarding the rest. That’s what makes us individuals, each with our own history and rituals.

    *I* wouldn’t do it that way but I’m not the one in the picture so that’s beside the point.

  17. says

    I think the photos are beautiful and inspiring. And I am a hopeless romantic so the thought of the man of my dreams asking for my hand in marriage on bended-knee, I would have screamed!

    @KAY, You must be hanging out with some really TOXIC gay guys if they talk to you like that. I personally love and respect all my straight family and friends and am grateful that they are allies and that I have their support.

    Lucas, I wish I was lucky enough to have someone propose to me like your man did. I think it sounds completely romantic.

  18. says

    I agree that how one guy asks another is their own business. Some are guided by straights’ tradition of the one knee ritual; then again the whole marriage of one guy to another is also following the straights’ tradition.

    I have only a tentative view on all this ; let everyone make up their own minds what traditions they follow and, even better, what traditions we establish along the way.

    @ Yupp; we don’t agree on much, but The Sacred Band of Thebes did make promises to each other and sacrifice to the gods……when they joined The Sacred Band.
    Your idea is a good one.

  19. Zlick says

    Yeah, I’d venture to say most of the traditions in the world are of mysterious origin to the people who joyfully follow them.

    So Rick gives us the skinny on the bended-knee proposal and what? Oh look – it’s completely anachronistic for everyone! Yet he doesn’t scold straight couples for making a mockery of the last century or so of advancement in women’s rights. No, he just wants to mock some Marine boys who are so happy to participate in this new-fangled marriage right that they joyfully participate in one of its classically romantic traditions.

    Should they not feed each other cake at the ceremony? What about something borrowed or blue? No bouquet throwing? Who’s father cuts in on the first dance?

    These are relatively new waters. And yes, maybe some new traditions will be wonderfully sparked that better meld with same-sex unions. But for now, and maybe for as long as some of these ancient traditions have existed, many gay couples will be absolutely giddy to participate in some of the traditions they’ve observed as part of the package for their entire lives.


  20. says

    I guess I dont care what these guys do – it is their entanglement, but I tend to agree with Rick. I mourn the loss of what makes being queer special: being a special kind of outsider that doesn’t have to follow the script, and by the nature of not having a script it is a chance to be more aware of who you are (which, yes, can be painful). I view being queer as a kind of invitation to mindfulness, and I fear the race towards being heteronormal will be regretted.

    But, everyone was racing towards this state and gd forbid any of us question it…

    Again, good luck to them on the life they are working to create, I respect their choice immensely.

  21. russ says

    I dont think it is about copying what heteros do…. It is about what we have seen and lived. Whatever you do as long as it shows love it is great.

  22. russ says

    I dont think it is about copying what heteros do…. It is about what we have seen and lived. Whatever you do as long as it shows love it is great.

  23. excy says

    “I view being queer as a kind of invitation to mindfulness, and I fear the race towards being heteronormal will be regretted.”

    Yes! Thank you Nathan. In many ways being gay has allowed me to question traditions, to live outside the box and to follow my own drummer. I get slightly uncomfortable seeing images of same-sex couples exchanging vows in churches.

    The images of these two guys at the White House are lovely and, of course, I wish them the best in their future together.

  24. Caliban says

    @Nathan, I think of it as the gay community gaining options, not ‘losing’ outsider status or the differences that (arguably) made us “special.”

    That outsider status was imposed on gay people by the larger society, not something they deliberately embraced. It wasn’t something you deliberately embraced, it was automatic, openly gay = outsider. A lot of what made the gay community “different” was adaptation to the limits society imposed, using lemons to make lemonade.

    Personally I believe that outsider view DOES have value, creates a bit of distance so social norms can be seen more objectively. I think that’s why gay men have become associated with the arts, viewing “normality” with a critical eye.

    But not everyone wants that. They want the proposal on bended knee, the 2.5 kids, and a white picket fence. Some always DID want that but it wasn’t an option- they were denied it. Others will marry entirely for the legal/financial (assuming DOMA is defeated) benefits but not embrace heteronormative standards. There will still be rebels, outsiders, and counter-cultures but now they won’t be the only option.

  25. Rexford says

    In the now famous “It’s Time” video from the GetUp campaign the guy gets down on his knee and presents the ring to his mate as well.

    Personally, I don’t have any kind of problem with this, but if folks are looking for a new tradition perhaps they could look at an example from the Bible:

    “And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.” [1 Samuel 18:3-4]

  26. Rick says

    “I suggest that gays do what they’ve been doing for decades: screwing everything in sight while tweeking out and remaining the most std laden demographic in the country! Stick to the bath houses and parks…it’s been a great blessing to your community.”

    I want you all to take notice of this comment from “Kay”, apparently a straight woman. It demonstrates exactly what I mean when I tell all of you that women are not our friends. They are fundamentally threatened by the idea of men loving each other and forming lasting relationships with each other because that idea symbolizes a loss of female social privilege–privilege that has been derived from a homophobic male culture that kept men distant from each other emotionally, with the only acceptable emotional attachments being to women rather than to other men.

    If they lose that privilege, they lose their only real source of social power.

    So when they come face-to-face with the very real possibility of the demise of a homphobic male culture–which is the only thing that will truly liberate us as as gay men (as well as straight men), they react in the vicious, hateful, vindictive (and of course, hysterical–they are women, after all) manner you see demonstrated in her comment above.

    You will see more and more of this as men become freer and freer with each other emotionally and sexually…..and as you do, you will become enlightened as to what they really are about.

    The only good gay man to straight women is one who knows his place, stays in it, and is willing to accept inferior status to women and not have any pretense to being respected as a man the way straight men are.

    The truth always comes out in the end.

  27. Dee says

    Perhaps he got down on bended knee so that everyone within eye-shot would know what he was doing, right there in the White House. That is one of the reasons heterosexual males go down on bended knee when proposing in a public place. It may be the ONLY reason they do.

  28. says

    Congratulations! So happy for both of them. We had a chance to meet this June, also at the White House and they were the nicest guys. I have a great pic of Brandon with Matthew and another officer behind the White House. Ignore the jealous haters and enjoy all the happy moments.

  29. andrew says

    Congratulations to an outstanding jarhead, Captain Phelps. You did it up right. Wish you guys a long and happy life together.

  30. says

    How someone chooses to propose should be irrelevant to all but the person who is being proposed to. If that person is happy, that’s all that matters. And what matters in this story is that they are two publicly out guys, secure with themselves, and able, in the aftermath of DADT repeal and the progress on marriage equality, to do this in the White House. They are the future.

  31. ChristopherM says

    Rick, you may well be the most miserable homo on the planet. Please get some therapy and a Thorazine dart.

  32. Marc says

    Getting down on one knee is such a beautiful symbol of humility and honor from one person to their beloved. Rick, I have no idea what your propose instead, but I’d be happy to hear your suggestion(s). Ultimately, we LGBT/queer people can do whatever we want; whatever makes our hearts sing. If that means getting down on one knee, let’s do it. If that means proposing naked in the shower, do it. If that means flying down from the sky in a parachute, have at it. I don’t see anything wrong with this tradition. To place another above you (not in a self-deprecating way, but more in a way to illustrate the blessedness of another in the eyes of the beloved) is incredibly sweet and powerful. Until something better comes along, I say if it works for the couple, go for it. Don’t fix what’s broken. As gay people we can beat to our own drum, absolutely. But sometimes our beat just happens to be in sync with the beat of another drum, and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it can be a joyous noise.

  33. Wow says

    Although I disagree with this Rick person on a host of issues,,,his views on straight women and gay men is essentially correct. I’ve told many a gay man that women are no friends to the gay male community. When push comes to shove they ALWAYS revert to form just as he stated…I learned this from my own experience…Will and Grace be damned.

  34. FIERCE says

    As usual RICK is one of the most interesting people on this site, a real dude for a new Duderonomy, which has to be the title for the Man/Man Manual yet to be written. I haven’t expeience a Nasty Kay in my life so I never know what to think about his remarks about women.

    As for a “new” ceremony for men who love men, REXFORD has the best idea taken from Jonathan and David. When my fellow and I get married I think it would be lovely to exchange belts. I will take mine off and offer it to him in some wonderful place. If he accepts me he will take his off and offer it to me. Then I will place his belt over my arm as I stand up close to him, our faces close, and work my belt around his waist, at last buckling it in front for him, so grateful for his love as I promise mine. Then he will do the same. Our shirts will be wet with tears.

  35. ChristopherM says

    Rick, Wow, and Fierce, I am terribly sorry some girls pushed you down on the playground and took your lollipops, but get some therapy and take your faux butch misogynist bullish!t elsewhere.

  36. woodroad34 says

    I find this to be the most romantic and brave thing. The whole bended knee thing is for the one proposing. If it hadn’t been the Captain, it would have been the BF. If the BF had proposed on bended knee would that make the Captain effeminate? Seriously. It’s a sign of humility, which I wish more people had in this world–instead of the aggressive arrogance that’s most commonly shown. I’m talking to you Tony Perkins, James Dobson et al.

  37. Artie_in_Lauderdale says

    Some asswipe named Kay posted the following:

    “I suggest that gays do what they’ve been doing for decades: screwing everything in sight while tweeking out and remaining the most std laden demographic in the country! Stick to the bath houses and parks…it’s been a great blessing to your community.”

    I can’t imagine that any intelligent man (gay, straight or otherwise) can defend her BS attack. Sounds pretty self-loathing to me. Further on, she writes:

    “Is that why the word “c*nt” flies so easily from the mouths of gay men?”

    It’s no secret that the constant use of “that’s so gay” as an insult in high schools and middle schools is a phenomena perpetuated by unenlightened females. Hey, Kay, I don’t think it’s just gay mean who call you a c*nt; I’m sure plenty of straight men do too, and with good reason. Try being a little more enlightened, and you won’t hear that word as often from men, by which I mean men in general.

  38. says

    Some great comments here. I actually logged on to poke fun at the shoes they are wearing, but Rick sparked a serious thought instead. Obviously, every couple is free to follow whatever tradition they choose, but this does beg the broader (and deeper) question of why we gay people subscribe to so many heterosexual customs?

    I don’t think there is anything wrong or effeminate about being on the receiving end of a bended-knee proposal. But that is a clear heterosexual custom rooted in the idea that the man takes the wife’s hand in marriage and then assumes a dominant role in the relationship. It’s as traditional as the new bride being carried over the threshold of the home.

    I think our community is unique enough to develop its own rituals and traditions. We are allowed to be creative, right? There is nothing more boring than attending a gay wedding and seeing a tiered wedding cake with two male figures. We’re better than that!

  39. Artie_in_Lauderdale says

    @ ChristopherM,

    You respond to an obviously insulting, homophobic comment by Kay, a straight woman, by defending it. Perhaps you can take your self-loathing elsewhere. No, I won’t stop reminding you.

  40. ChristopherM says

    You aren’t wrong Isaiah. Sadly Rick and his cohorts turn every thoughtful discussion into a meeting of the He-Man Woman Haters Club.

    Artie, where the eff was I defending Kay?! Not once did I ever mention her, nor do I think she’s worth mentioning. Shall I print you off a program so you can keep all the players straight?

  41. Artie_in_Lauderdale says

    @ ChristopherM,

    I don’t think I’m splitting hairs. Rick posted a comment which started off by quoting the same noxious quote from Kay that I repeated in my own comment. Rick then called her on it. Your reply to Rick, very shortly after, was the following:

    “Rick, you may well be the most miserable homo on the planet. Please get some therapy and a Thorazine dart.”

    I don’t think I’m jumping to any wild conclusion to think that you’re responding to Rick’s comment just above your own comment, even though you don’t explicitly mention Kay. If anyone is splitting hairs, it’s you.

  42. ChristopherM says

    I was responding to Rick’s usual hate that paints all women as loathsome enemies. You are reading far more into it than what it was. If you saw his daily tirades on women and effeminate gays, you would get that. Kay is an aberration that comes and goes. Rick is a stain that for some reason manages to stick around.

  43. andrew says

    Rick stays around because he gets the reactions he wants. He gets all the politically correct folks to post their knee jerk reactions to the b*ll s*it he posts.

  44. jw says

    the whole on bended knee thing is about as absurd as calling your partner your husband – the types who do these things also probably have matching his and his towels
    come on – it’s the 21st century –

    btw, did he marry his son? what’s the age difference here? 20 years? of course it’s gramps on the knee taking on the dominant role – so cliched and predictable
    he is after all a military man

  45. R says

    Traditional marriage has taken centuries to evolve and until recently wasn’t even about love – gay marriage may take awhile to develop its own unique customs.

  46. Mark says

    In what year could you have ever imagined seeing a Marine officer propose to his partner. This is so amazing. And this is at the White House! Congratulations guys well done. I wish you every happiness as you build a life together. And I wish the same for every couple if this is the path for them. This takes my breath away.

  47. Miguel R. says

    Things I wish for 2013: the disappearance of the word heteronormative. Ugh. So overused. If it helps you to keep away from icky hetero things, fine, I’m glad it is useful to you. But keep the term to yourself. And please don’t tell me how to be gay. And PS, it doesn’t make you sound smart. It makes you sound tyrannical.

    PS. Ben- Your husband is HOT. Nice work!

  48. says

    As I pinch my husband: “Why couldn’t you propose to me at the White House?!” He proposed to me in Iraq. The next best thing! 😛

    Anyway, what a cute couple. Congratulations, boys :)

  49. Kyle says

    My ideal of a male-male relationship is one that is obsessively mutual and egalitarian. I know my ideal is shared by many gay men. A traditional proposal–in fact, any and all dichotomy–seems antithetical to it.

    But this could be too obsessive, like analyzing who goes on the left or the right and who’s name goes first on the marriage certificate. Heterosexuals may assign gender to these things–that’s their business–but they don’t need to mean anything for gay people. Still, the proposal ritual could be made more equal:

    A dual proposal is a compromise (à la Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka’s two proposals). If you want to do them in public, you could do them in front of different people. A mutual proposal is another compromise, but it would have to be organized by third parties. Dropping the proposal altogether is another alternative. New pre-engagement and pre-marriage rituals that don’t require a dichotomy could stand in its place.

  50. M. Scott Hernandez says

    Congrats! The younger looking of the two…uh if you are visiting the White House..shining your shoes takes four minutes tops. But he could be wearing something over his shoes to protect them from snow. Not to sound mean or snotty. Have a happy future together!

  51. Mark says

    @Kyle aren’t you intellectualizing this just a bit? Marriage is many things, but the proposal is emotional, not rational. And the emotion has to be right each couple, not the group as a whole. None of us are in their marriage after all. If you aren’t married, and chose to, you can do it your own way. Enjoy the moment. If you keep computing it you’re going to miss it. I wonder though what the real reason some are so critical. No disrespect to anyone I only ask because something else seems to be going on. Peace.

  52. ben says

    last year, this guy is getting high minded about “leading from the front” by taking his boytoy Brandon to the Marine Corps. Ball. Now, only a year later, he’s found himself another twink, this one named Ben, to propose to inside the White House. Is this really the kind of guy gay people are supposed to support and admire? He’s just another chickenhawk.

  53. says

    For all of you with strong opinions about forming new traditions…great. You do that, just like many heterosexuals have chosen to do things differently, too. But I don’t see the need in dismissing the traditions we have in place, and dismissing the gay couples who use them as “heteronormative”.

    Have your Portlandia-style anti-tradition proposal and wedding. But for those of us who don’t spend night and day consciously doing everything we can just to be different, can’t we just be left alone?

    Yes, I took my husband’s name (well, mostly because I hated my old one). Yes, my husband got down on one knee and proposed to me. No, I don’t open my own doors (at his behest). So? We love each other and we have the right to have our own traditions, we have the right to do what we want.

    Being in a perpetual state of criticism is not how you do intellectualism.

  54. EYEROLL says

    @KAY pay no attention to Rick. He finds fault with eveything, no matter what it is. He hates effeminate men, women, blacks, lesbians, comedy and well, pretty much anything. He is just a bitter troll who is jealous because no man will ever get on one knee and ask him to get married.

  55. Yupp says

    Ben : Well, yes, Matthew Phelps does seem to like guys who are much younger and pretty, but it’s not extreme enough to call him a “chickenhawk”!

  56. EYEROLL says

    JW/BEN (same person) What is it any of your business about their age difference? Who cares? Apparently you think gay people are the first group of people to have older/younger relationships! I hope this never spreads to the hetero population. Oh, the horrors! Look what those damn gay people have brought to the world!!!

    Btw: he is 35, his boyfriend is 26. 9 years difference. Get over it.

  57. Clayton says

    Re: age differences–My first partner was 9 years my senior. When we met, I wass 23 and he was 32. Our relationship lasted 20 years. My current husband is 11 years my junior. Age is one of many factors in a relationship. There is no rule for what will and will not work, nor does it have to be etched in stone.

    re: Traditions. My (younger) husbandp proposed to me first. Later, I proposed to him. We do not live in a marriage equality state, so we got married in Canada, but before that we had a big wedding-like committment ceremony at home for all the family (about 90 people). In lieu of bouquiets, we both wore traditionan Hawaiian wedding leis. The cake was square with a chocolate bow on top instead of two male figures. We also jumped the broom–a ceremony derived (in this country) from a time when slave marriages lacked legal recognition, so the couple would jump a broom in front of their friends and family as a way of indicating they had chosen to cross a threshhold into a new shared life.

  58. Flyboy says

    I think this is a truly wonderful moment, whether he proposed on one knee or standing on his head. It’s their business, and I wish them the best.

    @Kay – based on your responses alone, if someone is hurling that word at you, it’s not because you’re a woman.

  59. Liam says

    Kay: This is not 40 years ago. Most young gay people I know don’t even know what a bath house is much less have ever been in one. They are no more promiscuous than their straight friends. They pair up and are committed just like everyone else. Your biases are just sad. Why are you trolling on a gay website anyway? What a sad little woman you are.

  60. Lance says

    Wow, what a dazzling display of judgmentalism on this thread — against women, older and younger guys together, heteronormative behavior, dorky shoes — have I missed anything?
    Speaking as someone who married the love of his life on our 35th anniversary in a ceremony that was about as un-traditional as it could get (no proposals — that is so not our thing — but I think we may have worn dorky shoes), I am just happy for these two, because clearly they are. End of story. Really.

  61. jw says

    @ eyeroll
    gramps is 35?! . . . for real? where did you get that? his facebook or something?

    me thinks it looks more like he turned 35 towards the end of the last century –
    maybe he told junior he’s 35 – and he wants the world to believe it –
    but just cause he keeps telling himself he looks 35 doesn’t make him 35
    girl should have put on some sunblock during all those military war games he’s been playing in the desert sun.

  62. Chuck Mielke says

    Let’s look at the “proposal genuflection” (going down on one knee to propose to a loved one): traditionally, that gesture has been an act of self-subordination to indicate faith and respect. It is not necessarily hetero-normative because it has long been used between leaders and same-sexed subjects. In the context of a marriage proposal, it is a flattering way of elevating the loved one above oneself and imploring a special request. In this case, I don’t think we need a special, gays-only gesture of promise-making; we can make this gesture yet another message of how much we have in common with our heterosexual brothers and sisters. While the object of our loves might differ, our hearts are the same and they speak by the same gestures.

  63. EYEROLL says

    You’re being a jerk just to be a jerk.

    From ABC News: “The 35-year-old active-duty officer proposed to his boyfriend, Ben Schock, 26, in the Grand Foyer of the White House at the end of a holiday tour.”

    Feel better now? Or just bitter? Quit being such a miserable human being.

  64. Suzanne says

    Congratulations to the happy couple and it is about time that same sex marriages were accepted in the same way as heterosexual relationships. Love and commitment are the important things here and why should there be different rules depending on your sexual orientation.