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These Men Are Officially, Wonderfully The Face Of Marriage Equality In Washington State: PHOTO


You've probably seen this picture already. It's of 56-year old Larry Duncan and 48-year old Randy Shepherd receiving their marriage license in Washington State this morning.

Photographer Meryl Shenker snapped it and, as the photo became an internet sensation, told Seattle PI she focused on the men because she wanted to challenge stereotypes. She did her job well, and we should all be grateful.

6a00d8341c730253ef0168e8c99d58970c-500wiIt seems each new state that legalizes marriage produces its own poster couple. For example Phyllis Siegel and Connie Kopelov, the elderly lesbian couple pictured to the right, became famous for their marriage here in the Empire State, and were even asked to be grand marshals at Gay Pride.

And you know what, it's great that Siegel and Kopelov and Shepherd and Duncan become viral images: not only does it show that gays and lesbians are not, as much as Queer Eye tainted popular opinion, all power lesbians or done-up gays, but that we come in every shade, color, size and age.

More importantly, these couples show how long some people are willing to wait for legal recognition of their love. Duncan and Shepherd have been together for eleven years, a short amount of time when compared to Siegel and Kopelov's 23, but still an impressive period to bide your time for marital respect and if you ask me they're in a perfect position to become figureheads for same-sex couples marrying in Washington State, and everywhere else, for that matter.

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  1. Great post, but let's be honest, a lot people in the LGBT community make the same mistake of stereotyping or labeling her fellow brothers and sisters and that doesn't exclude posters from this site. How many times here have gay men who are not effeminate been accused of pretending to be something they're not?

    Hopefully the more LGBT people of all walks of life come forward and become visible, we'll continue to expand our views and accept that these people are not "playing a role" to be accepted by the heterosexual community.

    Posted by: stranded | Dec 6, 2012 11:35:18 PM

  2. Dear Towleroad-
    Please banish the comments option for all us readers and save us from ourselves. Maybe you can just start a community discussion area instead? Just once would I love to read an article, smile and just be happy that other folks are happy for a change. Celebrate progress even if its small.
    But no, the scroll bar falls just a wee bit too far down the page and there the inevitable is- a user comment ruining it again and again for what? Not for actual civilized debate. Not to add context to the story or offer additional witnessed information. Nope, just to simply put in two cents that aren't even worth one. We get it! You win. I'm sure you're right! Fine!
    Congrats, you've successfully put your * to happiness. We're bummed out again!

    However, I'm still so pleased for the couples in Seattle and for those two lovely bearded large and sexy dudes. Finally some progress!*

    *wah wah wah....

    Posted by: David E. | Dec 6, 2012 11:53:59 PM

  3. Larry and Randy are cool.

    Posted by: Phil | Dec 7, 2012 12:07:36 AM

  4. Sorry, but I just don't get it?
    I'd be married in Washington, or Washington D.C. but not married if I crossed a bridge or road or, who knows? a viaduct? into the adjacent state.
    I'm married in NY and still married into CT, but if I cross the bridge into NJ, I'm not?
    DOMA hangs over all our bearded and bedazzled heads, kids.
    Until SCOTUS or POTUS says it's no longer the law of the land - it's the law of the land.
    The rest is just kinda exhausted, exhausting theatre.
    Again, sorry.

    Posted by: Wavin' Dave | Dec 7, 2012 12:09:25 AM

  5. Hilariously wonderful couple.

    @STRANDED Thanks for the excellent observation. The culture of effeminacy is doomed in the long run....and we will all be much better off for its demise.

    Posted by: Rick | Dec 7, 2012 2:12:27 AM

  6. White people.

    Posted by: Johnnie | Dec 7, 2012 2:24:23 AM

  7. What baffles me is that when it comes to marriage equality we celebrate and cheer male couples who challenge stereotypes, but we as a community look down at single men who don't make some effort to conform to those very stereotypes. And we do it openly -- at bars, malls, pride events, and especially on forums like this one.

    If diversity is acceptable for couples who have been lucky enough to find one another, shouldn't we try harder to be tolerant of guys who are just naturally skinny or furry or chubby or dark or pale or ..god forbid.. older?

    Posted by: sparks | Dec 7, 2012 5:31:25 AM

  8. Larry and Randy from ZZ Top! I heart you guyz!

    Posted by: Manny Espinola | Dec 7, 2012 6:23:48 AM

  9. Don't worry fems you don't have to go this far to look butch. Long live REAL diversity.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Dec 7, 2012 7:06:49 AM

  10. Hmmm. Seems to be more than one stranded here.

    These guys look much more like the gay men I know than anything I see represented on TV or in movies. I don't know anybody like the self-involved characters on Will & Grace and wouldn't hang around them if I did.

    But this is a great step forward for everyone and what's important right now is just to honor those who have pledged their lives and love to one another. For a brief moment we can bask in the warm glow of happiness for all those who can now have their loving commitments legally recognized. Congratulations to all.

    Posted by: stranded | Dec 7, 2012 7:22:46 AM

  11. Just regular guys.

    And that's what most of the gay men I know are like in this area, including my partner and myself. It's not about conforming to "type" and keeping up with whatever the style notion of the moment is. Being gay now means living your life however you want to, in the shape, size and style that you already are with zero changes. In other words: normal.

    It's only a matter of time. Mexico is changing and Canada already has. The U.S. will look like an ignorant backwater until we get marriage equality in all 50 states.

    Posted by: johnny | Dec 7, 2012 7:52:39 AM

  12. All these photos give me the warm fuzzies, Congrats to all!

    Posted by: Mercedes | Dec 7, 2012 8:02:18 AM

  13. Congrats!

    Just one quick question from a guy from Europea: Is a gay marriage from one US state automatically recognized in all other states that have marriage equality? Or is it only recognized in that one state where the marriage was registered??

    Posted by: Lee | Dec 7, 2012 8:29:32 AM

  14. "How many times here have gay men who are not effeminate been accused of pretending to be something they're not? "

    I don't think it's that prevalent on Towleroad. I think non-masculinity is more likely to be a target by a certain unnamed poster or two, but I don't really see the opposite that much. It's certainly an issue in real life, and it's an issue on sites such as Queerty, but here, I think - whatever other critiques I might have about other posters - it's a pretty diverse set of regulars.

    Posted by: Nat | Dec 7, 2012 8:33:56 AM

  15. Reminds me I need some new flannel shirts for the winter.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Dec 7, 2012 8:47:59 AM

  16. I dont read Queerty because of the racist, sexit and ageist bullsh*t that goes on there. Congrats to these guys.

    Posted by: Munro | Dec 7, 2012 8:49:52 AM

  17. @Lee: the short answer is No.

    It's not so much of an issue if the couple stays put in the state where they got married. But if a couple married in Washington decides to move to, say, Louisiana, and then their relationship falters and they want to divorce, it is unclear how that would be handled in their new home state.

    The bigger issue is on the federal level where their marriage isn't recognized, either. This means a gay married couple can't file their income taxes jointly, as a straight married couple can. Filing as individuals results in a higher tax burden, thus costing the couple more $$. This is only the tip of the iceberg. As many have said here, we need to have same-sex marriage recognized at the federal level to have full marriage equality. Piecemeal state-by-state is a step in the right direction but it's not the ideal, long-term solution.

    Posted by: Dev | Dec 7, 2012 8:55:49 AM

  18. Wow, are these guys lumberjacks? Best of luck to them.

    Posted by: Peter | Dec 7, 2012 9:14:55 AM

  19. We come in all colors, ages, shapes, and sizes. I live in Richmond, VA. I know TONS of gay/bi self-described rednecks, country boys, average joes. The community definitely does tend to run with what the media represents of our community, which is that we're all sexy, trendy, high-society, and when the truth is most of us are simply every-day regular people, just like everyone else.

    Beautiful photo. Congrats to Larry and Randy.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 7, 2012 9:15:48 AM

  20. Without question, this picture of Larry and Randy is stunning and heartwarming. It makes me emotional every time I see it.

    However, I do challenge this notion that I'm seeing in the comments about "normal" gays. Yes, Larry and Randy are "normal," but so are gay people who choose to live in cities and wear designer clothes. "Normal" does not equal conventional. I think it is important to remember that our community is very broad. We should celebrate this photo the same way we should celebrate a photo of two effeminate gay men at their wedding. At the end of the day, having the courage to be exactly who you are -- whatever that is -- is worth celebrating.

    Posted by: Isaiah | Dec 7, 2012 9:49:25 AM

  21. It's a great picture!
    It's cute how some people look and say "wow they break stereotypes!". Though to be fair, come to North Carolina and meet the bear community here. These guys would just perfectly blend in! ;-)

    Posted by: RaleighRob | Dec 7, 2012 9:51:54 AM

  22. "The community definitely does tend to run with what the media represents of our community, which is that we're all sexy, trendy, high-society,"

    Actually, what the media tends to represent is that we are all a bunch of sissies....to be laughed at (not with) rather than respected.....and GLAAD and other such organizations smile on this out of their misguided notion that "gender-non-conformity" is acceptable or ever will or should be acceptable in mainstream society.

    What we need is fewer "Glees" and "Modern Family's" and "The New Normals" and more series that directly contradict stereotypes--What if they had made the lead role in the re-make of Hawaii Five-O a gay man, for example, a tough cop who is in charge, respected, and feared?

    Real progress will only have been made when men are portrayed as being in relationships with other men and/or simply sexually attracted to other men and acting on that attraction......WITHOUT being portrayed at the same time as prissy little woman wannabes.

    And we have yet to see that anywhere, really.

    Posted by: Rick | Dec 7, 2012 9:56:49 AM

  23. Adding to the last comment, why doesn't some Hollywood producer take this photo as an inspiration for a new TV series about two burly lumberjacks sharing their lives with each other?

    It would have great ground-breaking potential as either a sitcom or a dramatic series......but would it be too threatening to both the general public and the gay "gender-non-conformity"-touting Establishment to get on the air?

    I suspect it would be, which speaks volumes about where we REALLY are and why the entire male culture needs an overhaul.....

    Posted by: Rick | Dec 7, 2012 10:03:20 AM

  24. "And we have yet to see that anywhere, really."

    In the real world we see it every day.

    Posted by: Ernie | Dec 7, 2012 10:03:29 AM

  25. @Lee and @Dev - what Dev says is true, but it's also true, I believe, that any state with marriage equality will recognize the same-sex marriages performed in other equality states. Thus, if you get married in Washington this weekend, you are also recognized as married in MA, VT, CT, NH, NY, DC, IA and eventually ME. Interestingly, Maryland already recognized out-of-state same-sex marriages, so the state just announced that MD couples married elsewhere will not be able to get a new marriage license in the state. Couples in a registered civil union or domestic partnership (e.g., from NJ or CA) will, however, be allowed to get a marriage license in MD. I also believe that CA recognizes out-of-state marriages as in-state domestic partnerships.

    All of that, I think, just proves that Dev is right - it's a total mess.

    Oh, and congrats to all the couples getting hitched this weekend in WA - although it is true that these marriages are not recognized federally and the patchwork of rights state-by-state is a travesty, these pictures of couples (of all kinds) getting licenses, and the pictures this weekend of them going through the ceremonies, are part of the effort to win equality in all 50 states. The more people see us, in all our differences, embracing the most traditional of institutions the more they will understand that we are simply people, just like them. Some of us are boringly normal, some of us are fabulously outre and a heck of a lot of us are somewhere in between.

    Posted by: CPT_Doom | Dec 7, 2012 10:13:51 AM

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