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.


  1. stranded says

    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.

  2. David E. says

    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….

  3. Wavin' Dave says

    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.

  4. Rick says

    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.

  5. sparks says

    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?

  6. stranded says

    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.

  7. johnny says

    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.

  8. Lee says


    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??

  9. Nat says

    “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.

  10. Munro says

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

  11. Dev says

    @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.

  12. Francis says

    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.

  13. says

    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.

  14. RaleighRob says

    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! 😉

  15. Rick says

    “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.

  16. Rick says

    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…..

  17. CPT_Doom says

    @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.

  18. Luke says

    Rick the troll didn’t get his desired response from his first comment, so he’s back with a more lengthy comment SO HE WILL FINALLY GET NOTICED LOOK AT ME EVERYBODY TELL ME I’M PRETTY

  19. Luke says

    Rick the troll didn’t get his desired response from his first comment, so he’s back with a more lengthy comment SO HE WILL FINALLY GET NOTICED LOOK AT ME EVERYBODY TELL ME I’M PRETTY

  20. anon says

    And how do we know they are gay?? They could be just two guys getting married.

    As to whether they marriage survives a move to another state. The short answer is “maybe”. Under DOMA, a federal law, the states can technically ignore marriages not recognized under DOMA from other states. However, this might be in violation of the US Constitution, which supersedes federal law and so should be litigated. Conservatives wanted a Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) to ensure that this issue could not be litigated. Currently, states are under no obligation to recognize marriages from foreign countries, though they normally do. As you might imagine, a Saudi man with four wives would have legal issues here in the US.

  21. says

    “And how do we know they are gay?? They could be just two guys getting married.”

    Ha, ANON, you’re a funny one. Cause two non-gay buddies who have been together for 11 years and moved together from TX to WA would be sure to line up at midnight on the first day licenses are available to get married.

    CPT_DOOM’s assessment of where we’re at is right on, however. The more states with in-state equality, the more couples married, the more unsustainable DOMA becomes legally and culturally. The crazy patchwork will have to go, and stuff like these 2 guys being out and getting married is one step forward towards making that happen.

  22. JEEZE says

    RICK – you are absolutely, trenchantly and manifestly right. Plus, be encouraged, our male culture IS changing, the gender non-conformists and fruit-coms are looking more ridiculous by the day. It’s so very overdue.

  23. jamal49 says

    Geez. Ya gotta love Rick, ya know? “Culture of Effeminacy”. I mean, now….that’s sweet. Poor, Rick. Who’s gonna tell him there’s, uh, no such thing? I mean, his whole life seems to be obsessed with this. Poor baby. God. I hope he’ll be able to deal.

  24. UFFDA says

    JAMAL – what pile of sand is your head in?

    If there were not indeed a very active “culture of effiminancy” (entrenched images of conventionally affected gay men) there would not be so many stereotypical gays playing fruitcakes in tv shows and the media. This must be stopped and RICK/JASON (along wih a good many others – see the earlier Hospital posts today) have accurately and consistently pointed it out.

    Most of us are sick to death of this kind of misrepresentation of our lives and manners. Join the new and better gay future in which RICK/JASON will be unsung gay heros. In this matter I am totally on their side.

  25. Caliban says

    @UFFDA, I actually agree somewhat that MEDIA representations of gay people are unfairly skewed toward a shallow stereotype.

    However, where I part ways with Rick, Jason, and apparently you is when individuals who don’t fit some masculine ideal are attacked and treated as “lesser than,” a blight on the gay community. Get over yourselves. If you s*ck c*ck you can act like a combination of Eastwood and Stallone if you want but in the minds of the enemies of the gay community you’ve failed the masculine ideal entirely. So take the stick out of your @ss about how OTHERS act.

  26. says

    lovely lovely lovely.

    i tip my hat with love and affection to all LGBT people who stand up to be counted, Live Out Loud, and represent themselves without fear or shame.


  27. says

    @Caliban – rest assured, my brother, TrollRickJasonUFFDA’s hoped-for revolution will never come. Why? because gay guys like them (insecure closeted effeminacy-hating cowards) will never grow the orbs and spines to live freely, openly, and OUT.

    you can file their misery under “S**T Closet-Cases Say”

    gender-nonconformists will never go away. they’re unafraid to live as they live, out loud and proud. and those who are not gender-nonconformists, but are confident and secure and therefore don’t denigrate those who are, continue to stand in solidarity with ALL of their brothers and sisters.

    what we’re seeing is, of course, projected bitterness. the “type of gay” that those anonymous internet trolls hate so much are living Out lives. the anonymous trolls are not. hence, their anger. they don’t have the strength to live with the courage that the “effeminate males” they hate live with.

    confident traditionally-masculine (for lack of a better term) gay meals don’t denigrate nor distance themselves from their perceived-effeminate brothers. that’s solely the domain of the insecure resentful homosexual, who still lives each day looking over his shoulder in fear of what The Straights are saying about him.

    real men stand and support their brothers. little boys cower and hide and point fingers from the darkness.

    kudos to all who embrace the beautifully diverse fabrics of our communities.

  28. Rick says

    “If you s*ck c*ck you can act like a combination of Eastwood and Stallone if you want but in the minds of the enemies of the gay community you’ve failed the masculine ideal entirely”

    @CALIBAN Historically, that has been true. What you are missing, however, is that “straight” men are changing their attitudes about male intimacy, including male sexuality…..and I see them striving gradually to INCORPORATE sexual expression between men INTO the way that masculinity is defined, and there is a precedent for that in previous historical periods.

    And that is a change all men should welcome, regardless of sexual orientation.

    But the basic defining features of masculinity–TRUE masculinity–will remain intact, as they should, since, like sexual attraction between men, they are products of nature.

    What is most decidedly NOT a product of nature is men deliberately trying to behave like women, living vicariously through women rather than men, idolizing women in preference to men, identifying women rather than men……all of which (listen to me here, Jamal) constitutes the culture of effeminacy that I have referred to. Men do not naturally refer to each other as “girls” or “she”….it is deliberate learned behavior and deliberate learned behavior is by definition cultural rather than natural.

    Those “gay” men who continue to fight to preserve that culture of effeminacy and the oppression that it represents…..rather than meeting straight and bi men in halfway in their attempts to construct a new male culture that will serve all men well, are obstacles to progress, in addition to being pathetic cases of psychological disturbance.

    A new world is on the horizon: Embrace it!

  29. says

    Rick, prove that you embody what you preach. Provide the URL to your own page, blog, video, whatever…that shows that you live and breathe each day as an Out, Proud, empowered and “masculine” gay man.

    If you can’t do this, which of course you can’t, you only prove me and others right. You’re not masculine. You’re just another closeted insecure adult who’s wasted his entire life angrily typing diatribes against “effeminate gay men” who, let it be known, are clearly more man than you’ll ever be, as they live Out and without fear or shame.

    I dunno. Sometimes I get labeled a “fem” by these anonymous internet trolls. Clearly, however, I’m doing something right. I’ve got a dad who marches each yeah in the pride parades, and straight male friends who do the same.

    but hey, it’s the same old story.

    angry closet case types rant against “effeminate gay men” and yet cannot put a face to his comments. why? because he’s still a cowardly boy.

    *elegant curtsy*

  30. Derrick from Philly says

    “Join the new and better gay future in which RICK/JASON will be unsung gay heros”

    Well, he lives in New York City. You can visit your hero in the psychiatric ward at Bellevue Hospital.

    I guess he has access to the hospital library’s computers.

  31. UFFDA says

    KIWI is always finally a broken and pointless record of the same gas. He has not the imagination to recognize any of the legion reasons to not post ones name and URL. Most people post anonymously with many and various good reasons. These have been listed before by others.

    This guttersnipe from Canukistan – with the sleezyest form of comment history on this site (along with the best) – has even gone so far as to say in his inimitable way that NOBODY in North America has any reason to not come out publicly.

    This is how out of touch you get when you live in Toronto, have rich parents, don’t need a job and associate overwhelmingly with gay people as a special species.

    His URL demand means nothing, it’s not required at all to make and present a case which is what and all we’re doing here.

  32. RedRoseQueen1 says

    Honestly..our friends, a gay couple who have been together for 35 years, were SO in my mind upon reading about these recent changes and hearing about the SCOTUS cases to be decided soon made me actually tear up today! The older (by 7 yrs) of this couple (I’ll call him “Bob”) is 62 and his partner (“Scott”) is 55. They have been in a completely monogamous, committed relationship and Scott has even legally taken Bob’s last name.
    Bob is not well and has had serious health problems for several years now.He made the most money over the years from his work (Wall Street, then nursing) since Scott is a florist(very talented but not as well paid)
    Bob worries that when (if) he dies before Scott….Scott will not have the same protections and rights afforded a heterosexual married couple,ie; the right for the survivor to choose the higher SS retirement amount etc.
    Bob has said repeatedly that until same sex marriages are FEDERALLY recognized, a ceremony of any sort is “out of the question” and he has pessimistically stated many times that he doubts that it will come to pass in HIS lifetime. I am hoping he’s wrong there. I want to dance at their wedding! (And cry my freaking eyes out too!) Hurry up SCOTUS and DO THE RIGHT THING!

  33. Michael says

    What exactly is wrong with effeminate men? It’s not as if their mannerisms are some act, its just how they are.

    Until we stop jumping up and down when we come across gay men that aren’t effeminate then the suicide of effeminate gay boys isn’t going to stop.

    Honestly our community sickens me sometimes.

  34. stranded says

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

    Hey Rick, I appreciate it, I’ve seen bias against certain LGBT people who naturally do not conform to the stereotypes, and it often comes from inside of the LGBT community, that’s all.

    That said, I don’t necessarily agree with all your views. I may not understand where you come from with your views, but I’ll be respectful about them so long as you remain respectful of ours.

    I don’t think all effeminate men should change to fit in either, because I am not entitled to call them an “act” either. For gay/bi men, both ends of the spectrum (feminine – masculine) exist for whatever reason (nature, nurture) and we all should be free to stay on side or sit in the middle, without being labeled “inauthentic” by someone who’s sitting comfortably on one end.

    So these gentlemen don’t really fit a stereotype nor do they seem to have a “queen” bottled up inside waiting to get out, fine, but who’s to say that theirs is the right way to be? What we can tell is that they’re at a place where they’ve found acceptance, love and happiness. They showed up to request their marriage license, and came as they are, and I don’t think anyone could be so cynical to think that they’re putting up an act, right?

  35. stranded says

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


    Hey, I didn’t mean to impersonate you, I deeply apologize but that is not my intention. So there’s definitely more than one stranded person in here. Yikes!

    I started using this screen name at the beginning of this year, more or less, and I’m not a frequent poster. I don’t know when you started using it, but I’m sure we can figure out a way to avoid confusion.

    I also posted in the last Mormon-themed thread yesterday, btw.

  36. Bears Are Fat says

    That’s a great photo. However, for gay men commenting here to use this as an occasion to bash ‘effeminacy’ via an ostensibly progressive shattering of ‘stereotypes’ is depressing. To my mind, it will be an even more happy and progressive day when the gay community and everyone else can as easily embrace the sight of two fabulously well-groomed flower-arrangers with bleached-hair in the Castro getting married as they apparently do images of gay coupling that ‘challenge stereotypes’ (as here; or say in the way that Brokeback Mountain was embraced). I don’t think it’s a victory for gays when unconventional gender comportment in the gay comment is avoided or swept under the rug.

  37. andrew says

    That is actually a picture of two of Little Kiwi’s aliases: Mateom and Jamal 49. Can’t wait to see what: Genuine carel, Yogabgaba, Dynex, 2 Dads, Jackon, Real Talk, USA Trojan Fan, A J , Mikel, Cinesnatol et al look like. That homofascist Canadian sure is something. LOL! LOL! LOL! LOL!

  38. Rick says

    “What exactly is wrong with effeminate men? It’s not as if their mannerisms are some act, its just how they are.”

    No, it most definitely is not “just how they are”. Men do not behave like women naturally–when they do so, it is an affectation that stems from learned behavior that can be unlearned…..and SHOULD be unlearned, because it is UNNATURAL and damaging to the self-esteem of those engaging in it, not for the sake of complying to any “heteronormative” ideal

    Now, some aspect of effeminate behavior are more conscious than others. It certainly is a fully-conscious DECISION to refer to other men as “girls” or to use the word “Honey” constantly as a form of address.

    After all, anyone can simply decide not to use such forms oif address any time they want to.

    When it comes to more subtle behaviors like the “gay voice” or walking with a swish…..these may not be as conscious…..but even if they are not, they still reflect low self-esteem, since they are derived from an internalization of the idea that being attracted to other men makes a man less than masculine and a sort of pseudo-woman….the very essence of homophobia and the reason we have been oppresed.

    Bottom line is that effeminate behavior in gay men represents some kind of unhealthy mental/emotional condition and needs to be dealt with as such, for the sake of all concerned, particularly those who are so afflicted.

  39. says

    fun fact – behind every closeted anonymous internet troll who “hates effeminate men” are the family members that hated them for being gay, no matter how many dollops of pseudo-macho posturing they failed to affect.

    it’s the truth. as shown, as always, by the reality that not one “i can’t stand femmes” poster can put a face and name to their comments.

    of course you hate effeminate gay males. they live openly, and Out, and date, and have lives. and you’re still in the closet as a middle-aged man. life has passed you by. and hating on them won’t make your own life better.

    it’ll be the same old story, until these trolls die.

    so pity ’em.

    you show me a gay man who harbours anger toward “effeminate males” and i’ll show you a wimp whose balls never dropped.

  40. darkorient says

    As a gay man from Indonesia, I find these pictures very touching. These people give me hope. I am so happy for them and for all of us as well.

  41. Goodcarver says

    Amazing. I look a great deal like Larry, as my beard doesn’t have any color but white, and I carry a cane as well. I’m a few years older than he, but I’m glad that Andy showed me that there are folks like me in the “community” of gay people.

  42. Pickles says

    Do any of the readers of Towleroad ACTUALLY WATCH TELEVISION? Did you all just stop watching in 1995? There have been and continue to be MORE BUTCH gay male characters on television on a weekly basis than feminine. That has been true since the 1990s. Where have y’all been?
    Do you just ignore the gay male tv characters that don’t fit your antiquated gripe about representation? Did none of you ever hear of the shows “Brothers & Sisters” “Six Feet Under” “Mercy” “Gray’s Anatomy” “Reaper” “GLEE” “Ugly Betty” “Greek” “One Life To Live” “As The World Turns” “The Young and The Restless” “Days of Our Lives” “90210” “LA Complex” “Degrassi” and countless other shows in the last 15 – 20 years with a WIDE DIVERSITY of gay male characters that were not like “Will Truman” or “Jack McFarlane”? I loved “Will and Grace” but if you stopped watching television back when it ended you don’t get to have an opinion on what kinds of gay male characters have been on television since then because folks here are clearly uninformed.
    For every Kurt, Justin, and other more fey characters (whom I love) there’s an Austin, Karofsky, Max, Calvin, Heath, Luke, Noah, Kyle, Sebastian, Oliver, Teddy, Cal, etc who isn’t fey.
    That is balance of representation.