IS THAT EVEN LEGAL? 6 Rude Things Not To Say To Your Gay Friends Who Are Getting Married

So, your queer friends are getting married! Congratulations!

Mar 27, 2014 at 3:00pm | Leave a comment

So, your queer friends are getting married! Congratulations! You now get to take part in all kinds of fun wedding hoopla and pre-parties, most of which involve drinking to excess. But since your friends are queer, there are also lots of opportunities for foot-in-mouth action. But take heart, thoughtful readers; with this handy guide of what not to say, you’ll never come off like an ass again!
 
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Our author and her special ladyfriend display their shiny new rings shortly after their Las Vegas engagement. Yes folks, she asked her!

 
1. Don’t ask, “Is that even legal?”
 
Don’t ask this especially as an immediate question following engagement announcements. Here’s why:
 
  • Asking this as the first follow-up question after learning of their engagement (instead of, say, “Congratulations!” or “Do you have a date?”) just serves to remind the happy couple that the world is still against them in 31 out of 50 US states. Neat, thanks for the downer.
  • Google exists. If you are genuinely curious if same-sex marriage is legal in the state in which your friends intend to wed, the Web is awash in plentiful information on the history, legality and current status of efforts surrounding same-sex marriage in just about any locality your heart desires to research.
If you absolutely MUST ask, try phrasing the question differently, in a less-accusatory fashion and doing a little research first. Perhaps, “I am so excited for you! Will your home state recognize your union by the time of your ceremony?” or “Hooray! Will you be filing for a civil union or domestic partnership?” Or, hey, if you care so much, why not show you care by offering to help in some way that shows your interest goes beyond prurience? “I’d love to research the laws and help out with the massive amounts of paperwork I’ve heard are involved to get even a sliver of the legal protections afforded to heterosexual couples.”
 
2. “Congratulations! One of my best friends had a gay wedding, too!”
 
How nice for her or him. Have your queer friends met this person? Do they have anything in common other than their same-sex nuptials? No? Then how is it relevant? This conversational dick yank isn’t appropriate at any time, but especially not when served up as weakly wedding-related banter. Best to dispense with the faux-liberal self-congratulatories and instead express genuine interest in the happy couple’s plans.
 
There are two exceptions: By all means, note similarities among friends when discussing quirky hobbies or absurdly specific details (“Oh, you’re a queer agoraphobic philatelist from Supai, Arizona? So is my sister!”). And comparisons get a bye when legitimately comparing war stories or making useful, relevant introductions (“My brother and his partner found a great queer-friendly venue in your town, maybe you’d like an introduction?”). Elsewise, check in with yourself and what you know about your friends before exclaiming, “I know a person just like you!”
 
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In which our author’s fiancée tries on a friend’s bachelorette tiara for laffs. Little did she know soon she’d be a for rilly rills bachelorette (but, you know, gay and stuff).

 
3. “How does your family feel?”
 
It may sound like harmless small talk, but asking whether family members accept a person’s sexuality can be confrontational on a number of levels. First –- if a human being is, in fact, struggling with getting their family members to accept their choice of partner, this can be a fraught and painful topic. Imagine if every time you shared a piece of good news with a friend, you were immediately forced to answer a highly personal question with an unpleasant answer. Doesn’t sound fun, right?
 
So unless you’re a member of the family, keep your mouth shut (and if you’re a family member, you probably already know the answer, so why bother asking?). 
 
Second -- always think twice about asking questions you would never think to ask your straight friends. Would you ask your straight friend how his or her parents, aunts or uncles felt about their engagement? Unless you have some special knowledge about your friend’s parents’ special hatred of his or her fiancée, you wouldn’t -– because the assumption is that any and all families are THRILLED when they hear the news of a family member’s impending nuptials. DUH. Treat your queer friend’s nuptials the same way.
 
4. “Which one of you is the bride?”
 
Duh, both of us. Or neither of us. Or one is, and one isn’t. Or one of us is a midsummer moon goddess and the other is a punk-rock biker babe. Or one is a pretty pretty prince and the other is a princess in shining armor. The point is, this question is silly and like all silly questions, it deserves silly answers. If you care so much about highly gendered labels that you can’t conceive of a wedding without dated titles like “bride” and “groom,” you might want to reconsider your ability to attend a modern wedding with maturity. 
 
5. “I voted against Prop 8/Measure 36/Proposition 102.”
 
Thank you for your political support. No, really. But calling out your oh-so-enlightened political leanings in the context of a single loving relationship is not appropriate. Just think -– would you want your relationship, wedding or marriage to be used as a political conversational prop without your explicit permission? Give same-sex couples the same consideration you’d give opposite-sex couples by sticking to a simple, “Congratulations, I’m so happy for you.”
 
6. “It’s not too late, you know.”
 
What a knee-slapper! Get it? It’s not too late to settle down and marry a socially appropriate opposite-sex spouse! But really, the only thing this comment can lead to is the realization that it’s not too late to reconsider your social circle.