Stand by Your Man
An emotional journey infuses a relationship with courage and even more love
By Jonathan Howard
For two men who recently discovered their voices in the fight for LGBTQ equality, two men who were living in Washington, D.C.—the beating heart of our legislative process—it wasn’t really an accident that we were engaged on the night before the National Equality March. It was probably the most perfect time of all.
Greg and I have been through more in two and a half years together than many couples our age. One year before our engagement, I was the victim of a brutal bias-motivated crime that nearly took my life, but Greg stood by my side through the entire ordeal—the hospitalizations, the surgeries, the nightmares, everything! That terrifying incident brought us closer together, and made us realize that we had to stand up for ourselves, our friends and everyone else in the community. We couldn’t count on others to be our voices; we had to be the change we hoped to see happen.
I planned my proposal to Greg perfectly, down to the minute. I had purchased the ring that would signify my love for him, our union together. I waited for him to get involved in some other project in the house so I could tiptoe around, finding the matches for the fireplace, his favorite candles, the bottle of champagne I had hidden in the back of a cabinet in the kitchen, and the pair of elegant champagne flutes we had purchased just a few weeks before.
I was so full of nerves. I swear that I dropped nearly everything at least once. Wouldn’t it be easier to just blurt out my proposal to the air, hoping he heard me? For a moment, I couldn’t even stand myself for being so nervous about telling the one guy who ever meant anything that I wanted to be his for life. Why was this so scary?
I finally made it back up to our bedroom where I quickly got everything—and myself—together. The fire and candles had just been lit, the glasses were set on the floor nearby only moments before, and the champagne was still that perfect temperature when the bedroom door opened. Greg stood in front of me, the expression on his face registering both awe and happiness. The warmth of that smile—the smile that had drawn me in, comforted me, helped me through the worst times in my life—made everything OK.
I led him to the rug in front of the fireplace, and poured each of us a glass of champagne. After a quick clink of our two glasses, I began…
“I know the last few weeks have been difficult … but, Gregory, I love you more than anything else in the world. I would not have been able to become the person that I am now without you always by my side. I always want to have you be that man by my side, that man who completes me, the man that I will always love. Gregory, will you marry me?” And he said yes.
The next day was business as usual—the National Equality March— but, this time, fighting for marriage equality had a whole new meaning.
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