Question: My boyfriend and I live together in Delaware, which legalized same-sex civil unions earlier this year. For years we've been talking -- on and off -- about making our relationship legal when we could. Instead of some fancy chocolates or a bouquet of roses for Valentine's Day, I think I've come up with a unique gift: asking him to marry me by posting a YouTube proposal on his Facebook page. What do you think?
Answer: Do you like to take huge risks? Do you think his answer will be, "I do!" If you answered "yes" to both questions, then (surprise!) I'm actually all for this form of public display of devotion.
An Internet proposal is another way for us to come out as couples and raise our friends' and family members' awareness about the importance of the freedom to marry. Especially if you're thinking of your engagement as a political act, go for it.
In fact, while you may think your idea is unique, I'm sorry to say you're not the only trailblazer on this front. Even a quick search on YouTube for "proposal" turns up quite a few other video overtures, most of them by very creative and self-assured partners. I wouldn't be surprised if "Mitchell Pritchett" (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) on Modern Family goes this outré route one day.
One of my favorite "Will you marry me, Bill?" videos stars a young New Yorker proposing to his boyfriend by making a sweet-as-pecan-pie YouTube proposal, telling the whole world, "Our love is real." In the video, Mikey Rox (who admits to more than 30 nervous, stammering takes) explains to his boyfriend Earl:
"When I was growing up, I was made to feel that falling in love with a man who loves and respects me was unnatural, but to be honest the love that I've gotten from you over the past couple of years is the most natural thing I've ever felt in my life.... So, today, Earl, I'd like to ask you if you'd marry me."
At the end, Mikey admits, "If you do say no, I'm going to look like a huge fool on the Internet." Fortunately for Mikey, Earl accepted the proposal via -- where else? -- his Facebook page. Let's hear it for these boys.
On the other hand, if you answered "no"to either of my first questions, then my answer to you would be, "lovely and romantic gesture, but no, not such a good idea." Proposing in public only to be turned down is a humiliating and embarrassing experience for everyone, including the audience -- whether it's 50,000 fans watching on the JumboTron or 1,000,000 YouTube viewers watching on their iPads. You really don't want an audience if your answer is going to be a stony "no" or "not now" or even a halting "baby, we need to talk..."
Still, there's no need to send your Valentine's Day along the boring old chocolate or flowers route (not that there's anything wrong with those, so long as there's no baby's breath in that bouquet) when you can try some of these romantic gift ideas suggested by Greg Melvin, owner of the chic boutique Babalu Miami:
- Mix-and-match bath robes are sexy. As Melvin told me, "Dressing like this is perfect for a romantic low-key evening at home and waking up in the morning together."
- Votive candles and holders always add a touch of romance to any couple's evening and come in a variety of scents.
- His and his (or hers and hers) perfumes can be just the thing as long as neither of you is scent-challenged. "It's often best to shop together for perfume since it's very difficult to choose perfume for someone else," Melvin advises, "unless they know exactly what they like."
- Crystal wine glasses add to any celebration, including your V-Day toast.
Or, why not mosey on down to your nearest JCPenney (or visit online), where you'll find hundreds of gifts that show your love and your support of Ellen DeGeneres as the store's new spokesperson. (Let the manager you know that's why you came out; take a photo showing you at the store -- or in front of your browser open to the JCP page -- Facebook it or tweet it, #JCPshopin.)
Happy Valentine's to one and all, single or partnered, or even if "it's complicated."
This column originally was published on Advocate.com.
Steven Petrow is the author of Steven Petrow's Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners and can be found online at gaymanners.com. Got a question? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact him on Facebook and Twitter.