Op-ed: It's Time To Invest in The Business of Gay Love
It has been almost a year since the Supreme Court gutted the Defense of Marriage Act and declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional. Since then, my Facebook has been glitter-bombed with flash mob proposals, engagement announcements, and wedding day photos.
My boyfriend and I have always reveled in the idea of being invited to a gay wedding. We often wondered how gay couples would translate the many traditions and roles typically held by one man and one woman. We wondered silly things like what would the invitations look like, “Who proposes to who?” and “Who walks who down the aisle?”
A few months ago our fascination and curiosity were satisfied when a friend of mine announced his engagement, and soon after, asked me to officiate his wedding.
Multiple wishes granted.
Before I knew it, the wedding day had arrived, and I was taking my place at the altar and watching the wedding party march down the aisle toward me.
There were a few times when I could barely hold back my tears, especially as the couple exchanged their vows. It was probably the most beautiful moment I have ever experienced in my life.
As I looked out in to the sea of people, I could see the families of both the grooms sobbing in tears of joy and happiness. From the mothers and sisters to the fathers and friends, everyone was present in this moment to celebrate a love that brought two people together.
It was at that same time that I also realized that even though I had this preconceived idea that a gay wedding would be very different, in the end, it was just like any other wedding I had attended.
It didn’t matter that the couple was gay, or that there wasn’t a lace-draped bride in sight. All that mattered was that every single person in that room was there to acknowledge the love between these two individuals.
As a matchmaker, this shift in thinking stayed with me. I remembered those voices who, for years, had told our community that love between a same-sex couple was not the same as the love shared by a straight couple, including eHarmony founder Neil Clark Warren, who was quoted as saying how frustrated he was at being forced by the courts to allow gay men and women to have access to his online dating services. He said it “damaged his company” and that he needed $10 million to do research to understand homosexuality.
I remember thinking to myself that if this guys needs $10 million for research, he (a) clearly does not get out of the house very much, and (b) doesn’t understand the fundamentals of love.
After attending and officiating my first wedding, I can tell him firsthand that there is no difference between gay love and straight love. We all meet, date, fall in love, and want to live happily ever after the same way.
The very idea that someone like Warren can assume that the essence of two people falling in love is different simply because they are gay is 100 percent ridiculous, especially because he was so adamant in 2012 about taking back control of his company from its investors because they were more focused on money than relationships.
“Building a relationship business is so different from trying to build something with machines or widgets,” Warren told Bloomberg in 2012. “To put it in the hands of people that only want to look at it as a source of business success, revenue success doesn’t make sense anymore.”
Well, Mr. Warren you are right, nothing makes sense anymore.
You say you want to focus more on relationships? OK, then focus on the relationships of people in the general public, not just those whose relationships you deem appropriate or acceptable on your terms. You, sir, do not get that privilege.
Also, if you did care about making money for your company, you would know about the huge financial opportunity that same-sex marriage is giving many businesses in the wedding industry. In 2012, just a year after marriage equality was established in the state of New York, a reported $259 million was added to the economy in New York City alone.
Then there is your competition within the market. Niche sites are starting to gain huge parts of the market share within the online dating world. Websites like JDate for Jewish people, SeaCaptainDate.com for ocean lovers, and even FarmersOnly.com are slowly chipping away at your bottom line. And still, when you were “forced” to create a website for a huge consumer demographic with deep pockets, you huddled in a corner and threw a tantrum.
You are right. Nothing you do makes sense to me.
Maybe this is a call to action to all my brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. We have all the right resources. Why don’t we start investing our time and money into developing and supporting sites that promote better relationships instead of wasting so much of our time on the Grindrs and Scruffs of the world?
We have already begun to make large strides toward redefining the public perception of what gay relationships are and how important marriage is to us. So now it’s also time to change the perception of our dating culture by investing in dating sites and giving them the same time, attention, and money that we have given to the other apps.
Since no one else will do it for us, we might as well do it for ourselves.
Until then, I am happy to be a matchmaker who helps all men and women, gay or straight, find love. It makes me feel happy to know that I helped two people find each other and fall in love, and to know that they have the freedom to hold hands while walking, and that they may plan a family, and have kids who could one day contribute something great to this world.
That’s what I think being in the business of love is all about. This is what makes sense.
DAVID CRUZ III is a gay matchmaker and a cast member on Bravo's Millionnaire Matchmaker. He is the founder of the romance advice blog Finding-Cupid.com.