red coats + tails

How Come Britain’s Gays Are Abandoning Weddings En Masse?


Fewer gay persons in Britain are getting gay married. The best explanation? Like with all trends, once they fall out of fashion, the gays run away!

Technically, British gays can only get civil unions — but fewer are choosing to do even that. When they became legal in 2005, it was the all the rage. Elton John was doing it! Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw was too! But not that all the famous people who would get their civil partnership have done so, there’s nobody worth talking about heading down the aisle. So the rest of Britain’s gays are abandoning unions, too!

By 2007, civil union rates had fallen 50 percent. Last year, there was an 18 percent drop from there.

“Gay community leaders” (or “those people,” as we call them) explain this away as the “normalizing process.” Giving gays civil union rights obviously set of a rush to wed, but now things have naturally calmed down.

Us? We think the gays have given up on their plans for world domination. Somebody check the agenda to figure out what we’re supposed to do next?

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #britain #civilunions #marriage stories and more


  • Mike

    It’s exactly as they said…things have leveled out. Now people get unionized as they fall in love. When they first started they had all the people who were waiting for years.

  • M Shane

    The same thing will happen here. I think that it’s nice for the few people who want some kind of official recognition, but face it, thas is just a fad started by a few guilt ridden journalists to Mainstream gays(Sullivan and Bawer).

    Even here it’s a joke to anyone who’s educated.

    In the U.K they’re proud to be who they are and don’t want to be suburban houswives.

    Queerty had an article posted about Mark Simpson,(he has a site) one of the U.K.s leading public gay journalists, and everyone implied that he was a tart or something, and he’s really a sweet unaffected person. Couldbe you’ll feel pretty mean and dense in time.

  • Cam

    Um…..that is because when they first became legal there was a pent up demand of all the couples who had been waiting to do it. Now that they have all gotten married the number will fall to a more normal rate. Just like in a few months 18,000 people got married in CA. The same thing also happened in MA. I have no idea why this article is being written as if gay people there are suddenly against marriage, again, it was because of pent up demand that the numbers started out so high, anybody would know this.

  • Cam

    @M Shane: you said “The same thing will happen here. I think that it’s nice for the few people who want some kind of official recognition, but face it, thas is just a fad started by a few guilt ridden journalists to Mainstream gays(Sullivan and Bawer).

    Even here it’s a joke to anyone who’s educated.”

    We get is, seriously we do, you don’t like marriage, you think that it’s gays imitating straights etc… but to say that educated people all feel that way is ridiculous. Your opinion was mostly in vogue decades ago, pushed by people like Larry Kramer, when it was a way to tell straight people to fuck off (i.e., you won’t let us get married? Well fuck you we wouldn’t even want to if we COULD so there!). But to pretend that it is somehow the majority opinion in England when thousands upon thousands have done it is just trying to rewrite facts to support your opinion.

  • daftpunkydavid

    civil unions are not marriage.

  • Helga von ornstein

    I think what has happened is now that they know they can legal get “unionized” many realize that there is a difference in being married and being single and are not opting for marriage.

    I do hope all who are considering marriage really think it through. And not think it through while at a happy hour. I know of several who want to get married that I personally would not trust to take care of a pet gold fish let alone a terminally ill spouse.

  • osocubano

    @daftpunkydavid: And a religious marriage without a legal document is invalid.

  • Jon

    Oh PLEASE. People it’s all spelled out on page 56 of your agenda manual.

  • daftpunkydavid

    @osocubano: your point?

  • Mary Taylor

    In the UK civil unions are very very close to marriage, affording many of the right heterosexula couples enjoy
    in terms of marriage numbers, i think previously there were lots of people who’d be waiting a long time. so as soon as they could get married they did, and now people are marrying as they fall in love, as heterosexulas do

  • M Shane

    @Cam; here are just a few of the formost intellectual gay spokesmen who question the appropriate place of marriage
    in everyone’s life:

    “The Trouble with Normal; Sex Ethics and Politics of Queer Life ” by Michael Warner (Rutgers Univ.)

    ‘Queer Wars:The New Gay Right and Its Critics’: Paul A Robinson; about Sullivan, Bauwer,Signorelli, and Rotello. U of Chicago
    (this is a really great assessment of the Right wWing movement)

    ‘Virtual Equality; the Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Libreration:’ (play on Sullivan’s” Virtually Normal”) Ursashi Vaid.

    ‘Feminism: and the Subversion of Identity’ Judith Butler

    “Reviving the Tribe”: Roles

    Kramer is relatively insignificant in the face of such a bulk of
    thought which, if nothing else we need to understand, or risk the danger of not seeing what we are about.

    A few Right Wing extremists who happen to have the publics ear should not alone be able to tellus who we are.

    I think that if people want to pair up they should be able to and have legal options However ,to say that that is the only path of Gay progress is so lacking in perspective that people are truly put in hazards way. No. 6 · Helga von ornstein put that rather well, I think. And it would be tragic for people to goaround all their lives looking for a parner when they are just able to take care of themselves. This is where a conformity becomes dangerous.

  • reluctant commenter

    @M Shane:

    A joke to anyone who’s educate? Please. Your argument that moderate gays are commandeering the LGBT pursuit for equality is undercut by your dismissive tone. Implying that anyone with legitimate intelligence is leery of marriage altogether makes you appear to be the one insisting that one way is inherently correct, and the other wrong.

    I see you on here incessantly going on about gay men wanting marriage are gay men wanting to be housewives, as if marriage inevitably relegates one member to that role. That sort of judgment ultimately reeks or misogyny.

    Imagine it, social progress: proud British queers coupling up with other dudes and yet refusing to submit to marriage and thereby stoop to the level of housewife.

  • M Shane

    I’ve quoted this before, but for you “reluctant commenter” the notion that the likes of Andrew Sullivan, or Bawer are “moderates’ is insanity in
    fullflight. Again Tony Kushner (most noted modern gay playwrite) said to the effect that in America : what were liberals have become known as Radicals, what were radicals Insane, what were conservatives are moderates and those who were reactionary are moderate and the insane are sound coonservatives. That describes Sullivan and the lot.

    The idea that trying to become more like straight people constitutes progress is just bizarre. “Mainstreaming or assimilation is very directly a product of gay shame for buying the notion that they started AIDS and was an ultra conservative response to the peerception that gay sexuality was bad.

    We are not evil or bad and don’t have to prove to straight people that we can be nice little homespun suburbanites.This seems to suit Lesbian temperament but not that of many men straight or gay.

    Straight men are forced to pairing because women demand it. If they had their druthers, they might be as free as gays can be.

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)

    @ M Shane

    But wtf is YOUR problem?? What do YOU want that will keeping you chaining your penis??

    I’m from the UK and I’m embarresed in our lack of dialogue like in the US..

    Have you EVER being a child? Would you choose a dirty childrens home (worked in those) or 2 gay parents who want a home for you? And THEN do you want them as a child to be official? Yours??

    This is depressing.

    I really can’t understand why gays would do this shit to other fays who just want connection, safety for kids or you know what? Jus a good ol shin dig like the straights-tell your mates and loved ones that this is your partner to b!


    Come on.

  • M Shane

    No. 14 · John from England: for gay men who want that kind of life style ok, re; the divorce rate here more straights don’t even want marriage.
    I’m only saying that to assume that it’s something that’s just natural (even as breeding) or the best thing is silly.

    This has become a religious war(who’s the most goodly) here and I find that appaling. People want to announce that it’s something different but I havn’t seen that to be the case-I’ve mainly seen people who want straight respectablity. or people who don’t know better and just conform.
    I think that if you want to babysit kids you should.

  • jason

    Maybe the problem is that British gay men prefer a life of hedonism to a life of monogamy. The attraction of unfettered sex with multiple strangers while wearing a dog collar might be too much for them.

  • deliverence

    of course there is going to be a rush in the beginning… to clear the back log of people who were waiting for the cicil union, and yes things will slow down to a base rate. nothing suprising there! same as everything. typical over dramatised shite

  • epluribusunumjk

    Man – one day hopefully. I can’t wait for me and my boy of 5 years to finally tie the knot. I live close to IA, so maybe I can go over there to make myself feel better – but I’d much rather live in Chicago or the ‘burbs I think.

  • marcelo

    Marriage is for people who NEED security in their lives. It’s a nice little fantasy, but, as all my divorced str8 mates tell me – it was fun while it lasted (although, clearly not fun enough). And, they got a couple of good kids out of the experience.

    But – nothing, I repeat – nothing last for ever. And marriage has always been the nice little fantasy that it does last for ever.

    A sense of seperation, insecurity and fear gave us God and religion, my old (and missed) chocolate addiction, booze etc etc

    That fear has unfolded in many ways. Marraige is just another way.

    …I, on the other hand – lost that fear and insecurity some time ago.

    Nowadays – I’m just having fun. Looking for a relationship, but don’t want to settle down in some faux situation, just to feel “part of the family”.

    There is nothing to fear people – marraige leads to rigidity.

    Still, i’ve certainly indulged in fantasies myself, so why not – go crazy people!

  • getreal

    I don’t think it matters if fewer people want to marry as time goes on. It is vitally important that everyone have the right legally to make that choice.

  • dgz

    @marcelo: oh, honey. your parents’ divorce wasn’t you fault. try to look on the bright side — you’ll have two rooms, and two christmases! don’t blame yourself.

  • Jaroslaw

    #11 M Shane – I read Michael Warner’s book and he makes some good points. Most people are too uptight about sex, every encounter does not have to be in a monogamous relationship amd all the rest of it – still he’s pretty radical. He does so from the reference point of being, IMO, very good looking (or was) and these options of endless anonymous encounters are available to him.

    I’ll at least be honest and say I don’t know if I’m being moralistic and judging, envious, or a bit of both – of MW’s behavior and what he advocates; but for most people, the path of committed relationships, while conventional and possibly dull, is kind of inevitable without incredibly radical change in our society.

    And what happens when one ages a bit, what stable relationship does one have to fall back on if every encounter is promiscuous? One night stands have no attachment obviously. That is one of the main reasons for committment, no?

  • M Shane

    No. 22 · Jaroslaw: Thanks for responding intelligently! I have to admit that you give me reason to ponder. I’ve had to confront the issues which you suggest myself of late. First,
    not in bragging at all, but in reality, from my first visit to NYC until living in San Francisco, I was always able to have sex with nearly anyone I wanted, and it really never untill recently occured to me that it wasn’t the same for everyone, or for me now. The unfortunate part in that is that when I was young in the Midwest , no one would be friends with me, but just wanted sex, which made a lonely existence for me. So there are two sides of that. I would have given anything for a friend; sex alone does not make life! But I have run into many people who don’t have sex with whomever they really want but several times in a lifetime, not daily . Some of these guys are blessed with many good friends, which I envy . So you are right that there may be that element that finding someone special would be significant.
    What happens with age, which Warner addresses indirectly, is that gay people make friends much more readily than straight people. The greatest blessing is friendship. Some of us, and I have friends like me are to individualistic to be able to live with anyone else easily. I would certainly pity anyone who had to live with me! However, For people who adapt to each other well, I think it’s great to form partnerships. But it’s not a death sentance to live alone and have good friends. I think friends are the key.

    I just e-mailed a friend of mine in the U.K. about this article, and what he said is that, it is true that once people got used to partnerships that often ended up in divorce, they just got tired of the novelty.

    I think that it is important to have some kind of partnership rights, and to have that option, but it’s not for everyone. The important thing is, like you have done, is to read and think about the real issues.

  • Jaroslaw

    M Shane – you didn’t ask, but I was kind of cursed growing up – all my family is very religious and not the window-dressing kind, VERY VERY sincere about it. So I had tons of conflicts, obviously. Oddly, I figured God would understand if I found the one right guy to marry, but of course, in the late 70’s early 80s there was nothing like that to be found, but lots of promiscuity.

    It kind of made me very unhappy about being Gay and it took a LONG time to be comfortable with something in between. And I don’t have good looks, so endless anonymous sex is far less likely for me. I do console myself though with the idea that at least I know who my friends are! I’m not rich either, so they must really like me for me!

    I’ve always had lots of friends, so I guess that is life, feast or famine. Its the boyfriend thing that is so elusive. So it irritates me a bit for someone like MW to be so cavalier about anonymous sex as you gathered. But I’m open enough to know that no two people live exactly the same life. Kind of like (but also different) even if two people watch the same movie, they really don’t “see” the same movie based on life experiences.

    Well, thank you for finding my response intelligent and I’m satisified to know you’re pondering just a bit based on something I said!

  • Jaroslaw

    One more quick thought, more on topic! People who get married and STAY married do not show up in the statistics so while there are truly lots of divorces, there are also lots of Gay & Straight people who are still married.

    So when you hear “50% of marriages end in divorce” that isn’t really true. It’s manipulation of statistics.

  • reluctant commenter

    I believe a desire to marry is rooted more in a person’s motivation to emulate the familial structure they are familiar with, not to assimilate, prove anything, or reconcile any shame. A key point is that my mother and father are not queer, and the environment they established for me had a huge affect on my identity development. What’s bizarre to me is the idea that my life, upon coming out, should suddenly be governed by an arbitrary and foreign prescription that attempts to dissociate me from what I’ve known heretofore.

    There was a time when being gay was severely limiting, resulting in a sub-culture. But the factors that forced the development of that culture are beginning to disappear. I think gays who oppose or diminish marriage do so out of nostalgia and a wish for things to remain the same. Perhaps to reinforce their course in life. And I think that’s why you’re constantly drawing lines of ownership around what sort of lifestyle belongs to what type of person, basing those determinations on stereotypes, and ignoring an individual’s ability to make decisions informed by personal experience. I think any argument that seeks to continue rigidly defining what it means to be male, gay, lesbian, etc, is regressive.

  • reluctant commenter

    @M Shane: That was for you.

  • M Shane

    No. 27 · reluctant commenter ; some of what you say does apply. It ‘s clearly an error to depict the marriage movement as being a trend of progress; Historically it is a very direct byproduct of the developement of AIDS shame, and then the movement by one or two political Rightwingers who claimed to want to ‘end gay liberation’ and to assimilate gays into the straight culture. As you can se in the U.K., once enough people went for the new furnishings etc, and they got tiresome (divorce) They stopped and returned to a more natural style for males; which even if you talk to straight men, is free and unbounded:straight men marry for women and to raise children by and large. I have had many straight male friends.

    I think that people should have conubial rights if the lifestyle suits them. Again I believe that we gay people have proven that we are smart enough to develope a complex set of different kinds of relationships.

  • Skylar

    @M Shane:

    So what you’re saying is straight women are at the root of gay men’s problems? That doesn’t even make any sense. Did it ever occur to you that emulating social norms has nothing to do with sexual orientation and everything to do with the fact that, gay or straight, we do all share the same culture. I’m still English-American and my children will be English-American. I was raised in the same culture that my straight siblings were.

    Never mind the overt sexism permeating from your comments and your total lack of understanding regarding socialisation and gender.

  • marcelo

    @dgz: actually my parents are still together after all these years.

Comments are closed.