FBLA: We heard you are the editor of the first gay weddings magazine and you happen to be a straight, single guy. How did that happen?
JF: The source of my own passion was actually a tragic development: just as With This Ring was taking shape, a colleague and mentor of mine found his family unceremoniously ripped apart on account of some legal technicalities that could never have occurred if he had been allowed to marry his partner. The moral of that story hit home profoundly: whether one agrees or not with the notion of same-sex unions (no matter their title), no one-gay, straight, black, white, or purple – deserves to have their life’s love stolen.
It seemed a natural extension for me to take up the cause, and no matter what the industry says about the future state of print, media in general is still a most effective way to reach people, influence opinions, and hopefully-eventually-policy. My personal politics aside (I’m a Democrat, as if that fact weren’t clear), these are families we’re talking about; that’s real beyond rhetoric.
I have the words “Integrity” and “Equality” tattooed on my back above an American eagle, and published a magazine called “Citizen Culture.” Wouldn’t I be a hypocrite if I didn’t rise when duty called?
FBLA: Seriously, you’re a single straight guy?
JF: Thank you so much for your astonishment; it’s quite flattering, but I suppose unless you count being married to my business for five years, yes, I am.
We’ve all had our “one that got away,” right? And it shapes us; hopefully we grow from it, so we can be ready and more mature next time. But I do consider myself a stupid romantic-I’m genetically required to be, since my parents got engaged on their first date, and they’ve been happily married for over thirty years!
Truth be told, I find true inspiration in the GLBT community’s model of monogamy: disregarding the stereotypes, can you imagine the kind of devotion and unfettered love it takes to build a life with the one partner for decades on end without the right or ability to concretize that relationship in the eyes of the law?
FBLA: Any plans to have a wedding (gay or otherwise) of your very own?
Wedding, yes, hopefully. But it takes two, right? (I’ll let you know when that happens.) I believe that wedding holds special meaning to the couple’s community: besides being a biological function (the psycho-scientific world called it “pair bonding”), weddings are supposed to publicly declare one’s lifelong devotion to another person.
Personally, I think the word “marriage” is an unnecessary burden: it’s religious in nature, and therefore doesn’t apply to everyone; plus we see that it’s causing all sorts of strife. If all marriages were just called “unions,” maybe we could all focus on the happy times rather than the words used to describe them. At the same time, though, words have meaning, and if such meaning is bestowed upon the word “marriage,” then everyone should have equal access to it.
(That is precisely why WITH THIS RING is the magazine “For Every Kind of Wedding,” and not for every kind of marriage.)
FBLA: Is it easier to get a date when you’re the editor of a gay wedding magazine? Is it like the one guy in ballet class that figured out that’s where all the ballerinas are?
JF: HA! I wish.
On the flip side, when you’re a single, straight man who publishes a weddings magazine, many women seem to either (A) disbelieve that you’re straight, (B) mistake you for totally effeminate, (C) believe you’re married already (even if you swear youâ€™re not), (D) think you’re lying, or (E) think you want to rush them into marriage and so get completely turned off.
FBLA: Do you think prop. 8′s outcome will affect your magazine?
JF: Thankfully, not at all. I LOVE this question, and I’ll tell you why: the “equality genie” has been loosed from its bottle, never to be cooped up again.
It’s possible that Prop. 8 could win (I’m working my relationships, as are all my colleagues, to keep that from happening) and “marriage” per se will be banned. The “wedding” – the union, in all its splendor – is infinitely more important than its religiously-tinged title. The more the conversation about same-sex marriage occupies the public consciousness, the less foreign it becomes a fact we’re seeing in polls already.
By November, voters around the country will see the joy and love in the eyes of all the same-sex couples who have wed in California so far, and theyâ€™ll understand that this holy event is first-and-foremost about romance. Even if the measure passes, With This Ring will still serve civil unions, commitment ceremonies, and other kinds of weddings.
We might have different views of religious propriety, but no good personâ€”and we all want to be good-wishes for another to live without love, intimacy, or passion.
FBLA: Thanks for your time Jonathon! We’ll see you at the reception!