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Even so, gay marriage still seemed like a distant dream, which is why some gay invitees told Mr. Morris that they felt less than welcome at their straight friends’ weddings. As Mr. Morris wrote, weddings represented “that increasingly rare opportunity to feel ashamed, or at least self-conscious.” One gay man interviewed said that “often one of the families doesn’t want you there, so you end up feeling like pariahs.” That ill-at-ease feeling was even more pronounced at weddings held outside the perceived safe zones of gay-friendly cities like New York or San Francisco. A gay New Yorker recalled a rehearsal dinner at country club in Roanoke, Va., where he and his boyfriend were the only two of about 40 guests who were not assigned seats because “the groom’s mother had panicked at the idea of a gay couple,” he said. Bump, grind or none of the above? Even when gay couples perceived no overt snubs, many found themselves confused about how open they were allowed to be in this environment of heterosexual abandon. One Manhattan psychiatrist recalled feeling too awkward to dance with his partner at a straight wedding: “Dancing is very ritualistic, and it’s very heavy. You need to know you’re in a safe gay space before you do it.” Playing a role: To justify their presence, some gay guests felt compelled to fall back on familiar stereotypes: the sharp-eyed style maven, dishing out tips on the bride’s mother’s lipstick, or the campy quipster, eliciting howls of laughter with outré one-liners in wedding speeches. “Weddings are by their nature staid,” one gay male publicist said. “Gay people bring a sense of levity to the event because it’s so irrelevant to our lives.” Out of the margins: Change came, but slowly.
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