Queeries Advice Column for June, 2011

Bridal Gowns, Pronouns, Sperm donor dads?


Must two brides dress like twins?

Q: My fiancée and I are planning our wedding, which is going to be very “traditional” in many ways. We agree on almost all the details, except the all-important one of what we should wear. She really wants the full princess treatment – a classic silk or organza gown. Egads! The problem is, that’s just not who I am! I’m comfortable in a dress (OK, sometimes), but I can’t imagine myself in an all-out Cinderella getup. I know there are rules, or at least traditions, for heterosexual couples when it comes to wedding attire; but we don’t have a lot to go on here. Can you help us?

A: First of all, congratulations on your upcoming nuptials – it always makes me happy to say that – and on the extent of your agreement (so far) on the zillions of details. A couple who can agree on a budget and a seating chart for their friends and family can surely solve any challenge life will send their way.

It’s true that there’s not a long history of same-sex weddings to guide you, but there certainly have been some high-profile couples (Ellen and Portia; Sir Elton and David Furnish) who’ve done this with style, so you can look to them as role models. And there are some basic principles that should help you come to a solution that will make you both happy.

First, know that there is a wide range of options for what two brides can wear to their wedding, from traditional gowns or tuxedoes to military uniforms or even western wear, should those hold significance or appeal for either of you.

Next, it’s important to consider your wedding’s level of formality (or informality).

If your wedding will be formal, you should both dress to the nines; but that doesn’t mean your attire must be a copy of your beloved’s. The outfits Ellen and Portia wore to their nuptials are great examples. Portia’s pink and white halter-top dress was different from Ellen’s white vest and trousers, but the brides complemented each other perfectly. What you don’t want is for one of you to be formal and the other noticeably more casual – or that you’re two strangers who happened to stop in front of the camera at the same time.


What pronoun should I use for a trans person?

Q: I was at a party last weekend and met someone whom I really enjoyed getting to know. Here’s the thing: I wasn’t sure about his or her gender identity, so I didn’t know what pronoun to use. Any advice?

A: Most of the time, we don’t actually need to use either a male or female pronoun when in conversation with an individual. That’s what “you” is for. But if you find yourself in a legitimate situation needing to know (by the way, idle curiosity doesn’t count) and the person’s name doesn’t do the trick, don’t make an assumption. Instead, just ask: “Which pronoun do you prefer?” Sure, it might be a bit awkward, but less so than getting it wrong.

Can a sperm donor be considered a ‘dad’?

Q: My oldest daughter is now 18 and is going to meet her sperm donor soon. My partner wants her to call him “bio dad,” but I think that’s ridiculous. He’s never met her – how can we even think about him being a “dad”? Who do you think is right?

A: I don’t think it really matters what either of you prefer for your daughter to call her sperm donor; that’s entirely up to her and the nature of the relationship that develops between them (or doesn’t). But I am glad that you chose a donor who agreed ahead of time to meet with his biological offspring when she came of age, giving your daughter the option to initiate contact with him through the sperm bank.

Rather than arguing with each other about what your daughter call her sperm donor, I’d suggest you use your time and energy to help your young lady think through the kind of relationship she might want with this fellow. Urge her to be realistic, and remind her that she might be in for a letdown. Disappointment can come in many flavors, such as that experienced by the two teens in The Kids Are All Right, who learned that their sperm donor (the handsome but quirky Mark Ruffalo) was a real person with real flaws.

As with any relationship, this one will take time and patience if it’s to succeed. In the end, your daughter may decide that she does, in fact, want to refer to him as “dad” – or she may wind up not referring to him at all.

Steven Petrow is the author of the new book Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners, to be published in June. He can also be found online at www.gaymanners.com. Got a question of your own? Email him: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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