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For gay men not in love with nuptials

Just because same-sex marriage is in the news doesn't mean every gay man is interested. Here, some avoidance tips.

March 16, 2004|Nick Charles | Special to The Times

NEW YORK — Judging from the success of Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and the pitifully short, three-episode run of Comedy Central's "Straight Plan for the Gay Man," it would seem the advice highway between the sexual orientations runs just one way: gay to straight.

That is, until the wedding bells started chiming.

Once marriage licenses started being handed out to same-sex couples in San Francisco and elsewhere, things changed. And even though the marriages have been halted for now, there is the distinct possibility that they'll pick up again once the courts start making their rulings.

How is that cause for alarm?

Quiet as it's kept, not every gay man is picking out floral arrangements and designing wedding invitations in anticipation of his big day. In fact, some are squirming at the thought that their partner might be so inclined.

That's where a category of straight male -- let's call him Hetero avoidus -- comes in, offering advice to the reluctant would-be gay spouse on how to sidestep the ultimate commitment. After all, straight men have been honing their marriage-avoidance skills for millenniums.

With that in mind, we gathered some tips from a few well-chosen representatives of the species:

* Kyle Smith, 37, the unmarried author of the lad lit book "Love Monkey" (William Morrow): "You can go the pity route ('My parents got divorced and I know for sure I don't want to put my kids through that'); or the helpless man-boy route ('I can barely figure out how to work the toaster, and I have to grow up before I'm good enough for you'); or the uncertain-prospects route ('I want to be able to afford all the best for us, but a team of McKinsey consultants was recently spotted going over payroll sheets at work')."

* Rick Marin, 41, author of "Cad: Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor" (Hyperion) and a longtime practitioner of the manly art of marriage evasion before he was upended last May and said "I do": "There's always the 'If I'm not sure, why do you want me to marry you? I'm doing us both a favor.' "

Marin adds that he has been married once before, and that has always been a good card to play. "You can say, 'I don't want to rush into it.' I know that's hard for gay men [since most haven't been married], but they can pull out a long-term relationship and say, 'I've been scared.' "

* Kareem Lamar, 32, single musician: There's always the "two-year plan." "Just tell them we'll get married in two years, and if they say things can change in two years, the comeback is: 'Then why get married?' The cool thing is you can keep using it."

Lamar has been keeping his live-in lady love at bay for several years. When she first started mentioning marriage he employed "the deaf ear. Act like you don't hear them." That buys you a few months at best. But a surefire way to divert attention from wedded bliss is to be overly supportive of your loved one's aspirations.

"Tell him, 'Work on your career. Do you. Go to grad school. Do you, don't worry about me,' " says Lamar, who admits that after being with his girlfriend for five years, he's on borrowed time.

* Billy Merritt, 33, a divorced advisor on "Straight Plan for the Gay Man": For those desperate and willing to try the outlandish, Merritt suggests "giving yourself goals. Pick up deer hunting and tell him, 'Until I get a 12-point buck, I can't get married.' "

The sad thing, Merritt adds, is that the one fail-safe way for straight men to get out of getting married may not work for gay men. "The last resort for the straight male is to say, 'I'm gay.' What can a gay man say? 'I'm super gay; I'm just a gay you can't understand'?"

For the most novel advice of the day, we turn to an Angeleno.

* Mario Melendez, 39, owner of the club King King: "Be straight up," says Melendez, who recently broke up with his girlfriend. "Just tell him you're not ready. Honesty, to me, keeps you out of trouble."

But that would be playing it straight.

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