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Boys in our Books is thrilled to welcome KA Mitchell to discuss her upcoming new release, “Put A Ring On It”.
The release date for my latest book, Put a Ring on It, is September 9. It’s also my twenty-ninth anniversary. Though we didn’t get any say in the matter, my wife and I both think it’s pretty cool that the first book in this new series will come out on our anniversary, especially since the series focuses on the subject of marriage.
When we were celebrating our twenty-fifth anniversary, my parents were celebrating their fiftieth. But therein lies the problem: at that point, my wife and I had legally only been married seven years. On a date in May I still don’t always remember. But for me–and up until the SCOTUS year, for a lot of other loving committed same-sex couples–we had to make our own dates, our own ceremonies of commitment and love. A question like “How long have you been together?” could have a couple come out with different answers, based on their own interpretations of “together”. Some of us would count from a first date, first sex, promise of commitment, or a commitment ceremony. My wife and I could never count it from the date we met. We were ages four and five in Mrs. Noble’s dance class and I’m afraid the actual dates are a little fuzzy.
With a long and sometimes convoluted history on the way to becoming “lovers” (our first relationship label) we self-selected September 9, 1986. Our immediate families were really accepting of our relationship, but they didn’t know what to call us. “My daughter and her…friend.” “This is my daughter’s partner.” Usually introductions in the straight world were just our names paired and the new acquaintance was left to figure it out.
When my sister got married, my wife and I had been together for ten years. My grandmother spent a great deal of time bending the officiant’s ear about how committed everyone in the family was. Only one divorce amongst so many marriages. She went on to list the length of times, pointing at my cousins and aunts and uncles. I wanted to jump up and down, waving my arms saying “Ten years right here, Nanie,” but she ignored that particular relationship. Maybe because there was no legally sanctioned label on it.
I wanted to marry my wife as soon as I could.
At the time Kathy and I got married, I needed leverage with my employer should she need to go on my health insurance. When you’re a long-haired, love-to-wear-skirts and dresses kind of lesbian like I am, it’s really easy for people to just assume you’re straight. But I’m not. And being gay, having people know I’m gay is a big part of my identity, so being able to say “my wife” takes care of the coming out portion of a conversation pretty quickly, without having to stop and insert an “I’m a lesbian, yes, thank you, it’s fine if the macaroni salad is a bit over half a pound.” And our families were both relieved to have a way past that awkward “what to call her” issue around their daughters’ life-partner, lover, girlfriend, whatever.
None of that is why I wanted to get married.
I’ve been in love with my wife for almost thirty years. And I grew up in a family, in a place, in a world where being in love leads to being married. I didn’t give a crap about a wedding. I hate weddings. But I wanted to be married to the woman I love.
Not everyone accepts it.
My Nanie still fought accepting my wife as part of the official family with all of the traditions that went with legal marriage for the rest of my cousins. There are those abusing their positions as county clerks to humiliate and deny people seeking the same right. And, on the other side, it’s still a question lots of queer people have. Why tie yourself into that heteronormative label? Why be a part of an archaic system created to supervise the transfer of property? Marriage is misogynistic. Marriage is meaningless. Resist assimilation.
But knowing that those soft snoring sounds in my bed are from the woman I want to spend forever with, that standing before a very brave, very committed clerk (who ended up being arrested for marrying out-of-state couples) and saying “I do”…it gave our previous seventeen years together a new life. We didn’t change our anniversary. But most of the world changed with us. That simple ceremony in a Worcester County Clerk’s office conferred an amazing power with magic words. I took her to be my wife, and now the rest of the country has come along.
If you know who you love, does a piece of paper matter (beyond the over 1000 federal rights it confers)? The same question is a big part the conflict in Put a Ring on It. Why get married? It’s something that everyone–regardless of orientation–has to define for themselves. Including the characters in Put a Ring on It.
But I’m not going to spoil the story for you by telling you what the characters decide.
Title: Put A Ring On It (Ready Or Not #1)
Author: KA Mitchell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 204 pages
Release Date: September 9, 2015
Purchase Links: Dreamspinner
Kieran Delaney-Schwartz—adoptee, underachiever, and self-professed slacker IT guy—lives his under-the-radar life by the motto: Don’t try, don’t fail. His adopted siblings are all overachievers thanks to his driven, liberal parents, but Kieran has elected to avoid disappointing anyone by not getting their hopes up. He’s coasting through his early twenties when he’s hit head-on by Theo. The successful decade-older Broadway producer sweeps him off his feet for a whirlwind thirteen months that are pretty sweet until it all comes screeching to a halt on Valentine’s Day, with an unexpected proposal via a NYC Times Square Flash mob.
Now everyone wants in on the wedding, except the grooms…