After getting engaged in November 2012 while on a trip in London, Billy Nastyn and Pat Sandora decided to document the months leading up to their wedding by making YouTube videos that answer the questions they were frequently asked about planning a gay wedding. With only five months to go, Billy and Pat are knee-deep in wedding preparations and excited to take their YouTube audience along with them. The couple admits that while it can be hard to be constantly asked about the gender roles of their relationship, they always try and put themselves in other people’s shoes. Talking with NMR, Billy and Pat took a moment to share how Billy’s grandma helped in planning the wedding and how they hope to inspire other LGBT couples around the world.
Why did you guys decide to document the road leading up to your wedding on YouTube?
Pat: I had had a little bit of experience YouTubing. I had a channel I used to do with my best friend a while ago. And it’s always been something that interested Billy and I. He had an old channel as well before we were together, and we realized quickly after we got engaged that our friends and family had lots of questions for us, and some out of curiosity and some like they really didn’t know how a gay engagement works, how gay marriage works, and we found that we didn’t have answers to a lot of that ourselves. We didn’t know how to answer them so we figured there must be a lot of other people out there that were having similar questions, whether they are other LGBT people or friends of gay people or family members, and we figured, why don’t we just figure it out on YouTube in front of everybody, and it will help us get the answers and it will help us hopefully help other people learn a little bit more about it and feel a connection in that way.
What have been some of the questions that people have asked pretty frequently?
Billy: I would say most frequent ones have been — there are a few — but “Who walks down the aisle?” It is a lot of the traditional things that people tend to jump back to and where there are certain gender roles they expect. “How are they going to handle the situation?” “Like what do you do in the case of that?” You know there have been things like “Who proposed to who?” We haven’t heard this question specifically, but we’ve heard it to other people before: people asking like, “Who is the bride, and who is the groom?” which is like really extreme gender role issues there that you know neither of us are obviously the bride so [laughs].
Pat: I think the gender role stuff is everyone’s sort of first questions. If there is no woman, who took what role in the traditional proposing or walking down the aisle or planning kind of stuff. Those are the biggest questions.
For some of the questions that even if they may be out of curiosity they kind of do perpetuate these gender roles, how do you respond to them? Is it ever hard to not be offended?
Billy: I don’t know; there is a little bit where you want to feel offended but you also understand where people are coming from, and I try to always think of where someone else is coming from, where they grew up and what experiences they had, whether they’ve had gay friends or not and try not to judge the way people phrase things and the way they ask their questions, because I know it is coming out of a good place most of the time at least. So I don’t know. I try to take it from their point of view, and then I try to break it down really easily and basically — in some funny way — just remove the gender out of it. I’m sure there are some couples out there that will relate more to those traditional gender role of like one guy is more of a bride and one guy is more of a groom but not everyone is the same.
Pat: I think you said it well, and I think we kind of handle it on a different basis depending on who we’re speaking with. I think when it is some random person that says something that is kind of offensive it’s easy to sort of get offended when it is someone you don’t know, ‘cause you can kind of lay it out for them. It is a little more sensitive when it is a close friend or family member that you know because you know them personally and they know you personally, that they’re not coming from a bad place where they ask a question that might be a little more awkward for them to ask. I think what Billy said about you have to put yourself in their shoes a little bit just as they need to put themselves in our shoes.