Strippers, stogies and the sowing of wild oats: Few things are more hyper-masculine and heteronormative than the traditional American bachelor party.
But bidding farewell to bachelorhood among lifelong friends is no longer the exclusive purview of the straight male. Still, don’t assume gay couples have adopted the typical trappings of a prenuptial bro-fest. One benefit of not having many rituals around gay weddings is that gay people get to invent their own.
When it comes to bachelor parties specifically, these new customs are really the byproduct of a fair amount of questions. For instance: Is there a joint bachelor party or are there two equally debauched evenings? What about straight dudes — can they attend, too? Not to mention women? And will this really be the last pair of balls the grooms will see — aside from each other’s, of course?
To find out — and assemble what’s admittedly a short guide for straight guys with gay friends and family members who plan on walking down the aisle one day — I spoke with a handful of my own friends, wedding experts and Redditors who imparted lots of interesting wisdom on the rainbow stag party.
There should be two separate bachelor parties.
Chances are the grooms share many mutual friends. That doesn’t mean, however, there should only be one bachelor party. “I strongly advise against holding a joint party for two grooms,” cautions Tom, who planned a solo one for his friend in Las Vegas last year. “If you’re going to have a bachelor party experience, you have to do it separately. Otherwise it’s an engagement party. We rented a two-story townhouse within the MGM Grand and thoroughly embarrassed the bachelor in front of two strippers, which wouldn’t have happened if his future spouse was in the room.”
Matt Breen, editorial director at Logo, agrees: “Don’t do a ‘both grooms’ party.” As does Redditor Tilpots: “Bachelor parties aren’t for couples. He gets his and, well, he gets his. They’ll be together plenty once they’re married. Group parties are fun, but that’s an engagement party. Bachelor parties are solo. Period.”
This means, of course, mutual friends will be asked to pull double duty. “His now-husband did his own thing a week before and rented a house in Palm Springs,” Tom says. “There were two people who attended both. We demanded that they tell us everything that happened!”
That said, the two parties can meet up.
Eduardo A. Braniff, the co-founder of Men’s Vows, a digital magazine “supporting men who marry,” says what he enjoys most about gay bachelor parties is when couples share the experience. So yes, stay apart most of the time, but eventually unite (which is kinda the whole point, after all). “Maybe couples do their own thing for the first part of the evening, but at some point, the two parties come together. More often than not you’re including both guys and gal pals. The more the merrier — you’re celebrating your bachelordom together and setting off into your married life as a unit.”
That follows the logic of Redditor Barkomatic, who recently threw a successful bachelor party for his gay brother: “We started the evening off with everyone together for dinner then we broke into two separate nights out. At the end of the night everyone converged on the bar where the two of them originally met.”
Gay bachelor parties are by no means all gay.
Just because the grooms are both gay doesn’t mean everyone at the bachelor party will be. Art, in fact, was the only gay man at his bachelor party, which included attending a drag show. “All the other guys were straight as well as married,” he says. “There was a custodian, an insurance analyst, a nurse, an IT manager and a bank teller. The first few minutes were as strange to me as they were to them. But as the night evolved, it was fun for all of us. In the end, I had the best bachelor party in the entire world, no joke. Overall, this was perhaps the happiest time of my life.”
Hire strippers, but put some thought into it.
Tom’s crowd in Vegas was mixed, too — gay guys, two or three straight guys and three or four straight women. So when it came to the strippers, there were a lot of dynamics (and desires) at play. “I asked the maître d’ at the gay club to help me find a couple types of strippers. Two guys showed up at the suite. One was gay; one was straight. The straight one was amazing and right out of Magic Mike. He put on a show — lifting people out of their chairs, doing handstands and putting his ass in people’s faces. Overall, he did a great job of entertaining everyone in the party, no matter their sexuality.”
Braniff of Men’s Vows thinks the most important thing about planning a gay bachelor party is pretty much the same advice most people give for a straight bachelor party: “Get on the same page. Make sure there’s no mystery. How indulgent do you plan to be with anything sexual or sensual? It can certainly be fun and over-the-top, but you don’t want to leave each other thinking, Whoa, what went on?”
The main organizer should be the person who knows the bachelor best.
Given the potentially sensitive nature of the festivities, the person quarterbacking the bachelor party should be familiar with the groom and relatively familiar with gay culture. In Art’s case that person was Kathleen, his best lady. “I don’t think there’s anything terribly unique about a ‘gay’ event compared to a straight one in this aspect,” he explains. “It should be anyone who loves the gay person, understands gay culture a bit or welcomes the experience to learn more about their loved one.”
Tom’s familiarity with the groom and gay culture allowed for a fun event — if an embarrassing one. But isn’t that the point? “The bachelor was a straitlaced lawyer,” he explains. “We had tank tops made that featured an Andy Warhol-esque photo of him looking super gay and made sure everyone wore them to the stripper show, which was hilarious.”
The idea of a completely wild bachelor party is outdated and not necessarily applicable to gay men.
The median age of gay newlyweds is 50 years old. Chances are, then, a gay bachelor party won’t exactly be an AARP mixer, but it will be a more grown-up affair. “The tone becomes entirely different,” Braniff says. There will likely be more sober people in the party, for example. “The gay community is certainly one that knows how to party, but [these grooms] have probably come out on the other side of that.”
Also, Braniff adds, the idea of having “one last hurrah” may not apply to the groom, since it’s quite possible that this isn’t the last time he’s ever going to have a fling. The broader mission of Men’s Vows is to support men after they’re married, he explains, which may include buying a house, adopting children or dealing with topics specific to gay men, like how to stay in an open relationship versus a closed one. “Those who are comfortable in more of a fluid relationship — standing in fidelity and not relying on monogamy — we’re there to support them as well. Fidelity and monogamy are two very different categories, after all.”