Irish LGBT+ couples share their proposal stories

Peter Dunne heard from three people who battled injuries, an audience of thousands and no proposal at all (!) to bag the one they love. Photos provided by the happy couples.

LGBT+ couples share proposal stories

Nowadays, with marriage proposals consisting of full musical production numbers going viral on the internet, there can be an added pressure on people planning to pop the question. Not only do they have to worry that their one true love will actually say ‘yes’, but there’s a weight of expectation of some huge romantic gesture to go along with it. Here are three proposal stories submitted by our lovely readers.

Siobhan and Lindsey

Cork native Siobhan met wife-to-be Lindsey three years ago when she travelled down from Belfast to attend the LINC Rebellion Masquerade Ball. “We hit it off immediately”, said Siobhan, “we have a lot in common and are also poles apart in other senses! We share a mutual love of music and that was the overriding memory for me of the first few weeks of courtship – swapping tunes and texting every day.”

Even though Lindsey returned to Belfast, the pair were so smitten no distance was going to separate them. “The thing about long distance is that you have to plan every available weekend so far in advance.”

Remember them being big music fans? It was no surprise how they spent those weekends. “We have gone to lots of gigs together – North and South of the border – in the past three years.”

With that in mind, you won’t be shocked when you hear Siobhan decided to pop the question at a music festival.

I found out later than Lindsey had been half-planning to propose to me at a Foo Fighters concert we were going along to on the Monday after the Stendhal festival, so it seems I beat her to it!

“We went to a festival (Stendhal) in Limavady, County Derry,” explained Siobhan. “I had brought a rainbow loom band ring with me that my ten year-old niece had made for me. I thought if the right moment arose I would have it in my pocket and pop the question at some stage, there was no definitive plan.” However, while Siobhan shared that she was feeling pretty relaxed about the whole thing, it wouldn’t prove to be quite as smooth as hoped. “On the Friday night I tripped over a tent guy rope and cracked and bruised my ribs.”

And that might have been that for the proposal, but an injury wasn’t going to stop Siobhan, that loom band ring had a finger it needed to go on. “On the Saturday night, Basement Jaxx were headlining. So during their set, on our way to the bar I stopped her, got down (carefully) on one knee in the mud and got out the ring. I was in such a rush that I put it on the wrong finger (middle) and she laughed her back off at me. But she managed to say ‘Yes’! And helped me up, injured ribs and all.”

As it turned out, the pair couldn’t be more suited. “I found out later than Lindsey had been half-planning to propose to me at a Foo Fighters concert we were going along to on the Monday after the Stendhal festival, so it seems I beat her to it! Good to know we are on the same page!”

The couple are planning to marry in two years time and are looking forward to getting stuck into the arrangements “including choosing some real engagement rings,” jokes Siobhan. Until then, her niece should be very proud she made her aunt’s engagement ring.

And how about that long trek separating the pair? “I intend to move up to Belfast at the end of this year so we can finally cut out the commuting distance and the long periods of time we don’t see each other.”

As the happy couple prepare for not just the big day but the big move, Siobhan couldn’t be happier. She will sorely miss her pals at LINC – the incomparable resource centre for LBT women which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary – but her love for Lindsey couldn’t be denied. “She has lit up my life since I’ve known her,” explained Siobhan.

The question remains though – for two huge music fans, how on earth will they narrow it down to one song for their first dance?


Paul and Arthur

Married couple Paul and Arthur’s proposal was slightly more unusual in that there was no proposal. There was almost no meet-up either except for a series of cancellations which proved to be unexpectedly fortuitous.

Paul elaborates: “I was going to football. I was in the Dublin Devils, and normally I got a lift with my neighbour. I had my football gear on ready to go, and then last minute my lift said he wasn’t going. So I called another friend from the team for a lift who wasn’t available either. I then called my friend Keith who said ‘I’m not going to football, I’m in the pub’. So I had a quick change and joined him!”

I didn’t ask how the match turned out that evening with four players down.

As most of these unplanned nights seem to go, things didn’t exactly finish at a respectable hour. Pub turned to club and the gang ended up going to the much missed Glitz. “At the end of the night when everyone had to leave, I was walking up the stairs to the exit and I looked around and there was someone beside me walking up. I don’t know what I said but we ended up chatting… And then we basically hung out together for the next three days.”

We both realised just then, ‘Oh, we’re getting married’. There was no proposal.

After Paul’s obviously amazing (and sadly forgotten) chat-up line, the two became inseparable, travelling on mini-breaks every chance they got. On a trip to Zadar, a year into their relationship, they innocently began chatting about the subject of marriage. During the conversation they agreed they might want to do it at some stage, both admitted they didn’t want to be with anyone else, so why didn’t they just do it? “We both realised just then, ‘Oh, we’re getting married’. There was no proposal.”

Six months later they tied the knot.

With such a sudden decision, did panic follow when the enormity of it hit? “There was a bit of panic, but the thoughts of not doing it didn’t appeal to me. There was a lot of following my gut, because we hadn’t gone out that long. It was like – ‘What am I doing?! I can’t wait to do it. Am I crazy? Bring it on!”

While it may have been a fast decision, when Paul thinks back, it makes sense. “As a kid growing up in this country, I never thought I’d be married. That kind of stuff never seemed attainable when I was younger.

“Before Arthur, I was comfortable in my singleness and myself. I was very happy. I thought I didn’t need anybody, so then I was able to realise when it came that I wanted somebody.”

Six years later, the couple still travel the world together, somehow proving that you can have a happy and successful marriage even if no one proposes to you.


Sean and Mark

Going from one extreme to the other, not only did Sean and Mark’s proposal actually happen, it went viral.

Sean made a beeline for Mark in An Bróg bar in Cork (looks like it’s a romantic county), the pair hitting it off straight away. After a while they realised they had far more in common than they thought. “It turned out he had messaged me three times on Gaydar, this is before the apps existed, and I’d actually ignored him! Then his best friend and my best friend had grown up next door to each other. We had loads of these little connections.”

After an initially romantic first date where they strolled through a park, sharing their first kiss, things quickly took a turn for the comedic when they realised that, while the park stayed open into the evening, the carpark didn’t, locking Sean’s car inside.
Cue seven years later. The pair had discussed marriage, “I knew he was the one,” Sean said, but had agreed to try and sort a house together before any engagement was on the cards.

Sean had been making a few plans of his own, however. Big festival fans, the pair had tickets to the upcoming Electric Picnic. And in a nice bit of timing, the house sale was due to be finalised on August 29, the day before. One of Sean’s friends was booked as an act. “I was talking to my friend Sarah from Sing Along Social and the idea to propose at their gig just popped into my head. She absolutely loved it. Aoife, who runs the Social, got back to me and suggested, ‘how about we get everyone in the audience to get down on one knee and then it’s like having 3,000 people along with you asking him to marry you?’ And then it just snowballed from there.”

As Sean describes all the planning that went into the proposal, one thing really amazed me – how on earth Mark didn’t find out out in advance when it seemed half the country knew. Sean, as he admits, absolutely loves the chats. “Everyone knew except him. I was telling everyone at the festival, starting conversations with strangers.”

Everyone knew except him. I was telling everyone at the festival, starting conversations with strangers.

And then came the day. “I was so scared that he’d find the ring in my bag if he went looking for something. Even trying to get the ring box into the main arena, I was scared the security would see the shape of the box and think I was smuggling something in! So I had to hide the ring box down my pants. Then I was praying it wouldn’t fall out of my trousers, so I was walking so awkwardly.”

An oblivious Mark accompanied an oddly-walking Sean through the crowds to the stage, delighted that, somehow, their gang were all coming to the same gig. Which, as anyone who’s gone to a festival with a group of pals will attest, is like herding cats.

Then the song played which Sean had agreed with the team would be his cue. “We had arranged a certain point in the set. Next thing it just all started happening. My heart was going 90.” Led by the Sing Along Social gang, 3,000 people got down on one knee. A still clueless Mark thought “Oh, maybe someone is going to get proposed to,” until a voice over the mic said “Is someone here called Mark?” And he stood up as the penny dropped.

“I had this whole romantic speech planned but all I could get out was ‘Mark, we’ve been together seven years, will you marry me?’ His mouth was actually full of jellies when it happened. I just started bawling crying with happiness.

“The reaction from the crowd was insane. People wouldn’t stop hugging us. And then the videos started flying up across social media. My sister saw it on Facebook.”

But while the story made headlines and went viral, for an ecstatic Sean, all the stress of the last while caught up with him. “I was asleep in the tent by 10.30!”

To match their epic proposal, the couple are planning a festival themed wedding. Fitting.

So there we have it, a whole range of proposals with, thankfully, the same great result. And, not to add more pressure to your own planned proposal, but, how are you going to do it?

This article was originally published in GCN Issue 358. Read in full now.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

This article was published in the print edition Issue No. (). Click here to read it now.

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