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Taken by Surprise: Matthew Crehan and Ken Tangelder

The First-Ever Artvoice Marriage Equality Issue: Couples Profiles

Matthew Crehan and Ken Tangelder

Status: Unmarried, talking about it

Matthew Crehan Higgins is an actor and playwright with Buffalo United Artists and cohost of Cocktails and Creampuffs, one of the top-downloaded LGBT podcasts on iTunes. He describes his partner, Ken Tangelder II, as “the type of schoolteacher students remember forever, approach excitedly in the grocery store, and send e-mails seeking advice when starting their own careers.” Here are Matthew’s thoughts on marriage.

How did you meet?

We met at a New Year’s Eve party the night 2009 became 2010. I had been socializing, dating, and hanging out on the scene for years, believing that I had already met anyone worth knowing. Kenny is a far more private person, only going out once in a blue moon, which happened to coincide with that night. A year later , I left the corner of Linwood and North where I lived for years to cross the Skyway and make a home with him.

How has the passage of New York’s marriage equality measure affected your relationship? Are you considering getting married?

There has definitely been discussion of it at home and I’m coming around to the idea, but I have reticence. I was all but wrecked by my inability to deal with a breakup a few years back and frequently wondered if I would have survived had a legal battle been attached to it. If anything, I felt like I benefitted from the fact that legally was the one way we truly just walked away from each other. But it has me thinking that while the past informs the present, I shouldn’t be letting it hold me back. There are a million good reasons I should think about getting married. I can only think of a few reasons not to, and every single one is based in fear…I just haven’t quite gotten past those fears yet.

What does marriage equality mean to you, outside your own relationship but as part of a community?

Even when I was living and very much enjoying the single life, I always recognized this as a major inequity. A part of me did get tired of hearing the same arguments about access to health insurance, visitation rights, tax benefits—but of course I realized that we heard about those things so frequently because of their importance. And that it wasn’t just about equality on a grand scale, but the daily needs of people’s lives…and that many of them did not have the time to wait for health insurance and estate issues.

You say that you felt ill prepared for this. What do you mean?

I always believed that marriage equality should happen, but when it failed last time I began to believe it wouldn’t pass while I’m still in my 30s. I basically felt I had another eight and a half years to think about it. Despite the fact that I have torn up the dance floor at an inordinate number of heterosexual weddings in the past two years, with this possibility I feel like marriage is a brand new concept I just heard about for the first time last month. Suddenly, I’m trying to imagine myself in a union that I had never believed was possible for me and the best I’ve come up with so far is that I would want my wedding invitation to suggest people where jeans and a comfortable shirt.

Has your family asked you whether you’ll settle down now?

Yes, beginning with my sister the day after the bill’s passage. I don’t take for granted that my family is unusually supportive and they don’t take for granted that I’ve found someone unusually wonderful.

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