BRIGHT.STYLE Menswear

Bright.Style: Tying The Knot In Venice To Support LGBT Civil Rights

Tie-the-knot-bow-ties-1What an incredible day last Friday was. I may not be American by birth but that didn’t stop the overwhelming emotion at hearing the United States Supreme Court’s decision to legalise marriage for all citizens, no matter sexual preference, in all 50 states. Knowing how much it meant to – and would change the lives for the better – my dear LGBT friends in America, but all those who have fought so hard for equality both in the past and present in the USA and beyond, made it all the more emotional. Two of those people are my friends, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita, who founded bow tie company Tie The Knot to advocate for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans throughout the United States & beyond.

Tie-the-knot-bow-ties-2Tie The Knot releases seasonal collections, each inspired by Justin and Jesse’s favourite art, fashion, things they see on the street, or even the things in their living room. Proceeds from the sale of the bow ties go to various organisations that are fighting on the front line for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans every single day, as well as to funding their international public education campaign to help continue to move the increase in support of LGBT equality. In support of their work, I wore Jesse’s Belmont bow tie from his Tie The Knot x The Tie Bar while on a business trip to Venice, Italy in April.Tie-the-knot-bow-ties-3While last Friday’s passing of marriage equality for all was a sign of huge progress, there’s still a long road ahead to achieve true equal rights for LGBT citizens in America, and around the world. Very sadly, in some states in America it’s legal to refuse to serve someone in a shop or restaurant because believe them to be LGBT, or even fire them from their job because of their sexuality. Tie The Knot will continue to help raise funds to raise LGBT awareness and fight for the civil rights of LGBT citizens.Tie-the-knot-bow-ties-4Sometimes it can be easy to think that those living in developed, western countries are safe no matter their sexual preference. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. Even in the UK – a country widely recognised for it’s LGBT acceptance – there are still pockets of society with a violent hatred towards LGBT citizens. Just last weekend, my heartmate and I received aggressive and verbal homophobic abuse from a man on the underground in London. We then sat down in a different carriage opposite a married straight couple who proceeded to look at us like sh*t, tut in disgust then get up and move seats. This was all shortly after hundreds and hundreds of people unfollowed me on Instagram because I posted a picture of my husband and I to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary.Tie-the-knot-bow-ties-5Sadly, this isn’t the first time such an instance has happened and because of it we rarely show one another affection in public due to concerns of attracting these sort of things. Last weekend’s events left us both feeling shaken up and sad at how we feel somewhat forced to live our lives in a suppressed manner. It’s uncountable the number of times I have longed to reach out and hold my heart mate’s hand while walking down the street, or even just give him an affectionate kiss on the head as I get up the leave the dinner table at a family dinner or in a restaurant, but have refrained for fear of the reaction or making others feel uncomfortable. There’s also the awkward, “Are you sure want a double bed room?!” that we are asked with a note of shock or disdain sometimes when checking into hotels, or the grilling we have had at airports because we share the same surname by marriage in countries where ‘gay’ marriage isn’t legal. We know we are fortunate compared to those suffering much graver circumstances at home and abroad but it’s true: there’s a long, long road ahead for LGBT equality and I’m so proud of my friends at Tie The Knot for their work towards this incredibly important cause.Tie-the-knot-bow-ties-6I know that I personally need to do more for the cause. I shouldn’t be suppressing how I live my life with my husband, especially in public, but I know I need to build confidence to do this. It will take time but I am determined not to live in fear for openly loving the most incredibly kind, generous and inspiring man I’ve ever known. Here’s to all of us taking positive steps for a more equal future for all.Tie-the-knot-bow-ties-7

53 Comments

  • Reply Jack July 2, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Will I admire you always writing and being so open and transparent on your social media. You are an inspiration for many. Bravo.

  • Reply Jules July 2, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Very moved by your post today will. I hate to read that you and your husband have to live this way, it makes me so cross. Brave of you to be so open on your blog, well done.

    P.S. You also look very handsome x

  • Reply Ursula July 2, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Amazing man… So proud of you for being honest and for writing so eloquently on this issue. Many many hugs for you.

  • Reply Ash July 2, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Oh Will, I hope you never suppress who you are because if we are only seeing half of the real you then my goodness what on earth are we not seeing? You know I admire you both and you are a gay rights champion whether you realise it or not. Keep up the great work, stay strong, stay proud

  • Reply Inge @ Simply Fabulous Chic July 2, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    It makes me truly upset when I think about how you and so many others cannot express their feelings towards each other in public, out of fear of what others will say or do. So many people are so narrow-minded. I know from friends that have experienced likewise situations and it’s so sad to hear that…
    I think you’re the greatest and those who judge you, don’t know who they judge. Although I don’t know you and have never met you in real life (hopefully this year in November?), I think you and Toby are such an amazing couple. The way you care for each other, you both radiate in pictures when you’re together. You two are meant to be, and you are so courageous to talk so open and honest about your feelings here and on social media. I really respect you. And if I can say so: you’re my personal hero when it comes to decorating. πŸ˜‰ I love your make your smile style, you do make people smile, at least you make me smile with your style! And the ones that don’t, don’t know what they’re missing! πŸ˜‰ Just keep going Will, create your wonders and magic, because you rock. Hugs to you and your sweetie Toby! Much love for you both, Inge x

    • Reply Will @ Bright.Bazaar July 2, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      @Inge – Thank you as always for your kind, warm and generous support! x

  • Reply Emily July 2, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    I want to say something wise but am lost for words and feeling sad that people are so mean. And why is our world like this?! You guys are brilliant and as I can’t find the right wise words to write today I am sending you both a big hug! xxoxx

  • Reply Lindsey July 2, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    I hope that in our lifetime we will see and feel a palpable shift toward complete acceptance. It shouldn’t be wishful thinking in the 21st century but the world has a lot of growing to do. Doing your part, no matter how small the step seems, is crucial. Thank you for sharing this! xx

  • Reply Libbynan July 3, 2015 at 12:20 am

    Our whole extended family was on a beach vacation in a very conservative area when the Supreme Court decision came down. It was soooo great for us to all be together to celebrate the marvelous news. Pretty much all of us started to plan our wardrobes for all the weddings we will be attending. Reading your post helps to remind me that the fight is not over – this is just a single victory. But it is a sweet one! The posts of your wedding last year was such an inspiration for me and many of my friends and family. I reposted it to everyone! Thanks for telling us all about Tie the Knot…. a new org. to support. And keep your chin up and your love strong ….. I really believe the time will come when you can live your life openly. Of course, you may have to outlive some hateful people; but that’s a plus!

    • Reply Will @ Bright.Bazaar July 3, 2015 at 8:56 am

      @Libbynan – Thank you for the kind words about our wedding, that’s so lovely of you to say! I hope you and your family had a wonderful vacation, too. πŸ™‚

      • Reply Libbynan July 3, 2015 at 3:56 pm

        Will, how could our vacation be less than great? Obamacare was victorious, same-sex marriage was legalized, and Barak gave the speech of his life at Rev. Pinckney’s funeral (and SANG). I pretty much lived by the telly and sent my granddaughter as a runner to the beach with all the news. Plus I found a fabulous recipe for a fresh peach sangria that we lived on all week. It was so pretty….. you would have loved it! P. S. You have the best readers! All their comments have been so touching and supportive that I am all misty just reading them.

  • Reply Louise July 3, 2015 at 2:28 am

    Thank you for sharing and especially reminding us that there is work to do still to open minds and address prejudices. How naive of me to think just last week that with a few very popular tv shows starring transgender characters by transgender actors or addressing the subject of transgender, we had made big progress and were now way beyond prejudices against gay individuals and couples. I guess not. It throws me that people unfollowed you on Instagram. I know you don’t have the easy job but I hope that by opening up online and taking some risk, you are helping the cause or at least one individual somewhere.

    • Reply Will @ Bright.Bazaar July 3, 2015 at 8:56 am

      @Louise – I appreciate your support and that you took time to stop by, thanks.

  • Reply Diane July 3, 2015 at 2:35 am

    While it was a momentous decision by our Supreme Court and accepted by most Americans I do want to say that in NO state in the US is it legal to refuse service to someone, fire someone or refuse to rent a house or business space to someone based on their sexuality, race, gender etc. We are not THAT backwards!

    I am so sorry you continue to experience the ignorant attitudes of people but you cannot change their heart, only open yours to understanding that there may be a legitimate reason they are afraid, a reason you are unaware of. Either way, that is no excuse. I would begin to show your confidence in your relationship by referring to your husband as your husband and not your “heartmate”, give him the identity he so deserves. A heartmate could be anyone, gay or straight, married or just committed etc.

    Thanks for your post. Just wanted to set the record straight on the laws in the US so your readers who do not live here do not get the wrong impression of Americans!

    • Reply Will @ Bright.Bazaar July 3, 2015 at 8:55 am

      @Diane – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. In my words above I was referring to this news article from the Telegraph which states that Arizona had passed a law in February 2014 allowing shopkeepers to refuse to serve gay people. I know things are changing, so if this is no longer the case I do apologise. Thanks for your advice. I call my husband my husband openly and often; the term heartmate is a term of affection that I use and isn’t something to hide the fact he is a man. All best wishes to you.

  • Reply Marnie July 3, 2015 at 2:38 am

    Thank you for these words. I’m just an Aussie mum living in the burbs but for what it is worth, I’m on your side. I too hope for change and for a world where people in caring, committed relationships can express their love and affection freely. Oh, and the bow tie rocks.

    • Reply Will @ Bright.Bazaar July 3, 2015 at 8:58 am

      @Marnie – There’s no ‘just’ needed in your comment, Marnie. No matter where we live or what we do, equality is important and needed, so please know how grateful I, and many others, are for your support.

  • Reply Candice July 3, 2015 at 3:04 am

    Hi Will: I was incredibly moved by your post today. I am reminded of my cousin and his husband, who take a yearly vacation to NYC to bask in the freedom the city offers them. I am hoping that we can, at some point, stop seeing people by their color, their sexual preferences, their weight or their politics and just simply see them for who they are, be it good or bad. All I can say to you, is the people who drop you or make remarks to you can only hurt you if you let them. Hold your handsome head high and hug your husband. We love you. And to support you, I just bought 2 copies of your book as gifts:) XOXO

    • Reply Will @ Bright.Bazaar July 3, 2015 at 9:00 am

      @Candice – I 100% agree with you. And thank you for buying my book, I hope the readers enjoy the make-you-smile style! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Vineeta Nair July 3, 2015 at 3:36 am

    It takes people like you and the work you are doing and life you are living to make this world a better place. A brighter place a more open place, a braver and a happier place. So do not for a moment feel doubt whether what you do is enough. To be transparent in this world takes courage. And the daily grace and happiness with which you life your life is an inspiration to many.

  • Reply Kelly Golightly July 3, 2015 at 5:31 am

    It’s always shocking to me that people would be so terrible. Bravo to you for sharing + congrats to you and your hubby on your anniversary!

  • Reply Hester July 3, 2015 at 5:37 am

    So sorry to hear about the abuse you got last weekend and the IG unfollow is just ridiculous! I’m so lucky I got raised in a very liberal country where everyone can be open about their orientation so it shocks me to read that even today in the western world people are still that narrow minded. Let’s hope blog posts like this one will help open people’s acceptance for a more equal world. Keep up the good work Will! x

  • Reply Sefton July 3, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Will,
    Your posts are always full of bright, colourful and cheery photos. I get your email delivered to my work address to brighten up the day and provide a welcome moment’s distraction.
    Today I was keen to read all of your post though, and saddened to hear that even in the UK there is still room for a more inclusive spirit to be shared by all, without anybody ever having to feel that their love for their heart mate should be private & never shared or celebrated in public.
    Keep on colour hunting & counting all of your followers who stick with you.
    Hugs to you & your heart mate wherever you go.
    S

    • Reply Will @ Bright.Bazaar July 3, 2015 at 9:01 am

      @Stefton – Thank you for taking a moment to stop by and share your voice of support, it really does mean a lot. Hugs back!

  • Reply Alison Daykin July 3, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Will, it’s a very sad world that doesnt embrace all people! I think straight people, me included, should do more to promote the LGBT cause. I have two LGBT step children who are in loving relationships and I would be very distressed if they got any sort of abuse, emotional or physical because of it. Please don’t think everyone is bigoted, they are in the minority, but I can understand the distress it must cause you both.

    I’ve watched your career develope from your first blog posts and am so pleased you’re getting recognition for your talent.

    Alison

  • Reply Josh | The Kentucky Gent July 3, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Will, you’re a hero – with a kind soul, seriously. I hope our adventures eventually lead to us crossing paths somewhere along the line. But I know exactly what you mean, and unless you’ve experienced it it’s really hard to understand what it’s like. I can say that I was headed across the South to a conference when the news broke, and for the first time, ever, I walked into a store in my definitely not South appropriate clothing (sheer tank top included) and didn’t bat an eye at the people who looked at me sideways. I know that it’s going to take us, as a community, standing up for ourselves, but the amount of backlash and violence our community has seen is scary to say the least. Keep on being amazing, and I know you’ll keep inspiring others to do the same!

    Josh | The Kentucky Gent
    http://thekentuckygent.com

    • Reply Will @ Bright.Bazaar July 3, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      @Josh – I really hope we can meet someday soon, too. Good on you for living your life as you wish in an environment that isn’t as welcoming or inclusive as it needs to be. Keep on keepin’ on!

  • Reply Matthew July 3, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Hi, Will. I live in a small midwestern town and can say that while gay marriage is now the law of the land in the U.S., it definitely is not totally accepted. Unfortunately some areas have started refusing to marry anyone, just so that they don’t have to marry gay couples. Reading about you, your marriage, and your life with your husband, has encouraged me and provided me with hope. Seeing your confidence and strength to live an open life has given me confidence and strength to live a more open life, truer to who I am. So you may already be helping the cause in ways, and more than, you could have imagined.

    • Reply Will @ Bright.Bazaar July 4, 2015 at 10:44 am

      @Matthew – That makes me so sad to read, I am sorry to hear it. Sending you a massive hug across the ocean.

  • Reply Victoria Gaynor July 3, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Will, I have been a follower of yours for some time but I don’t recall if I have ever commented on one of your posts (apologies, it’s terrible I know, but something which I will work on!) However, today I just had to leave you a little message.
    Although not part of the LGBT community myself, I have many friends who are. Two of my dear female friends are eagerly planning their wedding whilst raising their wonderful daughter. The thought of any negative reaction to their life of love makes my blood boil. However, it is posts like yours today which give me hope for change.
    I fear that at times people can become too complacent when legal hurdles are surmounted – whether it be for LGBT, women’s, or minority rights. However, once the papers are signed & sealed, the journey has often not ended. We must all recognise that still more must be done, and unfortunately we sometimes need to be reminded of this. This is why I feel your post today is so very important. In using your voice to share your own personal experiences, you have made this point so powerfully. I just want to thank you so much for sharing this with us. There are things mentioned in this post that infuriate me, but your ‘make-you-smile’ ethos still shines through by your courage. I send love and thanks to you and your heart mate.
    Victoria x

    • Reply Will @ Bright.Bazaar July 4, 2015 at 10:43 am

      @Victoria – You are so right with each word you wrote. Thank you for doing your bit to support the cause, it means so much. x

  • Reply Grace July 3, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Will-

    Thank you for continuing to live openly and bravely. I am inspired by your commitment to speaking here about issues not normally touched on by other design blogs. I’m so sorry about what happened on the train – that is deplorable and unacceptable. I wish I could say that’s never happened here, but even in Ulster County, NY (where I live and which has one of the highest % of same-sex to opposite-sex couples in the US) people still occasionally make rude comments or- in one odd case the other day- YELL offensive things and me and my wife.

    Sending you a huge hug and a big F-off to all the people who unfollowed you. Good riddance. They’re missing out on a great person and tons of inspiration.

    Grace

    • Reply Will @ Bright.Bazaar July 4, 2015 at 10:42 am

      @Grace – Sorry that you and Julia also face these horrible situations. Thanks for everything you do, too – you are an inspiration to so many.

  • Reply Sandra Harris July 3, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    One of the surprising and sad yet powerful outcomes of Charleston & the SCOTUS marriage opinion has been finding out that some of my assumed “liberal” friends are far from liberal. How shocked I have been.

    The powerful part? Making explicit the implicit beliefs that desperately need to change. And the personal challenge of when and how to speak up about my own beliefs.

    I’m so so sorry that you and other LGBTQ experience such blatant attacks, verbal & otherwise on a regular basis.

    But it’s happening. There’s no turning back no matter how small minded some people are.

    • Reply Will @ Bright.Bazaar July 4, 2015 at 10:41 am

      @Sandra – Sorry to hear you have had to discover unsavoury believes from presumed ‘liberal’ friends; never easy. Thanks for the support.

  • Reply Melanie Biehle July 3, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, Will. I hate that you’ve had to deal with these things. You said that you could do more for LGBT equality, but I honestly think that the best thing that you can do is look inward and give yourself the love and courage that you need to publicly celebrate the love that you’ve found in life. There’s always more that we can do for everyone else, but sometimes we have to start with ourselves. Love to you! I know you can do it! Xoxo

  • Reply sara (kanpaikanpai) July 5, 2015 at 9:55 am

    I’m crossed that you had to suffer abuse in London above all. Despicable people. I always take for granted how open this city is, it was a good reminder that we still have to keep fighting for equality and respect!
    I think you already do a great service to the LGBT fight by being so open about your relationship, showing how beautiful your love is. Thank you for being brave and putting up with so much prejudice!

  • Reply Leena July 24, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Always so shocking to hear of experiences like that in London. As you say, it’s somewhere that just feels open and accepting of all, but that just shows it isn’t always. It must’ve been horrible for you both. Please don’t be put off sharing episodes of domestic bliss on here, Will! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Amita Basu January 24, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    Just found your site via a list of Best Men’s Fashion blogs. Just want to express my admiration for your bravery. Being openly gay should not be something that requires bravery — and more than being straight does. But because people continue to be bigots, being openly gay *does* require courage and I commend you. In your position I’d have socked the man in his jaw, have glared the couple down until they burst into flames. Probably would’ve caused myself unnecessary trouble and agitation — but such things always infuriate me.

    I’m a woman from India and I don’t know what my sexual orientation is. After a spectrum of experiences that were all to some degree enjoyable, I’ve come to think that for some people the question is not relevant: any more than knowing what is one’s favourite ice-cream flavour. In India the persecution of homosexuals has been reinstated in law after a couple of years in which things were looking up for LGBT rights.

    Love your style! Keep it up.

    • Reply Will @ Bright.Bazaar January 24, 2017 at 11:23 pm

      @Amita – Thank you for taking the time to leave such a warm and supportive comment, it really does mean a lot. Sorry to hear that things aren’t looking so strong for LGBTQ+ rights in India. Sending you much love and hugs from NYC. Appreciate your support! Take care.

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