Cyber-Panhandling for Gay Marriage?
A bi-national same-sex couple has been sharply criticized by media website Gawker after the men set up a gofundme page (similar to a Kickstarter) asking people to pay for one of the men’s parent’s flight to their wedding ceremony in South Africa next year.
As Gawker reports, Eric Turner and his partner Morne Coetzer have set their wedding in South Africa (where gay marriage is legal) on January 4, 2014, and then plan on holding three other events around the world for their friends and family. Turner is from Houston, Texas, and Cotzer lives in London; however his parents reside in South Africa.
"Now, they’d gladly pay for Eric’s parents to fly there, but they’d more gladly use your money and so they have set up a gofundme page to e-panhandle $7,000 to cover Eric’s parents’ trip," Gawker writes. "Really, they have more important shit to buy. With their money. But not yours."
Though the couple’s gofundme page has been deleted, Gawker reported Turner’s pitch:
"My fiancee and I would gladly pay for them to attend, but with the price of our own trip, the wedding, and the cost of one of us moving once we’re married has made that a highly unlikely possibility. I don’t want anyone to help with any part of our wedding, or our expenses because of our decision to marry. But if there is anyone who can help my parents attend their favorite sons wedding ;-) , it would make our special day incredible."
Gawker notes the page had a link to Turner and Coetzer’s HoneyFund site, (HoneyFund site, another Kickstarter-type page) where they explain more about their story. But the page was also taken down on Friday afternoon.
"Our wedding, honeymoon, and South Africa visit are all wrapped into one. We recognize that it’s an expensive trip, but of our possible options, it was the least expensive. Crazy, huh? We don’t expect anyone to help us with any of it," the men write. "But if you’d like to contribute to our HoneyFund, that would help us get off to the best start. Don’t feel obligated to do so, we’ll also accept toasters.
"We plan our wedding and 3 separate events around the globe for our friends and families to celebrate our union. It’s an expensive prospect, but we’re excited to share with all of you the love we’ve found for one another."
The couple goes on to say that they "have a lot to pay for, but our first priority is making the ceremony happen. Second, trying to find a way to get those closest to us there. After that, there are obvious expenses. And any help anyone can offer would be incredible!"
"First them, then the people that they love, then other stuff. Your donation will only go to the middle, promise," Gawker adds.
Instead of just holding a single ceremony so the couple’s friends and family can attend, Turner wrote on the now deleted gofundme page:
"I raise money for causes and organizations in the community frequently, and never ask for anything in return. Please help me be selfish for once as I raise money to help my parents attend my wedding."
He also states what he’d do with the money even if they don’t get the full $7,000:
"If we don’t raise enough, we can at least use the money to get a good videographer to document the day so that they can see it."
"See how that works? Your selflessness helps their selflessness," Gawker writes. "We’re all working to be better people, but more than that, we’re all working to give Eric and Morné the worldwide honeymoon and marriage extravaganza (in my colleague Adrian Chen’s words) that they deserve."
Gawker reported that at the time of their writing (the article was published Sept. 19 at 3:45 p.m.), they had already earned $2,345 of the seven grand. Gawker also took screen caps of the gofundme page, just in case the men decided to take it down.
After the story generated some buzz, Turner responded to Gawker’s story and wrote:
"Doesn’t everyone have gold napkins, panda meat, and a Kardashian to be sacrificed at their wedding? Why WOULDN’T any couple ask for their gift registry to go toward such frivolous things? Duh. You think getting rid of a Kardashian is cheap?! Of course we’d ask people to contribute to my parents being there so that we could pay for all those other things.
"Heaven forbid we’d do something simple, minus all that bullshit I just listed, and simply ask for contributions to that instead of getting four toasters that we’d never use as gifts," he continued. "Seriously people. Don’t assume you know anything about my wedding because you read nonsense on a website that took something I said and twisted it to get visits to their site. :)"
Turner also took to his Facebook page to explain his side of the story and claimed Gawker was misconstruing his and his partner’s motives:
Ok- I’m just going to say it and move on from it. I’ve asked my wedding guests that in lieu of gifts, we’d rather they contribute toward airline tickets for my parents- something we can use," the post reads. "Gawker has written an article misrepresenting me, talking about how douchy I am because I’m ’having 4 weddings and asking for crowdfunding’ so that I can have the public pay for my wedding. Nothing could be further from the truth. But thanks everybody who actually knows me and understands my motives and intentions. I’m done talking about it now. Sorry Morne for the negative attention. Fill your life with positivity, and cut out all the negativity, and be part of the solution- not the problem. Thanks everybody who is supportive of the decision we’ve made to get married!"
According to Turner’s Facebook, he’s a "www.tfsupplements.com & Houston FUEL Health Bar & Kitchen sponsored physique athlete."
Turner also spoke with the Houston Press about Gawker’s article, which they said was full of "snark and derision." The trainer told the newspaper that he’s focusing on the support he’s gotten despite the negative feedback.
"The most important thing to us as we prepare for our lives together is the support and blessings of our families," he told the Houston Press via email. "Strangers may say what they will, but having the love and support of those around us is what truly matters....I asked people to help us get my parents to my wedding. I still don’t think that’s in any way inappropriate."
He went on to reiterate the points he made on his Facebook page, saying that the Gawker article "was written in a way to upset people" and that his words were "twisted."
"Even starting with the title of the article. It says we’d like people to pay for any of our 4 weddings. That just absolutely isn’t true," Turner told the newspaper. "We’re having a ceremony in South Africa, and we’re having a small ’celebration’ in London where he lives, in Houston where I live, and in Salt Lake City where my family lives. We’re talking about celebrations that are basically a houseparty potluck."
Turner added that the couple has earned $4,000 off the gofundme page "which puts me a long way toward two coach tickets to [Cape Town] and hotel for them. So I can’t vocalize enough how thankful I am to the people who have been supportive."
Though Turner doesn’t seem too upset with the backlash, he says he feels bad that he put Coetzer in the public eye.
"When I stepped into the public spotlight through modeling years ago, I know that I signed up for this. But Morne didn’t sign up for the same scrutiny," he said. "I’m a big boy, and I’m certainly not crying. If anything, like I said, I’m thankful that there are some diamonds in the rough who saw that Gawker article."
The gofundme page may be gone but the couple didn’t take down their HoneyFund page (juuust in case you want to throw some money towards their noble cause).
The site has a guestbook, allowing people to leave comments. Usually, such guestbooks are filled with well wishes and warm blessings, but in Turner and Coetzer’s case, people generally left harsh remarks. Here are some highlights:
"Save money, stop steroids, and start escorting - you fucking whores... shame on you..."
"You’re a pair of cheeky stingy cunts. You deserve each other. Have a $ on me," another said.
"REALLY? SERIOUSLY? You two are a fucking INSANE joke. FUCK YOU BOTH YOU MONEY GRUBBING ASSHOLES."
"You two make me ashamed to be gay. You are selfish, & disgusting. You deserve nothing, you greedy twats."
"Ever thought of living within your means?"
"If it doesn’t work out, i’ll do either of you...or both."
"I’ll be watching your wedding live on SeanCody on Jan 4th"
"You assholes give us all a bad name. Please stop taking your meds and let the virus take its course."
Not every comment was negative; some actually defended the couple and their wedding plans:
"Please don’t pay any attention to any of the nasty comments. You deserve to Have a Beautiful Wedding."
"Ignore the hate. I am sure this was set up with the same intent as the other couples on this site."