Everyone's been doing relationship reveals
On J. Lo, Issa Rae, and the hot summer trend
I’ve been thinking a lot about relationship reveals — Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck giving us a bit of early 2000s magic by going public with their relationship or Issa Rae’s surprise wedding — and whether it’s a new trend. It’s not particularly new (Niecy Nash really surprised us all with a wedding earlier this year), but it does seem to the social media everyone’s attempting to pull this year. In which case, you should start to expect that anyone who is a close acquaintance but not intimate friend is probably planning to drop their own relationship reveal later this summer.
This was supposed to be hot girl summer, yes? Technically Megan the Stallion and Nicki Minaj dropped their joint single “Hot Girl Summer” in 2019, but 2020 put all of our summers on hold. And 2021 promised to be an extremely vaccinated and extremely horny summer to make up for 2020. I got my vaccination in the spring and promptly partook. Keeping it real, I also got a trainer during the quarantine to stay sane, so I also came out of quarantine with a “new body, who this” vibe that either attracted more men to me or made me more confident in attracting them (70% of them reiterated this to me, but I don’t believe them). This led me to enjoy the fruits of a hot girl summer and I definitely started early, mostly on a trip to New York in the spring where I not only got to interact with men I hadn’t seen since the quarantine began, but men I hadn’t seen since well before quarantine since New York isn’t my home.
Of course the problem with me is that I’m still Ira. I still watch Days of Our Lives and I’m in the middle of writing a Christmas romantic comedy and there are two seasons of fucking Love Island on right now. I’m a person who is low key addicted to romance and I could only last so long without feeling the need to develop star-crossed feelings for someone. And at most of our cores, I think it’s the same. One could argue that gay men have cornered the market on sex as recreation, but we’re also influenced by the media that we consume. Most media geared toward gay men growing up was either purely sex-based or, the chaste Love, Victor type of romance and so I naturally found safe harbor in media that had star-crossed lovers fighting interlopers, evil villains, and demonic possessions (all of this in literaly on Days story, but also my high school viewings of Passions).
It’s probably why I’ve been conditioned to think that love has to involve work or an obstacle of some kind, and it’s why I’ve always been drawn to long distance relationships in theory. I didn't, of course, expect to truly meet someone in New York months ago and then have it turn into a real long distance relationship like the one I’m in now. And hilariously, I did a low key relationship reveal myself on Instagram days before Jennifer Lopez did hers, not because I wanted to share my entire life with social media, but because when part of your mindset changes, it changes how you view social media and how you operate on it. I think most of the people either obsessed with J Lo or Issa’s reveals are because they themselves are craving something intimate, something to share with the world, when most of what we’ve shared this past year has become mundane and boring. Either that, or you’ve had to hide any social interactions with friends lest you be accused of not taking the pandemic seriously.
But now that we’re vaccinated, now that there’s no excuse, everyone is clamoring to prove that they’re still interesting to their friends, to potential partners, to the world. But most of all, to themselves. A relationship reveal says more about what you think about yourself. Jennifer Lopez has had her relationships scrutinized and torn apart in the media for decades. There were paparazzi shots of her and Ben, but until she announced it, it wasn’t real. People could have their gossip fodder, but she needed to make it a moment. Issa, who I’ve interviewed and worked with, truly does hate the aspect of social media that invites people to be in her business. This was about protecting her privacy. And it says more about people that they thought it was a “surprise” husband, when she’s literally been in public with this man before. They just weren’t paying attention because he’s famous.
And then there’s me. What was my reason? I’ve looked for romance all my life and more so than convincing anyone else that I’ve experienced it, I created it for myself. A relationship reveal, at the end of the day, is about control. We’ve lost most of it the past year. Now we all want it back.