The previously bratty Agustín married Eddie, an HIV-positive bear who works a shelter for transgender teens, for a simple reason: They love each other and want to grow old together. This wasn’t some impulsive decision, Jessa-on-Girls style, and when Agustín suffered cold feet it was less for the classic fear of commitment and more out of a fear of betraying his identity. “I used to think I'd be like Keith Haring or Robert Mapplethorpe,” he said, “but instead I've become Neil Patrick Harris.”
Harring and Mapplethorpe were artists whose contributions were deeply bound to the reality of gay life as counterculture. Harris, meanwhile, is this era’s grinning icon of same-sex desire jibing with mainstream norms: getting married, being monogamous, raising children. Does Harris conform to those norms because of a desire to “assimilate,” or does he conform to them because they’re what works for him? Just as it would be presumptuous—and a judgement of all the gay people who had similar relationships before they were recognized by law—to assume the former is true, it would be silly to assume that wedlock will turn Agustín into a square. After resolving his crisis of conscience, he told his friend Patrick, “This marriage can be whatever we want it to be.”
“Exactly,” Patrick replied. “It's not like you're going to be suddenly monogamous and move to the suburbs."
Eddie, too, had a bit of a freak-out before his wedding, but it seemed more tied to tradition and family expectations. The ceremony was to be a quick one at City Hall, in presence of a couple close friends (“maids of dishonor”). “I’m Italian for Chrissake,” Eddie stammered. “This is going to be the smallest Italian wedding in the history of time!" Agustín assured him that the ceremony is “just paperwork—we’re going to party tonight,” but it was clear that Eddie didn’t want to think of his marriage as totally punk—he’s willingly joining an institution with a history and social significance. Solution: Eddie’s mom Facetimed in for the ceremony.
But is Agustín right—is wedlock “just paperwork”? The political debate over gay marriage partly concerned the idea that it would de-emphasize marriage’s significance by further decoupling it from child rearing. Fascinatingly, Looking seemed to openly wonder whether that notion has come to pass. In the finale, the show’s one prominent straight couple, Doris and Malik, vowed to only ever “live in sin.” “Marriage is for the gays, and, poor fucking bastards, you can have it," Dorris said. Later in the episode, though, she revealed that she and her boyfriend are trying to have a child. They’d be unmarried parents, but that doesn't been they’d be uncommitted ones.
So if the straights aren’t getting married—and indeed marriage rates have hovered near their historic low for a few years now—why would the gays want to? For Agustín, formal recognition of his relationship comes across like a signpost of maturity, coinciding with him being able to (nearly) afford rent. Implied is the idea that for him and his friends, marriage is something you might choose to opt in to out of personal desire and circumstance; it’s not the near-mandatory endpoint that society once made it out to be for many straight people. In another fascinatingly ambivalent moment, the minister who joined Agustín and Eddie revealed that the wedding ring she wears is just for show—she’s not married. “Nobody wants a fat trainer at the gym,” she explained.