Sunday, June 08, 2008

June: Weddings and Gay Pride Month, Part 1

PREVIOUSLY ON IDIOSYNCRATIC LIFE: My wedding dress comes in to the shop all wrong. The store promises a new one will arrive in two weeks. The dress arrived Friday morning. It fits. It's gorgeous. It needs a few minor tweaks, a good steaming, but I was thrilled.

SPOILER: This is the first of two posts, that will, when all is said and done, come around to being about my wedding dress and a choice I just made. Please be patient with me, this first post is all about the background.

NEWS UPDATE: On May 29, New York state Gov. David Paterson issued a directive which required that state agencies recognize gay marriages performed in other states and countries that legally recognize same-sex unions.

DO SOMETHING: While you wait for me to finish the second half of this story in a future entry, click on the words "Take Action" to show your support for marriage equality. Oh, and be nice in the comments section. This is my blog. It is, above all else, a personal journal, a place for my stories, and a safe space. If you think I will tolerate bigotry or godbag-blowhardery for even one second, take my word for it: I won't. If you don't believe me, call the bridal salon where I ordered my gown and ask for Jackie.

A few years ago, Joel and I went to his cousin's wedding in Manhattan. Actually we went to the reception, because there was a huge back up on FDR Drive as rubber-neckers gawked at homeless man standing on a small round trampoline while balancing a watermelon rind on his head. Then Joel's car was hit and run in the parking lot, which I blogged about here.

With all the excitement, I never mentioned a quiet, but important moment that took place that night, a turning point, actually, in my relationship with Joel. Up to that point, Joel had a fairly typical liberal straight guy view of gay marriage and same-sex couples in general: Tolerance and acceptance with a "live and let live" philosophy. And although his friends are very racially diverse, he didn't have any gay friends at the time.

Well, I do have gay friends. A lot of them. And I guess, if you've never watched someone you love go through the process of coming out, you might not get it. If you've never seen the ladder of superficial cuts lacing up a friend's arm, because the pressure of staying in the closet hurt so much that they needed to feel that pain as a physical sensation- REALLY feel it- you might not get it. If you've never been to a wedding where the groom's mother wept uncontrollably not only because her son was getting married, but also because her husband refused to attend since their son was marrying a man, well... You might not get it.

Joel and I were already talking about getting married in September of 2006. We were talking about what kind of wedding we might want to have, who we might want to be there. One thing that I said was important to me, REALLY important to me, was that our wedding would be a celebration of love, a gathering not just for us, but for all the people who love us.

I had just gotten back from an old friend's commitment ceremony, just the best gay West Virginian wedding ever. I was adamant that Joel and I have a wedding where ALL our friends, including the gay couples, could feel comfortable slow-dancing together. Joel hedged on that, not because of his own views, but because he has some distant relatives of the born-again persuasion. Basically, I told Joel, "Too bad. My friends bent over backwards to include me in their wedding weekends, to treat me not just as their vendor, not even just as a friend, but as a member of their family. Your cousins will suck it up, or they aren't welcome."

Joel heard me, but he didn't quite get it. He countered with, "Well, I don't have a problem with it, but it's just not accepted yet. In 30 years, no one will ever look twice at a gay couple slow-dancing at wedding." So I told him that 30 years ago, no one would have accepted an interracial couple. As far as I was concerned, excluding our gay guests in any way would be as ludicrous as asking GB and Walter not to dance together. Oh, and if he really felt that way, then I would be perfectly happy to marry him in 2036.

We were seated at his cousin's reception at the Typical Coupled Adult Non-Wedding Party Table. We were, after all, the bride's cousin and his girlfriend. We were with the other cousins who are too old to sit with their parents, the engaged grad school friends, and yes, the groom's cousin and his life partner. As the DJ asked all the couples to join the newlyweds on the dance floor, the groom's cousin and life partner stayed seated.

Joel and I stepped out on the dance floor. He turned me around slowly, doing the 360 degree prom spin. He watched them watching all of us, and said, "I take it back." As the night wore on, the groom's cousin and his partner *did* dance together, then slow danced together. Joel took a long look, and said: "I take it all back." He got it.


1 comment:

michelle said...

AHHHHHHHH. I want the rest of the story!