In my last post I talked about how there’s a much broader capacity for love and romantic engagement and deep partnership than the mainstream commercial cultural narratives would have us believe. After all, marketing is often about making us feel bad about ourselves so we go out and buy something that we think will solve the problem.
In this marvelous TEDX talk, the brilliant Gaelynn Lea absolutely dismantles that whole narrative:
Maggie and Amanda went to the same college but didn’t meet until Amanda graduated and stayed during the summer to do research. They met through mutual friends,Â stayed up late talking at Amandaâ€™s apartment on her balcony, and then a few weeks later decided to hang out and go to the highline together. It happened to be on June 26, 2013 – the day the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down. TheyÂ ended up going to the Stonewall Inn to celebrate later that night and,Â coincidentally,Â were told by a friend of a friend that they wouldÂ get married.
The wedding they eventually decided on was a small gathering of friends and family at a rented house in Stowe.Â The only wrinkle was that a few months ago, Amanda got hit with a strange virus, spent several weeks in the hospital, and has been on a slow arc of recovery ever since.
Having spent the last year dealing withÂ a huge health eventÂ myself (exploding appendix/sepsis), I completely understood the challenges she’s been facing.
One of their big concerns was how tired she gets, and how she’d handle a whole day of celebration. A solution we came up with was to have them sit for the ceremony. Easy enough! They settled themselves in facing Adirondack chairs, and we carried on as usual.
An upside to this arrangement was that it made their extremely decorative socks all that much more visible!
Maggie is a biologist, so the African savannah socks were absolutely perfect!
ItÂ also turned out Maggie’s brother works at Dobra Tea – one of my fave Burlington haunts. And he was at a wedding I did for another of their Devoteas. This was a legendary ceremony in which one of the attenants – the couple’s dog – threw up just before the vows in a spectacular display of Canine Projectile Hurling.
At any rate, these gals were chill, smart, funny, extremely charming, and I wish them all the absolute best!
Following the Supreme Court decision allowing same sex marriage, my friends Allison and Holly have finally decided to get hitched, and asked me to perform the ceremony.
They’re both excited to be marrying each other, but more than a little conflicted about entering into the institution itself. As Holly said, “Let us know if you have any words of advice or things to keep in mind. We’re taking this very seriously yet we’re both ambivalent about marriage and not very sentimental, and I think that is bearing out in our approach.”
This is what I said in my reply:
I hear you about your conflicted feelings. I think the thing to remember is that this, first and foremost, is about the two of you. While you may not be very sentimental, you did happen to bump souls, and you’ve chosen, quite happily, to be together as lovers, friends, and life partners. You take joy in hanging out together. You have fun together. You adventure well together. You look awesome in tuxedos together. And you love each other in a way which gives you a universe of intimacy between you.
You’re both brilliant, powerful, seriously no bullshit women, and you have managed to entwine your lives in the same way that whole galaxies can interweave and pass through each other – with eddies of gravitational attraction and total transformation – while still remaining utterly intact. You have a Big Red Love, and that’s what really matters.
No, the government shouldn’t have Word One to say about the “legality” or “legitimacy” of relationships. Nor should any other kind of institution. No, our culture shouldn’t have its undies in a bunch about any kind of sexuality. It’s utterly absurd. But that’s just the way it is. Just like the fact that we have to pay taxes and allow ourselves to age and die with a modicum of grace, and accept the reality of Fox News and doofusy people like Scott Walker, Donald Trump, and the KKK.
Well, you know what? Fuck ’em. Fuck ’em all. Play the game. As Robert Heinlein said, rub blue mud in your bellybutton if that’s what everyone else is doing, and then get on with your lives. You’re at the fulcrum of a remarkable moment in our cultural history. And not only that, you’re an intimate part of it. So, enjoy it. Love each other. Eat cake. Party hard. And then get up in the morning and go do more great things.
It’s truly how I feel. Marriage is what happens between two people as they’re living their lives together, and very little to do with what happens at the altar, or as a consequence of a piece of paper being signed.
However it’s also a part of our culture and legal system and that emotional part of our lizard brain which barely knows from rational.
So, we follow our hearts and make our peace with the contradictions. Some of us make it legal. Some of us could not begin to be bothered.
But life is a hard and challenging and frequently struggle-filled business. Finding someone you love, who makes your toes curl and your heart sing and your life a little happier…that’s something to be celebrated one way or another. It just is.
Yolanda and Dinora came out to my house to get married yesterday. Of course, as a huge Pink Martini fan, I can only think of this song when I hear the name Yolanda!
Well, in the past, that was the case. Now I’ll still be humming that song, but I’ll be thinking about these two as well.
Yolanda and Dinora
Yolanda is from Spain, and Dinora’s family is from Mexico. They’ve been together almost 15 years, and have been through an enormous amount, including a transcontinental romance, reactions from the more conservative members of Dinora’s family, as well as Yolanda’s ongoing F2M Transition.
Fortunately, they’re still going strong. So much so, that while they came out to my house to get their marriage license signed, they didn’t really think they’d need a ceremony, just a pen.
To their surprise, in the moment, getting married actually felt like a Seriously Big Deal, and they wanted some kind of spontaneous ceremony after all. Which, of course, was fine by me. I’m up around the 250 mark these days, and if I can’t pull a wedding out of my ear at this point, then maybe I need to find another line of work.
Of course, the tricky part was that Yolanda only speaks Spanish – a language I only have dribs and drabs of, mostly thanks to Sesame Street and a few folk songs like Guantanamera. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t do too much talking in English, and force Dinora to spend her time translating the ceremony for Yolanda.
So, I mostly repeated back the story they’d just told me about their lives, congratulated them for having gotten this far, asked them to speak their vows to each other, and pronounced them married! It was enough to get Dinora (who had been thinking about their wedding only in purely practical terms) crying her eyes out and seriously threatening the integrity of her non-waterproof mascara.
I take no credit, of course, for any of that. They’ve done all the hard work. But, honestly, these two lovely people are exactly the reason why I’m an Officiant. No relationship is easy. Everyone has to work at making love last. Everyone has to participate actively in the creation of a conscious, healthy, functional partnership.
And helping make that hard-won moment of Legal Union as easy, stress-free, and meaningful as I possibly can is a never-ending source of joy.
I was contacted months ago by Nancy and Stacy from Kentucky. They’ve been together for over 20 years, and finally, after kids raised and homes bought and businesses run, decided to get married. They said they’d be bringing Stacy’s parents along, and might it be possible to get married at my place, given all the great photos they’d seen of the river, the covered bridge, and as my husband likes to call it, The Pretty.
As we were planning the specifics of their wedding (which included dressing up in 1940s swing style – to which I contributed my own sartorial effort) they sent me a message saying that not only were Stacy’s parents coming, but their friends Cherie and Lynn (pronounced Lee-yun, southern style), who have been together 20-something years as well, had decided to come along and get married too!
So on the appointed day, they all showed up! Stacy’s parents were lovely, and gave me a bunch of agricultural advice, including using a mixture of flour and sugar to keep the moths which produce giant green worms off my kale. Stacy’s father was also one of the most handsome 80-something men I’ve ever seen. As you can see, he just rocks a hat (as does his daughter).
Stacy and Nancy had met when their kids were all in band together. Cherie and Lynn, on the other hand, met at a gay bar where Lynn was a bouncer. Even though Lynn was 18 years older than Cherie, they hit it off so well that Cherie moved in with Lynn after the second date. Â And BOY! do they still love (and have the hots for) each other! It was an inspiring thing to see.
The other thing which really moved me about meeting them all was an offhand comment Stacy’s mom made about who would have thought she’d ever be in Vermont celebrating her daughter’s lesbian wedding. She and her husband are pretty traditional southern folks, and I imagine they’ve had to do a little mental reorientation over the years. But their love for Stacy and Nancy is very real, and speaks, I think, to the infinite capacity of our hearts to expand and encompass everyone who needs to be loved.
Some people, of course, won’t get there. But many people will, and they’ll surprise you with their gentle acceptance and kindness. And great gardening tips.
Thanks to Karen Pike for once again providing kick-ass photography!
Jules and Bree, the latest in a long line of ladies coming up from Florida to wed.
Our plan (after some unintended gender confusion on my part), was to meet in Essex, NY at the ferry dock for the ceremony.
However, in early November, it can be – and yesterday absolutely was – ratherÂ briskÂ at the ferry dock! Â Not only was I concerned for these gals who’d just left 80 degrees and sunny behind them, but for ME. Â Even with climate change, in my personal experience, the winters somehow just keep getting colder!
Fortunately, I’d arrived in Essex a little early and found myself getting tea at an adorable coffee shop and Cool Stuff Store called The Pink Pig.
Deb, the proprietress extraordinaire (and Manhattan expat), was incredibly friendly and welcoming. Â When I told her I was in town for a wedding at the ferry dock, she said she wanted to come and take photos for her blog. Â So, I suspected that if we showed up on her doorstep, she would welcome our little wedding party with open arms.
And so she did!
She rearranged some of her nifty antiques and other lifestyle ornaments to make room for us to do the ceremony, changed the music playing in the store, and took a heap of photos – including the entire wedding party with their friends Lee Ann andÂ Courtney from Plattsburgh. Deb also gave them a couple of coffee mugs as impromptu wedding gifts!
If you, dear reader, are ever in Essex, NY, go visit Deb at The Pink Pig. Â She’s open year round. Be sure to show her some gleeful and abundant love!
I also got to learn more about Jules and Bree, who met playing pool. Â Apparently, Bree’s parents didn’t like the woman she’d been seeing, and so suggested she get out more and join a lesbian pool league. Â Definitely a guaranteed bastion of fine, upstanding citizens!
Apparently, Bree’s Dad is also THE biggest redneck in town, and approached Jules at one point, asking if she was dating his daughter. Â Fearing getting her butt kicked, but determined to stand up for herself, she acknowledged that she was. Â Dad gave a nod and a grunt and walked away. Â And all their parents have been on board with the relationship ever since!
This morning, I got the most beautiful email from Jules and Bree which, though a little long for a blog post, I want to share in its entirety because it was so moving:
The brilliant film-maker Lana Wachowski was recently given a Human Rights Watch Visibility Award. Â Why? Â Because she used to be Larry. Â She’s an incredibly private person, but agreed to receive the award because she felt that if she could be a role model and a source of hope to other people in the Trans community, then the sacrifice of her carefully-guarded anonymity would be worth it. Â Here’s her acceptance speech. Â She’s extraordinary.