Being the Lesbian in Brideland, Farmtown, Indiana.

September 8 | Guest post by Caitlin
Van & Carina
Photo of Van and Carina by submitted to the OBB Flickr pool and taken by Love Life Lens Photography

So I'd been aware that a lot of girls in my department at college had gotten engaged around the same time that I had a few months ago. But it wasn't until the past couple of days, with about fifty million discussions of rings and dresses and the one couple who got married this summer already, that I realized exactly how many music majors got engaged to be married right after they graduate. It's a little bit crazy, and a little bit intimidating, but I was so intrigued by the concept of knowing other brides in my age group In Real Life (it's significant enough that it deserves spelling out) that I couldn't help it: I gently pushed my toes into the water…

I offered up my wedding date (a year later than most of theirs) and showed off my ring too (and explained why I don't have a diamond).

Mostly, however, I have not corrected them when they use the preposition "he" to refer to my fiancée.

This is for several reasons…

One, while I've been secure in my orientation for about six years now, it's only been the past year and a half that I got used to coming out to people that I didn't know really well.

Two, as the title mentions, I'm going to school in a medium-sized but very rural-minded Indiana town, which of course in my brain has all sorts of assumptions attached about "those people."

Three, I'm not just a music major — I'm a music education major, and that second word + GLBT has a high enough chance of inducing screaming that I'm still trying to figure out what my closet status will be in my career, and I've been playing it safe rather than sorry.

The fourth and final reason, and probably the truest, is that I am quite friendly with some of these girls, and really do enjoy hanging out with them, and know them, if not intimately, well enough to know without a doubt that they would be extremely uncomfortable with my orientation for religious reasons. Since I'll only be spending one more semester with them, why rock the boat?

It's an uncomfortable position for me to live in as a bride. It's an uncomfortable position for me to live in as a person.

But I am out to a few people in my department, and since I didn't bind them with a lot of "hush-hush," apparently the word has gotten around at least a little bit.

Results?

One of the friendliest brides, while discussing wedding plans with me and another music major bride while we waited in line to rent bassoons, used the phrase "So your fiancée… what is she majoring in?" Like it was no big thing. No big thing at all.

So even with my female fiancée and my claddagh ring and my bridesmaids in sundresses and Chuck Taylors and her Man of Honor and our Unitarian Universalist officiant… I'm one of those smiling, flocked with admirers, rosy-cheeked college brides after all. And yes, it does feel good.

Being the Lesbian in Brideland, Farmtown, Indiana.
Scoop w Thumb Holes – Gay Goats

  1. First: BEAUTIFUL picture!

    Second: I'm so glad to hear that people are being open-minded and open-hearted. Stories like this give me a little more hope for the human race!

    29 agree
  2. Being a lesbian who just got married I do understand this predicament. Though we used this as a time to educate others that just because a woman is engaged does not mean that it's to a man. We gently corrected the people who would congratulate us. Explain why we're getting married even though it wasn't legal where we are. As well as educating people who are married about what "marriage" actually means.

    At first I was hesitant as well, and I get this education issue and needing to be closeted to a degree. Huge props to the one that spoke out loud to you though! 🙂

    16 agree
  3. beautiful story, but also…wow, what a great photo! probably one of my favorite couple shots i've ever seen.

    14 agree
  4. That's an awesome story! I hope it encourages you to "try your luck" with people more often. I put it that way because that's how it feels to me (hetero with a much older fiance) – I don't correct people's assumptions, but if they ask an unavoidable question I tell the truth about his age. Every time feels like rolling the dice – I can never predict in advance whether the person will have no reaction or a huge one. But I gotta say, you learn a lot about people when you show them your true self, and positive or negative it's worth it. I really hope that when you graduate you find an awesome situation where you can take the risk of sharing your joy with everyone! Congratulations and best of luck 🙂

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  5. Congratulations, and I love, love, love the picture! My fiancee and I are getting married in Minnesota this fall, and it's been an interesting process coming out to all of our potential vendors. Our engagement was also when I was officially outed to my extended family (my parents had been supportive for years but hadn't wanted to tell most of their siblings so I didn't bother telling them either). To my surprise, everyone in my (Wisconsinite, quite religious Catholic and Methodist) extended family was either very supportive, or at worst neutral in their reactions. Sometimes people will surprise you! Good luck, and I hope people continue to surprise you in good ways!

    6 agree
  6. I have a number of "comfortably out" friends who are teachers, and I have watched them just be the most amazing role models for stopping ignorance. They aren't doing anything in particular, just being themselves honestly, but even those in small towns have at least slowed the rampant homophobia often found in high schools (one is very proud that none of their students use the word "gay" in a derogatory fashion anymore, at least in their classes, but that is a start).

    Obviously your choice is yours, but I thought I would at least mention this.

    6 agree
    • I really want to get the chance to do that… I have a lot of voices from both sides in my life, some people really afraid for my job (like mom) and some people pushing me towards being more out that I'm comfortable even in my everyday life (the visible GLBT community at my university). I think I need to wait and see what my school will be like to make up my mind. But thanks for your support! It helps to hear positive stories.

      2 agree
  7. I just want to say … good. for. you. I love that you're deciding what you're comfortable with. Not what straight people think nor what GLBT people think.

    9 agree
  8. I love when people surprise you with open-mindedness. It makes my heart happy.

    6 agree
  9. Aw, what an adorable couple! I hope they have a happy engagement and even happier marriage. 🙂

    3 agree
  10. How exciting!! We are also a lesbian couple in Indiana getting ready to get married, and we had a huge SQUEE!! when we saw your pictures. 🙂 Best of luck to you.

    7 agree
  11. Glad to hear you're getting positive responses! Coming out is not a one-time deal, it is a lifelong process. I first came out years ago while in college and living in the city, but did find myself censoring myself when I visited the farmtown I grew up in. It is a daily challenge to determine if it is "safe" to tell someone- even in a liberal place like NYC there are gay bashings and harrassments.

    4 agree
  12. First, I want to tell you that I think you are very brave for writing this and sharing your feelings about the hardships that discrimination can cause. It is terrible that such ignorance and bigotry exist in this country that the wise choice for your chosen career is to hide who you really are.

    I would like to say, however, that it seems as though you may be making some assumptions and stereotypes about others as well. It isn't fair for people to stereotype and make assumptions about the LGBT community, but it isn't fair to stereotype and make assumptions about people from small towns either. Coming from a small, rural, farming community (as well as being openly bisexual) myself, I can attest to the fact that there are plenty of open-minded and accepting people who live there, probably more than those who are not. I understand that there are some places that are worse than others, and I don't blame you at all for not wanting to risk facing the discrimination. I just would like to point out that "rural-minded" is not necessarily synonymous with "close-minded." As others have said, people might surprise you if you give them the chance. Don't be so quick to judge them, and perhaps you will find that they will give you the same courtesy.

    I wish you the best of luck in finishing school, and congratulations on your engagement!

    10 agree
  13. This is my favorite post I've read so far. I'm so happy that you're a proud, smiling, happy bride- every bride should be! Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming wedding!

    3 agree
  14. Just wanted to add my voice to the congratulations – glad that they were better than you expected and actually happy for a fellow human being in love!

    3 agree
  15. While I've always believed that couples are couples, all equally sweet and the same no matter which genders they are comprised of… I have to say there is something uniquely and incredibly beautiful, romantic, and sweet about two brides in love and getting married to each other. What a lovely story.

    5 agree
  16. Thank you so much everyone for your lovely comments! It really made my day to see my writing up here ^.^

    And for all of you saying how beautiful the picture is… I don't get credit, lol. That's from the photo pool- whichever staff/mod/Person of Power arranged the article for posting picked it at random, I guess. They are pretty, though, aren't they?

    1 agrees
  17. Delightful story. So happy that you've found love, and that you're getting unexpected support. Yay! ;p

    1 agrees
  18. I'm so glad to finally find a wedding blog that not only fits the profile of the wedding we're planning- no-fuss, girlie, and a little bit different… but one that actually acknowledges gay couples! I've found stunning sites but all assume bride-groom couplings with EVERYTHING. I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face and a big smile. Thanks so much.
    I can absolutely relate to this article, especially playing along with the 'your fiancee, what does he study?' A comment was made about coming out to vendors- that's scary too because there's a chance they'll start behaving differently, especially at wedding expos.
    Gay marriage or civil unions are not legal in Australia, plus we're a young couple (both 21 and students) so we get mixed reactions. We've been together longer than people expect, and can't wait to share our love with family and friends. Best of luck to all the brides out there, and their brides or grooms. Thanks again to Offbeat Bride for making my day 😀

    2 agree
  19. I am also from a small Indiana town and reading this article really made me smile. I'm a practicing Catholic but pass no judgement – love is love is love. I found it touching that you would even think to "not rock the boat" with many of your friends that you feel may not be able to comfortably accept your engagement (congrats!). I wanted to encourage you to be as open-minded about your religious friends as you'd want them to be about you. I have one friend that I think would be afraid to come out to me for the exact reason you specified, but if we religious (and as you know in Indiana, you can pretty much substitute "religious" with "Christian") are living the very basic premise of our faith- we're simply to love one another and leave the rest up to God. I encourage openness and understanding with those around you and I hope others will show you the same! Have a happy engagement and fun planning your wedding!

    5 agree
  20. I really want this world to change. I want you and your future wife to not just be comfortable telling the world you are gay, but to know there will be no negative consequences to your honesty. I believe the world is getting better, and I really hope that by our children's generation people will feel free to be who they are, and love who they love. Why do some religious people want to stand in the way of love? Why is the expression of your natural self offensive to them? I hope that you continue to find acceptance and wish you the best.

    1 agrees
  21. Why did you choose not to get a diamond? It said in the article you had to explain why but with no explanation lol. PS – I love your story it gives me hope!

    2 agree
    • I'd guess part of the no diamond is because it's not traditionally part of a claddagh ring? Although there are many variations people do on claddagh rings these days… it's an ancient Celtic symbol of unity.

      I love your beautiful story, (I love your claddagh ring), and I am so much cheering for you and your music ed aspirations. It was my major for most of my college life, too (and double reeds are amazing! I hope you fall in love with the bassoon the way I did with the oboe…)

      I understand what you mean with being out as a teacher, and I really hope our generation can finally change that. Show the small-minded that they are wrong. As a music teacher, it's doubly hard– so many teacher abuse stories get publicized for extra-curriculars and the GLBT community (illogically) gets blamed. At least I see a lot of that in California. But stay strong, girl. We can change it, one at a time. As my favorite music ed prof told me, always be above reproach, and spread the love for doing what you love.

      1 agrees

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