The challenges of planning a straight wedding as a feminist queer bride

March 14 | Guest post by Elise Roberts
The challenges of planning a straight wedding as a feminist queer bride
Feminist neon signs from WESAYIDODesigns

Planning a straight wedding as a lifelong feminist and member of the LGBTQ community was a challenge wrought with emotion, guilt, and confusion (in addition, of course, to all the blissful feelings of being engaged and in love).

I was a feminist way before it was cool, when it was decidedly UNCOOL. I realized that I liked girls as a teenager in the nineties going to a Catholic school, where the only openly gay teacher was a female gym coach who wasn't allowed in the girls' locker room. Gay marriage would not be a reality until nearly 15 years after I realized I might want to marry a woman. At different points in my life, I've hated both men and straight people; not out of malice, but out of fear, rejection, and really bad experiences.

Then I decided to marry a straight dude.

I had a hard time falling in love with him because I felt like it meant abandoning a big part of who I am.

My straight dude is not your typical straight dude. He's a progressive, self-proclaimed feminist who has never judged (or fetishized) my past. I had a hard time falling in love with him because I felt like it meant abandoning a big part of who I am. But through our super healthy, supportive, and loving relationship, I've learned that I can still be a queer feminist who is married to a man. There are no rules to this thing.

Another thing about my straight dude is his very straight family. I knew that when I agreed to marry him I would be agreeing to marry his family. I've always considered myself open-minded, but this was a challenge for me. They are Evangelical Christians. Of course. They are from the very same community of people who shamed me the most throughout my life as a queer woman — who threatened to kill me and my girlfriend in the middle of liberal Seattle, who chased me down the street with knife while screaming at me to devote my life to Jesus in order to be saved, who told me I was going to hell, and who told me that I should be dead.

None of these things just happened once. Who loved the sinner but hated the sin (which isn't a comforting thing, you guys). I was terrified of them, until I was welcomed into their family with warmth, love, and open arms. They know that I've been in love with women. And I'm sure if they could have picked the perfect partner for their son, it probably wouldn't have been me. But we don't talk about that because we have other things to talk about. And we love each other. I am ashamed to admit it probably took me longer to love them than it took them to love me.

So we got married.

Planning an inclusive, feminist wedding under these circumstances was HARD. While I generally like to operate on consensus, I had to draw some very clear boundaries for our ceremony and reception, including: no mention of god or religion at any time, no bouquet or garter tossing, no gendered photo poses, no language about servitude, no "this is the beginning of your life! Or the adventure begins!" because I already have a life, and absolutely no changing of my last name or calling me "Mrs." We wrote our own vows. In mine, I promised to give him a life of freedom and autonomy (along with unconditional love, of course).

We did it! Here's my secret: we got married far from our families, we asked for no advice, and when they did very generously give us money, it was for things like our beach welcome party — aka the most noncontroversial and inexpensive things we could think of. The only part his family had in the actual planning of our wedding was when his mom and sisters came dress shopping with me, which turned out to be one of my very favorite parts of the whole planning process. I didn't get a dress from the shop we went to, but we laughed and joked and I saw them not as people who hated me, but as family whom I loved and who loved me back.

We are all fighting our own battles, and if I've resented judgment in the past I certainly have no room to judge. We all just have to do what is important to us and what moves the world forward in a positive way. And when it comes to your wedding, it's only one day. I doubt that, at this second, my husband's mom is angry that I didn't take his last name, or wondering why we didn't quote the bible in our vows. And if she is, I have no control over that, and it can't be my problem.

If you want to take your husband's last name or be called Mrs., you can still be a feminist.

If you want to take your husband's last name or be called Mrs., you can still be a feminist. And if you define yourself as queer but still want to marry a cis-man, you can! Any suggestion otherwise is divisive and wrong.

Overwhelmingly, through some disappointments, deep-seated fears, and a lot of love, my husband and I are proud of our feminist, non-religious wedding, way more than anyone is mad about it. And that is all that matters in the end.

  1. As a queer feminist myself, I really appreciate this post. I often contemplate how I can, as a queer woman, not be erased into straightness by marrying a cishet dude, so this hits home for me ? Thanks for sharing!

    2 agree
  2. "if you define yourself as queer but still want to marry a cis-man"

    Can we not with defining relationships between trans people and cis people as somehow less straight please. It's a microaggression against trans people to claim our straight relationships and desires are less so than straight cisgender people. If we're defining a relationship as 'straight' if it's between a cis man and cis woman, then to define a relationship between a cis wo/man and trans man/woman as 'queer' carries a ton of unfortunate implications.

  3. I think a lot about the implications of being a woman who loves women when in the midst of choosing to marry a straight male and the impact that has on my identity as a queer woman in the eyes of our families, the law, and general expectations of what it means to be a bride and a wife.

    I'm not sure how I feel about coming out to my family or his, and with his family being very Catholic, it's a process of slowly allowing myself to have conversations with them about topics of gender, sexuality, and labels of individual expression that are slowly opening the door to allowing me to be the person I am with my future husband, but also of a new understanding.

    It feels kind of funny to be neither 'straight' or 'gay', especially when there feels like so few people talk about their experiences of being in-between, what it means to choose to present oneself as a straight couple while queer, and the implications behind that. It's an emotional and lonely path to walk for me, so I'm thankful to have run into this article.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. There are so few answers for people who fall into the grey areas of expression, identity, and gender, and so having this just simply exist in the world is so helpful to foster discussion and progression in our plight to understand ourselves and each other a lot better. I'll sleep a bit easier now knowing I'm not alone.

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