I am not a bride

Guest post by rorsun1
Photo by Ludovic Bertron used by creative commons license

I am not a bride. I am a cisgender queer man. My partner is not a bride. He is a cisgender gay man. There is a difference between “queer” and “gay” here, but that's not my focus.

I am not a bride. I don't want to know what dress whatever website or magazine will think is “hot” on me or whatever the “hottest” trend in whatever fashion for brides is because I am not a bride.

I've found the person I want to be with forever… and it's almost as if we don't exist.

When we bought our house, the registries were for a bride and a groom. But I am not a bride. He is not a bride. We are neither brides. I loathe the idea of registering again because I don't want to have to tell people to “play around in the search” to find one of us in the wrong category. Macy's and Pier One and Crate and Barrel and Target don't understand that their registries are available in places where gay people get married.

I don't want to have to come out over and over and over again to gift registry associates in stores, to suffer through confused and judging looks simply because I'm not in some glorious mold of who should be married. Because I may decorate, but I'm also a black belt. Because he's a cook, but also handles the power tools. Because we're both neither the femme nor the butch. Because we're us and delightfully both and neither of these things. Because I don't want to have to answer to who's the Bride and who's the Groom. Because I don't want this world that I've entered into to be a square hole to my round peg.

I don't want the softs and pastels and the feminine. That is neither of us. I don't want to be typecast as the Bride because I want to do the decorating and have a vision of what I want.

I don't want to have to go through extra effort to find a photographer who will be able to deal with not having a bride to pose as she's picked up by her husband, or a dress to photograph, or a “trash the dress” session because there is no dress.

And I simply don't understand why it's still stuck like this.

Because it's been eight years, EIGHT, since gay marriage became legal in my state of Massachusetts. Because, since then, five more states and DC have joined us. Because other states will be joining us in the next year. Because it's time for it to change. This whole complex, this whole industry, this whole idea of who gets married, who does the planning and who should care about it, needs to change. Because I'm just one couple in a long line of couples who don't fit the mold, even if they are heterosexual.

And I don't understand why, in a field which is stereotypically dominated by gay men in business (fashion, design, food, planning), that there is no inkling that inclusiveness should be something sought for and done quickly instead of dragged out and done hesitantly. Why there isn't a push to change everything to reflect how it is now.

I look at these wedding photographers, which is where I am now in the process, and I'm trying to suss out if they're LGBT-friendly through the pictures they take. Does their emphasis on the bride mean the photographers find the men to be unimportant? Does the lack of LGBT couples even in the background mean that they are avoiding those couples to “beautify” the shot? Does a lack of inclusiveness in the statement on the website mean that they would rather not work with LGBT couples?

And then I have moments where I say to myself, if they don't support LGBT couples, they're not worth it. They'll find they'll lose business. I'll find a business which does support me and what I'm doing. Not on the philosophical “everyone should be married to whomever they wish” level, but on the “I would be honored and love to shoot your wedding! You're such a gorgeous and happy couple!” level.

But I read about these businesses that refuse LGBT business based on their religious leanings. I hear about these horror stories of typical couples finding the right vendor.

And I freak out.

I become overwhelmed with fear. I stop looking. I eat some ice cream. I play some MarioKart. I relax my pain away with stupid frivolities until I have to open it all up again later, only to have the same thoughts, anxieties, and pressures.

Rejecting all the Bride-related propaganda is easy because it's not my propaganda. You see, I'm not a bride.

I'm not a bride, and that seems to be my problem all along.

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Comments on I am not a bride

  1. So happy to see this post here. Very well-written, and important to hear. You are important, lovely, and no doubt one half of a beautiful and happy couple, bride or not!

    • Love this post as well! I’m so glad more photographers are LGBT friendly, myself included!

  2. I agree that registries and the WIC do not make this easy. I don’t understand why registries can’t just have a “Person One” and “Person Two” designation. It shouldn’t be so complicated. They’re happy as a clam to take your money but they don’t change their terminology. It does sometimes feel like a constant battle to be recognized. Knowing that you have an accepting – and celebrating! – vendor makes a huge difference. I hope you don’t give up!

    • OMGosh I most definitely agree with you. The terminology is extremely irritating. But just an FYI, retailers do not charge to use their registries.

    • Actually, when my fiancee and I (both female) registered at JC Penney’s, we could change the fields to “Bride” and “Bride.”

    • My partner (a transman) and I just registered at Boston Store, where their registry is set up as “Registrant” and “Co-registrant.” I want to send them a love letter for being inclusive.

      • I loved the article but did wonder about the emphasis on cis, it was like, yes you’re both men, I already understand how neither is a bride, the guy with an innie is still a guy, if you know what I mean…it still wouldnt’ve made either of them a bride or wife… I’m still looking for a word for myself that feels right and won’t destroy my mother–but yes, some kind of persons getting married 1 & 2 would be helpful and much less binary

        • I put in the nod to be cis-gender because I can only express my perspective from my cis-priveleged viewpoint. I feel that it would be even more complex if one or both of was genderqueer because it would speak to being of a minority in other ways. It was my way of acknowledging the privelege I do still have while also expressing my exasperation as still having to navigate such a heteronormative institution.

          • The alternative to cisgender(ed) isn’t necessary genderqueer. As a binary trans man, the emphasis on you both being cis feels like implying that I *would* be a bride.

  3. I think this is my favourite post I’ve ever read here (and I love it here). As a photographer and a part of the queer community it has been really important to me that the images on my site do reflect the kind of clients I want to have which of course includes queer couples and other offbeat folks. It meant the world to me last year that after a one wedding, the couple (one of whom is transgendered) expressed how much it meant to them that they didn’t need to explain themselves and their love and that I just got it. I want all couples of all genders to feel that way and not feel like one needs to be the bride or groom.

    I also really appreciate all of the things you mention you look for in finding a photographer or other vendor. I think these things you bring up are notions that photographers who would like queer clients should reflect on, notice where they may be unintentionally focusing on the bride or on heteronormativity.

    Thanks so much for your post. You’ve definitely got me thinking of even more ways to make it clear in my work that I welcome couples of all genders.

    • I understand exactly what you mean. I’m the “photographer’s assistant” (because my wife takes all the pretty pictures), and I loved this post for the same reasons. And that’s so awesome! Thanks to Google Analytics, we know that someone found us by searching “cross-dressing friendly photographer,” but they never contacted…and we want them to so badly!

  4. Thank you so much for writing this. Even though my intended and I are heterosexual, I too find the gender expectations surrounding wedding suffocating (and can only imagine it’s 1000x times worse for you). It’s time for more people to question and expose the ways in which the wedding industry contributes to these stereotypes.

  5. I would like a list of companies that *do* make it easy and convenient for any couple to register for their wedding! This is an issue that never occurred to me and I’d like to avoid purchasing from companies that aren’t inclusive.

    It looks like Bed Bath and Beyond uses “Registrant” and “Co-Registrant”, but are there any others?

    • REI does gift registries under “registrant” and “co-registrant.” They don’t even make you call it a wedding; you can call it a “commitment ceremony” or even just an “event.” Not to mention you can register for tents, bikes, and canoes if you’ve got all the dishes and towels you could ever need.

    • Amazon.com has “partner” and you can add stuff from any website to their registry.

      • Amazon will also let you say that both people are grooms or both people are brides (I tested it)

        It has three options for each person: “Bride”, “groom” and “partner” and it will let you use whatever combination of these you want.

  6. AMAZING article! Please don’t be discouraged– A lot of people (myself included) stand with you. *sending good thoughts and positive energy towards Massachusetts*

  7. I completely whole-heartedly agree with this post. However, when we registered at Macy’s, I don’t remember ever having “bride” vs “groom”. I think we were just registrant and co-registrant. We also got our marriage licenses not long after NY state legalized gay marriage and our licenses only said “spouse.” It’s still not easy but these little changes are happening.

  8. Why is it that registries don’t say “spouse” or “partner” instead of “husband”? Can you imagine how one big box store changing their verbiage could 1.) effect the industry and 2.) all the new business that store could glean!

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