It's happened on a handful of occasions. I mention that my partner and I are planning a wedding and the person I am talking to, someone that I don't know very well at all, responds with “Will it be a real wedding?” Ouch.
What I imagine they were looking for was some clarification of the legality of the marriage, since we're not straight.
It also made me feel defensive because I am a woman and my partner is a man — yes, he is transgender… but questioning if our wedding is real also brings up Pinnochio-like questions of whether or not he is a “real boy.”
Other couples don't get these questions, particularly heterosexual and cisgender couples. I don't want things like that to hurt… but they do. This really hurt my heart.
For LGBTQ people, and often other marginalized communities, intimate love and wedded bliss may seem unattainable. Society tells so many of us that we will not be worthy of love “until” or “unless” or in “real” ways. The messages are to lose more pounds, to change what makes us different, to fit in, to conform, to assimilate, to stop pushing our agenda… then and only then will we find acceptance.
Being fully, unapologetically ourselves comes with risks and can be both contentious and dangerous. We are violated, belittled, deprived of love, victimized, isolated and left wanting… both by larger systems and communities, and by people we thought we could trust. Amidst the pain or discomfort, we have to remember that there is hope.
Our own wedding planning process continues to be a source of connection and celebration for both of us as well as a reminder of just how queer we are. I love weddings. I am a sucker for a good love story. I am in love with the details, and the ritual, and the ceremony, and I have served in nearly every capacity for others. I am an officiant, a photographer, your right-hand maid of honor, and your last-minute hairdresser and make-up artist. I've surfed the hetero-mainstream blogs for years and have come to the realization that I don't see myself in any of it.
We started our own blog as a place for complex identities and representation of voices and faces and relationships that want to honor their love with ritual, ceremony and celebration! I am forever grateful to Offbeat Bride for doing much of the same.
For me and my partner, experiences with gender, sexuality, and body acceptance have been very painful at times and continue to challenge us both. Together we have found a lot of healing and the strength to continue to work to be unapologetic about who we are by sharing our love story and seeking out others who reflect our values and experiences. We have been transformed by our love for each other and want to keep sharing and shouting from the rooftops that queer people can find love and healing across and because of their differences, not in spite of them… even if they choose to play by their own rules.
It doesn't matter if you have a traditional church wedding, a tasteful non-denominational golf course ceremony, or a super-pagan shindig in the woods, officiated by your lesbian friend from college — straight couples are not likely be questioned about how “real” their wedding will be. I know that our love is real and that our ceremony will be a very significant and meaningful moment for both of us and the people who love us — that's what matters. Our own love story is proof that it's possible.
It is essential to our survival and our mental health to connect with other people and share our experiences… to remind each other that we are enough. We deserve to be loved. We are beautiful. So this post is for the fat kids, and the gender queer, and the too dark or too light, and the others who feel like outcasts and misfits… those who have been told that you will be alone forever… that no one can love you fully and truly as you are… that you are not enough.
Our love is real in all of its forms.