America has been abuzz on the issue of gay marriage recently. In the 2012 election, it seemed like a handful of states had the issue on the ballot, and there was a lot of doubt about its passage into law. In these last few months, however, it feels like a new state legalizes same-sex marriages every week. Politicians are—predictably—changing their stance by the day, suddenly enlightened by the swing in public opinion. The snowball is gathering speed and size. It seems almost a foregone conclusion that marriage equality will soon be a nationwide reality. And so, with a large population that has long been denied the right to marry now free to do so, we all get to experience something new: GAY WEDDINGS!
What a novelty, right? I love new experiences! So, when I heard that my wife and I had been invited to a wedding of two men that she knows, I was actually interested. You see, for me, going to a wedding is about the last thing I want to do on a Saturday (or any day). Weddings—like graduations, confirmations, funerals, etc.—are pure torture for me. I am not talking about just the formal part. No, the reception has no appeal to me, either. Basically, the entire affair is not a bit of me. It has, at its core, two of my least favorite things: ceremony and small talk. These two things always feel so superficial to me and thus a gigantic waste of time. The only two weddings I have ever had an interest in attending are my own and the one that I officiated. The next—and only—two I want to attend are hopefully in about 25 years, when my kids may decide to tie the knot. Otherwise, “No thanks” on the wedding invites. I’ll pass. Not interested!
But a gay wedding, you say? Hmmm…. That’s different. Maybe I could make an exception for that. I have to admit that the novelty factor was a definite draw for me. I went in thinking I may experience and learn something totally unique and that I had never thought of before. I thought that maybe either the wedding or some aspect or guest of the reception would make me say, “Wow! You won’t see THAT at a straight wedding!” But what should I have thought would be so unique and interesting about it? I think it spoke to the most shallow parts of me, parts that I am a little embarrassed to claim right now. I guess that, despite knowing better, I was subconsciously hoping to see something stereotypical happen: a flamboyant character or even some family drama around acceptance of someone’s homosexuality. Basically, I wanted my assigned seat at the reception to be right between Jack from “Will & Grace” and Big Gay Al from “South Park”, and right across from the narrow-minded grandparent.
So, what did happen at my Big Gay Wedding? It was the most run-of-the-mill, every-weekend-of-Summer wedding ever! It was no spectacle, no drama, no Jack or Big Gay Al to entertain me. I came away totally un-Wowed by it. It was ceremony. It was small talk. It was toasts that made me cry. It was two supportive, proud families. It was true love. It was, in the end, simply a wedding.
As I drove home that night, the feeling that stuck with me was something like relief. Yes, after all of my shallow, pre-wedding musings about the potential of being fascinated by the event or the presence of stereotypes, I found myself so glad that I hadn’t been. I was relieved that any objective viewer would have simply described the event as “two people getting married,” no more and no less. There was nothing “gay” about it, nothing to distinguish it from the straight wedding down the street. Happy, in-love, adult citizens were cementing their union before God and their loved ones in both churches. I was so relieved for Americans—gay and straight—by the fact that I could have been just as bored in one church as the other. It never struck me that I should get to cast a vote to determine the sanctity of one wedding over the other.They were just weddings.
What a great teaching experience it would have been for parents introducing difference and inclusion to their children. After all of the heteronormative Disney movies and everything else that kids absorb in our culture, what a cool thing it would have been for a kid—heck, for anyone—to witness this wedding of two men. The kid would have been so bored and unimpressed by it that it would have made same-sex marriage so normal and uninteresting and UNCONTROVERSIAL. I wish I would have brought my own kids. It would have been a few hours of torture, as any wedding is for a kid, but the lesson—or, rather, the non-lesson—would last a lifetime. It certainly will for me.
How about you? How do you feel about same-sex marriage? Open up your journal and write out your Truth. How many gay people are in your life, and how close are you to them? Has getting to know them better “normalized” homosexuality to you? If I ask you about the first image that comes into your mind when I say “gay man” or “lesbian,” is it a stereotype? I confessed to my shallow desire to be entertained by a stereotype at the wedding, but I also used the title “My Big Gay Wedding” to spark your interest in reading this post as well, hoping to touch on the same type of base instinct in you. Did it work? What does it say about us that we are so silently fascinated by homosexuality and the people who practice it? What is your stance on same-sex marriage? Should it be legalized nationwide? How would it affect your position if your best friend, sibling, or child came out to you and told you that they would like to marry their long-time partner? Does it seem a little smug of us to think we should get to vote on the legality of the marriages of other competent adults in our society? Which marginalized groups have you once held a negative stereotypical image of, only to have that image shattered when you got to know some members of that community? I always find it a relief to discover that people are just people, and that there is no one way to describe every member of a group. I like it when those walls come crashing down. How about you? Leave me a reply and let me know: How big is your view of Love?
Shine your light a little brighter today,