I have a good friend who is gay. He had a long-term boyfriend in Los Angeles who was in a terrible plane crash. They'd been together for years. My friend wanted to go to the hospital to find out if he was OK, to sit with him, and to be by his side whatever happened....just as any good boyfriend would do. But when he arrived at the hospital, the nurses didn't let him in. They said that he wasn't next of kin or legal family. They wouldn't even tell him if his boyfriend was alive or dead. Thankfully, a nurse who sympathized with my friend, overheard the arguments at the nurses station. My friend was very upset and the situation was escalating to desperation. This caring nurse pulled my friend aside and gave him the heartbreaking news. His boyfriend had passed away just a few hours before.
I still tear up just thinking about how awful that moment must have been. I can't help but think...if gay marriage was legal at that time, would my friend have gotten the chance to say goodbye?
This time of our lives is monumental. Its grossly overdue.
It would seem that, in a city like New Orleans, with its free spirit and laissez faire attitude, that gay marriage would have been acceptable long ago. But no...the old-fashioned outweighed the open minded. However, the celebrations of commitment still happened. I remember the first time I planned a gay wedding. It was 2011, I think. The client called me and was timid on the phone. I could tell she was worried about being judged and had maybe even been rudely shot down by other planners. I immediately felt her longing to be understood. I can't say that I can understand. After all, I'm not gay so why would I? But I could be someone that didn't judge her. I decided that, no matter what the budget was for her commitment ceremony, I was going to help her. I made sure she knew that I had never done a same sex wedding before. She joked...neither had she. We agreed to learn together. What was surprising, in this learning experience, was that we both found that gay weddings, from a planning perspective, are pretty much exactly the same as straight weddings. We fumbled over wording...is her fiance a "groom"? Will there be a groom's cake and groomsmen? For her fiance, the comfort level was that yes...she would take the title of groom and all the tradition that came with it. The "groom" wore a suit and waited at the end of the aisle for her bride, who wore a beautiful white dress. They cut both a bride's and a groom's cake and during their first dance, the groom obviously took the lead. It was a beautiful day and the air was filled not just with love but also with accomplishment. This couple had endured so much to get to where they were. Beyond the typical trials and hurtles that every couple getting married has to overcome, these women also had to bare the burden of ridicule and judgement. But they didn't care. Their commitment was that strong.
I've done a few same sex weddings since then. All women...so far. Some decided to both wear dresses and walk up the aisle together as two brides (see photo). Some changed the wording of their typical ceremony to include phrases like "each other" in place of "husband and wife". We are still in an era where that story is being written, but now the plot is unfolding and finally the characters in these fairytale love stories are legally allowed to live happily ever after.
Bravo, US Supreme Court! Welcome to the 21st Century!