So I just got back from my best friend’s wedding. Well, she can claim the title of best friend with good cause at least. It was perfectly lovely. She married a guy who I’m also friends with. I also work with both of these folk – indeed, it’s how we met and how they met. I’m such good friends with the now wife, I even went to her bachelorette party. The token gay friend
Ok, that’s being harsh. I was there because I’m that good of friends with the bride. Still, it felt like I was token gay friend at times. But the bachelorette party is neither here nor there. I want to focus on this evening and all the conflicting emotions that bubbled up.
To start with. One of my ministers from my congregation did the wedding. The now husband and wife had different faith backgrounds that neither are all that in to nowadays. They took up my suggestions to check out my UU minister, and they hit it off. The same minister did my other best friend’s (at least, my best friend in college and immediately post college) wedding. I know that if life were different and I weren’t gay, one of those two girls I would have married myself. It’s somewhat odd that my minister is the one who did both of the weddings to the girls I would have been married to if not for, well, the whole gay thing.
That had been on my mind in the lead up to the wedding. The wedding itself was quite nice, my minister does a great wedding, and cocktail hour while photos were being taken was as awkward as to be expected. Fielded a couple questions about what Unitarian Universalism is, as a result of my minister doing the wedding service. (Got the question we UUs love to hate – “so what do Unitarian Universalists believe anyways?”)
See, since I know both of these people from work, there were a fair amount of work people there including the obligatory bosses. Whom for other reasons I’m not in the mood to chatty chat with, especially on my day off. So I lurked around with some of the other employees and some of bride’s friends I knew (especially the ones from the bachelorette party while they weren’t getting photos done.) I didn’t have a date – I’m not in a relationship, but even if I was, I would not have been able to bring that boyfriend to said wedding because of those very bosses. I’m not out at work except to a few random people (added one more tonight. Details later.) And I live in the South where it’s perfectly legal to fire someone for no other reason than they’re gay.
The dinner was fine – I was at one of the two work related tables, but the “fun” one without the bosses and other stuffy people. Then the dancing where of course I danced, and had a dance or two with the bride and more. Including the mother of the bride.
The mother of the bride has had a tough time as of late. Her sister, my BF’s Aunt, died somewhat unexpectedly last month. There’s too much family drama to fully adequately explain, and I’m not going to get in to BF’s family drama as it would take about a year to write out, but the mother of the bride did not take it well at all. As in, she purposefully got in to a single car crash.
I don’t know the mother of the bride all that well – we’ve only met a couple times although we both have heard a ton about the other. During the bachelorette party, the mom came up to me, kissed me on the cheek twice, and told me to keep looking after her baby. During the wedding, she pulled me from my seat for a dance. An awkward slow song, and it got more awkward as she talked to me. She was raised Catholic and still is, kinda. And she said she was having such a hard time with her sister’s death she didn’t know what to do. “I’m sure you’ve heard what I did.” She doesn’t want to go to a priest to talk about it because she couldn’t take any possible guilt for what she did, or attempted to do. And she wanted to hear just a little about my religion. (Most of the dance was spent with her talking about why she didn’t feel comfortable going to a Catholic priest.) She clearly needs someone to talk to about it all, and it turns out my BF has been suggesting, a lot, that she check out my church. If I hadn’t been blindsided, I would have gone into pasturing mode. But she’s on my mind, and although it’s awkward, I’m going to let my BF know that the Mom can talk to me if she needs to.
Then I went back to my seat, occasionally interrupted by more dancing. Then when the toasts started, the best man took waaaaay too long – I mean awkwardly long – to give his toast and when I started to tune out (somewhere around the college trip to England and the cricket game) I checked twitter. And saw that it was the anniversary of when Matthew Shepard was found, bloody, beaten, tied to a post and left for death. And then I couldn’t stop thinking about it – it’s one of the major events of my life….happened when I was in HS and coming to terms with being gay. And it just nailed my closet door shut for years, and made me terrified of being gay.
And there I was. At my best friend’s wedding, thinking about how I can’t get married. I can’t. Not in my state, and even if I fled to another state to get married to the person I love, it wouldn’t be recognized. Not by my state, not by my government, and not by society in general, at least down here in my home region. And it just sucks. This is the second wedding I’ve been to this year. The first wedding had this thing on the back of the program that said they were making a donation to a marriage equality organization because they recognized that many of their friends weren’t able to get married alongside them. It was really touching. This wedding didn’t have that, but with this wedding it’s a high probability I was the only gay person in the room other than wait staff. If there were others I certainly didn’t know about it.
It sucks not being able to be fully present with joy for my best friend’s wedding. The whole evening after that can be summed up as bittersweet. And I just haven’t been able to stop thinking about the harsh dichotomy since seeing that reminder on twitter. Joy of wedding vs. terror of the wooden fence. Thrilled for my friends but devastated I’m not allowed to have the same thrill. At one point I ducked outside with a co-worker I only somewhat know and ended up coming out as a result. And I don’t particularly care if it comes back to haunt me at the moment. She ended up asking lots of follow up questions about gay marriage and thought she thought it’s total BS that even if I were to go to a state where gay marriage is legal, get married, and come back it would be completely invalid in the eyes of the government and benefits. Yes, there’s a whole lot more to marriage than just tax benefits and hospital visitation, but damn it, it’s part of it.
Sigh. Of course, what I would normally do to vent about this and to work it through is to talk to said best friend. And I might. If it were anybody else’s wedding, I would talk it over with my best friend. But I don’t want to rain on her joy about it. I don’t know.
But, can we say that it’s depressingly ironic that the guy in the room whose minister performed the ceremony and the guy that the family wants to talk to for spiritual matters can’t go up and get married too?
[Note, this was written right after I got back from the wedding. But due to my internet being out for some reason, not posted till now.]