April 2018

Monday, September 9, 2013

Summer of Celebrations

This has been a summer of gay celebrations. Ann and I started the summer on February 8, a light night during winter's grey drizzle, when we participated in a mass wedding in our church. Six couples married, each couple having had its own ceremony prior to the legalization of gay and lesbian marriages in the state of Washington and to the fall of the Defense of Marriage Act in the Supreme Court. Most of the couples had been together for over fifteen years. One couple had met in ninth grade and another in eighth grade. 

Our simple little church was simply decorated with candles, and afterwards there were cake and little mints in the fellowship hall downstairs. 

In June, we celebrated the marriage of Brian, who was a freshman in high school when I taught him in 1990, and his partner Joe, who lived in D.C. last year while Brian went to school in Seattle because Joe was in the U.S. on a visa and couldn't find a job in Seattle that fit his visa and because he and Brian are gay he could not gain citizenship through marriage to Brian like straight couples could. Now the country has one more happy gay (not redundant) couple and one more talented, kind (and muscly) citizen. At the reception, we sat barefooted on the lawn, and ate cheeses and hummus as the grass tickled our feet and we toasted the couple with champagne. 

In July, our friends Marie and Colleen married near their home on Whidbey Island. They held the ceremony in a field outside an old barn, and as they said their vows, those of us sitting on hay bales  watched this couple in overhauls against the backdrop of ferries moving among the islands in Puget Sound and an eagle soared overhead.

Yesterday, in September, our friends Steffany and Lin married at a campground in Marblemount. The creek moved behind them as they celebrated their third ceremony (one in the back yard, one in Canada, and now their Washington wedding.) Each said to the other, "I take you AGAIN!" The setting, as in the previous weddings, said much about the couple, this time a couple committed to the sacred joy of the outdoors.

I wonder what winter weddings will be like. So far, October's open if anyone's looking for a date.

We have attended weddings of straight couples in the past who did not follow the cultural rituals of long white dresses, florist's flowers, and hired music, so the creation of new wedding forms to match the spirits and passions of the celebrants is not new, but in my experience this individuality has been a characteristic of gay weddings.

I love the more traditional weddings, too--Ann's and my ceremony in 2009 was more along those lines, as befit our lives and our community. Still, marriage for gay couples has a kind of giddiness to it. In every wedding I've attended, the person leading us through the ceremony has said something like, "And now, with the approval of Washington's citizens and The Supreme Court, I pronounce you LEGALLY wed." Always, there is cheering and laughter. "Can you believe we're doing this?" we seem to say. We never imagined this day would come. 

And yes, we love deeply. I love the poetry of these weddings. At Stef and Lin's wedding, there was this poem, sweet and lovely and with joyful laughter:

Prayer for a Marriage
When we are old one night and the moon
arcs over the house like an antique
China saucer and the teacup sun
follows somewhere far behind
I hope the stars deepen to a shine
so bright you could read by it
if you liked and the sadness
we will have known go away
for awhile – in this hour or two
before sleep – and that we kiss
standing in the kitchen not fighting
gravity so much as embodying
its sweet force, and I hope we kiss
like we do today knowing so much
good is said in this primitive tongue
from the wild first surprising ones
to the lower dizzy ten thousand
infinitely slower ones—and I hope
while we stand there in the kitchen
making tea and kissing, the whistle
of the teapot wakes the neighbors.

-- Steve Scafidi

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