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Sarah and Holly

Kiss me hard before you go…

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lesbian wedding 101

Lesbian Wedding 101: How to be supportive of something you’re not sure you support

This post originally appeared on one of my favorite wedding planning websites Offbeat Bride on April 2nd.

As you can imagine, being part of a two-chick couple is not always simple on a cultural level. Holly and I are incredibly fortunate to live in a time when it’s fairly accepted and generally safe for us to be together openly. We also live in a state where’s it’s been legal for two ladies or two dudes to get married for almost four years now, yay, Washington!

We’re from the “red” side of WA that did not approve the marriage equality bill.

AND, as of June 26 of this year, the Supreme court made this superfluous by declaring that banning marriage for those of us of the queer persuasion is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment!

While we have a great group of friends and family (and even acquaintances or relative strangers!) that love us and are extremely excited for us, there are plenty of people who still struggle with accepting that us being together is both normal and good. Perhaps you’re one of them. You might also be unsure if you’re going to be comfortable coming to the wedding.

While you struggle with your answer to the RSVP, allow me to share a few thoughts to consider.

**Note: I’m not of the mindset that every marriage must be “blessed” by God. The existence of civil marriage and the separation of Church and state creates a healthy space where free people can enter into marriage on whatever premises they both choose. I consider this an important component of a free society. But, the following assumes a religious or quasi religious perspective on marriage.**


 

When you attend a wedding you are doing two things: witnessing the marriage vows and celebrating the love and commitment of the couple. The question to ask is: is my acting as a witness to these vows and celebrating the love of these two people dishonoring to God?

It’s a question many people I care deeply about are struggling with. This is actually a good thing, in fact, I think we should probably struggle with it a bit more.

The marriage sacrament, as it exists today, is not what it was 1,000 or even 100 years ago. We tend to romanticize the history of marriage with fairy tales about true love but generally speaking, the motivation for marriage more frequently had to do with convenience, safety, money, property or power. Often, it was a kind of slavery. These practices still exist. We see remnants of the colorful legacy of marriage at every socioeconomic level: the gold digger, the shotgun wedding, the offspring factory, the partnership or “merger,” etc. These marriages may meet some need in one or both partners, but they certainly don’t require love or even fidelity.

 

Returning to the original question: is celebrating these unions honoring the sacrament or “spirit” of marriage? Is this the relationship God had in mind when he put his first two kids together in the Garden?

Here’s the kicker, is the quality of the relationship more or less important than the quantity of men or women in it? If you believe it’s less, I’ll be the last person to ask you to compromise your beliefs or to share in our special day. Peace and love be with you. But, honestly, after seeing my share of abuse, infidelity and broken marriages, I think we shouldn’t just assume God is on board at every boy-girl wedding we attend.

But, even if you cannot fully celebrate the quantity of ladies in our marriage, but maybe you can be part of a celebration of love and commitment between two fellow humans.

Because, against all odds, by design, tradition or accident, people still like to couple up. And, when the coupling is characterized by love, willingness, mutual respect, honesty, faithfulness and joy, I think that’s a win for humanity all around.

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Hey, I got published!

One of my absolute favorite sites is Offbeat Bride. Obviously, it’s a huge favorite at the moment because I have weddings on the brain, but even beyond this, OBB is a wonderful community of authentic, welcoming, quirky folks who love to talk about anything, but especially weddings!

I had the opportunity to share a guest post on their blog today about a common question we face as an engaged lesbian couple: “Who’s the Groom?”

Lesbian Wedding 101: Gender Roles

Chaos Life Comic: Lesbians 101
Source: Chaos Life

“So, who’s the guy in your relationship?”

This question (or versions of it) is one of the more common questions posed to lesbian couples and the most frustrating. The reverse is true of male couples. While most people have posed this question with absolutely no malice or agenda, people in same-sex relationships (including myself) can get kind of huffy about it. That is not always helpful, so lets talk about that question.

Gender Roles

The real issue here is not same-sex attraction and relationships but rather gender roles. Gender roles are social and cultural guidelines for what is considered appropriate or normal behavior for a particular gender. While I’m sure you can easily think of examples, I’m also guessing there are many more ways that you violate gender roles either as an individual or within a relationship.

Raise your hand, ladies, if your man is a better cook than you (or enjoys cooking more). Gentlemen, raise your hand if your wife works full time. Who pursued whom?  Who was the disciplinarian in your family, mom or dad? Who balanced the checkbook? Who cried more easily? See, the truth is that, in all relationships, there really are no universally “male” or “female” roles, there are only things that “people” do. We are all unique and every relationship has its own unique distribution of roles and duties.

There are plenty of people who argue that this is just stupid, obviously girls and boys are different. But, honestly as we let go of the presupposition that this is true, we start seeing the evidence that, all things the differences between us all have less to do with out gender than we used to think. Try it and see 😉

The idea that a relationship must have one “male” role and one “female” role is what is part of something called heternormativity. Heteronormativity is the, often unspoken, assumption that hetersexual relationships and attractions are “normal” and anything else is an aberration. Now, even if the aberration is acceptable, the simple fact that it is “not normal” is both degrading to gay people and simply not accurate. As we already discussed, the male/female roles are already broken by straight couples, so it is not that much of a stretch to say that gay couples also do not need one “male” type person and one “female” type person. Like every other couple, we are simply two people of complementary personalities who, hopefully, have found a way to share a life together. This includes sharing physical responsibilities and meeting emotional needs.

So let’s talk about us

Holly and I are both girls. This may seem obvious to you, but, quite often, many people believe that someone is only gay because they really feel more like the opposite gender. This is enforced by the stereotype that lesbians are more “masculine” than straight women (Um, Helena Peabody, anyone?). Your personality and how you express yourself through clothing, etc really have nothing to do with your attractions. Or your behavior.

As two women, we complete each other in the complex and nuanced ways that any other couple does. We mesh as two different but complementary people, speaking of it in terms of who has more “male” traits and who has more “female” traits is kind of pointless. We are two people who fit together (pretty perfectly, I might add).

Our Gender Stereotype Scorecards

Holly proposed to me, she also asked me to be her official girlfriend. She is also works (now) in the industrial field, which is dominated by males (as were almost all professions before 1950). She does not have an extremely feminine gender expression, which is to say, she prefers t-shirts and jeans to dresses and makeup. These are all traditionally more “masculine” behaviors. One the other hand, she is much more emotionally intuitive and socially sensitive than I am. And watch that girl run when she sees a spider!

By comparison, I am a visually “femme” person. That is, I often wear skirts or dresses and wear makeup. I also cook and tend to be more domestic than Holly. But, while I am less confrontational and a bit more passive than she is, I tend to be more analytically-minded.  We both can be very aggressive and competitive and are both assertive, but usually in different areas. Honestly, we both demonstrate the same characteristics just to varying degrees, like most people.

One of the most beautiful parts of our relationship is how equitable it is. We are extremely cooperative and neither of us dominates the other. This is, I think, a wonderful side-benefit of being in a same-gender relationship: gender roles are much less pronounced and, since no one person perfectly fits a gender role anyway, there is not that frustration that comes when you want to breakk those roles.

Why none of this matters (or all of it does)

Think about the ways that you violate your own gender stereotype (some were mentioned above). Remember that, not too long ago, it was believed that women women were inherently bad drivers, bad at science or reasoning, and ill-suited for leadership. It has also been suggested that men are obtuse, emotionally insensitive, arrogant, and sexually uncontrolled and selfish.

These stereotypes do nothing to help anyone and, as I’m sure you know, are inaccurate more often than they are accurate. I cook because I like to cook. I work because I like to work. I love Holly’s romantic sensitive heart and she loves my analytically and intelligent mind. I love how she validates every part of me, regardless of whether that characteristic is traditionally “masculine” or “feminine.”

So regardless of the fact that Holly will, in all likelihood, be wearing the pants at our wedding, that doesn’t mean anything except…she likes wearing pants.

I mean, who doesn’t?

So, obviously I have a lot of opinions on this, what are yours?

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