Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Coming Out Again (and Again and Again and Again)
When most non-gay people talk about "coming out," they imagine a one-time-occasion; perhaps when a person tells her parents or has to make an announcement to the entire world that she is "not straight." In reality, unfortunately, we have to come out again and again. While most of us seek an easy-going normality to our lives, instead choosing to live our lives as OUT gays, lesbians, queers, etc. means that we have to be committed to an ongoing and perpetual coming out.
Getting married as two women is just another situation that forces us to have to "come out" on a public level yet again. While it seems an obvious evolution of our committed relationship to us, the rest of the world is neither obviously comfortable, nor do people assume it is ordinary and normal. For Teri and I, going to a formal wear store, choosing where to register for needed items, or even choosing a professional musician means that we have to out ourselves as a same-sex couple and be prepared for whatever responses may come back to us.
A twenty-year-old engaged heterosexual couple can walk into David's Bridal and announce that they are getting married and all the perky salespeople will fall immediately into their gushing roles. When Teri and I walk in and say the same thing, the responses are: "Which of you is the Bride?" If we press it, we may get questions about whether this is a second marriage? are we sisters (a comment we get enough on a regular basis to make me rather crabby)? or will it be a double wedding?
The activist in me is rather tough-skinned and I choose to look at all this wedding outing as a chance for advocacy. I can accept that it is not going to be the same and while it sucks, maybe by our insisting upon participating in a ritual and ceremony that means a lot to both of us, we can help to normalize the opportunities for others. What I cannot do is make it any easier for Teri or control how others react.
We ARE choosing our vendors and "wedding partners" as I like to think of them based on some key criteria: like many LGBTQ people, we seek out "family" owned businesses and vendors first (those owned by other LGBTQ people); we also look for companies that are gay-friendly and sales people that don't bat an eye when we tell them that we are getting married to each other. My favorite response so far has been from the musician I approached about playing for our ceremony--I let him know via email that we were two middle-age women and while we had some idea of what we wanted for our ceremony music, we were still evolving. His response back was "I'd be honored to be a part of your wedding." Now, that's what I'm talking about!