Monday, February 21, 2011
The Tug between Public and Private
Having a wedding--even a rather small one--is inviting the world into the relationship. There has been a public element to our relationship (Teri's and mine) since the very beginning that is unique and new to both of us and this process of "tying the knot" has exaggerated the tension between personal and private, and the public and political.
Last weekend, I got a phone call from a state-wide organization asking if I would be willing to be a media spokesperson on call for their push toward marriage equality here in Oregon. Of course I would be and it wasn't facts and figures that they needed, but my personal story and the appeal of Teri and I as an ordinary couple. There was chat about this blog, my work in the local community, and other details. Meanwhile, Teri had a movie on "pause" and we both put our private time together on hold to address the public and political sphere.
Teri and I met within the context of a rather active local lesbian community. She was involved in organizing events and I was involved in organizing and coordinating events and gatherings. From the very beginning there was an element to our coming together that others seemed to think they had a connection to. With five children between us and two entirely separate worlds of friends and family as well, we HAD to tend to how to involve and include them in our partnering too. So, from the very beginning, we have been working to balance the private couple with the public couple.
Last night, I confessed that there are moments in this Wedding Planning Land when I fantasize that it is just Teri and I in the middle of the desert or on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean; I crave the private intimacy of only us two and the whispered words for what the commitment means to us.We decided that we may have to strive to get in a secret, private get-away prior to the big, public wedding to satisfy our need for both versions.
The truth is, we fully understand and embrace the public and the political; we have been willing to step into sharing and involving others and we both believe that change comes through the daily acts of ordinary people. And we WANT to be able to share our union and our lives with family, friends, and the world at large; it is life-affirming and community-building at its most basic and genuine. It is a celebration, a party, AND a public ceremony and political action. Some days, that can seem like a great deal resting on two middle-age gals in love.
Teri and I have talked about how those who came before us have made it possible for she and I to move in the space we do, and it is our privilege to do what we can to contribute to making it even better for those who come after us. The day will come when a wedding will be a wedding and a marriage will be a marriage regardless of the race, gender, or religious affiliation of the two people and two gals like Teri and I will be as common place as cars. For now, however, our relationship is a bit like hybrid cars and there is still a bit of novelty, interest and insecurity about the whole endeavor.
We know that everyone who holds a wedding ceremony and celebration, regardless of their relationship structure is inviting the world into their private, domestic scene--and I imagine that many engaged couples wrestle with this tug between what is private...and what is available for public consumption...