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APW Pride Week!


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

APW Pride Week! | A Practical Wedding

{Photo by APW Sponsor Patrick Pike… more amazing goodness here}

Today marks the beginning of the first ever APW LGBTQ Pride Week, right after a heady weekend of New York legalizing gay marriage (yeahhhhhhhhh!), San Francisco Pride. I’m more than a little excited about it all of it. I might also still be a little tipsy from all of it (couldn’t say).

There is always a whole ton of debate (inside my head, at the very least) as to whether or not it’s appropriate to ever single out the LGBTQ community here in wedding land. The truth is, there is a lot of power in normalization. We run LGBTQ weddings just like mixed-gender weddings, every month here on APW. We don’t single them out as special or different. We use gender inclusive language all the time, not just when we’re talking about gay and queer couples. I wrote my book with gender neutral language throughout, and with gay couples featured the same way as straight couples, but without any section on gay marriage. Why? Well, I think that slow cultural infiltration may have more power when reaching a mainstream audience, than hitting them over the head with your views. You have a huge gay wedding section? They might not buy the book. You quietly trot out quotes by happily married gay women, and only use gender neutral language? Well, you have a chance of winning hearts and minds. Because, why yes, these women are just like you.

And yet. We have an LGBTQ weddings tab on the APW toolbar, and we’re doing APW Pride week. Why is that? Well, it’s because we’re not there yet. When we started pondering APW Pride, after Cindy brought it up to me, we started digging around in our submissions, and the simple facts are these: we had one LGBTQ Wedding Graduate (Cindy), zero LGBTQ wedding planning posts, zero LGBTQ Reclaiming Wife posts, zero posts on LGBTQ families, and zero advice questions from LGBTQ readers. For those of you doing the math at home, that means that out of hundreds of submissions, we had exactly one from an LGBTQ perspective. And that is in no way reflective of the makeup of our community.

We’re not there yet.

So we reached out to readers we knew, we reached out via Twitter, we chatted with a lot of people, and now we’re proudly (ha!) bringing you a full week of content from the LGBTQ perspective. It’s content that made me think about my own relationship, that made me grin, that called me to action (I marched in San Francisco’s Pride Parade yesterday, because of this project), and content that was just plain pretty. And as Lauren told me, every single post made her think really hard about her own, mixed-gender relationship. The LGBTQ perspective is so important for making all of our relationships stronger… even if we sometimes have to beat the bushes to get it submitted!

So why are we doing APW Pride Week? Because we need to. Because we’re not there yet. Because the content is just plain great. Because we still need to talk about this issue in a concerted, focused way (sometimes, at least). And because, I, for one, am proud, honored, and humbled to be part of a community that is vested in the civil disobedience that is gay marriage in the United States. Because f*ck legal. Legal can go ahead and catch up with us. As the officiant said at Cindy’s wedding (coming up tomorrow):

To those who might oppose why we’re here today, I have one thing to say: you’ve already lost. Our generation doesn’t care. Despite all the sham and drudgery in this world, we realize that love, where it can be found, should be revered, protected, and consecrated. Period.

So, although the state and federal governments will not recognize it for a few more years, we pronounce you married now. Today, we are the legislators who will issue the marriage license, by the power vested in our Commonwealth, and we are the enforcers of the law who will hold Cindy and Julia to their vows in the years to come.

By the power unlawfully seized by me, in defiance of the State of Illinois’ laws prohibiting marriage equality, it is my great pleasure to declare you MARRIED!

So this week, for Pride, we’re making the personal political. Wisely, beautifully, hilariously, gorgeously political. I’m so proud to be part of this community. Let’s do this thing.

Past APW Posts Worth Reading:

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • Cass

    This is great timing, really!
    And just this morning I was saddened to read in my hometown newspaper that a local councilmember resigned because the city declined to adopt anti-discrimination laws for LGBTQ. Really, we’re not there yet. But I have great hope for the future!

  • http://meaghantothemax.wordpress.com Meaghan

    Great idea! Although I think that you might be being a bit hard on APW, because I can think of a handful more of LGBTQ posts, although maybe because they were written with very gender-neutral language, they weren’t identified as such?

    • Kathleen

      I thought that too. But then I realized Meg probably meant submissions she had that HADN’T been posted yet.

    • meg

      Oh, yes. Sorry. We post lots and lots of LGBTQ submissions. The thing is, we still don’t get enough. So when we went to look at what we had in our mailbag, we literally only had one post, which is just not enough. So we’re pretty delighted to bring you a whole weeks worth of content… even if we had to do some asking to get it.

      • http://meaghantothemax.wordpress.com Meaghan

        Ah, I get it… damn Mondays. I tend to be a bit slow until mid-week.

  • Rachel

    Whenever I read about the same-sex marriage debate in the United States, I must admit to feeling somewhat baffled at how drastically different attitudes can be in a country so similar to mine in so many other ways.

    I’m Canadian, and as most of you know, civil unions have been legal country-wide here since 1999, same-sex marriage has been legal in most provinces since 2003, and in 2005, the federal government adopted the Civil Marriage Act, which changed the definition of marriage to “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others” – in other words legalizing same-sex marriage nationally.

    I find it almost frightening that a powerful country like the United States, which promotes itself as a champion of freedom, and that also has a highly educated population, can have such a powerful and vocal opposition to providing basic human rights for all citizens regardless of sexual orientation.

    Of course I’m not painting all Americans with the same brush – I know there’s an equally vocal support network (like all of you wonderful people!) fighting for equal rights and making headway while they’re at it (hooray NY!), but it doesn’t make me any less fearful about the amount of power the opposition to same-sex marriage seems to hold. How a country can call itself an ‘arbiter of freedom’ while systematically denying basic freedoms and rights to a large segment of its own population is well beyond me.

    So yes, that was my long-winded way of saying yes, I agree with you. It will be a beautiful day with same-sex marriage is simply marriage, no labels attached, but until that day comes, I’m so pleased that places like APW exist to provide a safe space for LGBTQ couples to share and discuss their relationships, weddings, and marriages without fear of hate or judgement.

    • Miss Smith

      I am also Canadian and equally as confused by the hesitancy of the United States government to legalize same sex marriage. I am from the conservative “bible belt” of Canada (Alberta) and I do recall hearing plenty of grumbling before 2005 from people who claimed that gay marriage would “degrade” all marriages, etc… since then? Nada.

      Tens of thousands of same-sex couples have been married here and I can assure you that no opposite-sex marriage came to an end as a result and, I might be speaking out of turn, but I’m also pretty certain that no heterosexual person has chosen NOT to get married as a result of homosexuals being allowed to marry.

      In short: same-sex marriages haven’t caused a whole whack of trouble for anyone. There was only debate BEFORE it became legalized. I think once it was legalized at the federal level, everyone pretty much realized that it wouldn’t effect them in any way… unless they themselves were gay…

      Can anyone share some of the logical and reasonable explanations given as to why [parts of] the USA are so opposed to same-sex marriage?

      • Rachel

        I was tossing around the same thought when I was writing my comment above – while there was some grumbling and the occasional mild protest leading up to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada, once it became legal, most opponents of same-sex marriage pretty much just went on with their lives, we haven’t really heard from them since. I feel like the opposition that does exist in Canada isn’t nearly as powerful, nor as deeply dead-set against same-sex marriage as the opposition in the US (as a generalization, anyway).

        I live in a fairly conservative (by Canadian standards) rural area, and while the most conservative in the area may not be actively advocating for LGBTQ rights, they do mostly have a ‘live and let live’ approach to the issue, which while not perfect, is at least preferable to actively trying to deny rights to fellow citizens.

        An example, my grandparents, who are in their 80s and have spent their entire lives as farmers in a conservative rural area of Canada, recently went to their first same-sex wedding for a couple who is a part of their local riding and hunt club. Their entire conservative hunt-club membership was invited, and they all attended, and were all genuinely happy and supportive of the couple getting married. This was in a backwoods rural conservative Christian community.

        So I guess my point is – I have trouble conceptualizing and getting my head around the American conservative perspective of same-sex marriage. I would never vote for the conservative government in Canada, and I don’t support most of the conservative government’s platforms, but our definition of conservative is in a whole different league than the version in the US which actively denies basic human rights to their citizens.

        • Class of 1980

          Because religious fundamentalism in America has taken an ugly turn in the last 20 years.

          When I was growing up, fundamentalists weren’t so strident and angry as they are now. They have been whipped up to a frenzy by politicians that wanted their votes, yet never intended to enact the restrictive laws they promised them.

          And they use the same tactics in every election, which keeps the anger going.

      • http://cindyandjulia.blogspot.com Cindy

        There is no logical reason for opposition. In my experience, there are two types of people fighting against our right to equal treatment under the law. First, people like my parents who have been convinced by their religious leaders that being gay is inherently sinful and will send us to he’ll for all eternity. Some of these people are truly worried about our souls and believe they are helping us and some just homophobes using religion as an excuse. The other opposition comes from politicians who are simply using this issue to fire up the afore-mentioned religious types in an effort to get more conservative voters out to the polls to vote for them. None of them can provide any legitimate legal argument for why same-sex couples should not be entitled to enter into the same legal marriage contracts as opposite-sex couples.

        • Class of 1980

          There you go.

        • Miss Smith

          Ah, so to sum it up: there AREN’T any reasonable or logical arguments against it? ;)

          • http://cindyandjulia.blogspot.com Cindy

            I haven’t heard any yet, and I’ve been following this pretty closely. =) (While I do agree that religions shouldn’t have to sanction anything they don’t want to, I also believe our constitution prohibits interference with civil rights on the basis of religion. As long as state/federal government is not forcing any religion to perform or recognize a same-sex marriage, I don’t see any argument with a factual/legal basis to be made.)

      • Kyley

        Logical and reasonable explanation? Absolutely not because there’s nothing logical or reasonable about bigotry.

  • http://www.queerskiesahead.com Bird (Queer Skies Ahead)

    At first I was skeptical (as I expressed on Twitter), but you are exactly right: “Because we need to. Because we’re not there yet. Because the content is just plain great. Because we still need to talk about this issue in a concerted, focused way (sometimes, at least).”

    Thanks for pointing this out. I think for some of us, it doesn’t feel safe or welcomed to talk about it more (not on APW, but in general, real life) – it’s still scary and strange and we don’t trust our voices to speak to a larger audience or we wonder what we REALLY have to contribute. I think for others (oh, hi), we live in a bubble of gay-friendliness and we don’t realize as readily that we DO still need to speak up. Living in a liberal town in a state that legalized gay marriage before I was even out makes me feel like we’re pretty comfortable here a lot of the time, but you’re right – we’re not there yet. Thank you for doing this. I can’t wait to read this week!

    • meg

      You know, I think that’s a great sum up. And I think we have contributors from both camps this week… people talking about learning to speak up in small town Texas, and people that live in accepting big liberal city, USA. And BOTH camps have things to say that made me really think about my own life…

      Anyway, I’m glad you’re on board now, and I kind of can’t wait!! :)

      • Class of 1980

        We need to hear how it’s going for the small-town people. I live in a small town that is both a resort town and a rural town, and although I do know one lesbian couple here, the area is not gay-friendly.

        I don’t think gays would be attacked or anything, but they would be disapproved of by the majority. The gays that live here fly undercover.

    • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ the Sarah formerly known as Sarah K.

      I could not agree more!! We are in the process of normalizing it, and having it pop up in books and blogs day in and day out will slowly bring it to full inclusion. But until we reach that day?? Yeah, it deserves a good, strong, rainbow spotlight.

      I’m excited for everything this week! <333

    • Sara

      “Because we need to. Because we’re not there yet. Because the content is just plain great. Because we still need to talk about this issue in a concerted, focused way (sometimes, at least).”

      THIS. Yes. As much as I wish that everyone felt that marriage was just MARRIAGE, regardless of the gender(s) involved, I know that we’re not there yet. I am beyond confident that we are slowly but surely moving towards equality as the norm–that eventually everybody will catch up to communities like APW, and won’t worry about whether a wedding, or a relationship, or a person, is hetero or homosexual.

      But in the mean time, while there’s great power in normalization, there’s also power in discussion and recognition. Sometimes we need to give things a push in the right direction. Sometimes we need to use that rainbow spotlight. Sometimes we need to talk.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com Jo

    Yay NY! And YAY APW! I cannot wait to read these posts.

  • Edelweiss

    YES!

  • Katie

    WORD!! This is why I read APW.

  • http://www.christytylerphotography.com Christy T

    Well that little tidbit from Cindy’s wedding right there? Gave me crazy-good goosebumps! Can’t wait to see what’s in store this week! :)

    • http://justneedthisspace.wordpress.com ddayporter

      goosebumps, and tears.

      yay pride week!

    • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

      I totally teared up at the words from Cindy’s officiant. And I’m not a usual blog post crier. It was just so awesome that I couldn’t help myself.

    • http://cindyandjulia.blogspot.com Cindy

      When our officiant/friend emailed us that first paragraph to go in the spot I couldn’t figure out how to fill, I cried. And I am not a crier. And then I insisted on reading it to Julia (she wanted the whole ceremony to be a surprise to her so she could be fully in the moment) and we both cried because it was so perfect. I highly recommend writing or at least customizing your ceremony. It was really time consuming but kinda the best thing ever. I am thrilled that it moved people beyond just us.

      • http://bringitinheavy.tumblr.com Genevieve

        I reacted the same way as the folks above, goosebumps and teary eyes. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing. I love that APW keeps reminding why I need to include a bit like this in my own upcoming ceremony.

  • Jamie

    I appreciate APW for hosting Pride week. In addition to advocating for equal rights, though, I think it’s important to hear from queer people on marriage and relationships because there are some things we queers know that others might not. Living our lives outside of legal boundaries and mainstream social institutions and creating our relationships and families to be what we need rather than what they are supposed to be are skills that we have developed out of necessity. Sometimes people who get to or have to create their own mechanisms for support and validation make something better than the “rules” prescribe. I know that my queer marriage is not like normative straight marriages (not to say that many straight couples haven’t queered their own marriages, too), and I like the things that make my marriage different. I think it makes us stronger. I think there are a lot of things non-queers can learn from queer people if they’re open to it.

    So, yes, we need LGBTQ visibility and voices to help bring about full equality. But we also need queer voices to talk about why marriage may not be the best solution for everyone and what structures we’ve created for ourselves that might be better than traditional marriage. We also need to expand the discussion to talk about providing rights and dignity to all people no matter their marriage status. Even people who don’t want to get married should be abe to parent and have the people they want to see visit them in a hospital etc, etc. Marriage, while at the center of it all right now, is so much smaller than love and justice.

    • meg

      Oh, I very much agree, which is part of why we’re doing this week. That said, no one talked about why marriage isn’t always the right choice, and if that’s something you’d be game for writing about sometime, I’d *love* to run it. I’m very aware of that perspective in the community.

      I normally take the tack that marriage is what we make it, so we can make it just, open, whatever we need it to be. But not everyone agrees with me, and I’m down with that. I’d love to share that view.

      • Jamie

        Oh, yes. I can write that. I’ve been wrestling with it all week after the NY decision. And we wrestled with it for years before actually getting married. I don’t know that I can speak for the really, really anti-marriage folks, but I can speak about the ambivalence for sure. I’ll get on it shortly. . .

        • Harriet

          Very much looking forward to this post. Thanks.

        • meg

          Hurrah!

  • Rachel T.

    I love your post – poignant and honest. I’m proud of NY’s decision, but as always, from my years of studying queer theory and gender and sexual identity in college, I am given pause. This guy sums it up nicely for me – http://www.joshiejuice.com/blog/?p=2452. Excited and always a little cautious.

    In other news, I went to Houston this weekend for a friend’s wedding and because I can find the gayborhood no matter where I go without even trying, I was lost and driving and drove right into the Gay Pride parade going through the gayborhood of Houston. Even Walgreens has signs supporting the parade, a Walgreens in Texas!! I was so excited – there were no protestors anywhere. Just people showing love and excitement. There went all of my preconceived notions of Texas! So yay Houston!! And yay New York! Now on to Pennsylvania…

    • http://www.ohdeerio.com Rachelle

      We have a great gay community here and a wonderful Pride Week celebration. We also have the first openly gay mayor! For this and many other reasons, I’m not always proud to live in Texas but I’m usually pretty damn proud to be a Houstonian.

  • http://somewhatbookish.wordpress.com Carrie

    I also struggle with this idea of integrating vs. segregating. My instinct is to want to be part of the fold. I don’t view myself or my marriage as different from all the other marriages out there, so I’m generally on the integrating side of things. That said there are still only 7 states (and I’m including DC in that count, even though we aren’t *really* a state) in the country where I can legally get married, and 37 where I am specifically prohibited through state DOMAs. The federal government doesn’t recognize my marriage, which is both sucky and expensive. As normal as I feel in my little bubble (as Bird mentioned above), there is still a long, long way to go. I feel good about getting there. We are further along than I thought we would be at this time when I first came out, but we aren’t there yet. It’s no good at all for me to get complacent. So well said, Meg. I’m looking forward to reading the posts this week.

  • Clover

    This is something that seems to always come up in the book clubs. I find hope in discussing marriage with those in the LGBTQ community because I think, as someone in a male-female relationship, my partner and I too often rely on gender roles and expectations and I am heartened by the stories that I have heard in and about the LGBTQ community regarding throwing all of the typical gender stereotypes out the window and starting from scratch. This is something that I wish I could do, but am still struggling to realize in my own partnership.

  • Harriet

    So, so excited for pride week! I had a strange moment right before I got married, when a teacher and mentor of mine was asking me about wedding plans. I felt uncomfortable talking about it (not just my normal shyness), and I suddenly realized why: he is gay. It felt like I was flaunting something he didn’t have access to. I have been a proponent of equal rights for the LGBTQ community since I knew what that meant, but getting married myself somehow made it more immediate. I’m looking forward to reading all the different perspectives this week.

  • http://elissarphotography.com Elissa

    This is so exciting! And if that little bit from Cindy’s wedding officiant can give me chills and a big grin, I can’t wait to read the graduate post :)

  • http://pinchofthis.wordpress.com Jen

    THIS. this right here is part of what makes me so happy to be a part of this community.

    • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

      Yes 100%. I am proud to be a member of the APW community.

    • http://www.littlepieceseverywhere.com Sarah

      Yes!

  • Class of 1980

    I spent last Friday conversing on a web site for a southern city that enacted an anti-gay resolution in the late nineties. It has never been repealed, yet there were plenty of citizens asserting that the place is gay-friendly.

    Cognitive dissonance anyone?

    We are a long way from being able to take it for granted that equal rights are acceptable to all. Personally, I don’t understand why such things are even put to a vote. It’s a terrible idea to have basic human rights determined by popular vote.

  • http://intrepidbrytani.wordpress.com Brytani

    This post so moved me that I decided to come out as a same-sex marriage supporter on my own blog. I’d only explicitly said so to two other people in my life before now and since most of my readers are from my very conservative and evangelical circle of friends and family, I’m a little excited/anxious to see how it goes over. To my knowledge, I’m the only person I know who is a supporter but I would be glad to find out some of the people in my life are also closeted supporters…not going to get my hopes up, though.
    I’m a Christian from a small town in the South and I struggle all the time with supporting same-sex couples and marriages. On top of my Christian friends who are opposed, many of my friends come from my husband’s military circle and are all very vocally of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” mind. I know exactly why I’m a supporter and can never be shaken from it, even when threatened with hell, but I’ve been scared to actually talk about it, especially when certain church groups are on their “don’t shop at these gay-supporting stores” tirades. I love my faith and I love the church but it’s hard to defend this subject as a Christian.

    • Class of 1980

      It can’t be wholly framed as a Christian stance, because not all denominations oppose gay marriage.

      I’m not bothered by the idea that some people are against gay marriage because of their religious denomination … I am bothered that they want to legally impose their personal religious convictions on others.

      Perhaps you could frame it as a “separation of church and state” point-of-view.

      • http://intrepidbrytani.wordpress.com Brytani

        I think I did cover both of your last points in my post but I probably should be more careful about the Christian generalization. I’m aware that there are denominations that are supportive but in my area, churches of those denominations are still very silent on the topic. So for me, and most of the readers of my blog, that support from the church is non-existent and honestly, it probably will be for many more years.

        • Class of 1980

          I know what you mean. But it couldn’t hurt to remind them that the support exists elsewhere in some Christian circles.

          Of course, it may bring on the “they aren’t real Christians” comments.

          • Amy March

            And then there are those of us who feel supporting gay marriage is our Christian duty.

          • meg

            Amy March (ha!)
            Amen to that.

  • Stephanie

    Its Pride Week in Toronto this week as well!

    • http://eclpse.lifestylesmagazine.com Kimberly

      Are you attending the festival or any of the other events?? If so, let me know . . . :)

  • Lethe

    I’m really excited about this week, and as half of a same-sex married couple, I for one think it’s great that we’re in the rainbow spotlight for a week. Sure I want people to see that my marriage is in general just like any other marriage….but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate the aspects of it that are unique!

  • Rymenhild

    Well, it’s because we’re not there yet.

    Thank you.

    Last week I talked to a friend who had a beautiful Jewish same-sex wedding in a fantastically gay-friendly area. I said, “When my GF and I are ready, we’re going to poke you and ask you how you did it.”

    My friend shrugged and said, “It was a traditional Jewish wedding. That’s all.”
    And I smiled, but I have to admit I was envious. A same-sex Jewish wedding can be traditional in a town that saw its first same-sex Jewish wedding over twenty years ago. My wedding, however, will probably be at my parents’ synagogue at the other side of the country. The rabbis there have told us they would be delighted to perform our wedding. But there has never been a same-sex wedding at that synagogue before.

    We’ll most likely be blazing the trail ourselves. I’m happy to blaze it — someone has to be first, after all — but my wedding isn’t just going to be a traditional wedding like anyone else’s. It will be a marked wedding — a gay wedding — as opposed to an unmarked (i.e. straight) wedding. Even if we keep all of the accoutrements of the traditional Jewish wedding that we can keep, the rabbi and the chuppah and the ketubah and a Hebrew text that stays as close to the original as possible*, people aren’t going to read us as one wedding just like any other.

    So I guess the point is that you’re right, we’re getting there, but we aren’t there yet, and we still need Pride Week here. I appreciate your setting it up.

    *It’s not just about changing the verb forms and pronouns to use the rare Hebrew feminine plurals. The kiddushin ceremony at the core of a Jewish wedding is an inherently non-egalitarian ritual; one partner must acquire the other. We aren’t doing that.

  • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

    I’m so excited to see what’s coming this week! I already Exactly!’d all of the comments about that incredible snippet of ceremony, but it’s worth mentioning again.

    A friend in a same-sex relationship recently got engaged and I’m glad that she’ll be able to see this and maybe feel less alone.

  • http://livinglnf.blogspot.com Jo

    Love!!!!!!!!

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