I’ve been struggling all weekend to put words around what happened at Yay New York on Thursday, and for one of the first times in my life, I’m feeling a bit like words are failing me….
When I left for New York, I thought I was just throwing an event. I’ve thrown a lot of events in my day, and I knew it would be exhausting, but somehow it would happen. I was still a little anxious about the technical details. Would the couples like it? Would enough people come to the party? Would the vendors work together well? But mostly, I figured it would be just like going to a wedding, mixed with throwing a party: I’d work my ass off, I’d get a little teary, and then I’d dance. This was manageable. This was not what happened.
The first sign I got that this was not going to be like any other event I’d thrown is when the boys showed up for their wedding. We hadn’t talked to Cory & Aaron extensively, but we were excited to get to help them get married. I went out and sat down with the couple and Genevieve from Cheerleader for Love (the woman is incredible, by the way—if you’re looking for a civil officiant in the tri-state area, look no further) to talk with them about their ceremony.
I was sitting there—enough of a marriage equality activist that I had thrown these two weddings and a party from across the country—and suddenly what was at stake hit me like a freight train. Cory & Aaron were young, tremendously excited and nervous, super in love, and the sweetest human beings you’d ever set eyes on. And suddenly I realized that we, as a country, were denying them a basic civil right… for no reason other than our own bigotry. I don’t know how it’s possible for something to hit you that hard emotionally when you already believe it, but I was almost blown over. Watching Genevieve talk to them about signing their civil marriage license for New York State, watching the way they tightly held on to the paperwork, I realized how these legal marriages were about dignity. About respect. About civil rights. I realized what we were doing there. It was big.
And what unfolded in that space was bigger. Each couple walked down the aisle, full of visible anticipation and excitement. Each couple signed their legal paperwork. Each couple was toasted by people who loved them—people who had flown in from all over the country to watch this unfold.
But that wasn’t the only magic thing that happened in the room on Thursday. The APW community also came to life there in a way that I couldn’t have imagined was possible. The team of vendors in the room during the day became like family (more on the whole team of vendors tomorrow). There was Callie and Alessandro of calin + bisous photo, who we all fell a little in love with. They had humor and laughter and willingness to dance. Mark and Raven of Leah and Mark, who employed wry humor and lifted and carried and worked their asses off. Emily of Emily Takes Photos, who’d flown across country to manage everyone and everything. Ang of Lowbrow Events, who was willing to do any task asked of her and would make you laugh while doing it. Genevieve of Cheerleader for Love, who was vibrating with excitement to lead those ten minute ceremonies. Lauren of Suburbalicious Living, who was just there because she believed in the APW community. Amber of The Amber Show, who stepped in at the last minute to be our gofer and bring us coffee and give us hugs. Alex of Federov Foto, who was a quiet ninja with the camera. String Theory Trio, who made it through horrendous traffic to play music we didn’t even know we needed, and who stayed just to bond with us. Eric, the amazing documentary filmmaker, who got everyone to be their most honest selves. And of course Elizabeth of Lowe House Events, who’d dreamed up and thrown the whole event with me. When we all toasted on the patio between the weddings and the reception, there was a quality of talent mixed with love surrounding me greater than I’ve ever felt.
And at the end of the night, when everyone had left, Whitney Day DJed just for us as if the room was still packed, and we all danced and laughed and hugged. And I thought, this is what it’s like to work with people who love what they do, who are doing what they are here to do. They will give their all to an almost empty room. They will open their hearts; they will work themselves to the bone; they will do it for love.
And that party. That epic, epic party. First of all, I may never have a party without a Confetti System Piñata ever again. The moment that it broke and confetti flew everywhere was magical. I had just finished making an off the cuff speech about marriage equality, and suddenly we were celebrating. All these Team Practical faces that I knew through the comments were suddenly dancing all around me, suddenly friends. And then the floor emptied, and it was me, and about ten long time readers and some staff, and there was a web of tinsel and we were dancing between it, and it was like APW had come to life. Because the APW community had come to life. You guys threw that wedding with your tote bag purchases and LAMBDA Legal donations and your good wishes.
And what I learned is that with weddings, you really do have what you need. We had a room and we had love, and that was everything we needed and more. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.
Now, let’s go fight to make this legal in the whole USA. Because then? Then we’ll really party.
Pictures by Emily Takes Photos (APW Sponsor)
(That’s obviously not it. We’ll be bringing you party and photobooth pictures this week, along with wedding grad posts from each of the couples, and yes, a video. Stay tuned.)