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I’m A Radical Feminist Who Still Loves Weddings

This queer romantic sure hopes so

It just happened one day. I was your average radical sex-positive, feminist, non-monogamous, queer, activist-cum-artist, and then two months ago, I started working at A Practical Wedding, and I had to come out to all my friends as a wedding-lover. What?

It’s not considered radical to like weddings. They’re hetero-normative, they’re traditional, they feed into the state sanctioned relationship structure. They can serve as a distraction for other major civil rights issues that marginalized people face. So damn The Man, who needs him? 

But also, on a personal level, weddings are these tiny microclimates that can intensify the ways in which being queer makes you Other. The first level of this is obvious: queers have been denied the legal ability to wed for so long, it’s easy enough to just convince ourselves we never wanted it. Why bother with a club that doesn’t invite you to be a member? Then there’s family. So much of a traditional wedding ceremony focuses on birth family… and for many LGBT folks, the situation with birth family can be complicated. When my dad was getting married a few years ago, he included a stipulation that said, “My daughter is queer—and will have her partner present—and if that makes you uncomfortable, please don’t attend.”

Not everyone is so lucky. It’s not uncommon for certain relatives disown out LGBT family members, and a wedding can serve to highlight (and deepen) that absence. Plus, you really need allies to watch your back during the wedding planning process, as well as the day of. I’ve heard horror stories from friends who have been asked to temporarily assimilate and/or present as genders they aren’t comfortable being, tasked with fielding many drunken and invasive questions, and subtlety left out of the festivities until they spent the whole evening feeling judged. Suffice it to say, having, or even attending, a wedding while queer is something that requires a bit tough skin. And it makes perfect sense that we might want to avoid them.

But what’s also true is this: weddings make me cry. I feel inspired by hearing others share vows and promises. Getting dressed up and dancing with a room full of people celebrating the same humans gives me inexplicable joy. I can’t even begin to comprehend the amount of self-awareness and intimacy necessary to enter a true partnership.

The way I figure, if you strip a wedding down to what it really is—without the cost and expectations—what you’re left with is a party in honor of love! Who doesn’t love love? (If you don’t, well, I’m sorry for the breakup/heartbreak that’s made you feel that way. We’ve all been there.) Then, why, when I say I work for a wedding site, do I get that “look” that says: you must be more conservative than I thought?

Hold on. I know tons of badass creatives, chefs, stylists, designers, farmers, DJ’s, and more who make their bread and butter off the wedding industry. I’ve personally been a wedding photographer, server, bartender, dress designer, and planner. My new position just takes my participation to another level, and you know what? I’m proud. Proud to be part of the people you count on to make your celebrations even more awesome. It’s time we reclaim weddings. They are ours. They are what we want them to be. They can be feminist. They can be radical. The institution of marriage? Yeah that’s a complicated piece of law and politics. But weddings? They’re the fun part.

how do you talk about weddings without everyone assume you’re talking about the TLC version of weddings? Am I ever going to stop getting that “look”?

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